Word spread like wildfire when the news of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination hit the public. As the leading civil rights activist in the 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr. preached words of peace and understanding among races. A well known name throughout the North and South, King gained extreme popularity within the African American community. When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated a wave of sorrow spread across the nation. With rage, sadness, and hopelessness in the public eye, clearly the assassination hurt more than just one man, it hurt a nation.
A single shot killed 39-year-old Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968. At the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, a sniper from about “50-100 yards away,” shot and struck Dr. King’s neck, while instantaneously killing him (“Martin Luther King Slain” 139). From the crime scene, F.B.I. investigators traced a “white Mustang automobile,” and an “‘unusually large’ amount of physical evidence” (Waldron 1). With fingerprints, the actual rifle, and eyewitnesses as definite pieces of evidence, F.B.I. agents concluded that a Caucasian man executed the assassination and that he would be very easily caught (Waldron 1). Eyewitness testimony even stated that the “saw a white man [ran] from the house immediately after the shooting” (“Martin Luther King Slain” 140). As a shocking and horrific event, the assassination of Dr. King proved to test the nation’s character.
Shortly after the news of Martin Luther King’s assassination spread, “sporadic violence erupted in Harlem and Brooklyn’s . . . section . . . in two predominantly Negro communities” (Johnson 1). With a total of twelve men arrested and violence brea...
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.... Killing the Dream: James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.. New York: Random House, 1998.
Ripley, Anthony. “50,000 Expected for Funeral of Dr. King in Atlanta Today.” New York Times 9 Apr. 1968: 1-2. ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times. Library Gateway, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. 11 Apr. 2004
Ripley, Anthony. “Funeral Is Ignored by Whites But Some Atlanta Stores Close.” New York Times 9 Apr. 1968: 1-2. ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times. Library Gateway, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. 11 Apr. 2004
Waldron, Martin. “Clark Is Sure Killer Will Soon Be Seized.” New York Times 6 Apr. 1968: 1-2. ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times. Library Gateway, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. 11 Apr. 2004
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