Mar 31, 2008
40th anniversary of assassination of civil rights leader marked with tribute to labor
It was a warm spring day in Michigan in 1968 when TV and radio programming was interrupted with special bulletins to inform viewers and listeners that civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King had been assassinated in Memphis, Tenn.
This Friday, April 4, will mark the 40th anniversary of the day the respected and revered civil rights leader who preached non-violence and civil disobedience to further civil rights was gunned down on a motel balcony, shot in the neck as he was preparing to lead a march of sanitation workers in that southern city protesting against low wages and poor working conditions. King would die from his wounds a short time later in a Memphis hospital.
After King's assassination, Michigan Governor George Romney declared an official period of mourning in Michigan, and he ordered all flags in the state to be flown at half-staff. King's assassination led to riots in more than 120 US cities, but luckily, Detroit was spared. Detroit had just witnessed the worst riot in state history the year before, and 43 people had been killed and scores more injured in the race riot that set portions of the city ablaze in 1967.
Just a month after King's assassination the country would further be rocked on June 5, 1968, when U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated as he celebrated a win in the California Democratic Presidential Primary.
To mark the fact that King’s last act before he was murdered was to help organized municipal employees, the Young Democrats of America Labor Caucus, Lansing Democratic Future and Michigan Young Democrats are hosting a community tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King and the public employee unions at 6 p.m. April 8 at the Teamsters Local 580 hall, 5800 Executive Dr. in Lansing. A donation is requested.