This Day in Black History: March 28, 1968

Martin Luther King Jr. leads protest march on behalf of Memphis sanitation workers.

Posted: 03/28/2014 08:30 AM EDT

In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, to help Black sanitation workers fight for dignity and fair treatment. On March 28 of that year, he led a group of 6,000 people marching in support of their cause that unfortunately turned violent. One person died, 50 people were injured and hundreds were arrested.

As the group marched through the city's famed Beale Street, several young Blacks began breaking storefront windows. By the time they turned the corner, recalled fellow freedom rider James Lawson, there were "lengths of police in riot gear across the street." Fearing they would target King, Lawson convinced him to leave.

The civil rights leader was deeply upset by the outcome of what turned out to be his last march, and felt as if he'd somehow failed. Days later on April 8, King was assassinated.

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(Photo: Sam Melhorn/Commercial Appeal /Landov)

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