MLK: What He Meant to the US and What the US Did to Him

Martin Luther King Jr
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This photo of Dr. King was taken at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. Photo credit: NPS
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Without Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the United States would certainly look different than it does today. Yet, in spite of being one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century and helping the US become more just, much of the shameful injustice that his country perpetrated against him remains hidden. 

Below, however, you will find some answers — both regarding his legacy and how parts of the government tried to undermine him every step of the way. 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Photo credit: LBJ Library / Wikimedia

Martin Luther King Also Had a Nightmare

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, WhoWhatWhy presents — through a fascinating collection of pictures — a brief history of American racism, a look at the kind of hatred, atrocities, and soul-searing humiliation that spurred King into action.

FBI Building

J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building, Washington, DC. Photo credit: The US National Archives / Flickr

How the FBI Used a Famous Black Photographer to Spy on Martin Luther King

Longtime Memphis journalist Marc Perrusquia has spent years examining the questionable tactics of the FBI in its surveillance of King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference. This podcast explores the bureau’s behavior and reveals that — amazingly — these same shadowy tactics, and their cover-up, continue to this day. 

The Plot to Kill King, James Earl Ray

‘The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. by Dr. William F. Pepper Esq. (left). James Earl Ray mugshot (right). Photo credit: Skyhorse Publishing Federal Bureau of Prisons / Wikimedia

The Plot to Kill King: A Look at Who Really Murdered Martin Luther King

William Pepper, who has devoted most of his life to uncovering the truth of the King assassination, recaps the events and players that came together at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, in April 1968. 


Displays at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

Revealing the Ploy That Drew MLK to Memphis

An excerpt from William Pepper’s book, The Plot to Kill King, detailing his decades-long investigation into a possible conspiracy. 

Dr Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King, Dr Ralph David Abernathy, Juanita Abernathy

Dr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King with Dr. Ralph David Abernathy and his wife Mrs. Juanita Abernathy, the Abernathy children, and others as they march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Photo credit: Abernathy Family / Wikimedia

Selma Remembered: MLK Warned That Apathy Was the Real Killer

Selma, AL, was perhaps the climax of the civil rights movement. On the 51st anniversary of that famed march, we took a moment to reflect on some of King’s most extraordinary oratory.   

Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Florida Memory / Flickr.

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