State officials gathered on the front steps of the State House on Wednesday morning for a special ceremony honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his death.

Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, members of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, and several Metco students paused for a moment of silence as the flag in front of the State House was lowered to half staff in memory of King, who was fatally shot at a Memphis motel on April 4, 1968.

“On this day, 50 years ago, our nation reeled at the thunderous jolt we felt as the news of his tragic and senseless death reached us,” the Rev. Conley Hughes said. “The dreamer was cut down, but to this day his voice continues to echo through the corridors of time. The grave has not silenced him.”


Hughes also reflected on King’s past experiences in Boston as a graduate student at Boston University. Hughes recalled how King once lived on Massachusetts Avenue, was involved with the Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury, and how here, in Boston, King met his future wife, Coretta Scott, who was “the wind beneath his wings.”

State Representative Frank Moran, the chairman of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, spoke about King’s legacy and his role as a leader in the civil rights movement.

“We all owe a debt to him,” Moran said. “Ultimately, it cost [him] his life.”

Baker echoed those sentiments and praised King for how much he accomplished in his life, one that was cut far too short.

“Fifty years ago, a great man was stolen from us,” Baker said.

Baker said King was the ultimate role model and applauded him for his restraint and grace, and the inspiration he provided to so many people during a “terrible time” in the United States.


“He was simply an extraordinary man,” Baker said.

“That voice, that grace, that style . . . Clearly we needed it then, and we’d be so [much] better off if we had him now. ”

After the ceremony, Hughes remarked that King’s message is as relevant today as it was when he led the Montgomery bus boycott in the 1950s.

“The message he would have today is that we need to be united as a people,” he said.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com.