1968: The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

1 Posted by - February 5, 2023 - Black History, CIVIL RIGHTS

It was in the first few days of April 1968, when a shocking news broke around the world that the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. is no more with us and has been assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. King was a Baptist and also the founder of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference). He led several civil rights movements from the mid-1950’s using nonviolent tactics and powerful words such as sit-ins, protests, and boycotts, just to fight for the rights of the African-American community. His assassination outraged the African fraternity in America, as well as a long period of sorrow and mourning.

Martin Luther King faced some extreme criticism from some of the young African-American activists during the last years of his life. These young Black activists rather followed a more challenging approach to bring about change. They were mostly getting inspiration from Black nationalist leader Malcolm X who was never in favor of King’s non-violent advocacy that made many African-Americans suffer. Due to such opposition, King widened his form of request and approached people who were out of his race. In 1968, King and other SCLC members were all prepared for the march to Washington on behalf of poor in Memphis, Tennessee and to support the strike of sanitation workers.

On April 3rd, King made a speech at the Mason Temple Church in Memphis and the following day, right after 6 pm, when King was standing on the balcony of Lorraine Motel, where he was residing for a while, a bullet fired by the sniper struck him in the neck. He was immediately taken to the hospital, where he was announced dead at the age of 39. There started a lot of distress and shock at the death news of King which also sparked a riot in more than 100 cities in the country that included looting and burning public property.

King’s assassination caused national mourning, while President of that time Lyndon B Johnson urged American nationals to reject any blind violence that killed Martin Luther King Jr., whom he always referred to as the “Apostle of non-violence.” The President also ordered the Congress to quickly pass the legislation of civil rights then enter the House of Representatives for debate. He called this a perfect legacy to King and the work he did throughout his life. On April 11, 1968, Johnson signed a Fair Housing Act which was another Civil Rights Act of 1968.

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1 Comment

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