Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an undisputed leader of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.
There were some who believed he foreshadowed his own passing the night before he was killed as he gave a speech at the Mason Temple Church in Memphis.
"We’ve got some difficult days ahead," King said. "But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. 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! I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!"
The next night, standing on a hotel balcony, King was shot and killed by a sniper. He was pronounced dead about an hour later at the hospital.
What followed in the immediate aftermath was rioting, looting, and violence in more than 100 cities nationwide as people mourned. Thousands of people were arrested or injured. More than 40 people were reportedly killed.
President Lyndon B. Johnson, an ally of MLK in the civil rights effort, called for calm from the nation.
James Earl Ray was eventually arrested for the murder. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in prison, but later recanted and spent the rest of his life claiming he was the victim of a conspiracy as he tried to get a new trial.