April 4th 1968: Martin Luther King Jr. killed
On this day in 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee aged just 39. The Baptist minister from Georgia first came to national attention for his leadership of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. This event is considered by many the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, which saw a national fight against discrimination suffered by African-Americans. King was one of many leaders, but became the face of the movement for his nonviolent tactics and powerful oratory. In 1963, during the March on Washington, King delivered the crowning speech of the struggle - the ‘I have a dream’ speech. Beyond his role in combating racial inequality, King also focused on tackling poverty and advocating peace, especially during the Vietnam War. On April 4th 1968, King was shot and killed by James Earl Ray. He lived to see the legislative achievements of the movement - the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act - but tragically was unable to continue the push for full equality. The movement King set in motion continues to be fought today; the United States is still not a completely equal society and systemic discrimination persists. However thanks to Martin Luther King, America is closer to fulfilling King’s dream of a truly free and equal society.