Assassination of Martin Luther King

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At 6:01 p.m. on April 4, 1968, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was hit by a sniper's bullet. King had been standing on the balcony in front of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, when, without warning, he was shot. The .30-caliber rifle bullet entered King's right cheek, traveled through his neck, and finally stopped at his shoulder blade. King was immediately taken to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m.

Violence and controversy followed. In outrage of the murder, many blacks took to the streets across the United States in a massive wave of riots. The FBI investigated the crime, but many believed them partially or fully responsible for the assassination. An escaped convict by the name of James Earl Ray was arrested, but many people, including some of Martin Luther King Jr.'s own family, believe he was innocent.

What happened that evening?

Martin Luther King Jr: A Dedicated Leader

When Martin Luther King, Jr. emerged as the leader of the a Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, he began a long tenure as the spokesperson for nonviolent protest in the Civil Rights Movement. As a Baptist minister, he was a moral leader to the community. Plus, he was charismatic and had a powerful way of speaking. He was also a man of vision and determination. He never stopped dreaming of what could be. Yet he was a man, not a God. He was most often overworked and overtired. And he had a fondness for the private company of women. And though he was the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner, he did not have complete control over the Civil Rights Movement.

By 1968, violence had edged its way into the movement. Black Panther Party members carried loaded weapons; riots had erupted across the country; and numerous civil rights organizations had taken up the mantra "Black Power!"

Yet Martin Luther King held strong to his beliefs, even as he saw the Civil Rights Movement being torn in two. Violence is what brought King back to Memphis in...
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