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Friends of the Library of Congress brings together a community of donors committed to preserving this nation’s cultural memory. This group is integral in advancing the Library’s mission to engage, inspire, and inform and help make everything possible from digital resources to public programming to exhibitions.

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News from the Library of Congress

November 2023

  • November 6, 2023  (23-096)

    Library Seeks Applicants for the 2024 Junior Fellows Program The Library of Congress is seeking applicants for its next Junior Fellows Program, a summer internship held from May 20, 2024, to July 26, 2024. This 10-week, full-time paid internship is open to undergraduate and graduate students, and recent graduates interested in learning and conducting research using the resources of the largest library in the world. Remote and on-site project opportunities are available. The…

    • Date: 2023-11-06

  • November 2, 2023  (23-094)

    Library of Congress Opens Award Nominations for Outstanding Federal Libraries, Librarians and Library Technicians To honor the innovations and successes of federal libraries, librarians and library technicians in meeting the information demands of government, businesses, scholarly communities and the public, the Federal Library and Information Network (FEDLINK) in the Library of Congress has opened nominations for its national awards for federal librarianship in fiscal year 2023.For nomination materials, visit the “awards” section of the FEDLINK website or email…

    • Date: 2023-11-02

  • November 2, 2023  (23-095)

    Library of Congress Hosts Premiere of “Language Is Life,” an Episode from the PBS series Native America The Library of Congress will premiere one of four new episodes of the acclaimed PBS series “Native America” on Nov. 9, focused on Native people’s efforts to preserve their languages and ways of life. The film, which features Library collections, will be followed by a panel discussion on Indigenous language preservation, as part of the Library’s celebration of Native American Heritage Month.Narrated by former…

    • Date: 2023-11-02

October 2023

  • October 19, 2023  (23-089)
  • October 18, 2023  (23-091)

    Library Announces 2023 Music Commissions from Koussevitzky Foundation The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress has awarded commissions for new musical works to six composers. The commissions are granted jointly by the foundation and the performing organizations that will present the world premiere of each work.Winning composers for 2023 and the groups co-sponsoring their commissions are Lembit Beecher and Ensemble Échappé; Ashkan Behzadi and Ensemble Recherche; Michael Finnissy and…

    • Date: 2023-10-18

  • October 17, 2023  (23-090)
  • October 17, 2023  (23-092)

    Materials from the Musical ‘Hadestown’ Added to Library of Congress Collections The Library of Congress has added rare materials from the development of the Tony Award-winning musical “Hadestown” to its collections, thanks to a donation from the show’s Tony Award-winning creator, singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell. Items donated by Mitchell tell the story of the show’s development, including draft lyrics written on a yellow legal pad; memorabilia including promotional posters and a postcard from the very first…

    • Date: 2023-10-17

  • October 10, 2023  (23-085)

    Library of Congress Appoints Stephanie Stillo Chief of Rare Book and Special Collections The Library of Congress has named Stephanie Stillo as the new chief of the Library’s Rare Book and Special Collections Division. Stillo, who assumed her new role on Oct. 9, joined the Library in 2016. She has served as the curator of the Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection and the Aramont Library — two of the division’s notable collections.The Rare Book and Special Collections Division…

    • Date: 2023-10-10

  • October 5, 2023  (23-087)
  • October 4, 2023  (23-A04)

    Library Open for Federal Holiday Oct. 9 The Library of Congress will be open to visitors with timed-entry passes on the federal Columbus Day holiday, Monday, October 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., including public spaces in the Thomas Jefferson Building and all exhibitions.In addition, the Main Reading Room in the Jefferson building will be open for visitors to view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. via the Great Hall…

    • Date: 2023-10-04

September 2023

  • September 27, 2023  (23-A03)

    Advisory: Possible Federal Government Shutdown In the event of a temporary shutdown of the federal government effective 12:01 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, all Library of Congress buildings will be CLOSED to the public and researchers.All public events will be cancelled. Also, all inquiries and requests to the Library of Congress web-based services will not be received or responded to until the shutdown ends. Information on loc.gov will not be…

    • Date: 2023-09-27

  • September 19, 2023  (23-083)

