WASHINGTON - The nation is remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Wednesday 50 years after his assassination.
The civil rights leader pushed for federal civil rights legislation that was eventually enacted and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. His example and his insistence on nonviolent protest continue to influence many activists pushing for civil rights and social change.
He famously delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech during the 1963 March on Washington, calling for equality among the races.
At the time of his death, King was in Memphis to join striking sanitation workers helping them fight peacefully for better pay and improved working conditions.
The civil rights leader was standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel when he was shot on April 4, 1968. He later died at the hospital. He was 39.
His slaying was followed by a wave of rioting with the cities of Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Chicago being particularly hard hit.
Suspected gunman James Earl Ray later pleaded guilty to assassinating King, then spent the rest of his life claiming he'd been the victim of a setup.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
EVENTS IN DC:
7:00 a.m.: Robert Miranda performs at the 50th anniversary of MLK's assassination - Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, hosted by the National Council of Churches to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination, with performances by Robert Miranda, Yolanda Adams and Marvin Sapp. Speakers include Lou Gossett Jr., Danny Glover, DeRay McKesson, Jim Wallis and Jennifer Harvey. Agenda includes a silent march, starting near the MLK Jr. Memorial (7:00 AM EDT), interfaith service (8:00 AM EDT), and rally (9:00 AM EDT). Location: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, 1964 Independence Ave, Washington, DC
11 a.m.: DC Mayor Muriel Bowser hosts a ceremonial wreath-laying in honor of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. Location: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, 1964 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC
6:30 p.m.: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Candlelight Vigil - The Memorial Foundation annual candlelight vigil to remember and honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., featuring a wreath laying at the Monument's Stone of Hope. Speakers include New Samaritan Baptist Church Bishop Michael Vernon Kelsey and Friends of the Memorial Foundation President and CEO Harry Johnson. Location: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, 1964 Independence Ave, Washington, DC