rights efforts to the Vietnam War. He felt America’s involvement in Vietnam was politically untenable and the government’s conduct of the war discriminatory to the poor. He sought to broaden his base by forming a multi-race coalition to address economic and unemployment problems of all disadvantaged people.
Contents

Synopsis
Early Years
Advanced Education and Spiritual Growth
Montgomery bus boycott
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference
I Have a Dream
Assassination and Legacy

Assassination and Legacy

By 1968, the years of demonstrations and confrontations were beginning to wear on Martin Luther King, Jr. He was tired of marches, going to jail, and living under the constant threat of death. He was becoming discouraged at the slow progress civil rights in America and the increasing criticism from other African American leaders. Plans were in the works for another march on Washington to revive his movement and bring attention to a widening range of issues. In the spring of 1968, a labor strike by Memphis Tennessee’s sanitation workers drew King to one last crusade. On April 3, in what proved to be an eerie prophetic speech, he told supporters, “I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.” The next day, while standing on a balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Motel, Martin Luther King, Jr. was struck by a sniper’s bullet. The shooter, a malcontent drifter and former convict named James Earl Ray, was eventually apprehended after a two-month international manhunt. The killing sparked riots and demonstrations in over 100 cities across the country. In 1969, Ray pleaded guilty to assassinating King and was sentenced to 99 years. He died in prison on April 23, 1998.

Martin Luther King’s life had a seismic impact on race relations in the United States. Years after his death, he is the most widely known African American leader of his era. His life and work have been honored with a national holiday, schools and public buildings named after him, and a memorial on Independence Mall in Washington, D.C. But his life remains controversial as well. In the 1970s, FBI files, released under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed that he was under government surveillance and suggested adulterous relationships and communist influences. Over the years, extensive archival study has led to a more balanced and comprehensive assessment of his life, portraying him as a complex figure: flawed, fallible, and limited in his control over the mass movements with which he was associated, yet also a visionary leader who was deeply committed to achieving social justice through nonviolent means.