    Library Welcomes Science and Social Studies Teachers for New School Year The Library of Congress began the 2023-2024 school year by welcoming two teachers to its Capitol Hill campus. Kelsey Beeghly, a science curriculum and assessment coordinator from Orlando, Florida, will serve as the Library’s 2023-2024 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow.Tyron Bey, a middle school social studies teacher from Prince George’s County, Maryland, has been named the 2023-2024 Teacher-in-Residence at the Library of Congress.Beeghly and…

    • Date: 2023-09-19

  • September 14, 2023  (23-082)
  • September 14, 2023  (23-084)
  • September 13, 2023  (23-079)

    Library of Congress Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with a Danzón Class The Library of Congress joins National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations with a special danzón dance class and performance and 50 audio recordings added to its historic PALABRA Archive, which turns 80 this year. The monthlong celebration from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 highlights the culture, history and contributions of the Hispanic community to the nation.As part of the celebrations through Live at the Library,…

    • Date: 2023-09-13

  • September 12, 2023  (23-081)

    Innovator in Residence Invites Public to Experience Chinatown Reconstruction Artist, educator and 2023 Library of Congress Innovator in Residence Jeffrey Yoo Warren is inviting the public to visit an immersive 3D reconstruction of historic Providence, Rhode Island’s Chinatown in 1914, recreated using archival photographs and records from the Library’s collection. The model is the first part of Yoo Warren’s project, Seeing Lost Enclaves: Relational Reconstructions of Erased Historic Neighborhoods of Color, which aims…

    • Date: 2023-09-12

  • September 8, 2023  (23-077)

    Library of Congress Announces 2023 Literacy Awards on International Literacy Day Three organizations working to expand literacy and promote reading will be awarded the 2023 Library of Congress Literacy Awards, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced today. Top prizes are being awarded to The News Literacy Project, Downtown Boxing Gym and Worldreader.The Literacy Awards program, sponsored by David M. Rubenstein since 2013, honors organizations that provide exemplary, innovative and replicable strategies to combat illiteracy. For…

    • Date: 2023-09-08

  • September 7, 2023  (23-075)
  • September 6, 2023  (23-080)
  • September 1, 2023  (23-002)

    Library of Congress, National Park Service Announce 2022 Holland Prize Winner The Library of Congress and the National Park Service announced today that the 2022 Leicester B. Holland Prize will be presented to Lukas Burgher for a drawing of the historic Grace Methodist Episcopal Church in Lincoln, Virginia.The Holland Prize honors an outstanding historic building, structure or landscape measured drawing prepared to the standards of the Historic American Buildings Survey, Historic American Engineering Record, or…

    • Date: 2023-09-01

  • September 1, 2023  (23-013)
  • September 1, 2023  (23-053)

    Librarian of Congress Names New Inspector General Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced today, the appointment of Glenda B. Arrington as the inspector general for the Library of Congress. Formerly the inspector general of the Air Force Test Center, Arrington’s more than 35-year career comprises a broad professional portfolio spanning the public and private sector, academia, community outreach, and nonprofit board leadership. Arrington has extensive leadership experience and has served for…

    • Date: 2023-09-01

  • September 1, 2023  (23-057)

    Librarian of Congress Appoints Robert R. Newlen as Interim Director of the Congressional Research Service Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced today that she has appointed Robert R. Newlen as interim director of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), effective July 3, 2023. He succeeds Director Mary Mazanec, who announced this week she will be permanently stepping aside to become a temporary senior adviser to the Librarian.“I am pleased to announce Robert Newlen has agreed to act as director of…

    • Date: 2023-09-01

  • September 1, 2023  (23-071)

    From Cylinders to Surround Mixes: Daylong Demonstration Features Sound and Preservation at the Library The Library of Congress will showcase a range of treasures, technology and history from its recorded sound collection, the largest such audio collection in the world, in a daylong series of presentations and evening sound installations on Aug. 24.Throughout the day, sound engineers and recording historians will present on a unique set of topics covering some of the earliest, most important and most unusual…

    • Date: 2023-09-01

August 2023

  • August 31, 2023  (23-078)

    Library of Congress Awards 2023-2024 National Stereoscopic Association Research Fellowships The Library of Congress today announced Rachel Lee Hutcheson, Isabelle Lynch and Lynn Marie Mitchell as its next class of fellows awarded the National Stereoscopic Association Research Fellowship.Established in 2022 with a generous monetary donation from the National Stereoscopic Association, the fellowship supports research on stereoscopy and the history of photography within the Prints and Photographs Division holdings and the unparalleled photographic history collections…

