See where Martin Luther King Jr. spent his final hours 50 years ago

Posted at 8:38 AM, Apr 02, 2018

Fifty years ago, civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stepped out onto a balcony by Room 306 at Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where he spoke to other hotel guests who were in the courtyard.

At 6:01 p.m. that night — April 4, 1968 — he was killed by a gunshot. He was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m.

The night before his assassination, King preached at the Mason Temple, the world headquarters of the Church of God in Christ, saying to the audience, "We as a people will get to the Promised Land."

A fugitive of the Missouri State Penitentiary, James Earl Ray, was captured in June 1968 and charged in MLK's assassination. He pleaded guilty, though in the decades that followed he tried to withdraw the plea and sought a jury trial. 

There was never a trial, and Ray died in prison in 1998 at age 70.

It has been suggested, and is believed by the King family, that MLK was killed as a result of a government conspiracy that involved the Mafia and Memphis police, but it has never been proven in a court. The idea points to Ray being innocent and says he was framed in the civil rights activist's death.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy as the most visible leader of the civil rights movement from 1954 to 1968 lives on as the nation remembers and honors him on the 50th anniversary of the assassination this week.

Watch the video to learn more about how King spent his final hours in Memphis.




More: Former Scripps newspaper The Commercial Appeal highlights the last 32 hours of MLK's life