Cities on Fire 1968

Urban America After MLK

August Wilson's Enduring Drama on Urban Renewal

Two Trains Running shows the costs and conflict of racist planning policies from a profoundly human perspective.

A family stands in front of their apartment building in a Chicago suburb.

A Five-Decade Fight to Improve Housing Choices for the Poor

The 91-year-old Chicago lawyer Alexander Polikoff, who argued the landmark Gautreaux case, is still working to increase housing mobility and desegregate urban areas.

How the Fair Housing Act Failed Black Homeowners

In cities like Jacksonville and St. Louis, maps of mortgage approvals and home values in black neighborhoods look the same as they did decades ago, before the passage of the landmark fair housing law.

Community organizer John Comer reflects on the problems faced by the black communities in West Baltimore in front of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The Other Side of MLK Boulevard

In Baltimore, the road named for the slain civil rights icon brought suburbanites downtown—and displacement and isolation to the communities along its path.

A National Guardsman at the corner of 4th and H Streets in northeast Washington, D.C. on April 6., 1968.

How a Black Reporter Covered D.C. in 1968

At 21, Jack White was one of only a handful of African-American journalists working in the mainstream Washington media when the city erupted after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Out of a National Tragedy, a Housing Solution

New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller used the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. to help create a superagency that would transform the state’s cities and suburbs. It didn’t last long.

The Evolution of Domestic Spying Since MLK in Memphis

Memphis began spying on local activists around the time when Martin Luther King came to advocate for city sanitation workers. A 1976 consent decree was supposed to put an end to that, but a new pending lawsuit against the city suggests it's still happening.

The Economic Injustices of Memphis in Five Charts

In the years since Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis fighting for economic justice, whatever progress black families and workers have made has been dwarfed by the economic trajectory of whites in the county.

The Night MLK Died, Washington Burned

In an excerpt from his book Most of 14th Street is Gone: The Washington, DC Riots of 1968, J. Samuel Walker reconstructs the night and day following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., when parts of Washington, D.C., erupted.

A resident of Resurrection City sits in his shelter.

The Protest Town That Embodied MLK's Final Dream

Weeks after Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, thousands of demonstrators came to D.C. to create Resurrection City, a shantytown on the National Mall built to demand government action on poverty.

Lessons From the Kerner Report

Half a century later, what has America learned from it?

Giving a Memphis Hero the Recognition He Deserves

In 1925, Tom Lee—a black man who couldn’t swim—saved 32 white people from a sinking ship in the Mississippi River. Memphis’s unfortunate attempt to honor him and the decline of his own neighborhood speaks to the city’s ongoing struggle to become a more equitable place.

Behind the Veneer of 'I Am Memphis'

Like any good southern hosts, Memphis is polishing its image for the crowd that is about to descend to remember MLK. Here’s the ugly reality we should acknowledge.