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Welcome to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Encyclopedia!

The Encyclopedia, based on the extensive historical research originally conducted for The Papers,has over 280 articles on civil rights movement figures, events, and organizations. It also offers a detailed day-to-day chronology of King's life, drawn from the volumes.

Memphis Sanitation Workers' Strike

The night before his assassination in April 1968, Martin Luther King told a group of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee: “We’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through” (King, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” 217).

Coretta Scott King places flowers at King's grave. Photo by Bob Fitch, courtesy of the Bob Fitch Photography Archive, © Stanford University Libraries.

Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

At 6:05 P.M. on Thursday, 4 April 1968, Martin Luther King was shot dead. During King’s funeral a tape recording was played in which King spoke of how he wanted to be remembered after his death: “I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others” (King, “Drum Major Instinct,” 85).

"Drum Major Instinct"

On 4 February 1968, King, preached “The Drum Major Instinct” from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church. Excerpts were played at King’s nationally televised funeral service, held at Ebenezer on 9 April 1968.

King Encyclopedia

King Encyclopedia

Search the entries of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Encyclopedia, updated for digital publication.

View the day-to-day chronology of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Truman, Harry S. (May 8, 1884 to December 26, 1972)
Trumpet of Conscience, The (June 26, 1968)
Vandiver, Samuel Ernest, Jr. (July 3, 1918 to February 21, 2005)
Vietnam War (May 11, 1961 to April 30, 1975)
Vivian, Cordy Tindell (July 30, 1924 to July 17, 2020)
Voter Education Project (VEP) (April 1, 1962 to January 31, 1992)
Voting Rights Act of 1965 (August 6, 1965)
Wachtel, Harry H. (March 26, 1917 to February 3, 1997)
Walker, Wyatt Tee (August 16, 1929 to January 23, 2018)
Wallace, George Corley, Jr. (August 25, 1919 to September 13, 1998)
Watson, Melvin Hampton (May 14, 1908 to June 19, 2006)
Watts Rebellion (Los Angeles) (August 11, 1965 to August 16, 1965)
West, Irene (September 30, 1890 to September 7, 1975)
Why We Can't Wait (June 8, 1964)
Wilkins, Roy Ottaway (August 30, 1901 to September 8, 1981)
Williams, Adam Daniel (A. D.) (January 2, 1863 to March 21, 1931)
Williams, Hosea (January 5, 1926 to November 16, 2000)