Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.



Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this


  1. 1. The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Rachel Geahlen History 181 Steve Gaumer
  2. 2. Civil rights are seen by many as the most important possession of the citizens of the United States. The advancement of African American civil rights is one of the most fought for causes in American history. Martin Luther King Jr. devoted his life to the belief that all men should be equal. His death sparked a lot of change that would not have been as powerful it he had not died for his cause. His effect on society through his working as an organizer of peaceful demonstrations were once, and are still, some of the most powerful of their kind. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death greatly benefited his life’s work. Martin Luther King Jr. created vast change and a giant step forward for society across the entire world. His organization of the African American community was a priceless trigger in the fight for civil rights. While working to relieve segregation in Washington D.C., Martin Luther King Jr. aided Four black college students who were in the F.W. Woolworth store and were denied service. They continued to sit at the counter, which was not allowed. The next day, twenty other students joined them in the sit-in.This kind of protestation created a milestone that changed the nation.(Blumberg 66) The number of black voters increased drastically during Martin Luther King’s Jr.’s rallies. King helped get the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed, which helped protect the voting rights of minorities and eliminated the need for literacy tests in order to vote. It also eliminated the polling tax, which denied poorer Americans the right to vote. (McClenaghan 162) King’s work is considered to be the inspiration at every major attempt at equality in America. His work helped spark the movement to protect gay rights.(Kosof 77) After taking witness to the vast number of African Americans who were able to create change to their cause from coming together, they, too believed that they could help their cause. He also helped the movement to obtain women’s rights. Women have fought for suffrage, fair wages, as well as
  3. 3. other opportunities in the workplace. They also fought for their reproductive rights. This fight in particular led to the case of Roe v. Wade, in which women won the legal right to have an abortion.(Kosof 71) Then they fought for pay equality which, for the most part, hasn’t been achieved. . Both the civil right and women’s rights has been achieved and corporated into today’s societies. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, by James Earl Ray. He died at the age of thirty-nine. There had been numerous attempts before at his death including some at his home. He was standing on the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee. He was there giving a speech for sanitation workers. He died an hour later. His funeral services were held in Atlanta on April 9, 1968. Several businesses and schools closed to honor King. King’s death led to riots in hundreds of cities in the United States. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday was made into a national holiday to celebrate all of his life accomplishments. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death greatly benefited his cause. Hundreds of speeches were given, utilizing Martin Luther King Jr. as a great leader. Malcolm X, the Black Muslim leader, was seen as King’s northern counterpart. In one of Malcolm’s speeches he referenced King, saying “He got the peace prize, we got the problem. If I'm following a general, and he's leading me into a battle, and the enemy tends to give him rewards, or awards, I get suspicious of him. Especially if he gets a peace award before the war is over.” (Kosof 66) King’s death was a catalyst. Since then his name was used as the one who ‘gave his life for freedom’. During a debate for the Democratic presidential candidates, Barack Obama was asked, “If Dr. Martin Luther King was alive today, why should he endorse you?” and Barack answered, “Well I don’t think Dr. King would endorse any of us. I think what he would call upon the American people to do is to hold ourselves accountable.”(Dyson 224)
  4. 4. There have been several theories surrounding the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. One is that the government hired someone to kill King. It is also said that the CIA, FBI and the green berets are also involved. Another is that James Earl Ray claimed a man named Raul framed him for the murder. William Pepper, one of James Earl Ray’s lawyers convinced the King family that the government was involved in the assassination. King’s son was convinced that president Lyndon Johnson was involved in the assassination also. It is also believed that a bar owner named Lloyd Jowers had a part in the murder. He claimed that a man paid him one hundred grand to hire a killer, and that the man he hired was not James Earl Ray. The Memphis Attorney General said that they found no evidence which linked Jowers to the murder. The King family later sued Jowers for wrongful death. A retired employee of the FBI named Donald Wilson claimed he found paper in Ray’s car which had “Raul” written on them. He reportedly put the paper in his refrigerator and kept it there for three decades. The FBI claims that Wilson never worked on the Ray case and that he made up the evidence. ABC’s Primetime Live believed that Jowers was, in fact, telling the truth. One of the more crazy theories is that james Early Ray was hypnotized during the murder of King. As part of local conspiracy, two black firefighters were transferred from their fire station, which was directly across the street from the hotel which king was shot at, to one far away. In 1999, a jury found that Martin Luther King Jr. was the victim of a conspiracy, and not James Earl Ray, like many people had thought. In 2000, the Justice Department led an investigation into the theories. they determined that no evidence linking the assassination to theories was credible. they shot down every theory. The department also found that there was no evidence that made Jowers story true and that he contradicted himself many times. It also found no evidence to support any of the documents that Wilson claimed to have about Raul. Even
