MEMPHIS, TN — Dr. Martin Luther King JR was shot on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine hotel on April 4, 1968. King was a Baptist Minister and leader of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. He was a spokesperson for peaceful resistance against Jim Crow laws. Jim Crow laws were state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation in the U.S. He had four children and was aged 39 at the time of his death.

King was elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) in 1955 following the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The mass boycott was organized following the arrest of black bus passenger Rosa Parks for failure to give up her seat to a white rider. The following year, a federal judge ruled segregated seating on buses breached the 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution.

King was also head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). This was a group that advocated for racial equality in the south through nonviolent methods. He orated the “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington. The purpose of the march was to advocate for economic and civil rights of black Americans. The following year in 1964 King won the Nobel Peace Prize.

At the time of his death King was visiting black sanitary workers who were on strike in Memphis. On April 4, 1968 at 6:05 p.m., King had stepped onto the balcony of room 306 of the Lorraine Hotel to speak to SCLC colleagues standing on the ground below. He was struck by a single gun shot wound to the right side of his face. An Ambulance rushed King to St. Joseph’s Hospital and he was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. James Earl Grey was convicted of the killing and sentenced to 100 years imprisonment. President Lyndon B. Johnson called for national day of mourning to be observed on April 7 following the killing.

On June 5 of the same year, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles by Sirhan Sirhan. Kennedy was a Democratic Presidential candidate campaigning at the time of his death. He was the brother of the 35th president of the United States John F. Kennedy who was also assassinated in Dallas, TX in 1963.