Andrew Young and others at the Loraine Motel in Memphis point to where the shot came from that killed Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968.


The night that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, he was scheduled to be in Wilmington. The civil rights leader was to speak at Williston High School that evening to headline a voter registration drive, but was persuaded to remain in Memphis another day in support of that city’s sanitation workers’ strike.

Now, 50 years later, a coalition of Wilmington civic, and non-profit, and religious leaders is organizing an event to remember Dr. King’s final days and to imagine how his life – and the nation’s history – might be different if he had kept to his original schedule.

On Wednesday, April 4th, the anniversary of Dr. King’s death, the public is invited to gather in the gym of Williston Middle School where Dr. King would have spoken.

The program will feature music of the Civil Rights Era, video footage of the assassination, and clips from his famous “Mountaintop” speech. Our keynote speaker, Governor Roy Cooper, will give a speech in regard to Dr. King and his life’s work.

WECT-TV anchor Frances Weller will serve as the program’s mistress of ceremonies. Governor Roy Cooper will deliver a keynote address.

“We believe that the 50 Year Commemoration event will be a wonderful opportunity for the Wilmington community, in all its diversity, to gather under one roof and celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” says New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David. “Dr. King’s life and legacy represents a moral high point in America’s recent history that has inspired people all over the world, and can serve to further unify our community.”

David co-chairs the MLK Commemoration Commission, along with Bertha B. Todd, a retired New Hanover County educator. Todd, a longtime employee at Williston High School, helped create an atmosphere of calm at the school the day following Dr. King’s death.

The 50 Year Commemoration begins at 6:30 p.m.; doors will open at 5:30 p.m.

Admission is free of charge. The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and the Wilmington Police Department will be on hand to help with crowd management. No weapons or large bags are allowed at this event.

More information about the 50 Year Commemoration can be found at mlkandilm.wixsite.com/1968