On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee at the Loraine Motel. His assassination led to many riots throughout the nation, but also many peace vigils. Here at NMU, peace vigils were held and on April 3, 1969 a memorial service was held in MLK’s honor at the Kaye Hall Auditorium.
Here at the Archives, we have a broadcast of that memorial service. It included MLK giving one of his famous speeches, which discusses what he would like said at his funeral and what he would like most for people to remember about him. A clip of this recording is available here:
James Earl Ray was charged with the crime and sentenced to 99 years in prison, and eventually died in 1998 while serving out his sentence. Though there is evidence linking Ray to the shooting (the gun found had his fingerprints and eyewitnesses saw him fleeing the hotel across the street), there are still conspiracy theories that involve Ray being used as a scapegoat.
MLK was known for his nonviolent leadership during the Civil Rights Movement. He arrived late to Memphis on April 3, 1968, due to a bomb threat on his plane. The last speech he gave is widely known as “I’ve been to the Mountaintop,” which he gave the night before his assassination to a small crowd gathered in the rain in Memphis.
For more information or to hear more of MLK’s memorial broadcast, visit the Archives in Room 126 of the LRC (down by Starbucks).
Prepared by Alexandria Eisner and Olivia Ernst.