The Riots That Followed the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I've Been to the Mountaintop” speech in Memphis, Tennessee, one day before his assassination. King’s Memphis speech focused on the ongoing sanitation workers’ strike, and he reaffirmed his commitment to fight injustice with nonviolent protest, despite government injunctions and threats on his life. King stated he just wanted to carry out God’s will: “And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.” As the news of King’s assassination spread, riots broke out in more than 100 cities across the United States, with some raging for several days. In the week following the shooting in Memphis, hundreds of buildings were burned, thousands of arrests were made, and more than 40 people lost their lives.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Ferdi Awed / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Pug Mugshot, Umbrella Sky, Helsinki Summit

    Splashing in New York City, deadly protests in Nicaragua, a reunited migrant family in Texas, tornado damage in Iowa, mammoth transport in Austria, and much more.

  • HelloRF Zcool / Shutterstock

    A Photo Trip to China’s Qiandongnan Prefecture

    In south central China’s Guizhou province sits Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, home to nearly four million people, beautiful scenery, and colorful festivals.

  • Marco Longari / AFP / Getty

    Afriski: Lesotho's Only Ski Resort

    High in the Mountains of Lesotho, sits Afriski, one of only two ski resorts in southern Africa.

  • Ilya Naymushin / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Atomic Art, Moon Pool, Giant Iceberg

    The Royal Air Force celebrates its centennial in London, World Cup emotions run high, the Running of the Bulls begins in Spain, Tour de France riders pass through stage six, and much more.