Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years after assassination

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The King family will join thousands in Memphis this week to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King’s daughter Bernice King arrived in Memphis Monday afternoon. She was aboard a Delta charter flight. So was FOX 5’s Deidra Dukes, who was the only reporter on board and got to interviewed Rev. Bernice King during the flight.

King talked a lot about what this week will mean not only for her but other members of her family as she returns Memphis. The first time she journeyed to Memphis was in her 30s because the idea of making this trip in the past has been so painful for her. So, this week will likely stir many emotions.

“It’s emotional for me but I’m trying not to let it overwhelm me so I can function,” Dr. Bernice King said.

A wave of emotion came over Dr. Bernice King as she made her way through TSA at Hartsfield Jackson for the trip to Memphis.

“I think I said, you know, I didn’t get an opportunity to go fifty years ago, then I broke down crying. I didn’t know it was coming,” Dr. Bernice King said.

Fifty years ago, a then five-year-old Bernice was left behind as her mother and three older siblings who traveled to Memphis just days after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated.

“On April 8, 1968, my mom came to Memphis to lead the march my father would have led which was the day before the funeral and she brought the three older children and I got left in Atlanta,” Dr. Bernice King said.

Monday afternoon, she boarded a Delta charter flight joined by dozens of religious and civil rights leaders, for the pilgrimage to Memphis. King said the number of pastors joining her on this journey really hold special significance.

“Tell them that 50 years ago because my father spoke out against the war in Vietnam he became even more controversial and a lot of churches began to close their doors even black churches. It was hard for him to have mass meetings in churches and very few were welcoming. So, for me to come back here with a group of pastors is unbelievable for me,” Bernice King told FOX 5’s Deidra Dukes.

King toured the Lorraine Motel where her father was shot and killed that fateful day in April of 1968 as he stood on the hotel balcony.

“It’s interesting to be able to have these experiences, connections not knowing my father, but kind of sensing the presence of his spirit,” Bernice King said. “I do feel a connection to his spirit and what he was trying to do.”

Bernice King will be joined by her brother Martin for this week’s commemorative events in Memphis. On Tuesday, they will speak at the Mason Temple, where their father delivered his last speech.

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