How Long Were Riots After MLK Death (And Why)?

Exact Answer: About 4 days

MLK, King Martin Luther was heading towards his dinner table when he was shot dead on 4th April 1968. The bullet made his condition worse by leading to severe malfunctioning of his spinal cord. He was immediately admitted to the hospital but due to severe blood loss and worsening of the condition, he lost the battle of his life at the age of 39. All these incidents related to injustice in the economic sphere triggered him to stand up few months before his death.

As a response to his extreme tension, he started a campaign for the poor people of the nation. He wanted to highlight the growing poverty in the nation and wanted to liberate the people and their future generations from this vicious cycle of poverty.

How Long Were Riots After MLK Death?

TypeTime
Minimum 4 days
Maximum7 days

Along with his supporters, he marched to Washington and Memphis to highlight the ill-treatment and injustice borne by the African Americans. After this, he even became the leader of another march on March 28, this time making violence as his weapon. Unfortunately, the march was called off due to the demise of a teen from the community of African Americans. However, this doesn’t mark the end of the King’s Courage. Rather, he started working even harder to come back with another protest to fight for his people.

On 3 April, he presided over a sermon where he spoke that he would always be there to support the people in their struggle to their utopia which he had promised. The next morning was a mournful one for the entire nation. Their only supporter and fighter were murdered to death. As a response to this mournful news, riots were organized in more than 100 cities. Finally, on 9 April, he was cremated at his home place.

The investigations commenced right after the news of the murder had spread across the nation. Serious investigations revealed the rifle which had been used to murder the king. It was not even 12 hours of the death of the king when these murder secrets were dug out to the limelight. Within few more weeks of restless investigations, the reports of the murder including the place of the shooting of the gun, eyewitnesses, and all the necessary revelations were made.

The culprit cum murderer was even caught in no time. The culprit, James Earl Ray escaped from the prison once after being sentenced to prison life of about 99 years. But, he couldn’t stay free for long. Searches were conducted and the culprit was captured again and further investigations were carried. The revelations said that the culprit owned a fake passport of the Canadian government with a fake identity.

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Why Riots Continued So Long After MLK’S Death?

After further investigations, it was found that Ray was not the actual culprit. He was the instrument used to murder the king. There was another person named Raoul who had bribed Ray for doing such a heinous crime. His trial continued for about 29 years at the end of which King Luther’s family members announced Ray to be innocent accepting his pleading and excuses. They believed that the king’s death was a real conspiracy by the government and military wing of the nation.

The director of the FBI, the chief department of investigations was even not in favor of the king and had tortured him during his final years. Thousands of investigations have been conducted by various departments and organizations. All of these found Ray to be the culprit of the murder with suspects of some conspiracy which was concealed carefully under the disguise of authority and power. Following the king’s death, riots were continued for about seven months.

The Black inhabitants of the state had revolted suddenly after the king’s murder but there were more revolts afterward. Some more investigations had been conducted later which had revealed that the members of the black community were not in agreement with the King’s non-violent approach. The death of the king had affected the people of the nation both mentally and morally. King Luther was not only an activist but was even involved in the process of reformation of the nation to a better tomorrow.

The riots were the result of many factors. The King’s Death was only one minor reason. There were other reasons such as the outlawing of segregation, economic differences, and racial discrimination. All these reasons were fueled by the King’s Death thereby leading to the upsurge of riots.

Conclusion

King Martin Luther was the only one who actively fought for the rights of the black people. He had made them envision a beautiful nation where every man and woman, irrespective of their caste, color, creed would be equal in all terms. But, his death ended the last ray of hope of the people which grieved them and instigated them to stand up for themselves.

With time, other leaders came to power who even promised to fight for the black people, but none could compensate for the loss of King Luther. The four-day riots created mass destruction in about 110 cities. The government had to struggle a lot to settle the riots.

Reference

  1. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.44.101802.121840
  2. https://mcb.asm.org/content/21/14/4713.short
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