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King family visits Memphis on 56th anniversary of MLK Jr.'s assassination

Martin Luther King III, his wife Arndrea Waters King and their daughter, Yolanda Renee King, made a rare visit to Memphis, Tennessee, on Thursday to mark the 56th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

The King family made an appearance at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed on his second floor balcony on April 4, 1968 while visiting Memphis to support a sanitation workers strike.

MORE: Martin Luther King Jr.: A life in pictures

This visit, which notably took place in an election year, is an opportunity to both commemorate the memory and legacy of Dr. King at a time when history is being attacked, the King family said.

"The triple evils that Martin Luther King Jr. talked about, of racism and bigotry and violence and poverty, the only way that those evils will ever be eliminated is through peace, justice and equity," Waters King told ABC News. "I would encourage voters to look through the lens of voting for individuals and laws that lift us all up, voting for laws and individuals that are speaking to our noble character that are speaking to peace, justice and equity that are speaking to community, not chaos."

PHOTO:  Martin Luther King Jr circ. 1953. (Michael Evans/New York Times Co./Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: Martin Luther King Jr circ. 1953. (Michael Evans/New York Times Co./Getty Images, FILE)

The King family's visit highlights what they see as a rise in political violence, violence and a rise in hate in general.

"It's not about violence. It's about inclusion. It's about participation. It's about electing people to office who will serve the interest of communities," MLK III said. "My dad and mom and many other elected officials over the years have taught us how to navigate through issues. We may disagree on something, but they are far more things that we should be able to agree on. But we have to create that climate. It doesn't come by osmosis. It comes by people coming together. It comes by treating people with dignity and respect."

MORE: Video Martin Luther King III remembers his father

MLK III noted that he sees the similar patterns between fighting for a climate of democracy today and the sanitation workers fighting to be treated with dignity in 1968.

The Kings came to the National Civil Rights Museum together as a family for the first time last summer to give Yolanda, MLK Jr. and Coretta Scott King’s only grandchild, a space to have intimate moments with her ancestors. This visit is the first time the family of Dr. King’s oldest son, MLK III, all marked the civil rights activist’s passing at the site of his death.

In honor of the 56th anniversary of Dr. King’s death, the King family also announced Thursday that 16 grassroots programs and initiatives across the country will receive grant funding from the Drum Major Institute, which the King family founded on the ideals of Dr. King, to support their work in preserving democracy.

"In one sense it's a dark day," MLK III said in a press conference Thursday. "But the hope that we must continue to fuse is in this generation and generations yet unborn."

King family visits Memphis on 56th anniversary of MLK Jr.'s assassination originally appeared on abcnews.go.com