In this WSB newsfilm clip dated April 4, 1968, Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s personal secretary Dora McDonald accompany Coretta Scott King through an Atlanta airport terminal to an Atlanta city police escort vehicle just moments after Mrs. King has been notified of her husband 's assassination in Memphis, Tennessee; later in the clip, visitors walk up the front steps of the King residence in Atlanta, where the front door is guarded by police officers.
The clip, recorded with sound, begins with Coretta Scott King walking through an airport towards an airport terminal. She is accompanied by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s personal secretary Dora McDonald on her right, and Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. on her left. An African American police officer wearing a red cap follows behind Allen; the officer is carrying a raincoat. They walk past a sign that points toward the airplane terminal, then pass through a set of swinging doors.
The clip breaks; in the next shot, the group has moved outdoors where it is evening. There is a persistent loud noise, presumably the sound of airplane engines. McDonald assists Coretta Scott King into the rear passenger-side seat of a white police car, while Allen holds the door. The camera turns toward two unidentified young African American boys, who cry as they are held by an unidentified African American man. McDonald comforts one of the boys by gently cradling the sides of his head. A high-ranking white Atlanta police officer wearing a uniform closes the rear passenger-side door to the police car after Coretta Scott King has been seated. Allen opens the front passenger-side door and enters the vehicle. McDonald prepares to enter the vehicle after Allen. The clip breaks, then resumes on what appears to be the reflection of a car door taken at night; the background noise of airplane engines has ended, and is replaced by the sound of muffled voices. Next, in another evening shot, two unidentified men wearing overcoats and hats walk up the front steps of the King residence on 234 Sunset Avenue in Atlanta; they are filmed from the back. The two men are greeted by two African American officers guarding the doorway; the officers are wearing red raincoats and police caps.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had accompanied other leaders from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to support local sanitation workers in a labor strike. Upon notification that her husband had been wounded, Coretta Scott King was rushed to the Atlanta airport by a police escort arranged by Mayor Allen. The mayor had made arrangements to hold Eastern Airlines flight 399, headed for Memphis at 8:25 that evening for Coretta Scott King; the flight had already been delayed due to heavy rain. While Coretta Scott King waited at the airport to board the flight, Mayor Allen was notified by airline officials that King had died in Memphis; he in turn broke the news to Coretta Scott King. With the knowledge that her husband had died, Coretta Scott King returned back from the airport to the King family home. She flew to Memphis the next morning to retrieve King's body in a plane chartered for her by Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
Research determines that the portion of the clip that includes Ivan Allen, Dora McDonald, and Coretta Scott King took place on the evening of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, April 4, 1968. Events are described in Christine Farris King's 2009 book Through It All: Reflections On My Life, My Family, and My Faith. New York: Atria Books, pp. 128-130; and Gary Pomerantz's 1996 book Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn: The Saga of Two Families and the Making of Atlanta. New York: Lisa Drew Books/Scribner, pp. 354-355.
Title supplied by cataloger.
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.
|Rights and Usage:|
Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. escorting Coretta Scott King away from Hartsfield International Airport immediately after learning about the death of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta, Georgia, 1968 April 4, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1455, 34:44/35:42, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.