Thousands gathered Friday to march from City Hall to the National Civil Rights Museum in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
The Rev. Al Sharpton and King's son, Martin Luther King III, led the march and spoke of the day's significance. King's other living children, Bernice and Dexter King, were also in attendance.
"At the exact moment [that James Earl Ray shot King], we will stand silently and make a pledge of recommitment," Sharpton instructed the City Hall marchers. "This is a day to recommit to the principles of nonviolence."
Martin Luther King III ascended the podium. "Forty years ago, our father's life was cut short in this city. But we were taught that you can dislike the evil act but still love the individual. We never harbored hatred. Our father taught us the value of love. As we prepare to march, we have to get our hearts right," King said.
"America is a nation that should be farther along," he continued. "Our father focused on the evils of poverty, racism, and militarism. While we've made strides with regard to race, on the issues of poverty and militarism, we are failing. We've come here to finish the work that our father began. I will ask you to make a commitment, not just to march and go home. March today, and in November, go to the polls. We must vote like we've never voted before."
King and Sharpton emphasized the nonviolent nature of the march before departing.
"If you feel like someone's going to step on your toe, and you're going to have attitude, stay here," Sharpton suggested.
The march proceeded uneventfully down Main Street.
The group arrived to a crowd packed in front of the museum, filling Mulberry Street from Huling to Butler avenues.
"Our vision is the eradication of poverty," King began anew, standing on the spot of his father's mortal wounding.
"We're going to march on Washington again," he said, referring to his father's triumph of August 1963. "We're calling for a major move in the White House. Today I called for the presidential candidates to appoint a Cabinet-level position [to address poverty]. Senators Clinton, Obama, and McCain have pledged that they will give the problem their highest attention."
At 6:01 p.m., the moment that Ray shot King 40 years ago, the crowd outside the Lorraine Motel observed a moment of silence. A chilly gust swept over the crowd from the direction of the boarding house from which Ray fired. A few raised their bowed heads and shared knowing glances.