Just one day before his assassination, Dr. King delivered the Mountaintop Speech in this church that is now part of the National Civil Rights Trail.
The Mason Temple is a historic church, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his last public speech in April 1968. He was killed the following day, with his words that he “might not get there with you” proved harrowing in their prophecy. Visit the Mason Temple and attend a Mass service in this iconic setting, which seats up to 7,500 people across two tiers.
Arrive at the church and appreciate the Art Moderne features of the frontage, with its elegant portico and side lanterns. Talk with a guide about Dr. King’s famous appearance in this church. He was speaking in support of the black sanitation workers in the community who had gone on strike.
Learn about the inequality that allowed privileges for white workers and unfair conditions for their black colleagues. Dr. King had hoped his talk would spark a march that would help overturn an injunction that banned protests.
Ask staff for a tour of the interior. Sit on a pew and imagine being one of the attendees watching Dr. King’s last speech. The site is open Monday to Friday from early morning until the afternoon.
The church was built in the 1940s and is part of the Church of God in Christ denomination of Christianity. It is the main structure from the six sites that make up the church’s world headquarters. Note that the church is part of the world’s largest African American Pentecostal movement.
The Mason Temple is in the Washington Heights area a little south of the center of Memphis. From the Downtown Memphis zone, travel by bus to a stop just outside the church or walk south for about 30 minutes to reach it. Explore the surroundings to see some of the nearby attractions, including Gaston Park, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the National Civil Rights Museum.