This May 2000 file photo shows the site of Martin Luther King’s assasination at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. He was in Room 306, upstairs in the center of the of the photo. PHOTO COURTESY MARIA LOWE
Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and Central Texans will be commemorating the life and legacy of the civil rights leader and Baptist minister with these events:
• 2018 Fair Housing Summit: Seven days after King’s death in 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Fair Housing Act of 1968, prohibiting discrimination in renting, buying or financing housing, one of the last legislative achievements of the civil rights era. The summit takes place at the Austin Convention Center through Thursday and celebrates the passage of this act with a schedule of panels and speakers.
• Chapel Service: Seminary of the Southwest, an episcopal seminary in Austin, will host a service Wednesday remembering the life of King, followed by a discussion on two of his sermons as well as his impact on the nation. The service will begin at 11:45 a.m. in Christ Chapel on the seminary campus, 501 E. 32nd St.
• Observance: The First United Methodist Church of Georgetown will host a service at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday reflecting on King’s final hours in 1968. The church is located at 410 E. University Ave. in Georgetown.
• 50 Years After the Assassination of MLK: On April 10 at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, Peniel Joseph, founder of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas, will discuss King’s death and the state of racism in America today. The event takes place at Sid Richardson Hall at 12:15-1:30 p.m.
NAACP Austin President Nelson Linder said Wednesday is not just about commemoration, but also about action.
“It’s very important for people to understand that … Dr. King also talked about solutions,” Linder said. The Wednesday anniversary is “about looking at best practices in the country to address racism and inequality in America today. He gave us a blueprint.”
Linder said it’s important for people to remember that inequality still exists in American cities, including Austin. He said issues related to housing and police brutality have not been addressed with specific policies on the local level.
“It’s very important that we push our local government to allocate resources to add things like fair housing, economic opportunity, health care … not workshops and continuous conversation,” Linder said. “A lot of recommendations have not been dealt with.”
On April 4, 1968, when King was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., Linder was 10 years old, and he said he remembers the night it happened.
“It’s had a lasting impact on my life,” Linder said. “As a result, I’ve been committed to civil rights all my life.”