At 6:01 PM on April 4th 1968, James Earl Ray shot Martin Luther King, Junior in the neck, outside of room 306, while he was talking to supporters, at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. The musician Ben Branch was present, and the last statement MLK made was for Ben to play his favorite hymn, “Precious Lord” and to, “Play it pretty”. The white supremacist assasinain was a George Wallace supporter and committed the act partly because he viewed MLK as a grave threat to Wallace’s presidential ambitions.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to visit firsthand the Lorraine Hotel, and the Civil Rights Center a couple of blocks away. Just like when I went to the site of “Bloody Sunday”, on the Edmund Pettus bridge, I could feel the sadness of the past history of the location I had been in.
In Memphis, there is lots of street art pertaining to civil rights activists, with inscriptions of “I am a man”, and signs on lamp posts indicating the 50 year anniversary of the assassination date.
On the tombstone, elevated above the waters of a swimming pool in Atlanta, the stone states MLK’s famous words, “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last”.
The Lorraine Hotel became the first ever national civil rights center in the United States.
Four years after her husband’s burial, a memorial was held for her husband in India.