MLK50: The 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis has taken action to help minority and women-owned businesses develop and work in and with the city. But while businesses are popping up, only a select number of them are tapping into the resources provided.

Business owners who have been here for years say they know why.

<i`ll put="" it="" like="" this...="" it`s="" easy="" to="" talk="" black="" but="" hard="" be="" black.<br="">"I mean, when you're working for somebody else, you don`t see really what's being experienced like you do when you have your own minority-owned business," one business owner said. "A</i`ll>nd it's a lot money in Memphis. It's a lot of money here, but it's not touching the whole community. It only touches certain people and certain communities. And that needs to change."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for that change to happen until his dying breath. April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel, a single gunshot from an assassin's rifle would leave a painful and unforgettable scar on Memphis and one that would change the world forever.

The Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles was on the second-floor balcony with Dr. King that night. He talked to WREG about the seconds before gunfire rang out and silenced the civil rights leader.

"We were in the motel room getting out, getting ready to go for dinner and going to my house for dinner, as a matter of fact."

But at 6:01 p.m., that evening would turn into a night of horror and heartbreak for Memphis and the nation.

Kyles would be the witness of King's last moments as he stepped out of motel room where he was staying — room 306.

"I got to this point here and we heard what sounded like a firecracker, loud, a real loud shot, and we heard somebody holler 'Oh Lord,'" Kyles said.

A single shot fired by James Earl Ray from more than 200 feet away struck King in the neck.

"I turned around and went back to where he was and he had fallen backwards and the wound was in this area here (the neck)," Kyles said.

King was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, but at seven o'clock Memphis time, the announcement came that would shake an already racially turbulent Memphis and America — King was dead.

Violence would erupt in Memphis and major cities.

Police cars were stoned, molotov cocktails were thrown sparking fires, Beale street experienced looting, the Tennessee National Guard tanks rolled into town and police made hundreds of arrests.

Memphis and the nation were left asking, painfully, why? Why would someone silence the voice that had energized America's civil rights movement and the voice that had challenged our nation to live up to its highest ideals.