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Martin Luther King: 40 years later, the legacy lives on

April 04, 2008
Today is the 40th anniversary of the assassination of African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

While in Memphis in support of African-American sanitary public works employees, King was shot at by escaped white convict James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968, on the balcony of the motel where he was staying. King died in hospital an hour later and his death sparked riots in many American cities. He was just 39 years old.

Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's success with non-violent activism, King had visited in India in 1959 to study Gandhi's Satyagraha.

King's trip to India deepened his understanding of non-violent resistance and his commitment to America's struggle for civil rights.

King declared of Mahatma Gandhi, "He embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation."

Looking back, many would say that King too was successful in embodying Gandhi's principles of non-violence and civil disobedience for which he won admirers the world over.

Image: Martin Luther KIng waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the famous 'March on Washington' on August 28, 1963.
Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Also read: The King of Civil Rights


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