The evening of April 4th, 1968, marks a tragic day in history. When Martin Luther King Jr’s visions and ideology were at target. This hate crime took place on the balcony of Lorraine Motel in Memphis when King was addressing the masses. King was one of the most prominent figures in American history. His work towards the civil rights movement caused distress among many. The only resort they find is silence the voice that dares to speak. Join us as we uncover the life and death of our hero, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Let’s dive deeper into one of the most famous Obituaries USA has.
King’s Journey To The Civil Rights Movement
Martin Luther King Jr. rose as a leader during a challenging time in the history of America. It was a time when racial discrimination and inequality were at their peak. A young pastor from Atlanta, Georgia, became the savior of the time. It was a time when the African American community faced prejudice and hate. In 1955, King started his first peaceful protest. The Montgomery Bus Boycott began after the arrest of Rosa Parks and was against segregation in public buses. This protest lasted 381 days, and King’s hard work paid off with the court’s decision in their favor.
Gandhi’s non-violence movements were an inspiration to King. Thus making peace an important part of the civil rights movement later. Moreover, in 1957, King co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Which was to play an important role in civil rights. King went on to start many initiatives over the next decade. All of them had one aim: to end racism and work towards peace in America.
Why Did King Face Opposition?
There is no leader in history who never faced criticism. King’s work towards black rights and equality was something that went against the norms of society. Thus, the racist beliefs were not only limited to daily life. But were a part of politics, economics, and day-to-day life. Thus, King’s main aim was to end this racism, and in turn, he faced opposition until death. Many white supremacist groups opposed his peaceful motto to end racism in America. These groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, used violence and political power to make sure that racism didn’t end.
Moreover, King’s speeches and campaigns brought many threats and attacks against him and his family. But these threats were not only from such extremist groups. Rather, they were also from the higher authorities who saw King’s work as a threat to their power. Thus, the elite opposed King’s ideas of fair housing, voting rights, and ending racism. He faced opposition not only by those outside the movement but also by those within it. One such extremist group was the Black Panther Party. They claimed that King’s non-violent ways would not succeed. They were in favor of self-defense and violent ways to counter racism.
Events Leading Up To The Assassination
In the years that led up to King’s death, there was a change in his approach. He broadened his aim from racism to greater issues. This included economic equality and military problems. This change in stance brought along more issues for him. Matters got worse in 1967 when King talked about his views on the Vietnam War publically. His speech, “Beyond Vietnam,” made him lose the support of some of the most crucial people in the movement. Including President Johnson, and brought extra trouble from the FBI.
In December 1967, he launched the Poor People’s Campaign. This was against the economic injustice in America. King’s aim was to redistribute wealth in a way that benefits the people. Thus threatening the wealth of those in higher offices. In the following months, King traveled to Tennessee. In support of the strike by black sanitary public works employees who demanded better wages.
Moreover, his efforts in the Memphis strike and Poor People’s March on Washington showed his support for the cause. On April 3rd, 1968, King gave his famous speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” He mentioned his readiness to die for his cause, a prophecy that was to come true soon.
The Death Of King
One of America’s most powerful voices was silenced on the evening of April 4th, 1968. King was prepping to meet the local minister for dinner that evening. He was standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, addressing to his colleagues. When one single bullet struck through his neck. Despite getting immediate medical help, King died within an hour at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
As soon as the shot rang out, King fell to the ground, causing panic amongst everyone and disbelief. His colleagues identified a room across the street. From where they thought the shot was fired. Meanwhile, King was rushed to the hospital, and despite all efforts, the bullet was fatal. The news of King’s death spread across the country like wildfire. Thus causing a mass outpour of people onto the streets. Everyone had mutual feelings: anger and grief. There were many riots and protests in the major cities across America. But this grief was not only from the United States; condolences came from across the globe. Thus solidifying the impact of King’s vision on the society.
The Assassin: James Earl Ray
James Earl Ray was a petty criminal and a convict on the run. He was serving a 20-year sentence in the Missouri State Penitentiary. These charges included a series of grocery store robberies. Ray escaped from prison in 1967 and stayed on the run for more than a year.
Ray’s fingerprints matched the ones on the murder weapon, which was a Remington Gamemaster rifle. His arrest took place two months after King’s death at the London Heathrow Airport. Ray pleaded guilty and faced a sentence of 99 years in prison.
Remembering A Legend: Martin Luther King Jr.
King’s death took America and the world by shock. It caused many riots and unrest. This finally led to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. This was a step towards racial inclusion in the United States. King remains to be one of the most influential people in the history of America. Find obituary online and read more about our nation’s great heroes.