Memphis, Tennessee, Apr 3 (EFE).- At 6:01 pm on April 4, 1968, a sniper’s bullet passed through his throat on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, silencing the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the motel is going all out to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination, along with the great civil rights leader’s legacy.
Standing on the motel balcony in front of Room 306, King was talking with other civil rights activists about the black garbage workers’ strike in the city when he was fatally wounded by a single bullet fired by a segregationist sniper, falling at the feet of his companions.
Despite having made great strides in the fight for civil rights for African Americans, seeing the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, King was continuing his crusade to end US racial segregation, which was especially violent in the South, and in the late 1960s he was focusing on fighting poverty within the black community.
The FBI had been tapping his phone and monitoring his communications for years, fearing that communists had infiltrated the ranks of the civil rights movement.
The images one can see today within the former Lorraine Motel – now converted into the National Civil Rights Museum – provide a detailed overview of the African American leader’s last days and in which he appears visibly frightened at the marches he led to help achieve a dignified wage for black trash workers.
“Our aim is to provide an historical context for King’s work during 1967 and 1968, as well as the events that took place in Memphis on April 3-4” of the latter year, Noelle Trent, the NCRM director of Interpretation, Collections and Education, said Tuesday.
“We want not only to show the consequences of those events, but also to illustrate King’s influence on everything, from the modern social justice movements to politics and pop culture in later years. From Elvis to (former) President (Barack) Obama. King’s legacy has had a lasting impact on our society and on our culture,” she said.
In addition to the permanent exhibition, the NCRM on Wednesday will inaugurate its “MLK50: A Legacy Remembered” exhibit, a special offering for the 50th anniversary of King’s death at which one can see the influence of his activism on current movements such as Black Lives Matter.
The exhibit examines in a unique manner the relationship between King and Memphis, his earlier visits, the role of the Lorraine Motel and its owners Walter and Loree Bailey and how the city dealt with the violence and the disturbances that erupted after the assassination.
Assorted events to commemorate King’s being awarded the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize will be staged this week, including peaceful marches in his memory, discussions about the current civil rights situation and a special ceremony on Wednesday.
In a special tribute, the bells of the city will ring simultaneously in mourning at 6:01 pm on April 4.