April 4th Commemoration | National Civil Rights Museum
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Remembering MLK:

The Man. The Movement. The Moment.

April 4, 2023 • 4:30 pm Central
Museum Courtyard • 4:00 PM Musical Prelude


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The museum is open during regular hours 9 am – 5 pm on April 4th.

The National Civil Rights Museum presents a hybrid commemoration in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy on the 55th anniversary of his death.  Guests are welcome to join us in paying tribute to Dr. King in the museum courtyard or via live stream. 

Each year, the Museum remembers the tragic event that occurred on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in 1968 as we ask the perpetual question, "Where do we go from here?" This year’s event features a keynote speaker, special performances, fraternal tributes, and the changing of the balcony wreath with a moment of silence at 6:01 pm Central when Dr. King was slain. A musical prelude begins at 4:00 pm Central.

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Otis Moss III is a third-generation warrior for civil and human rights who has built his ministry on community advancement and racial and social justice activism. As Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Ill., since 2008, Dr. Moss routinely preaches and practices a Black theology that unapologetically calls attention to the problems of mass incarceration, environmental justice, and economic inequality.
Dr. Moss’ latest book project, Dancing in the Darkness: Spiritual Lessons for Thriving in Turbulent Times, released in November 2022, has been lauded as a “life-affirming guide to the practical, political, and spiritual challenges of our day.” Utilizing the scholarship of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Howard Thurman, alongside biblical texts, a bevy of religious traditions, Black culture, and his own personal experiences, Dr. Moss offer up a methodology on performing spiritual resistance by uniting two pillars of his ministry: love and justice.



W. Crimm Singers AKA Wakanda Chorale is a professional ensemble-in-residence of Tennessee State University’s Big Blue Opera Initiatives wholly embraces the music of the Black experience throughout the diaspora and every genre connected to it with major emphasis on the Negro Spiritual, African American operatic, and concert repertoire, hymnody, and anthems.

Musical performances by Iris Orchestra’s Artist Fellows and Memphis Symphony Orchestra/University of Memphis Fellows, two prestigious programs dedicated to emerging musicians from African American and Latinx communities, which are historically underrepresented populations in classical music, will also render tribute to Dr. King.

As with tradition, audio recordings of the civil rights leader’s speeches will play in the courtyard throughout the day. The museum is open during regular hours 9 am – 5 pm on April 4th.  The event culminates with the tolling of bells and a moment of silence at 6:01 pm, the time Dr. King was shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. 


The April 4th Commemoration is an annual museum event remembering Dr. King.  He prophetically expressed his peace with death in his final "The Mountaintop" speech on April 3, 1968 at Mason Temple in Memphis, TN.






See the Timeline: King's Last Seven Days 


Watch the MLK POV video Series on YouTube



  • Due to rain, the commemoration event is moved inside in 2019.
  • Museum educator Dory Lerner conducts activities for children and families.
  • Families make peaceful protest signs during commemoration activities.
  • HBCU LeMoyne Owen College Choir performs.
  • Dr. Omid Safi of Duke University is keynote speaker.
  • Civil rights icon Rev James Lawson gives remarks.
  • Civil rights icon Rev Jesse Jackson gives remarks.
  • A salute to striking Memphis Sanitation Workers of 1968.
  • People pay homage to Dr. King on the anniversary of his death in 2017.
  • Community litany recited in reverence to Dr. King.
  • The Brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. pay a special tribute to Dr. King who was an Alpha.
  • Rev. William Barber gives fiery remarks.
  • Audience includes members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. as national president Gwen Boyd give keynote
  • The audience participates in the community litany.
  • Gwen Boyd and Museum President hangs the ceremonial wreath on the balcony of Room 306 where Dr. King last stood.
  • Woman donned a T-shirt with words of compassion.


  • Rev. Michael Pflegler gives keynote.
  • Rev. Al Green sings the finale while civil rights icons Rev. Jesse Jackson and Congressman John Lewis join hands in unity.
  • Poet Ed Mabrey delivers a special tribute to Dr. King.
  • Museum President Terri Lee Freeman sets the tone of the special occasion.
  • 105 Voices of History, HBCU National Concert Choir
  • Civil rights Icons Revs. Ed King and Bernard Lafayette (in hats).
  • Civil rights icon John Trumpaeur Mulholland
  • Celebrity actors Glenn Turman (L) and Chris Tucker (R) with guests attend the commemoration.
  • A bell toll around the world at 6:01pm, the time King was shot.
  • Thousands gather to hear Dr. King
  • The audience is engaged by the empowering words of the speakers and performers.
  • 15,000 people from around the world paid tribute to Dr. King on the 50th anniversary of his death.
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