NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Fifty years ago, the man who dared to dream of racial equality was gunned down outside a motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

But Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership for civil rights, through his fiery oration and non-violent resistance, brought generational change that carries on today.

“The way he took his pact was to make a difference and inspire others,” 17-year-old Nathalia Romulus told CBS2’s Scott Rapoport. 

On the 50th anniversary of his death, 25 African-American high school and college students from New York City experienced his memory and spirit through an exhibition at the New York Historical Society on the Upper West Side. It was brought here by the New York Coalition of 100 Black Women.

“In this day and age, we still face a lot of racism. I believe, because of him, we can overcome these things,” 17-year-old Beatrice Igboekwe said.

PHOTOS: MLK Assassination 50th Anniversary

On display were powerful, historic images of the reverend as he carried on his crusade for social justice.

“It’s surprising and kind of overwhelming,” said 17-year-old Charmaine Washington.

“He shows how strong African Americans are and that we can push through anything,” 16-year-old Janae Facey said. “He means hope and racial determination to follow your dreams and make a change in the world.”

Also on display was one of five bronze busts of King by African-American sculptor Charles Alston, commissioned by the Community Church of New York.