04 April, 2008

On this day in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., assassinated !




Friday marks the 40th anniversary of the assasination of U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this day April 4 in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., a leader of the American civil rights movement who was in Memphis, Tennessee, to support a strike by the city's sanitation workers, was assassinated by James Earl Ray.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was one of the pivotal leaders of the American civil rights movement. King was a Baptist minister, one of the few leadership roles available to black men at the time. He became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955–1956) and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1957), serving as its first president. His efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Here he raised public consciousness of the civil rights movement and established himself as one of the greatest orators in U.S. history. In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. Martin Luther King Day was established as a national holiday in the United States in 1986. In 2004, King was posthumously awarded a Congressional Gold Medal.

Martin Luther King, original name Michael Luther King, Jr. Baptist minister and social activist who led the civil rights movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968. His leadership was fundamental to that movement's success in ending the legal segregation of African Americans in the South and other parts of the United States. King rose to national prominence through the organization of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, promoting nonviolent tactics such as the massive March on Washington (1963) to achieve civil rights. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1964.

His assassination set off riots in more than 100 U.S. cities and ushered in a divisive and bitter chapter in race relations in the United States.






Martin Luther King "I have a dream"


Martin Luther King, Jr. catapulted to fame when he came to the assistance of Rosa Parks, the Montgomery, Alabama Black seamstress who refused to give up her seat on a segregated Montgomery bus to a White passenger. In those days American Blacks were confined to positions of second class citizenship by restrictive laws and customs. To break these laws would mean subjugation and humiliation by the police and the legal system. Beatings, imprisonment and sometimes death were waiting for those who defied the System.


Black Americans needed a Martin Luther King, but above all America needed him. The significant qualities of this special man cannot be underestimated nor taken for granted. Within a span of 13 years from 1955 to his death in 1968 he was able to expound, expose, and extricate America from many wrongs. His tactics of protest involved non-violent passive resistance to racial injustice. It was the right prescription for our country, and it was right on time. Hope in America was waning on the part of many Black Americans, but Martin Luther King, Jr. provided a candle along with a light. He also provided this nation with a road map so that all people could locate and share together in the abundance of this great democracy.

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