    • Date: 2023-08-31

  • August 30, 2023  (23-076)

    Copyright Office Issues Notice of Inquiry on Copyright and Artificial Intelligence The U.S. Copyright Office today issued a notice of inquiry in Federal Register on copyright and artificial intelligence. The Copyright Office is undertaking a study of the copyright law and policy issues raised by generative AI and is assessing whether legislative or regulatory steps are warranted.The Copyright Office will use the record it assembles to advise Congress; inform its regulatory work; and offer information…

    • Date: 2023-08-30

  • August 24, 2023  (23-074)
  • August 23, 2023  (23-072)

    Tens of Thousands Attend 2023 Library of Congress National Book Festival Tens of thousands of book lovers joined the Library of Congress National Book Festival in person on Aug. 12 at the Washington Convention Center, including capacity crowds on numerous stages. Videos of select stages are now available, and individual presentations will be made available on demand on the festival’s website during the week of Aug. 21.This year’s festival theme, “Everyone Has a Story,” celebrates…

    • Date: 2023-08-23

  • August 22, 2023  (23-070)

    Library of Congress Releases Newly Digitized Hebrew Manuscripts The Library of Congress has released some 230 newly digitized manuscripts written in Hebrew and similar languages such as Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Persian and Yiddish. The collection, available online for researchers and the public for the first time, includes a 14th century collection of responsa by Solomon ibn Adret of Barcelona, considered one of the most prominent authorities on Jewish law of all time.The full digital…

    • Date: 2023-08-22

  • August 21, 2023  (23-073)

    Library of Congress to Host Congress.gov Public Forum on Sept. 13 The Library of Congress will hold its next Congress.gov forum on Wednesday, Sept. 13 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET. As the authoritative source for federal legislative information, Congress.gov is greatly enhanced by public feedback about the site.For the first time, the forum will take place both in person at the Library and via Zoom for participants who would prefer to join virtually….

    • Date: 2023-08-21

  • August 17, 2023  (23-066)

    Library of Congress Announces Fall 2023 Concert Series Brazilian jazz pianist, composer and vocalist Eliane Elias kicks off the fall 2023 season of Concerts from the Library of Congress on Oct. 13. The series presents a diverse lineup of chamber music and jazz concerts in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium, along with conversations with musicians and composers, educational projects, and curated displays showcasing collections from the Library’s Music Division.Events are free and open…

    • Date: 2023-08-17

  • August 15, 2023  (23-069)

    C-SPAN and Library of Congress Announce New Primetime Book Series for Fall 2023 C-SPAN and the Library of Congress have announced a joint original feature production for fall 2023: “Books That Shaped America.”The 10-part series – which C-SPAN will air LIVE on Mondays, starting Sept. 18 at 9 p.m. ET – will be a literary journey, tracing America’s history by exploring masterpieces in literature that have had, and still have today, a major impact on society.The 10-week…

    • Date: 2023-08-15

  • August 4, 2023  (23-067)
  • August 3, 2023  (23-068)

July 2023

  • July 26, 2023  (23-065)

    Library to Host Summer 2023 Copyright Public Modernization Committee Meeting The Library of Congress will host the summer 2023 meeting of the Copyright Public Modernization Committee virtually on Wednesday, Aug. 16 at 1 p.m. ET. Participants will hear from Library and Copyright Office staff about the latest developments of the Enterprise Copyright System.In addition to updates from Library and Copyright Office staff on the development of the Enterprise Copyright System, attendees will participate in…

    • Date: 2023-07-26

  • July 25, 2023  (23-064)

    Better Angels Society Announces Finalists for Fifth Annual Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize For Film The Better Angels Society, the Library of Congress, and the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation today announced the six finalists for the fifth annual Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film. The award, which was established in 2019, recognizes late-stage documentaries that use original research and compelling narrative to tell stories that bring American history to life through archival materials.“We’ve seen time and again…

    • Date: 2023-07-25

  • July 20, 2023  (23-063)

    Enjoy Movies on the Lawn, Café Concerts During Live at the Library in August Enjoy summer movies and music on the lawn this August during Live at the Library. On Aug. 3, take a bachata class from Julissa Cruz of the Latin Vintage Dance Company before a screening of “Mary Poppins.” Plus, join the Library of Congress for screenings in the historic Coolidge Auditorium later in the month, and enjoy café concerts in the Great Hall starting Aug….