  5. 5. thought the theories were found to be untrue, the king family still believed that Martin luther King’s assassination was part of a conspiracy theory. they believe it involved the government of Tennessee and even the United States of America. The family believes that they cannot find any of the theories to be plausible is because the government cannot investigate themselves. Investigations have said that the bullet that was found in King’s body was not a match to the ones in James Earl Ray’s gun. Evidence has shown that before the assassination there were several officers acting as security for King. Right before the assassination the security was reduced to only two officers. When the killing happened there was only one officer protecting King. At one of James Earl Ray’s hearings, a ballistic expert said that not even a really skilled gunman could have fired the gun in the manner that was described by the prosecution. Prior to the shooting, the FBI let out information about where King was going to be staying. he had to be moved to a hotel with less security, which is where he was shot. A church minister by the name of Ronald Denton Wilson claims that his father was the one who killed Martin Luther King Jr. William Pepper said that numerous people contacted him with similar stories like Wilson’s. Several riots occurred after Martin Luther King Jr.’s death. National Guard troops were stationed across thirty six cities in eighteen states. In Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington DC, there were a total of 14,811 troops. The riots in Washington DC ended in two days, with six dead, and roughly three-hundred and fifty injured. On April 11, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 in dedication of Martin Luther King Jr.(Pike 1) “During the tumultuous 48 hours following Dr. King’s death, there were more than 420 fires set, 550 cases of looting, six people killed, and over 300 individuals injured. By the time the storm subsided, at least 1,350 African Americans had been arrested.” (Cummings 1) Riots also occurred in Louisville, Kentucky. Four-hundred and seventy-two arrests were made and two rioters were
  6. 6. killed. Seven hundred National Guard troops were called into Kentucky to keep things under control and impose a curfew. Due to the Washington DC riots twelve people were killed (mostly in burning homes), 1,097 injured, and over 6,100 arrested. Additionally, some 1,200 buildings had been burned, including over 900 stores. Damages reached $27 million. (Bean 165) By the time the riots in Baltimore were over, six people were dead, seven hundred were injured, 4,500 were arrested and over a thousand fires were set.(Neale 1) In Memphis, off-duty police were called in, and a force of 2,500 law-enforcement officers managed to reestablish order in the early morning. By then, 150 stores had been looted and 200 people arrested.(Wills 1) In Chicago there were over a hundred fires, eleven people, all of whom were black, were killed, and a little over five hundred people were injured. The damage of the burned bulding equaled around 10 million dollars. Mayor Daley ordered shoot to kill for anyone commiting arson or looting. When the riots were over, roughly thirty nine people had been killed, more than twenty six thousand were injured, and twenty one thousand were arrested. The total damage caused was about sixty five million dollars. “Dozens of inner cities, already under strain from the suburbs, simply collapsed, leaving in their wake a miasma of unemployment, crime and poverty.” (Risen 1) The aftermath of the riots was turmoil. Due to the looting and fires many businesses suffered losses. While some big busniesses were untouched, many small businesses were unable to recover from all the damage and loss. “Social scientists have found that the riots had economically negative effects on blacks’ income and employment.”(Francis 1) The riots depressed property values and incomes for several years. Economists found that cities that had major riots had a drop in income by about nine percent. In twenty years, cities with the most severe riots had a drop in emplyment of four to seven percent.Cities that had major riots black home-ownership dropped between fourteen and twenty percent.(Postrel 1) Business owners
  7. 7. thought that the police were too enient with the rioters. They thought that they did deserve reimbusment because officials called away police protection too early.(Bean 178) After the riots some Baltimore store owner did not think that it was worth rebuilding everything. The Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968 which prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. It also made it required for a landlord to let someone with a disability have a pet. The social benefits of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death is justified in its vastly helping the cause he believed in. Martin Luther King Jr.’s cause was so efficiently resolved after his death that he would have been proud to lend himself to the cause. Never in his life did King think that a black person would be elected to a government position or even president. After his death, numerous blacks were elected to senate positions and governor. It also led to Reverend Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton running for president.(Kosof 93) There has also been an increase in the number of black votes. Black voter registration rose twenty four percent to two million in the early eighties. “The percentage of blacks earning more than thirty five thousand dollars a year rose 15.7 percent to 21.2 percent in sixteen years. the average income for blacks has increased.” (Kosof 92) Blacks have had more opportunities to go to school and find better jobs thanks to Martin Luther King Jr.’s work and his followers. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work has led to Barack Obama becoming the first African American president, which is a huge milestone for the black community and America as a whole. Since King’s triumphs, blacks have had more opportunities for employment. Blacks are now police and correctional officers, and some are even judges. There has been a rise in middle class blacks of thirty two percent. in 1988, Coretta Scott King led a March on Washington in Martin Luther King Jr.’s name saying, “ We have much to do before Dr. King’s dream will be fulfilled. Discrimination persists in many areas. We
  8. 8. have no choice but to march on Washington again.”(Kosof 90) Although Martin Luther King Jr. has led to many accomplishments in the black community and in America, not everyone is fortunate. There are many blacks living in poverty and without jobs or education. Blacks are more likely to get put in jail and their prison sentences are longer. Discrimination is still huge in many parts of the country. There has been a profound resegregation of school. White students attend schools where only less than a quarter of the students are of a different race. Black and brown students attend schools that are composed of more than half of their own race. More than one-third of latino and black students with school with a mostly minority population. (Dyson 104) “Housing is still the single most segregated aspect of American life today.”(Kosof 93) All throughout the country, crimes towards blacks are growing. Unfortunately, blacks get harsher prison terms for situations that are not as bad as what their white counterpart does. There is even hate within the black race. “Wealthy and middle class blacks have declared “war” on poor blacks. After Hurricane Katrina, the wealthy gave donations to poor blacks but condemned them for their lifestyle.” (Dyson116) Martin Luther King Jr.’s death was a tragedy to everyone but it led to many advantages for the black community and even America as a whole. Many major milestones have been made due to his struggles and triumphs. Thanks to him blacks are able to own homes or go to school without being denied. They are also able to fill high paying or government jobs. While he would not be happy with how some things are today, or what is happening,he would be honored to be a part of some of the movements that have occurred since his death. The Civil Rights Movement helped get segregation of schools banned and allowed for blacks to go to school freely with being harassed or even attacked. That is all thanks to Martin Luther King Jr.