Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a small team of close advisers and organizers had gone to Memphis, Tenn., to help boost support for the city’s black sanitation workers who were out on strike over pay, working conditions and rampant racism in the workplace.
King and his group stayed at the black-owned Lorraine Motel. As they readied themselves to leave for dinner and, afterward, a major community rally for the sanitation workers, an assassin’s bullet cut King down on the balcony of his second-story room. The human-rights leader was pronounced dead at nearby St. Joseph’s Hospital at 7:05 p.m.
Forty-nine years later, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King continues to be a vexing, tangled mystery. Official investigations named career criminal and prison fugitive James Earl Ray as King’s killer, but not even King’s family believed he was guilty of the crime.
King knew he was up against sinister forces that wanted him dead. But up until April 4, 1968, he fearlessly and fully committed himself to the pursuit of freedom and justice for all people, knowing his life was on the line.