    • Date: 2023-07-20

  • July 6, 2023  (23-062)

    George Saunders to Receive 2023 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced today that the 2023 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction will be awarded to George Saunders.One of the Library’s most prestigious awards, the annual Prize for American Fiction honors an American literary writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination. The…

    • Date: 2023-07-06

June 2023

  • June 30, 2023  (23-061)
  • June 22, 2023  (23-059)

    Enjoy Summer Movies and Music on the Lawn During Live at the Library in July Enjoy summer movies and music on the lawn beginning on July 6 with a screening of “Iron Man” and a performance by Batalá Washington, D.C.’s all-women Afro-Brazilian drumming troop. To celebrate the upcoming National Book Festival, all of the movies presented are adapted from books or comics. Plus, join historian Kevin M. Hymel as he discusses his books on George S. Patton at the…

    • Date: 2023-06-22

  • June 22, 2023  (23-060)
  • June 14, 2023  (23-058)

    Library of Congress Acquires Music Manuscripts and Papers of Composer John Adams The Library of Congress has acquired the music manuscripts and papers of contemporary American composer, conductor and writer John Adams. Adams is known for works including the opera “Nixon in China” and concert pieces such as “Shaker Loops,” “Harmonielehre,” “Road Movies,” “Chamber Symphony” and “Short Ride in a Fast Machine.”John Coolidge Adams was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1947. His career has taken place…

    • Date: 2023-06-14

  • June 9, 2023  (23-049)

    Library of Congress National Book Festival Announces Full Author Lineup The 2023 Library of Congress National Book Festival returns to the Washington Convention Center on Saturday, Aug. 12. The festival’s theme, “Everyone Has a Story,” celebrates the storyteller in us all. Attendees will hear conversations that reflect their lived experiences and stories, with presentations for every type of reader. Memoirs will be featured on several stages, including actor Elliot Page’s “Pageboy” and R.K. Russell’s…

    • Date: 2023-06-09

  • June 6, 2023  (23-056)

    Library of Congress Launches Video Game Challenge for Civic Engagement The Library of Congress is calling on video game developers to create fun and lightweight video games related to civics that incorporate Library resources. This challenge is part of an effort to improve public knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of American citizens. Winning video game entries, to be announced early next year, will receive $35,000 in cash prizes.The Library of Congress Friends’ Choice…

    • Date: 2023-06-06

May 2023

  • May 31, 2023  (23-051)

    Library Welcomes Junior Fellows to Summer Internship Program The Library of Congress announced the appointment of 50 undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate students to its Junior Fellows Program on May 22. Following three years of being conducted virtually in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s students will work in a new hybrid style, either remotely or on-site. This year’s students are from 21 states and the District of Columbia. The group will…

    • Date: 2023-05-31

  • May 31, 2023  (23-055)

    Annual Summer Movies on the Lawn to Present National Film Registry Selections The Library of Congress will host its annual “Summer Movies on the Lawn” series starting July 6. The series featuring films from the Library’s National Film Registry will be presented Thursday evenings at sundown on the southeast lawn of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building. Music will be presented prior to each film, with live performances on July 6, July 20 and Aug. 3.The scheduled…

    • Date: 2023-05-31

  • May 26, 2023  (23-052)

    Library of Congress Launches COVID-19 American History Project The Library of Congress has announced the congressionally-funded COVID-19 American History Project, a multiyear effort to collect, preserve and make available to the public the oral histories of frontline healthcare workers, survivors of loved ones who died, and others impacted by the pandemic. The project will also encourage the public to share their COVID-19 experiences with StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and…

    • Date: 2023-05-26

  • May 23, 2023  (23-028)

    Library of Congress Awards More than $200,000 to Five Projects Highlighting Uses of Digital Collections The Library of Congress today announced that five awards, totaling more than $200,000, have been awarded from the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative through a program available to Libraries, Archives, Museums and Higher Education institutions. The 2023 awardees will use these funds to create projects that offer creative approaches to the Library’s digital collections and center Black, Indigenous, and Latino or Hispanic studies. “We’re excited…

