April 1968: M.L. King Jr.'s funeral
Crusader For Equality Buried ...OR. KIHC PAID LAST RESPECTS Atlanta, Cía. UwHr. Martin Luther King .Jr., shot to death * after a 13-year crusade for racial equality, was laid to rest Tuesday In a day-long outpouring of tribute. t White and black friends and dignitaries of high rank paid their last respects to his memory at Dr. King's own simple red brick church. At the front of the church sat h i s widow, Mrs. Martin Luther King Jr., and their four children. Her face veiled, her head erect, she maintained maintained her composure even as she heard the recorded voice of her slain husband saying: “If 1 die, I want you to be able to say that I tried to love and serve humanity . . . If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that 1 was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace.” The word., were taped from one of Dr. King’s recent ser-i mons, in which he dwelt onj the inevitability of his own’ death. Kot long afterward,, \pril 4, he was shot by a sniper in Memphis, Tenn. Thej assa.T.sin was still at large. Tuesday. ' After the ceremony, on a; sunwashed greensward at Morehouse College, King’s : alma mater, legions of admirers admirers which police said numbered 150.000 gathered for a two-hour memorial service. service. It concluded with the mass of mourners linking hands and singing the old slave song which Dr. King’s civil rights movement popularized as its own anthem, ‘‘We Shall I Overcome.” Words from another an-* cient slave song served as an epitah inscribed on the marble marble crypt where he was entombed: entombed: “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty I’m free at last.” Lincoln Memorial Speech Dr. King had borrowed these words to conclude h i s ringing speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the 1963 march on Washing ton. A mule-drawn wagon served as Dr. King’s hearse, symbolic of the poor whose cause he championed. II i s graveslte was a cemetery or ganized in 1886 by Negroes who refused a status for their dead at the rear of the city burial ground. The army of mourners accompanied accompanied Dr. King’s coffin through the warm sunlight on every stage of Its journey. Aid stations treated several hundred for heat exhaustion as the temperature climbed to a humid 80 degree . A capacity audience of 1,.300 took part in the services at Kbenezer Baptist Churcih. Condolence When it was over, as t h e bronze coffin was being removed, removed, Vice President Hubert Hubert H. Humphrey, representing representing President Johnson at the funeral, leaned over to offer a few words of condolence to Mrs. King. Outside the church thousands thousands pressed at police lines, listening to the ancient hymns that welled from within. within. They stood on rooftops and clung to tree limbs and strained at police ropes to get a glimpse of the coffin HOUSE HIT BY BLAZE Fire nearly destroyed the R. C. Vifquain home, 1120 Carlos Dr., Tuesday afternoon, afternoon, according to fire officials. officials. The blaze blackened and charred the kitchen, dining room, breezeway and hallway hallway and smoke damaged much of the remainder of the structure, officials said. bearing the Negro crusader whose oratory and nonviolent Ideals emboldened his people and challenged the national conscience. Even as the funeral was in progre.ss, --tate Adjutant General General George J. Hearn an- nounr ed that National Guard men from throughout Georgia Georgia were being airlifted to the Atlanta area. Hearn said he did not anticipate anticipate trouble but “we intend intend to be ready.” Eulogy At the Morehouse ceremony Dr. Benjamin Mays, M o r e- house president emeritus and former teacher of Dr. King, delivered the eulogy, saying, “Make no mistake, the American people are in part responsible for Martin Luther King’s death.” He said the assassin felt like he had society’s society’s support. At the same time. Mays said: ‘‘If we love Martin Luther Luther King Jr., and respect him, let us see to it that he did not die in vain; let us see to it that we do not dishonor his name by trying to solve our problems through rioting in the streets.” The graveside ceremony was brief. Mrs. King retained her composure throughout. When the crypt was closed she lowered her head and sobbed gently. The funeral was at Ebenezer Ebenezer Church where Dr. King, 39, was baptized and where he had been copastor with (Continued on Page 2, Col. 1) MULE-DRAWN WAGON . . . carrying King leads funeral march.