The Roundup

Push for Change! A Calendar of MLK-Inspired Events in Memphis About Peace, Legacy, and Activism

by Delfina Forstmann
Martin The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lives on. Photo courtesy of The National Civil Rights Organization.

April 4 marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, in Memphis, Tennessee. To commemorate his incredible life and move the civil rights conversation forward, organizations are hosting community-wide events throughout the spring around the theme "Where Do We Go From Here?" The goal is to make Memphis an inspiration hub for young people. Here's where you can join the movement.


4/2-4/3: Where Do We Go From Here
The two-day symposium will feature scholars and law practitioners leading discussions about prescient legal issues like criminal justice reform, voting rights, persistent poverty, and 21st-century activism.

4/2: MLK50 Symposium Day 1
Knowing your rights is important, so the first day of the two-day symposium has a distinctly legal focus. A panel of educated legal scholars (Mark Osler, Roy Austin, Tracey Maclin, Dayna Matthew, and Dorothy Brown, to name a few) will precede a ticketed luncheon at The Peabody hosted by former U.S. Attorney General, The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr. The event is designed to educate the community on social justice platforms outlined by MLK.

4/3: IRIS Orchestra MLK50 Program “It’s Up to Us” and Film Series at Clayborn Temple
Mixing art and politics, IRIS artist fellows will host a program around the words “It’s Up to Us.” Dr. Harold Middlebrook (who had a personal relationship with MLK) will comment on civil liberties, poetry will be shared, and a chorus and string chamber ensemble will perform. The art-oriented program aims to reach underserved areas of the community — mainly youths, senior citizens, and communities of color.

4/4: The Largest Reenactment of the Iconic "I AM A MAN" Photograph on Beale Street
The Withers Collection Museum and Gallery is commemorating the legacy of MLK by walking in his footsteps on the day he died. The community march aims to recapture the photo of the Sanitation Workers Strike in 1968, which will be taken from a helicopter by Mrs. Eboni Bullard, the granddaughter of Dr. Withers, and will be on show at the gallery thereafter.

4/4: Service of Remembrance and Reconciliation for MLK at Lorraine Motel
Acknowledging the past in order to move forward with racial reconciliation, Lorraine Motel is hosting a service to remember the people who were enslaved and sold at the antebellum slave mart. Rhodes College students and local scholars wrote a text for a historic marker that will be unveiled at the end of the service. 

4/4-4/6: Civil Rides, a Three-Day Cycling Trek from Memphis to Jackson
The three-day trek, beginning at the steps of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and finishing in Jackson, Mississippi, follows the footsteps of MLK and brings attention to persistent rural poverty and the promotion of racial justice.

Civil rides bike tour.
Civil rides bike ride in 2016. Photo courtesy of Out Hunger Organization.


5/2: Toward Justice: A City-Wide Upstanders' Project
A month-long project involving art, exhibits, speeches, and prayers curated by a group of Memphis leaders. All events within the project are free and open to the public and work to bring attention to the vast range of religious, artistic, and racial communities in Memphis.

5/19: Mallory Heights Community Club MLK50 Walk/Run-a-Thon
A simple act to empower the community, designed to promote justice and peace.

5/20-8/31: Hotel History Tours with the Peabody Duck Master
Consider this a break from politics. A one-hour walking tour of The Peabody led by the Peabody Duckmaster will include stories from the hotel’s long history and details about the lives of the infamous Peabody ducks.


6/6: Gallery Talk: Black Resistance with Charlie Newman
June swings in with more focus on civil rights and racial issues in the United States. The gallery talk with Charlie Newman (one of MLK’s attorneys) delves into his experiences at the time, which are reflected through photos in the gallery exhibition.

6/27: Munch and Learn: Stax Music and the Civil Rights Movement
The Soulsville Foundation aims to persevere and promote the cultural richness of the neighborhood, as well as facilitate community-building opportunities for the people living there. In this spirit, communications director Tim Sampson talks about the relevance of music to the Civil Rights Movement.

Woke and Ready for More?

Follow this local's expert advice on what to do once you get to Memphis. Get inspired by this Atlanta restaurant with a heartwarming mission. Then sign up for our favorite voluntourism opportunities around the world. 

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