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Why the MLK anniversary matters in every city

King
MLK addresses a crowd at the March on Washington in 1963, where he gave the "I Have a Dream" speech. Photo: CNP / Getty Images

Fifty years ago Wednesday — on April 4, 1968 — a single bullet in Memphis, Tenn., changed the world: The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

Why it matters: Many of you weren't born then, and you'll hear a lot about this anniversary in the next few days. So I wanted to remind you what a transfixing, transformative event this was not just in the South, but for the whole country.

Flip through the nation's Sunday newspapers, and you'll see what a big deal this moment was everywhere:

  • Seattle Times, "MLK's assassination seared into Seattle memories: When the leading voice of peaceful resistance was slain, a 13-year-old girl thought, 'This was wanting to silence African Americans around the nation.'"
  • Boston Globe, "The young man & the Dream: Before he was a civil rights leader, history­-maker, and martyr, Martin Luther King Jr. was a student in Boston, a young man mapping his course, leaving a lasting impression of greatness soon to be."
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "The week the hill rose up: MLK’s assassination ignited anger in Pittsburgh that had simmered for years."
  • Chicago Tribune, "Chicago riots, 50 years later ... Rage, riots and ruin: Parts of Chicago’s West Side were destroyed after MLK’s death in 1968. Some haven’t recovered."
  • Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Atlanta's 4-mile goodbye to King" ... Photographer discovers never-published photos from funeral procession.

Worthy of your time ... "The witness ... Clara Ester, the Lorraine Motel and the legacy of Martin Luther King," by USA Today's Rick Hampson in Memphis:

  • "Some of the witnesses [to the assassination] at the Lorraine — Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young, Jesse Jackson — are, or soon will be, famous. Most are not. They’re like Clara Jean Ester, a college student caught up in a local sanitation workers' strike."
  • Keep reading.
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