Charles Steele, Jr. was 22 years old on the day that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on the third-floor balcony of a colored motel in Memphis, Tennessee. By that time, King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference had won two important victories.
First, congressional passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This measure opened areas of public accommodations to the nation’s Negro citizens. Despite King’s work in this area, on his April 1968 visit to Memphis, he chose to patronize the Black-owned Lorraine Motel.