Today in History: Martin Luther King Jr. Assassinated in Memphis Tennessee

Martin Luther King Jr. at Syracuse University

“Just after 6 p.m. on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. is fatally shot while standing on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. The civil rights leader was in Memphis to support a sanitation workers’ strike and was on his way to dinner when a bullet struck him in the jaw and severed his spinal cord. King was pronounced dead after his arrival at a Memphis hospital. He was 39 years old.” – The History Channel 

Dr. King spoke twice at Syracuse University. His first appearance came in July, 1961 with a speech titled “The American Dream,” the precursor to the famed 1963 speech, “I Have A Dream…” According to Sean Kirst in an article for, King’s speech “challenged patterns of segregation in Syracuse and other Northern school districts.”

Four years later, in July 1965, Dr. King gave his “The Role of Education in the Civil Rights Movement” speech in Sims Hall, which, according to Syracuse University News, “became a place of lasting history when King—a Nobel Peace Prize recipient who was only a few months past the landmark march at Selma—was the guest speaker during the summer session.” For many years, the only surviving record of this speech was an original transcript. However, 50 years later, two reel-to-reel tapes of the speech turned up. One from William Wayson, a member of the University faculty at the time, and another by Ed Galvin—now retired as the University archivist. (Sean Kirst, King’s 1965 Speech in Sims Hall Still Inspires)

Below, you can listen to the newly discovered audio recording of the Reverand Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at Syracuse University in July of 1965. King is introduced by Dr. Charles Willie, a Syracuse University professor and former classmate of King’s at Morehouse College.

Martin Luther King Jr. at Syracuse University July 1965 from Syracuse University News on Vimeo.