Martin Luther King Assassination




Title: Martin Luther King Assassination

Creator: Joseph Louw

Date: 1968, Memphis Tennessee,Lorraine Motel

Format: Photograph

Image released in TIME magazine, copyright TIME & Getty Images



This photo illustrates civil rights activist hovering over Martin Luther King’s Body as they point in the direction of the shooter. Martin Luther King was shot April 4th 1968 at the Lorraine Motel. His assassination shocked the country and left activist grief stricken. He helped spark the civil rights movement by peacefully protesting and advocating justice for all. 


Joseph Louw’s picture is powerful and eye-catching.  The activist’s and onlookers faces are urgent and afraid while his body lies in a pool of blood. This photograph captures a set back within civil rights movement. Martin Luther king was their courageous and strong leader who fought peacefully and passionately for equal rights. One person lays next to him trying to wipe up his blood with a towel. An onlooker peaks through their curtain to see what happened. Everyone was shocked and surprised this event happened so quickly. This photo was taken to capture the final moment of Martin Luther King. He spoke peacefully yet his life ended violently. His actions and protests caused uproars all across the country, yet in a few mere seconds it was all over. Although it is unsure if the photographer was pro civil rights, this moment was a victory for some but a catastrophe for others. 




4 thoughts on “Martin Luther King Assassination”

  1. Obviously this photograph captured a dramatic moment. But I wonder if part of its power is also in the interesting formal visual qualities of the composition of the photograph itself. The angles of all their arms pointing upward is very powerful, and it echoes other lines in the photograph, the railings and angles of the hotel building itself. This is of course accidental, but good photographers know how to recognize these kinds of great accidents when they happen. And they even know how to look for those accidents through the lens of their cameras as they’re shooting.

  2. This image is also really interesting because of the location of the photographer. Their position makes viewers of the image follow the arms of the activists to see if we can get a glimpse of a finger, shadow, or just any part of the man who killed one of the most iconic people in the history of the United States.

  3. Truly a powerful image. The strain and panic on the faces of everyone in the photo captures the mood following the assassination. MLK was truly a hero and the only man capable of leading a peaceful Civil Rights movement. After his death, many riots and violence ensued, means he hated and could no longer control.

  4. This is such an interesting and captivating photograph. It embodies the spirit of the civil rights era. Like the movement in a way, this image illustrates a number of people all working towards a common goal. In this case it just happens to be saving MLK, their fearless leader. This picture is a good reminder of the things that happened and how much our country has been through. It is truly inspiring that MLK constantly put himself in the crosshairs for the sake of society.

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