Friday, April 04, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr. Tomb

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Martin Luther King Jr. Tomb

Martin Luther King Jr. TombDescription: Martin Luther King, Jr. & Coretta Scott King. Source: own-work (Simon J. Kurtz) Date: 08/11/2007. Author: Simon J. Kurtz. Permission: (Reusing this image) Granted to the public domain.

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In early 1968, King was devoting much of his time to recruiting for the Poor People's Campaign, when the Reverend James Lawson of Memphis, Tennessee, asked him to support a strike of black sanitation workers in that city. The sanitation workers had walked out in February 1968, because city officials refused to recognize their nearly all-black local of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The Community on the Move for Equality (COME) organization was formed to support the strikers. King was largely unaware of divisions within the Memphis black community between established clergy and NAACP officials and young Black Power adherents.

On March 18, King addressed a rally of fifteen thousand strikers and supporters in Memphis. Ten days later, King led a march that turned violent. A small minority of demonstrators began looting, and police attacked both looters and peaceful demonstrators. Deeply alarmed by the eruption of violence, King vowed to return to Memphis and conduct a wholly peaceful march to vindicate his nonviolent beliefs.

King arrived in Memphis on Wednesday, April 3, 1968, for talks with participants in a new march scheduled for Monday, April 8. Aides described King as depressed as a result of the violence that marked the previous march and the difficulties the SCLC was experiencing recruiting for the Poor People's Campaign. On Wednesday evening King addressed a small rally at the Memphis Mason Temple. The next evening, April 4, 1968, King was assassinated while standing on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel. Blacks and whites alike reacted with sorrow and anger to King's murder. Rioting in 110 American cities left thirty-nine dead in the days following King's death. Escaped convict James Earl Ray was tried and convicted of murdering King, although the question of whether Ray acted alone is still debated. The Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy succeeded King as president of the SCLC. Abernathy went ahead with the Poor People's Campaign in Washington, but failed to accomplish the campaign's goals.

King's body was flown to Atlanta, where it lay in state at Sisters Chapel of Spelman College. On April 9, 1968, Ralph Abernathy, who had been with King since the Montgomery bus boycott days, conducted his funeral service at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Prominent civil rights leaders, black entertainers and professional athletes, and the four leading presidential contenders—Senator Eugene McCarthy, Senator Robert Kennedy, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and Richard Nixon—attended the service. A crowd exceeding sixty thousand listened to the service over loudspeakers outside, and as many as fifty thousand joined in the funeral cortege from Ebenezer to the campus of Morehouse College. King's casket was borne on a farm cart drawn by two mules, symbolic of the Poor People's Campaign. At Morehouse, college president emeritus Benjamin Mays gave a brief eulogy before King was buried next to his grandparents at South View Cemetery.

King's widow, Coretta Scott King, founded the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change in order to carry on her husband's work and honor his memory. She purchased property on Auburn Avenue east of Ebenezer Baptist Church for this purpose. King's remains were moved to a commemorative site at the Center in 1971. The King Center complex was completed in 1981 and includes King's marble tomb and surrounding plaza, a library and archive, conference center, and exhibit areas. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Omg Martin Luther King Jr. even though i dont know you because i was born in 1997 you feel like a hero to me thanks for all your hard work.

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