The Events Around the Death of Martin Luther King

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated as he stood on a second-story balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. A bullet struck Dr. King in the jaw and severed his spinal cord. Dr. King was 39 years old when he was murdered.

On April 3, 1968, Dr. King delivered his last address. The I’ve Been to the Mountain Top sermon was tragically Dr. King’s last sermon.

On February 1, 1968, Echol Cole and Robert Walker were working as garbage collectors for the city of Memphis Tennessee. That day, Mr. Cole, 36, and Mr. Walker, 29, were crushed to death when their garbage truck malfunctioned. The city gave the Cole and Walker families one-month’s salary and $500 for funeral costs. The men had no insurance or pension.

Eleven days after the deaths of Cole and Walker, 1,300 black men from the Memphis Department of Public Works went on strike.

By March 18, 1968, the strike was more than a month old. That day, Dr. King arrived in Memphis and spoke to a crowd of 25,000 (the largest indoor crowd the civil rights movement had seen).

On March 28, 1968, a planned march was called off when violence erupted. The police shot and killed a 16-year-old black boy. Police also followed marchers into the Clayborn Temple, released gas into the sanctuary, and beat people choking on the fumes with clubs.

On April 8, 1968, Corretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr’s widow, led 42,000 people on a silent march through Memphis.

On April 16, 1968, negociaters reached a deal to end the strike. Months later, workers had to threaten another strike to get the city to honor the deal.

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