7. The Mysterious ‘Raoul’
Ray, King’s killer, tried to implicate a man named “Raoul” in the assassination, claiming to have been framed by the mysterious figure. Law-enforcement authorities have never found anyone matching Raoul’s description.
8. The U2 Song Lyrics
In the song Pride (in the Name of Love), U2 commemorates King’s assassination with the lyrics, “ Early morning, April 4/Shot rings out in the Memphis sky/ Free at last, they took your life/ They could not take your pride.” There’s one small factual error in the song, though: He was actually killed in the early evening.
9. The Missing Person at the Funeral
Although President Johnson attended a memorial service for King, delivered remarks from the White House and declared a national day of mourning, he didn’t attend the funeral. Because of the controversy surrounding the Vietnam War, he made few public appearances in 1968. Vice President Hubert Humphrey went in his place.
10. The Words and Music That Stopped Riots
In the aftermath of King’s assassination, cities across the country erupted into riots. A speech in Indianapolis by Robert Kennedy is widely credited with preventing a riot there. (After informing the crowd of the killing, Kennedy said, “Let us dedicate to ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”) A concert by James Brown is believed to have had the same soothing effect in Boston.
11. The Motel-Turned-Museum
The Lorraine Motel, where King was killed, is now part of Memphis’ National Civil Rights Museum. For $10, visitors can see the room where King was staying the day of his assassination, along with its balcony and the courtyard of the landmark building.
12. The Final Wishes
During King’s funeral, mourners heard a recording of the last sermon King delivered in his church. In it, he spoke of how he hoped to be remembered after his death, saying, “I’d like someone to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others . . . I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry . . . And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.”
Jene Desmond-Harris is The Root’s White House correspondent.