Today, political assassinations are rare inside the U.S.
During the civil rights movement, anybody who stood up for the rights of African Americans was a possible assassination target.
Often times the assassinations were carried out by white supremacists, who were not convicted for their crimes due to racism in government, or even by police departments. These assassinated leaders have served as martyrs for the civil rights movement and the struggle for African people in America and abroad.
5. Medgar Evers
Civil rights activist Medgar Evers was assassinated by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens Council. Evers was a World War II veteran who would become the Secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi helping to integrate the University of Mississippi. Beckwith would shoot Evers at his home in Jackson, Mississippi. It would take over 30 years after Evers’ murder for Beckwith to be convicted in 1994.
4. Fred Hampton
Fred Hampton, a leader for the Black Panther Party in Chicago, Illinois was killed in his apartment during a police raid while sleeping, unarmed in 1968. The police raid was in retaliation for a previous shoot out police had with members of the Black Panther Party that killed two policemen. The policeman who killed Hampton were acquitted in court, but members of the Black Panther Party would call it an assassination.
3. Harry and Harriette Moore
Harry and Hariette Moore were a husband and wife team of civil rights activists and teachers who founded the NAACP in Brevard County, Florida. In 1951, the couple’s house was bombed and both of them were murdered. 55 years after the bombing, the state of Florida concluded an investigation into the bombing and found that three, since deceased members of the Ku Klu Klan were responsible.
2. Malcolm X
Malcolm X, one the the most prominent Black leaders of the 20th Century rose from prison inmate to spokesman for the Nation Of Islam. While Malcolm X would clash with the government and other Black leaders, it would be members of the Nation Of Islam who would be convicted of his killing.Years later, it would be revealed that the FBI used COINTLPRO agents to infiltrate the Nation Of Islam and cause tension between them and Malcolm; and created false letters between the Malcolm and the Nation.
1. Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King was the face and voice of the civil rights movement. Martin would serve as a martyr for the movement after he was killed in Memphis in 1968, while supporting striking black sanitary public works employees. King would be shot while outside his hotel room in Memphis. Escaped convict, James Earl Ray would confess to killing King but would later recant his confession. While their have been allegations of a conspiracy, no charges were ever made.
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