On MLK's Final Night, He Seemed 'Near Panic'

50 years after his assassination, a fresh look at his last hours
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2018 8:42 AM CDT
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(Newser) – On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on a balcony outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. The 50th anniversary of his death brings with it a wave of headlines and remembrances. Among them: Bells across America will ring 39 times Wednesday night, with each chime signifying a year of King's short life, reports CNN. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports bells will toll first at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis at 6:01pm local time—the time King was shot—with the rest of the city and country following. Some of the best coverage:

  • In an excerpt from Redemption: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Last 31 Hours published in the Guardian, Joseph Rosenbloom delves into King's 43-minute final speech at the Mason Temple the night before his death. It returned, over and over again, to the topic of death. King recalled the 1958 incident in which a woman stabbed him at a Harlem book signing; doctors had told him that had he sneezed, the knife blade that sat perilously close to his aorta would have ended it all. Telling that story "seemed to transport him into a profound gloom about mortality—his mortality," writes Rosenbloom, who notes that while King talked about death on many occasions, it was never in such a morose tone. "This night in Memphis, however, he seemed near panic." The full excerpt explains why.

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