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Dyson Explores How MLK's Death Changed America

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. waves to the crowd after delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington in August, 1963.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. waves to the crowd after delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington in August, 1963.
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Every January, the nation celebrates the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Friday marks the 40th anniversary of King's assassination in Memphis, Tenn. — and author Michael Eric Dyson argues that America needs to find the meaning in the civil rights leader's death as well.

Dyson's latest book, April 4, 1968, examines how King's death changed America and affected shifts in black leadership during the following four decades.

"You cannot hear the name Martin Luther King, Jr. and not think of death," Dyson writes. "You might hear the words 'I have a dream,' but they will doubtlessly only serve to underscore an image of a simple motel balcony, a large man made small, a pool of blood. For as famous as he may have been in life, it is — and was — death that ultimately defined him."

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