Civil rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martin Luther King Jr. was remembered at the RA's opening session.
A video recalled his life's accomplishments and cited his assassination on Friday, April 4, 1968 — 46 years to the day the RA began.
Delegates stood and applauded after the video concluded with a speech by Robert F. Kennedy, who at the time was campaigning to win the Democratic nomination for president.
"Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings," Kennedy said. "He died in the cause of that effort."
King, who was 39, was in Memphis to support a sanitation workers' strike when he was killed. He had devoted his life to ending economic inequality and racism. King's first big action was leading the 382-day bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., after Rosa Parks was jailed for not giving up her seat on a bus.
He was a key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, D.C. A crowd of 200,000 attended and heard King's "I Have A Dream" speech. Today, a striking granite memorial of his likeness stands nearby at Independence Mall in Washington, looking out over the tidal basin.
— Liza Frenette