Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years after his assassination

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Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot to death at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4th, 1968. The site has been turned into a museum, with King’s room preserved as he left it. CGTN’s Toby Muse reports.

On a plain motel balcony half a century ago, history stopped.

Martin Luther King Jr. was staying at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4th, 1968. He stepped out of room 306 and, at 6:01pm, a single shot rang out, killing him.

The motel has been converted into a museum dedicated to King’s life and legacy. His room has been preserved as it was left.

King was in Memphis to support a strike of local African American sanitation workers. He had already changed American history in his fight for equality and civil rights. But he saw that the path toward a more just country was still long.

“If he was still here, he’d be talking about mass incarceration,” said Faith Morris, Chief Marketing & External Affairs Officer at the National Civil Rights Museum. “He’d be talking about the juvenile-to-prison pipeline; housing; economic equity.”

King knew his life was in danger in 1968. Death threats were on the rise against him.

In the end, it was James Earl Ray – an escaped convict – who ended King’s life.

Over the years, King has become one of the most respected figures across the world, an inspiration for his message of non-violence. But there are bitter lessons about the cost of a life spent fighting injustice – namely, that it tends to get cut short.

If King’s assassin hadn’t ended his life, the civil rights icon would have been 89 years old today.

He didn’t make it, but his message did.

April 4th marks 50 years since the day Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed in Memphis. The motel where it happened remains a living memory of the his last moments