Bells across the nation toll 39 times to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

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MEMPHIS — The assassination 50 years ago of Martin Luther King Jr. was marked Wednesday with events in the city where he was born, the city where he was gunned down, and other places around the nation.

Sites across the United States rang bells 39 times, symbolizing the civil rights leader’s age at his death.

Here’s a look at some of the events planned to honor King’s legacy:

Kansas City

At 4 p.m., city leaders will gather at the John Brown Statue in Kansas City, Kansas, to remember his legacy. The short program will include speakers and participation from local students. This event is an opportunity for the community to stand together as one to commemorate the life and work of two activists, John Brown and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who fought against hatred and bigotry during their time.


In the city of his birth, the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize will be awarded Wednesday morning to lawyers Benjamin Ferencz, for his work prosecuting German Nazi leaders at Nuremburg, and Bryan Stevenson, for his work to make mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger unconstitutional.

The Ebenezer Baptist Church choir will sing the National Anthem and "God Bless America" when the Atlanta Braves host the Washington Nationals. The game starts at 12:10 p.m. ET.

At 7:01 p.m. ET, a bell at the King center will toll for each year of King's life. Members of his family also will lay a wreath at the crypts of King and his widow, Coretta Scott King.


Ceremonies are planned in Memphis, where King was slain while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

Tributes saluting King will take place in the courtyard of the motel, now home to the National Civil Rights Museum. You can watch the event in the live stream player above starting at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Click or tap to see a virtual tour of the National Civil Rights Museum

A commemorative ceremony begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. It will include an interfaith liturgy, musical tributes, and a ceremonial changing of the wreath outside Room 306.

At 7:01 p.m. ET, the bell from the historic Clayborn Temple will ring 39 times as part of the International Moment of Reflection.


Events in the nation's capital start at 7 a.m. ET with a morning prayer vigil at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

A silent march then will take place from the King memorial to the National Mall.

The ACT to End Racism Rally throughout the day will feature speakers, including religious leaders, artists, and activists.

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