The civil rights movement was a long and arduous struggle for racial equality in America. It began with the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War, but it wasn't until Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s leadership that it gained momentum. All of that changed when James Earl Ray assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King.
In Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4th, 1968, and ended Dr. King's larger-than-life role in and influence on the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement came to a close as a result of his death.
The death of such a prominent figure left many wondering what would come next for African Americans fighting for equal treatment under the law and within society. Some hoped there would be an end to violence against blacks with his death, while others feared it might only exacerbate tensions between black communities and police forces.
Some even wondered if this event might lead to widespread riots similar to those seen during times of high tension in recent years. Like after Freddie Gray died while being transported by Baltimore Police or when Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who later went on trial but was acquitted.
However, these fears did not materialize as most people were too grief-stricken over their loss to engage in any kind of violent protest or rioting, which is why historians generally agree that this moment marked the end of both Dr. King's life and his influence over American politics.
The assassination did cause riots across hundreds of cities around the country after some time as people took to the streets out of anger over what had happened to their leader and to their cause itself.
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