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This Date in History: Martin Luther King Assassinated

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 4, 2011 4:20PM

In 1966, Martin Luther King amplified his demands of City Hall in Chicago: more black police and firemen; open housing; desegregated schools; etc. A city, as he so often dreamed, "in which children could thrive not judged by the color of their skins but by the contents of their character." Two years passed and King was gunned down on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. The killer, who turned out to be James Earl Ray, was shooting his Remington 30-06 through a telescopic gunsight while standing in the bathtub of a flop house a hundred yards away as I show on the right. I talked the FBI into letting Life into the fatal bathroom after they had gathered their evidence. Ray's incriminating handprint, FBI dust still on it, was on the wall over the bathtub where the killer had leaned while sighting the motel balcony from the window.

43 years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, TN. Today is as good a time as any to refer you back to Art Shay's essay and gallery highlighting the civil rights icon's time in Chicago and covering his assassination with the historian Gary Wills. Of all the peeks into Art's vault, this one still resonates as our favorite; certainly it's his most powerful and poignant.

Art and I discussed tabling that post at the time, given that it was coming on the heels of the tragic shooting in Phoenix, AZ that left 9 dead and gravely wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. But we both agreed that what happened in Phoenix was exactly why it should have run, to show that we face many of the same issues today as we did in 1968.