It was 50 years ago Wednesday that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Multiple events were planned in several cities across the United States to honor his memory.
Bells in Memphis and Atlanta rang to mark the anniversary -- a crowd outside the Lorraine Motel fell silent Wednesday evening as the bell began to ring there.
A red and white wreath was placed on the balcony where he had been standing.Moments later, the Rev. Al Green sang "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," the song King had requested moments before he was killed at age 39.
In Atlanta, King family members pulled a rope together to ring a bell 39 times at the pool surrounding the crypt of King and wife Coretta Scott King. The family then laid a wreath of multicolored flowers in front of the crypt.
CBSN covered various remembrance events around the country including remarks from many civil rights icons, including:
- Gina Belafonta, co-director of Sankofa
- Performance by Deborah Manning Thomas
- Rep. Barbara Lee, civil rights activist
- Performance by Kirk Whalum
- Remarks from several clergy members
- Performances by Patrick Dailey/105 Voices
- Lee Saunders, AFSCME
- Bernice King, minister and daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- Excerpts from MLK's Mountaintop speech
- 6:01 p.m. - Bell ringing and wreath laying
- 7:01 p.m. -Bells will toll across the nation 39 times to honor the number of years Dr. King lived.
Read below for a recap of Wednesday's events:
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Christian message
John Lewis, Jesse Jackson remember their friend
Martin Luther King's longtime lieutenant Jesse Jackson was in the hotel parking lot 50 years ago. He spoke from the balcony on Wednesday.
Many flocked to the national King memorial in Washington, D.C., where crowds paused to mourn and others marched. Some looked at what King accomplished with cautious optimism.
"I think we've taken leaps and bounds from where he wanted to be," said Crystal Moody. "I think it's an ever-changing nation, hopefully in the positive."
And in Indianapolis, where Robert F. Kennedy famously told the crowd of King's death, civil rights icon John Lewis -- who was by Kennedy's side that night -- talked about his personal loss.
"I cried, I lost a friend. I lost a great brother, I lost my leader," Lewis said. "If it haven't been for MLK I don't know what would have happened to our country."
Bells to ring out across U.S. marking moment King was shot
New National Civil Rights Museum exhibit
The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis opened a new exhibit today entitled "MLK50: A Legacy Remembered." The exhibit reflects on the 50 years since the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, featuring a collection of documents, rare photographs, FBI files and other items.
According the the museum, the exhibit "uniquely examines King's relationship" to the city Memphis, including his many visits, the role of the Lorraine Motel and its owners. MLK50 recreates a timeline of Dr. King's movements in Memphis for the 48 hours leading up to his death on April 4, 1968.
"Our goal is to provide a historical context for King's work during 1967 and 1968, as well as the events that took place in Memphis on April 3-4," said Noelle Trent, the museum's Director of Interpretation, Collections & Education.
The National Civil Rights Museum opened in 1991 and is located at the former Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was assassinated. The museum's mission is to chronicle the American civil rights movement and encourage thoughtful debate for global civil and human rights issues today.
John Lewis speaks at event honoring MLK
MLK's children remember that day
Martin Luther King was not only a civil rights leader and pastor. He was also a father of four young children while leading non-violent protests against racial inequality in the civil rights movement.
CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller spoke with his three living children for their first joint interview in 12 years. Martin the third, Dexter and Bernice King were just 10, seven and five when King died. But the trauma of April 4, 1968 is still fresh in their minds.
- Interview: Michelle Miller speaks with MLK's three children
- Also: King's children reflect on his legacy
"60 Minutes" Rewind: Mike Wallace interviews King family
The first season of "60 Minutes" aired five months after Dr. Martin Luther King died. But on it's seventh episode in December of 1968, Mike Wallace visited the home of Martin Luther King Jr. to speak with his family months after the assassination.
- WATCH: Mike Wallace speaks with the King family ("60 Minutes" Rewind)
Only eight months had passed since their father's death, but the King children made an impression on Wallace, who said they were a "handsome and healthy and pretty happy-looking bunch of children."
April 4, 1968: Walter Cronkite reports MLK's assassination
Fifty years ago tonight, then-anchor of the "CBS Evening News," Walter Cronkite, went on air with a detailed report of Dr. Martin Luther King's shooting and the nation's reaction to the tragedy. He described Dr. King as "the apostle of non-violence in the civil rights movement."
Crokite reported why Dr. King had returned to Memphis the day before the shooting. The broadcast also included a video clip of King speaking the night before his assassination.
Choir remembers singing for Dr. King
Two weeks before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, he met a college choir group from the historically black college Prairie View A&M University. Though it was late at night, King accepted an invitation from a choir to sing for him at the Lorraine Motel. Crammed into a small conference room, the a cappella concert choir sang for the civil rights leader.
CBS News special correspondent James Brown brought six members of the choir back to the Lorraine Motel -- which is now the National Civil Rights Museum -- to reminisce about that night, 50 years ago.