At the end of March in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. went to Memphis, Tennessee to show his support for the black sanitation workers. The group was demanding the same pay and treatment as their fellow co-workers who were white. On one occasion, when an event was called off due to inclement weather, the black workers were paid for the two hours that they worked and the white workers were paid for a full day.
To support the group, MLK Jr. was going to participate in a rally of over 6,000 people but he left because of the possibility of violence when member of the Black Panthers joined the group.
After going back to Atlanta for awhile, King went back for the second time to Memphis hoping to participate in a more peaceful march. When MLK was criticized for staying at the more upscale Holiday Inn on his first visit to Memphis, he decided to get closer to the people he was working for and took a room at the Lorraine Motel.
Following a dinner meeting, the life of Martin Luther King came to an abrupt halt as he stepped out onto the balcony of his motel room. A shot rang out and King slammed into the wall behind him. Martin Luther King Jr. was brought to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Memphis were he was pronounced dead of a gunshot wound.
Upon news of Martin Luther King’s death, riots broke out across the country. There were over 168 violent demonstrations with over 3,000 arrests and 20,000 people injured. Although President Johnson declared April 7th as a national day of mourning, it seemed to fall on deaf ears as the man who worked towards peaceful means was recognized through violent riots.
King’s funeral was held at the place where he had his beginnings, Ebenezer Church in Atlanta. More than 150,000 mourners paid their last respects to this civil rights icon. MLK Jr. was laid to rest near his grandparents in the South View Cemetery.