After years of death threats, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead on April 4, 1968, at a motel in Memphis, TN, at the age of 39. He was killed the day after he gave the "I've Been to the Mountaintop" address. Fugitive James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to the assassination but maintained his innocence. The King family believes MLK was killed due to a conspiracy involving the US government, and sealed documents will not be opened until 2027.
April 7, 1968, was declared a national day of mourning, and on April 9, hundreds of thousands gathered for his funeral. On April 11, Congress passed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1968.