This WSB newsfilm clip from Atlanta, Georgia on April 9, 1968 shows scenes from the memorial march and public services at Morehouse College for the assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The clip begins with a reporter testing a microphone, and the camera focuses on the sign for Ebenezer Baptist Church. Cars park and drive beside the church building. Mourners line the sidewalk next to the church and on a hill across the street. An African American man carries flowers into the church. The funeral procession, led by police on motorcycles, drives through the rain. As the black-colored hearse pulls up beside the church, mourners crowd the vehicle. Nuns in habits stand under black umbrellas; children stand near policemen in dark uniforms.
For a moment, the clip includes a segment in which a white hearse is parked in front of Ebenezer Baptist Church, a white police officer directs traffic, and there is no rain. The clip returns to the black hearse parked near the church and the pallbearers carrying the casket inside the building. Among the crowds outside the church, some climb on telephone poles to see above the throng. A wreath of white flowers hangs on the church above the sign.
After a break in the clip, men appear to carry the coffin out of the church. Crowds march from Ebenezer Baptist Church to Morehouse College. Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy and singer Harry Belafonte walk with Coretta Scott King, Dr. Martin Luther King's wife, and the King children. The marchers sing "We shall overcome" as they walk down the streets behind the coffin which is on a wagon pulled by two mules. The family chose to have King's body transported on a cart pulled by mules during the 4.3 mile march from Ebenezer Baptist Church to Morehouse College to represent King's struggle for the world's poor and the upcoming Poor People's Campaign. As they pass the Georgia capitol, the group sings, "Ain't gonna let nobody turn me round." Later they engage in a chorus of "Everybody wants freedom" and chant "Freedom!" Minnesota senator Eugene McCarthy and New York senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and his wife, Ethel, are among the marchers. At Morehouse College, crowds listen to off-screen speakers. One man says, "May we share the hope and faith of Martin Luther King and of Jesus Christ of Nazareth."
African American policemen in dark uniforms walk near the mules as crowds sing and fill the street. Some of the marchers wear light arm bands. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) provided demonstration marshals who wore white arm bands during the march and controlled the crowd.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Officials estimated between thirty-five thousand and fifty thousand mourners gathered around Ebenezer Baptist Church during the funeral service held there and an estimated one hundred thousand participated in or gathered around the funeral procession to Morehouse College. Several dignitaries spoke at the Morehouse service, including Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen; SCLC leaders Andrew Young and Dr. Joseph Lowery; Roman Catholic Bishop John Wright of Pennsylvania; Deacon Charles Collier of Ebenezer Baptist Church; and Mrs. Rosa Parks. Pallbearers for the services included friends and fellow SCLC members Bernard Lee, Hosea Williams, Albert Turner, Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young. King was assassinated April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee where he was supporting a sanitation workers' strike.
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The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for digital conversion and description of the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection.