Time To Remember

April 4, 1968: Scenes From MLK’s Last Day

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In a series of never-before-released photographs, Life magazine finally unveils a new look at what happened after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated more than 45 years later.

More photos at Life.com.

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The eerily empty streets around the Lorraine Motel in the hours after Dr. King’s assassination

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Colleagues gather on the balcony outside room 306, just a few feet from where Dr. King was shot. Groskinsky remembers that “the people at the Lorraine were annoyed that the media was talking about how there were going to be all these demonstrations. Eventually there were, but not there. Not that night. It was very quiet. I was afraid that it was going to change.”

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Stunned, silent members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Dr. King’s room, including Andrew Young (far left, under table lamp) and the civil rights leader and King’s colleague, Reverend Ralph Abernathy, seated in the middle on the far bed. “I was very discreet. I shot just enough to document what was going on. I didn’t want to make a nuisance of myself. And right there, almost in the center of the picture, in the mirror you can see the reflection of me taking the picture. It’s very somber, and there I am with a flash camera. So I took a couple of pictures and just kind of backed off.”

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Outside of room 306, Theatrice Bailey, the brother of the motel’s owner, sweeps blood from the balcony. “I have to tell you, there was no friction with the people there at the Lorraine, even though here was this White man with a camera on the scene.”

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King’s neatly packed, monogrammed briefcase in his room at the Lorraine. “That is Dr. King’s briefcase, just as it was. His brush. His pajamas. That’s a can of shaving cream there on top. And you can see his book, ‘Strength to Love,’ peeping from the pocket.”