Travel MLK50

FILE - In this April 3, 2013, file photo, Martin Luther King III speaks at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tenn. The Mason Temple is where King's father, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., gave his last speech the night before he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, while in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers. Travelers will find a variety of events and sites in Memphis and elsewhere honoring King's legacy on the 50th anniversary of his death.(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

The night before he was killed, King made a stirring speech at this church, located near the Lorraine Motel. In his "I've Been To the Mountaintop" speech, King gave an impassioned account of his life experiences and seemed to foretell his death when he said: "I've seen the Promised Land ... I may not get there with you."

Built in the 1940s, the gray church looks plain and boxy from the outside. But inside reveals a cavernous nave, with pews surrounding an elevated pulpit. Colorful flags are placed throughout the church. It's easy to imagine people standing in the balcony during King's speech, which was delivered on a stormy night, with thunder booming and winds shaking the building.

The Mason Temple is scheduled to host a "Mountaintop Speech Commemoration" event on April 3 with King's children, Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, and Andrew Young, a confidant of King's and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

The temple is also the finishing point for an April 4 march that could attract as many as 100,000 people. The rapper Common and other performers will kick off the march with a rally at the union hall where the sanitation workers organized in 1968.


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