By FOX's Tonya J. Powers


It's been 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous Mountaintop Speech at Mason Temple on April 3, 1968.

There are some upgrades, like spotlights and a better sound system, but the light still pours in from the side of the sanctuary in the afternoon.

It's still a working church, but there's no mistaking the historic role the building played in our nation's history. It remains an important destination for those who trace the last steps of Dr. King, and seek to understand the movement for equality and civil rights. 

Sitting in the balcony pew, where I'm writing this, I can close my eyes and listen to his words, which are played on a video loop during the wait for events to start. You feel the rough red material of the cushions and the wooden backs of the seats and wonder how many people have sat in this spot, listening to words by men of faith. I can picture the men and women, sitting in the audience, fan in hand, singing along with the gospel songs.

In Memphis, the words "sanitation workers" are synonymous with "civil rights". The names Echol Cole and Robert Walker aren't just sometimes-remembered historical answers. They are the men who lost their lives on a rainy day in February 1, 1968 in the back of a dirty garbage truck in Memphis. It was their deaths that brought attention to the plight of the sanitation workers and the conditions they were forced to work under. It got the attention of Dr. King, and is what ultimately brought him here where he would shine a light on the injustice. 

This week, Mason Temple has been the site of the Mountaintop Conference, complete with panelists and topics of discussion bring Dr. King's legacy into today and how it is relevant to the happenings in the U.S. today.


Thousands of people are coming to the National Civil Rights Museum this week to be near the place where Dr. King spent his last hours. Back in 1968, it was simply known as the Lorraine Motel.