Martin Luther King Jr Assassination Anniversary Marked by Candlelight Vigil

The assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. 44 years ago today, on April 4, 1968, will be marked in Washington, D.C by a candlelight vigil and ceremony in his honor.

The event will take place at the King Memorial and will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will feature speeches by Harry Johnson, president of the foundation that built the memorial, as well as prominent civil rights advocates from around the world, such as Arun Manilal Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.

According to organizers, the memorial, which took decades to build, will be surrounded by dozens of cherry trees, which traditionally bloom around the early weeks of spring, and coincide with the date of King's death.

Other events in honor of King will include a rally in Memphis organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Council, which the famous civil rights leader led until his assassination. According to the LA Times, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was with King at the time of his death, will lay a wreath on the balcony near the spot where King was shot.

Back in January, around Martin Luther King Day, which marks King's birthday, a controversial debate was sparked on the civil rights leader's views on homosexual marriage with the promotion of a book titled Keeping It Straight? Martin Luther King, Jr., Homosexuality, and Gay Rights. The debate, which is still ongoing, concerns the author Michael Long' arguments that King would have advocated against the traditional definition of marriage of one man and one woman.

Many, however, have disagreed that King would have sided with gay marriage advocates, and Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder and president of The Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny, told The Christian Post that he has studied King's speeches and could not conceive the civil rights leader heading a gay rights movement.

The claims in the book also contradict statements by King's own daughter made in the past, and the civil rights leader himself has been documented as directly describing homosexuality as a "problem."