King's Assassination

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WSB-TV newsfilm clip of reverend Ralph D. Abernathy speaking to reporters about the Poor People's Campaign, Atlanta, Georgia, 1968 April 18.

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated while standing on the second floor balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. As news of King's death spread, violent riots broke out in African American neighborhoods in over one hundred cities across the United States. King had returned to Memphis to lead a nonviolent march in support of the city's striking sanitation workers. On April 8, King's widow, Coretta Scott King, and their four children led a crowd estimated at forty thousand in a silent march through the streets of Memphis to honor the fallen leader and support the cause of the city's African American sanitation workers.

The next day, funerary rites for King were held in his hometown, Atlanta, Georgia. Following a nationally televised broadcast of his funeral service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, King's body was led through the city's streets, with more than one hundred thousand mourners in tow, to Morehouse College where a second funeral service was performed.

King's assassin, James Earl Ray, was apprehended in London, England, after a two-month international manhunt. Upon his extradition to Tennessee, Ray pleaded guilty to King’s murder and was given a ninety-nine year jail sentence.