MLK Assassination

Ariana Segovia

Background Information

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and civil rights activist who was born on January 15, 1929. After many years fighting for black men rights, King was getting tired of marches, going to jail, and living under a constant threat. On April 4, 1968 at 6 p.m., he was standing on the balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee when he was assassinated by a sniper's bullet. The sniper was an high school dropout named James Earl Ray who had been seen running away from the commotion when the assassination took place. At the age of 39, King was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead about an hour later. His assassination caused bigger racial tensions, led to many riots throughout the country, and to the end of the Civil Rights Movement.

Perspective #1

Commotion, shock, agony was found in more than a hundred cities around the country over King's death. Blacks and whites became even further apart because many blacks saw King's assassination as a strike to their hard and strong pursuit of rights and equality through nonviolent protests. This filled the growth of the "Black Power" movement lead by the Black Panther Party. It led to the end of the Civil Rights Movement because all those organizations formed to fight for these rights that black people were seeking for, started to break apart, feeling the absence of this great civil rights leader.

Perspective #2

On March 10, 1969, Ray was pleaded guilty and sentenced to 99 years in prison. Even though no testimonies were heard during the trial, he afterwards confessed that he was the victim of a conspiracy. King's family found sympathy in Ray claiming to reopen his case. And later, in 1998, King's widow Coretta Scott King said publicly: “America will never have the benefit of Mr. Ray’s trial, which would have produced new revelations about the assassination…as well as establish the facts concerning Mr. Ray’s innocence.” After all this, there is still a lot of controversy found towards the assumption murderer of Martin Luther King Jr: James Earl Ray.

Media Bias

Robert "Bobby" Kennedy had spoken earlier the day of King's assassination in Indiana and learned about the shooting before boarding a plane to Indianapolis. He was told to not give the speech because the nation's environment was very delicate and dangerous, but he still went and gave an inspirational speech that was never planned. He had a last speech scheduled there, in a predominantly black neighborhood of the city. His press secretary, Frank Mickiewicz, suggested him to ask the audience to pray for King's family and to follow King's practice of nonviolence resistance and protests. None of the people that went to the place where Robert Kennedy was giving the speech knew about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. until he gave the big bad news.

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Criticism #1

Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights leader. A person the black community and even some white people admired for his desire to reach equality and make blacks to have rights. Blacks saw and still see him as the greatest African-American leader because of everything he did to make everyone have the rights they deserved and the equality they have today, and because of the voice he had to state such an impact on the black and white community through his inspirational speeches. King marked a significant impact in the black community; all the courage and strength he put into all of his marches and nonviolent protests, his endless desire to make the black community to have rights and equality, had finally fulfilled his desired goal.

Criticism #2

King has also marked an historical impact among the nation. After the march from Selma to Montgomery, through his well known nonviolent and peaceful protests, King made President Lyndon B. Johnson and Congress call for a strong federal voting rights law, saying: "Their cause is our cause too, because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And, we shall overcome."
Also, after his assassination, President Johnson wanted all Americans to stop the violence that this event brought to the nation, calling King "the apostle of nonviolence." He called on Congress as well to pass the civil rights legislation as a fitting legacy to King's life hard work. On April 11, 1968, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassinated

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