Burial for a King: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Funeral and the Week that Transformed Atlanta and Rocked the Nation
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
In the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, riots broke out in 110 cities across the country. For five days, Atlanta braced for chaos while preparing to host King’s funeral. An unlikely alliance of former student radicals, the middle-aged patrician mayor, the no-nonsense police chief, black ministers, white churchgoers, Atlanta’s business leaders, King’s grieving family members, and his stunned SCLC colleagues worked to keep Atlanta safe, honor a murdered hero, and host the tens of thousands who came to pay tribute.
On April 9, 1968, 150,000 mourners took part in a daylong series of rituals honoring King—the largest funeral staged for a private U.S. citizen. King’s funeral was a dramatic event that took place against a national backdrop of war protests and presidential politics in a still-segregationist South, where Georgia’s governor surrounded the state capitol with troops and refused to lower the flag in acknowledgment of King’s death. Award-winning journalist Rebecca Burns delivers a riveting account of this landmark week and chronicles the convergence of politicians, celebrities, militants, and ordinary people who mourned in a peaceful Atlanta while other cities burned. Drawing upon copious research and dozens of interviews— from staffers at the White House who dealt with the threat of violence to members of King’s family and inner circle—Burns brings this dramatic story to life in vivid scenes that sweep readers from the mayor’s office to the White House to Coretta Scott King’s bedroom. Compelling and original, Burial for a King captures a defining moment in America’s history. It encapsulates King’s legacy, America’s shifting attitude toward race, and the emergence of Atlanta as a new kind of Southern city.
white business leaders, and black lawyers and pastors. Now, less than a decade later, Lonnie King, Mayor Ivan Allen, and Chief Jenkins were working together—along with hundreds of other Atlantans—to strategize about how to keep the city from erupting in the kind of violence that overwhelmed more than a hundred other cities. Less than a decade earlier, Lonnie King and Martin Luther King Jr. were photographed as police officers took them to jail for staging a protest at Atlanta’s venerable Rich’s
historian Clifford Kuhn recounts the story of Vandiver’s little-known involvement in the events in the article “‘There’s a Footnote to History!’” Sifting through oral histories by Robert Kennedy and Vandiver, Kuhn found that the story was consistently told by both men, but probably downplayed at first out of political consideration for Vandiver and later overlooked because “the episode, linking the Kennedy and King families for the first time, occupies a central place in the country’s modern
The four headed out in the evening to start the drive. They knew it would take all night to get to Atlanta; the hardest part would be getting through the burning streets of Chicago. In Atlanta, police continued their extra patrols. All liquor stores in the city were closed. Mayor Allen issued a proclamation that no wine, beer, or “spirituous liquors” would be sold from 6 p.m. Monday through 8 a.m. Wednesday, April 10, the morning after the funeral. In a second proclamation, the mayor announced
already clustered on the front lawn. Marvin knew he had to get Mary back to her dorm before curfew, so the Manghams went home, and Marvin took his dad’s car and he and Mary headed out. They drove in near silence through the rain-slicked curving streets, leaving behind Collier Heights’ cul-de-sacs, wide front lawns, and streamlined, modern homes. A few miles east, closer to the Atlanta University Center, exuberant middle-class ranch houses made way for tidy cottages, square duplexes, narrow
moment but not aware fully of all that is around you.” She stood there with a “sense of horror and loss and disappointment.” Later she recognized a few people from back in Alabama—Albert Turner, head of the Alabama SCLC, took the reins and led the mule wagon, and Ben “Sunshine” Owens walked alongside him. Charles Black drove over to the church in his new convertible and parked as close as possible. He had made a sign out of poster board—LEAD MARSHAL—and taped it to the driver’s side door. He had