Nation: THE ASSASSINATION

In causation and execution, the murder of Martin Luther King was both a symbol and a symptom of the nation's racial malaise. The proximate cause of his death was, ironically, a minor labor dispute in a Southern backwater: the two-month-old strike of 1,300 predominantly Negro garbage collectors in the decaying Mississippi river town of Memphis. The plight of the sanitation workers, caused by the refusal of Memphis' intransigent white Mayor Henry Loeb to meet their modest wage and compensation demands, first attracted and finally eradicated Dr. King, the conqueror of Montgomery, Birmingham and Selma.

Paradoxically, when a Negro riot ensued during his...

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