Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 ("Dr. King is assassinated - Apr 04, 1968 - HISTORY.com," 04). He was standing outside the top floor of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Arguably the most celebrated leader of the African American community of his time, King was a significant loss to the country. Having been the frontline figure of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, King's death adversely affected the continuity of the movement, and it suffered a slow death since. Nonetheless, as I am sure you are all aware, his efforts paid off in favor of the African American community - the equal rights for which he so committedly fought, have slowly grown in the US. While the US is not where it needs to be regarding racial equality, King's works and that of the people he inspired to continue the fight have incrementally paid off. King continues to attract admiration from people of all races because of what he stood for and his regard for fundamental human rights.
King started his fight for human rights is advocating for economic equality. In fact, part of the reasons that supposedly contributed to his death was a march he had organized in 1968, just a month before his death. The rally, dubbed the Poor People's Campaign, included all races of the American working class ("Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassination - Black History - HISTORY.com," 2014). It is unclear whether or not King was aware of his imminent death when he gave the final speech of his life the day before his death. King spoke in Memphis, where he said that he had arrived at the top of the mountain from which he could see the "Promised Land" (Miller 106). Furthermore, he stated that he would probably not reach the said place with the people, but that he was confident that they would. It is likely that he did not expect to live for much longer after this speech.
News of King's death spread rapidly throughout the country, leading to thousands of people crowding the streets to witness his burial five days later. In true Christian fashion, King's family chose two mules to carry his casket along the streets of Atlanta, Georgia (Miller 110). James Earl Ray, the infamous shooter, has been the target of scorn since, or admiration, depending on which side you stand. Ray is said to have believed in white supremacist ideals ("Did James Earl Ray really kill Martin Luther King or was a government conspiracy involved?" 2018). He wanted an America free from black people and other coloreds. He also followed Hitler with veneration. Surprisingly, Ray checked into a hotel on the day of King's death without the knowledge or suspicion of the staff there. The hotel was more of a house whose bathroom faced King's room. He fired a single shot that went through King's cheek, damaging his spine in the process, leading to his death about an hour later.
Upon learning about King's death, many people across 100 cities in the US took to the streets to protest. They ended up rioting and looting. One strong value that King advanced while alive was the principle of nonviolence ("Dr. King is assassinated - Apr 04, 1968 - HISTORY.com," 04). It is, therefore, surprising that his supporters expressed their displeasure about his death by doing the exact opposite. However, their uncouth behavior is understandable to a certain extent because King had occupied a special place in their hearts, promising them a better future than the one in which they lived. Although his death was shocking to many of his supporters and non-supporters alike, the majority of people still acknowledge the efforts he put into promoting the rights of African Americans and racial equality in general. His dream still lives on, becoming increasingly real by the day.
"Did James Earl Ray really kill Martin Luther King or was a government conspiracy involved?" 4 Apr. 2018, www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/martin-luther-king-jr-assassination-did-james-earl-ray-kill-conspiracy-fbi-memphis-hoover-william-a8288686.html. Accessed 13 July 2018.
"Dr. King is assassinated - Apr 04, 1968 - HISTORY.com." Apr. 04, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/dr-king-is-assassinated. Accessed 13 July 2018.
"Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassination - Black History - HISTORY.com." Apr. 2014, www.history.com/topics/black-history/martin-luther-king-jr-assassination. Accessed 13 July 2018.
Miller, K. D. Martin Luther King's Biblical Epic: His Final, Great Speech. University Press of Mississippi, 2013.
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