The Death of Dr. King

The Death of Dr. King

After years of death threats, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., while in Memphis in support of striking black sanitation workers, is shot and killed on the balcony of his Lorraine Motel room a day after delivering his prophetic “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.23Informed of the assassination a few hours later, Sen. Robert Kennedy announces King’s death at a previously scheduled presidential campaign rally of 1,000 people in the poorest section of Indianapolis. He calls upon America to resist divisive reactions and instead unite in “love, wisdom and compassion.”24 The news, however, leads to rioting in more than 100 American cities, resulting in 40 deaths.25 Escaped convict James Earl Ray is convicted in King’s assassination and sentenced to 99 years. Two months later, on June 5, Kennedy himself was assassinated in a Los Angeles hotel after winning the California primary.

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Covering King

Gene Roberts attended a speech given by Martin Luther King Jr. on February 16, 1960 at White Rock Baptist Church in Durham, N.C., where he realized the struggle for equality would not just cause token change in race relations and civil rights.

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