    • Date: 2023-05-23

  • May 18, 2023  (23-050)
  • May 18, 2023  (23-047)

    Ada Limón to Reveal Poem for NASA Europa Clipper Mission During Live at the Library in June During Live at the Library in June, U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón — recently reappointed for a historic two-year term — will unveil her original poem written for the NASA Europa Clipper mission. Plus, celebrations for the Juneteenth holiday will honor African American folk music and photography. Celebrate Pride with a concert saluting Billy Strayhorn on June 8, and view a display of LGBTQ+…

    • Date: 2023-05-18

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President Lincoln dreams about his assassination

According to the recollection of one of his friends, Ward Hill Lamon, President Abraham Lincoln dreams on this night in 1865 of “the subdued sobs of mourners” and a corpse lying on a catafalque in the White House East Room. In the dream, Lincoln asked a soldier standing guard “Who is dead in the White House?” to which the soldier replied, “the President. He was killed by an assassin.” Lincoln woke up at that point. On April 11, he told Lamon that the dream had “strangely annoyed” him ever since. Ten days after having the dream, Lincoln was shot dead by an assassin while attending the theater.

READ MORE: Does the Ghost of Lincoln Haunt the White House?

Martin Luther King Jr., speaks out against the war

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, delivers a speech entitled “Beyond Vietnam” in front of 3,000 people at Riverside Church in New York City. In it, he says that there is a common link forming between the civil rights and peace movements. King proposed that the United States stop all bombing of North and South Vietnam; declare a unilateral truce in the hope that it would lead to peace talks; set a date for withdrawal of all troops from Vietnam; and give the National Liberation Front a role in negotiations.

King had been a solid supporter of President Lyndon B. Johnson and his Great Society, but he became increasingly concerned about U.S. involvement in Vietnam and, as his concerns became more public, his relationship with the Johnson administration deteriorated. King came to view U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia as little more than imperialism. Additionally, he believed that the Vietnam War diverted money and attention from domestic programs created to aid the Black poor. Furthermore, he said, “The war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home…We were taking the Black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.”

King maintained his antiwar stance and supported peace movements until he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, one year to the day after delivering his “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

READ MORE: Quotes from 7 of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Most Notable Speeches

Germans and Allies step up operations near Somme

On this day in 1918, German forces in the throes of a major spring offensive on the Western Front launch a renewed attack on Allied positions between the Somme and Avre Rivers.

The first stage of the German offensive, dubbed “Operation Michael,” began March 21, 1918; by the first days of April it had resulted in a gain of almost 40 miles of territory for the Germans, the largest advance in the west for either side since 1914. After initial panic, the Allies had managed to stabilize and strengthen their defense, stopping the Germans at Moreuil Wood on March 30 and continuing their hardy defense of the crucial railroad junction and town of Amiens, France, just south of the Somme.

With a bombardment by more than 1,200 guns and a total of 15 divisions sent against only seven of the enemy’s, the Germans attacked in force at Villers-Bretonneux on April 4. Again, British and Australian troops reacted with panic in the face of such an onslaught, but soon rallied to drive back their attackers. At the same time, French divisions made their own advances along the front running between the towns of Castel and Cantigny, to the south of Villers-Bretonneux.

Also on April 4, German military officials announced that their attacks in the Somme region had claimed a total of 90,000 Allied prisoners since March 21. The following day, Erich Ludendorff, chief of the German general staff, formally closed down the Michael offensive; the second phase of the attacks, “Georgette,” would begin four days later in Flanders.

World Trade Center, then the world’s tallest building, opens in New York City

The “Twin Towers” of the World Trade Center officially open in New York City. The buildings replaced the Empire State Building as the world’s tallest building. Though they would only hold that title for a year, they remained a dominant feature of the city’s skyline and were recognizable the world over long before they were destroyed in a terrorist attack in 2001.

Planning, designing and clearing space for the World Trade Center took over a decade. The New York State Legislature originally approved the idea in 1943, but concrete plans did not materialize until the 1960s. The deal that created the new complex, of which the Twin Towers would be the centerpiece, also included the creation of the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation, or PATH, to operate the trains which entered Manhattan from New Jersey on what was to become the grounds of the WTC. Architect Minoru Yamasaki drew inspiration from Arabic architecture for the towers’ design. In order to efficiently move people up and down the 110-story towers, Yamasaki and his team developed the concept of express elevators—based on the New York City Subway’s system of express and local trains—that traveled directly to “sky lobbies” on the 44 and 78 floor, from which “local” elevators ran to neighboring floors. The first tenants moved into the North Tower in December of 1970, with the official opening of both buildings taking place over two years later.

