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The Ann Arbor, Mich., newspaper notes that a sniper's bullet killed the civil rights leader who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for "consistently asserting the principle of non-violence."

Newseum Collection

On April 4, 1968, the fatal shooting of Martin Luther King Jr. sent shock waves through the country. Famous for his nonviolent principles and rhetorical mastery, King understood the power of the First Amendment and used it to bring national attention to the ongoing battle for racial equality. His death on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tenn., silenced a major figure in the civil rights movement, but his message and words remain strong half a century later.

View archived front pages covering the assassination, funeral, ensuing riots and the impact of King’s death on civil rights legislation from The Atlanta Constitution, the North Carolina Courier-TribuneThe Michigan Daily and The Macon (Ga.) Telegraph, as well as a photograph of King’s family at his funeral.

You can bring King, the fight for racial equality and the First Amendment into your classroom through NewseumED resources. (To access some of these resources, you must be signed into NewseumED; registration is free.)

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  • 1968: Civil Rights at 50” is part of a changing exhibit exploring the tumultuous events that shaped the civil rights movement in 1968, when its leader, King, was assassinated, unleashing anger and anguish across the country. The exhibit runs to Jan. 2, 2019.
  • “Make Some Noise: Students and the Civil Rights Movement” is a Newseum exhibit on young adults in the early 1960s who fought segregation by making their voices heard and exercising their First Amendment rights. Featured are a section of the original F.W. Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., where in 1960 four African-American college students launched the sit-in movement; and a bronze casting of the Birmingham, Ala., jail cell door (at right) behind which  King penned his famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail” in 1963. Download a gallery exploration guide for students.

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EDClasses & Training

  • Free Summer Classes

    The Freedom Forum is happy to announce our free summer classes. Facilitated by our experienced educators and experts, these hour-long virtual programs are designed to address contemporary First Amendment issues, including media literacy, that impact us all.

  • Religious Liberty for Students

    Students will be introduced to the principles that flow from the religious liberty clauses of the First Amendment.

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