The next evening, the civil rights leader was on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel when he was shot and killed. News of his death spread quickly over the airwaves to New York City, where grieving residents in Harlem filled the streets to comfort one another and listen to King’s speeches. Emotions were running high and there were fears the assassination would lead to major unrest in America’s largest city.
Ultimately, these fears didn’t materialize, though dozens were arrested amid outbursts of looting in Harlem and Brooklyn. The next day thousands of people marched from Harlem in solidarity to Central Park, where a memorial was held. Thousands more people, including a large number of students, marched from Times Square to City Hall.
Many businesses and schools closed early as people joined together to grieve America's preeminent civil rights leader and conceive how to carry on his legacy. On Tuesday night, 50 years after King's final speech at the Mason Temple, New Yorkers came together again to honor King and talk about the work that still needs to be done.