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Commemorations across the U.S. 50 years after civil rights leader Martin Luther King was assassinated

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By Mark Armstrong
Marchers gather at the MLK Memorial in Washington D.C.
Marchers gather at the MLK Memorial in Washington D.C.

Across the U.S. commemorations have been taking place to honour the legacy of Martin Luther King, the black civil rights leader who was assassinated 50 years ago.

Many people gathered in Washington D.C. for a silent prayer walk from the MLK Memorial to the National Mall where an interfaith service took place followed by a rally calling for an end to racism.

A day of performances and speeches were also due to take place at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where Dr. King was murdered on April 4, 1968, aged 39. Modern civil rights campaigners the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton were expected to attend the service in Memphis. 

He was gunned down by a sniper while standing on a balcony. He had been there to support sanitation workers in their bid for higher pay.

MLK is hailed as a hero in the U.S. and his birthday is marked with a federal holiday but at one time Dr. King was considered by the U.S. government to be a dangerous agitator. 

Bells across the country were due to toll 39 times to mark the number of years since he was shot dead.