The towers’ construction ended the Empire State Building’s 41-year run as the tallest building in the world. They were replaced by Chicago’s Sears Tower the following year, an indication of the rising trend of supertall construction. The World Trade Center dramatically altered the New York skyline and the cityscape of Lower Manhattan. As such, they were often used as a shorthand for the area in visual media, and were frequently included in establishing shots of films set in New York. Though most of the World Trade Center was occupied by office space, the Top of the World Observation Deck on the South Tower became a popular tourist destination, as did the North Tower’s Windows on the World restaurant, which featured its own wine school.

The towers were first targeted by terrorists in 1993, when a bomb exploded in the garage under the North Tower, killing six and injuring over 1,000. The Twin Towers were destroyed, and were the site of the vast majorities of the casualties, on September 11, 2001, a final chapter that has since overshadowed the rest of the World Trade Center’s story. The building that replaced them, One World Trade Center, was completed in 2014 and is currently the seventh-tallest building in the world.

READ MORE: How the Design of the World Trade Center Claimed Lives on 9/11

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated

Just after 6 p.m. on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. is fatally shot while standing on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. The civil rights leader was in Memphis to support a sanitation workers’ strike and was on his way to dinner when a bullet struck him in the jaw and severed his spinal cord. King was pronounced dead after his arrival at a Memphis hospital. He was 39 years old.

WATCH: Rise Up: The Movement That Changed America on HISTORY Vault

In the months before his assassination, Martin Luther King became increasingly concerned with the problem of economic inequality in America. He organized a Poor People’s Campaign to focus on the issue, including a march on Washington, and in March 1968 traveled to Memphis in support of poorly treated African-American sanitation workers. On March 28, a workers’ protest march led by King ended in violence and the death of an African American teenager. King left the city but vowed to return in early April to lead another demonstration.

On April 3, back in Memphis, King gave his last sermon, saying, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop … And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

One day after speaking those words, Dr. King was shot and killed by a sniper. As word of the assassination spread, riots broke out in cities all across the United States and National Guard troops were deployed in Memphis and Washington, D.C. On April 9, King was laid to rest in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Tens of thousands of people lined the streets to pay tribute to King’s casket as it passed by in a wooden farm cart drawn by two mules.

The body of the slain Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lies in state at the R.S. Lewis funeral home in Memphis, Tennessee. Hundreds of mourners filed in on April 5, 1968, before his body was sent to Atlanta for burial. 

Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

View the 10 images of this gallery on the original article

The evening of King’s murder, a Remington .30-06 hunting rifle was found on the sidewalk beside a rooming house one block from the Lorraine Motel. During the next several weeks, the rifle, eyewitness reports, and fingerprints on the weapon all implicated a single suspect: escaped convict James Earl Ray. A two-bit criminal, Ray escaped a Missouri prison in April 1967 while serving a sentence for a holdup. In May 1968, a massive manhunt for Ray began. The FBI eventually determined that he had obtained a Canadian passport under a false identity, which at the time was relatively easy.

On June 8, Scotland Yard investigators arrested Ray at a London airport. He was trying to fly to Belgium, with the eventual goal, he later admitted, of reaching Rhodesia. Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe, was at the time ruled by an oppressive and internationally condemned white minority government. Extradited to the United States, Ray stood before a Memphis judge in March 1969 and pleaded guilty to King’s murder in order to avoid the electric chair. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Three days later, he attempted to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he was innocent of King’s assassination and had been set up as a patsy in a larger conspiracy. He claimed that in 1967, a mysterious man named “Raoul” had approached him and recruited him into a gunrunning enterprise. On April 4, 1968, he said, he realized that he was to be the fall guy for the King assassination and fled to Canada. Ray’s motion was denied, as were his dozens of other requests for a trial during the next 29 years.

