50 years later: A witness to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. tells her story

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In a minute Clara Jean Ester will be on the balcony, standing with the others around a dying King. But you can’t see her in the famous photo of that scene. (Image courtesy pinterest.com)

In the decades following the assassination of a man who would one day have his name become synonymous with racial equality, one woman who stood on that balcony, at that Memphis hotel that day, molded her life in honor of the iconic leader.

It’s 6 p.m. on April 4, 1968. In a minute, on a motel balcony, America’s greatest civil rights leader and most famous advocate of non-violence will be shot to death, writes Rick Hampson for usatoday.com. 

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This story is about what it was like to witness the death of Martin Luther King at the Lorraine Motel. And about how, over the 50 years that follow, it will change the lives of those who heard the shot or saw him fall or touched his blood.

Some of the witnesses at the Lorraine — Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young, Jesse Jackson — are, or soon will be, famous.

Most are not. They’re like Clara Jean Ester, a college student caught up in a local sanitation workers’ strike.

In a minute she’ll be on the balcony, standing with the others around a dying King. But you can’t see her in the famous photo of that scene. And, although her life will be changed as much as anyone’s by King’s assassination, her story will go untold for 50 years.

To read the complete story click here. 

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