But reading nex0s post (and later the speech) led me to wonder how different the rest of the 20th century would have been if King had not been assassinated. Would his influence have increased or decreased? Would he eventually have developed on his own the sort of near-universal public reverence that martyrdom gave him? How much would he have been able to set the terms of public discourse? What else might he have accomplished? How might his own ideology and priorities and goals have shifted over time?
It’s common to think that assassination doesn’t work; that martyrdom galvanizes public opinion around a political figure. But it also silences a voice, and in King’s case it silenced a very eloquent voice. Sometimes it “works”: looking at recent Israeli history, it seems to me that Yigal Amir got exactly what he wanted after he killed Yitzhak Rabin. So I wonder how much more King might have accomplished had he lived.