Despite the waning of Reconstruction, mob violence and lynching occurred almost unchecked in the South until World War I.
Blacks were removed from public affairs by intimidation.
His death signaled the seeming end of a period of civil rights progress that he had led and for which his life had become a symbol. King's legacy is one of profound change in the social fabric, not only for Black Americans, but for all citizens.
Martin Luther King, Jr., an eloquent Baptist minister from Atlanta, Ga., was one of the most prominent figures in the civil rights movement in America during its period of most visible achievement, 1955 to 1968. King became the victim of savage violence, killed by a sniper's bullet as he stood on the balcony of a Memphis, Tenn, motel on April 4, 1968.
Combat reports indicate that, Black prisoners were murdered by Southern troops following, for example, the 1864 Battles of Fort Pillow, Tenn., Poison Spring, Ark., and the Crater at Petersburg, Va.
In the decade following the Northern victory in 1865 and the freeing of slaves from bondage, a spate of laws, engineered to guarantee the rights of newly emancipated Blacks, were adopted.But for some, after his death, as a Washington Post writer observed, "..army of conscience disbanded, the banners fell, the movement unraveled..." History of Civil Rights Violence Dr.King's tragic death in Memphis in 1968 was not, unfortunately, historical aberration.Systematic violence, designed to terrify Blacks asserting their right to vote, led Attorney General Alfonso Taft to declare in 1876, "It is the fixed purpose of the Democratic Party in the South that the Negro shall not vote and murder is a common means of intimidation to prevent them." Radical Reconstruction in the South was defeated by 1877, and the last of the Black militias in the South were dissolved.Southern legislatures adopted laws to deprive Blacks of all opportunity for political or civil participation and to segregate all facilities for education, travel, and public accommodation.In 1835, a proslavery band seized abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and dragged him through the streets of Boston.Two years later, the presses of the radical Alton, Ill, Observer were destroyed, and its editor, Elijah P. Page 264 In the 1850's, violence presaged the struggle that was to tear the Union asunder.Civil rights violence dates back at least to the mid-18th century, with the slave revolts of that period and their brutal suppression by whites.Roaming bands of runaway slaves in the South attacked plantations, and, in 1775, fears of a general slave uprising led to the annihilation of at least one group of Blacks by white soldiers in Georgia.In the Alabama election campaign of 1870, four Black civil rights leaders were murdered when they attended a Republican rally.White terrorists took control of Meridian, Miss., in 1871 after they killed a Republican judge and lynched an interracial group of civil rights leaders.