D.C.

Martin Luther King Jr.: Vigil marks 44th anniversary of MLK's assassination

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A day-long vigil Wednesday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall marks the 44th anniversary of Dr. King Jr.’s assassination.

(Photo: ABC7)

At 6:30 p.m., a candlelight vigil and wreath-laying was scheduled at the memorial, open to the public.

On the anniversary of his assassination, people packed the new memorial to honor the life and legacy of the civil rights leader.

Dr. Xernona Clayton traveled from Atlanta to the nation's capital to honor the man she worked alongside.

“So many people come here and remember pieces of his life, and if they take it away and do something good, that’s what he would have wanted,” Dr. Clayton says.

Before his death, Dr. King fought for fair housing for all and his life has long been associated with the Fair Housing Act.

Wednesday morning, John Trasvina, Assistant Secrery of the Department of Housing and Urban Development participated with other HUD employees in laying a wreath at the base of the statue of the man who symbolizes the equality their agency works towards.

Some D.C. residents were also remembering how the assassination sparked riots in many neighborhoods within moments of the news from Memphis.

As burning and looting broke out, Rufus “Catfish” Mayfield, a civil rights activist, was trying to stop it.

"It was hard for me to see the connection between Dr. King getting killed and you running down the street with a TV or refrigerator," says Mayfield.

In most of the 44 years since, areas like H Street improved little from the time just after the riot, remaining rundown and dangerous, according to area residents.

But in the last few years, the area has begun to change.

The place is booming with new development, businesses, from a new hospital for pets to so many new restaurants the Obamas have been here to dine.

Although some resent the changes and the alleged gentrification, many feel like the neighborhood is safer now.

The Coalition on Political Assassinations is calling for the full release of classified government records regarding Dr. King’s life and death.

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