READ MORE: Why Martin Luther King’s Family Believes James Earl Ray Was Not His Killer

During the 1990s, the widow and children of Martin Luther King Jr. spoke publicly in support of Ray and his claims, calling him innocent and speculating about an assassination conspiracy involving the U.S. government and military. U.S. authorities were, in conspiracists’ minds, implicated circumstantially. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover obsessed over King, who he thought was under communist influence. For the last six years of his life, King underwent constant wiretapping and harassment by the FBI. Before his death, Dr. King was also monitored by U.S. military intelligence, which may have been asked to watch King after he publicly denounced the Vietnam War in 1967. Furthermore, by calling for radical economic reforms in 1968, including guaranteed annual incomes for all, King was making few new friends in the Cold War-era U.S. government.

Over the years, the assassination has been reexamined by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, the Shelby County, Tennessee, district attorney’s office, and three times by the U.S. Justice Department. The investigations all ended with the same conclusion: James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King. The House committee acknowledged that a low-level conspiracy might have existed, involving one or more accomplices to Ray, but uncovered no evidence to definitively prove this theory. In addition to the mountain of evidence against him—such as his fingerprints on the murder weapon and his admitted presence at the rooming house on April 4—Ray had a definite motive in assassinating King: hatred. According to his family and friends, he was an outspoken racist who informed them of his intent to kill Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He died in 1998.

READ MORE: 10 Things You May Not Know About Martin Luther King Jr.

Second Battle of the Somme ends

During World War I, the Second Battle of the Somme, the first major German offensive in more than a year, ends on the western front.

On March 21, 1918, a major offensive against Allied positions in the Somme River region of France began with five hours of bombardment from more than 9,000 pieces of German artillery. The poorly prepared British Fifth Army was rapidly overwhelmed and forced into retreat. For a week, the Germans pushed toward Paris, shelling the city from a distance of 80 miles with their long range gun called the “Kaiser Wilhelmgeschütz,” or as the Parisians called it, the “Big Bertha.”

However, the poorly supplied German troops soon became exhausted, and the Allies halted the German advance as French artillery knocked out the German guns besieging Paris. On April 2, U.S. General John J. Pershing sent American troops down into the trenches to help defend Paris and repulse the German offensive. It was the first major deployment of U.S. troops in World War I. Several thousand American troops fought alongside the British and French in the Second Battle of Somme.

By the time the Somme offensive ended on April 4, the Germans had advanced almost 40 miles, inflicted some 200,000 casualties, and captured 70,000 prisoners and more than 1,000 Allied guns. However, the Germans suffered nearly as many casualties as their enemies and lacked the fresh reserves and supply boost the Allies enjoyed following the American entrance into the fighting.

Movie critic Roger Ebert dies

On April 4, 2013, one of America’s best-known and most influential movie critics, Roger Ebert, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, dies at age 70 after battling cancer. In 1975, Ebert started co-hosting a movie review program on TV with fellow critic Gene Siskel that eventually turned them both into household names and made their thumbs-up, thumbs-down rating system part of American pop culture.

Born on June 18, 1942, in Urbana, Illinois, Ebert was the only child of an electrician father and bookkeeper mother. At age 15, Ebert he began writing about high school sports for his local newspaper. In 1964, he graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he majored in journalism and served as editor of the school’s newspaper. Two years later, he went to work for the Chicago Sun-Times. When the paper’s film critic retired in 1967, Ebert was named as her replacement.

Ebert reportedly watched 500 movies a year and penned reviews of at least half that many on an annual basis. (In 2012, when asked to name the 10 greatest films of all time, his list included such titles as Apocalypse Now, Citizen Kane, Raging Bull and Vertigo.) His work was syndicated in hundreds of newspapers around the world, and he was the author of more than 15 books, including the acclaimed 2011 memoir Life Itself. Ebert had a brief foray into movie making when he wrote the script for 1970’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Upon its release, the film was trashed by critics, including Siskel.

Diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002 and salivary gland cancer the following year, Ebert lost the ability to speak, drink and eat in 2006 following surgery for jaw cancer. However, he continued to work, writing for the Sun-Times, blogging for his own website and developing a large following on Facebook and Twitter. On April 2, 2013, Ebert publicly announced he would be writing fewer reviews due to a recurrence of cancer. He died two days later. The Sun-Times published his final movie review on April 6, for To the Wonder. Ebert awarded it 3.5 out of 4 stars.

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