Who Assassinated Martin Luther King Jr.?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking before crowd of 25,000 Selma To Montgomery, Alabama civil rights marchers, in front of Montgomery, Alabama state capital building. On March 25, 1965 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Stephen Somerstein/Getty Images)

Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the most significant leaders in American history and the preeminent leader of the African-American Civil Rights movement during the 1950s and '60s. His contributions toward American liberty were great, most notably popularizing civil disobedience (a tactic he learned from Mahatma Gandhi) on his own homestead of Montgomery, Alabama after Rosa Parks refused to leave her seat on a segregated bus in 1955. The resulting Montgomery Bus Boycott proved a success, as the courts ruled that bus segregation was in conflict with the 14th Amendment, which promised "equal protection of the laws." Not everyone was happy about it.

Previous Attempts On King's Life

With success came conflict, as King would learn on September 20, 1958, when a young, disturbed woman named Izola Curry attempted to murder King by stabbing him in the abdomen with a letter opener. Following emergency surgery, King spent several weeks in the hospital but eventually made a full recovery, while Curry spent the rest of her life in a psychiatric institution, never deemed competent to stand trial.