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King Remembered on 40th Anniversary of Death

The assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968, forever changed the widening struggle for civil rights. Details of the day reveal why King was in Memphis, what was happening with the movement and King's mindset in the hours before he was killed.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, one of King's contemporaries, reflects on the man behind the myth. Seven years King's senior, Lowery first met him in the early 1950s at a seminar in Boston.

"I thought he was just another loud-mouthed Baptist preacher. But it was clear not long after you got talking with Martin that he was special," Lowery, a Methodist minister, says.

Lowery helped lead the Montgomery bus boycott, and in 1957, founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with King.

He last saw King alive in March 1968 in Birmingham, Ala. Lowery was on a train from Nashville to Birmingham when King was killed. He shares memories of his friend and colleague.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.