Southern Illinoisans gather in Memphis to honor MLK - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Southern Illinoisans gather in Memphis to honor MLK

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MEMPHIS -- From impassioned speeches to songs of praise and worship, the 50th anniversary ceremony marking the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. aimed to inspire. Thousands of people gathered in Memphis to remember the civil rights leader.

Rose Grundy traveled from Cairo to be a part of the event.

"With all that’s going on today with our young black man I thought it would be a good trip for him to get an understanding to be empowered," said Grundy.

She and her nephew, Jonathan Holder were inspired by the ceremony.

"This is my first time and I’ve never experienced nothing like this before because I’m from Cairo and there’s not really nothing around there," said Holder.

A bell tolled 39 times at 6:01 p.m., the moment King was shot at the Lorraine Motel. King was in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers who wanted better conditions at work.

"He didn’t lose his life in vain just look around us," said Grundy. 

Holder added, "They’re a good inspiration for young people like me, I feel like if they can do it I can do it because back in their day it was a more struggle than right now so if they got through that struggle than I can get through that struggle that I’m going through."

Former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were in Memphis for Wednesday's ceremony as well.

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