Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination Site

450 Mulberry St., Memphis, TN 38103

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Quick Facts

Killer(s): James Earl Ray,

Victim(s): Martin Luther King Jr,

Written by: Jewls Krueger

About This Location:

Martin Luther King Jr. was an icon and civil rights activist who led marches and riots in the 1960s against segregation and the systematic abuse against black Americans. He famously led the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, demanding desegregation in schools, equal opportunity laws. It was there that he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis, TN to support black sanitary public works employees who were on strike to get higher wages and better treatment. While in Memphis, King was staying in room 306 of the Lorraine Hotel and was accompanied by several people, including activists Ralph Abernathy Sr. and Reverend Jesse Jackson. Just after 6:00pm, King was on the balcony of his hotel room talking to musician Ben Branch when he was shot by white supremicist James Earl Ray. The bullet entered King’s head through his right cheek and ended up in his right shoulder. Although King was rushed to the hospital, he was pronounced dead just after 7:00pm.

James Earl Ray fled to Canada, then to Europe. On June 8th, 1968 Ray was apprehended at London Heathrow and extradited to Tennessee where he faced prosecution. Ray pled guilty to the murder and was sentanced to 99 years in prison. In 1977, Ray escaped from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Petros, Tennessee, but was apprehended just 3 days later. Ray died in 1998 from complications from Hepatitis C.

The Lorraine Hotel was converted into the National Civil Rights Museum in 1991 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The portion of the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated has been maintained to look just as it did in 1968.

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