The Death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King Button

Part I: Riot in Chicago   Part II: Funeral in Atlanta

Browse photos of the Dr. King funeral services
Download Dr. King's funeral program

Two services were held for Dr. King in Atlanta on April 9. The first funeral was at 10:30 a.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both he and his father had served as pastors for many years. Since it could only hold 1,300 people, attendance was restricted to family, friends, distinguished guests and members of the congregation. A second service was held for the public in the quadrangle of Morehouse College, Dr. King's alma mater, later that afternoon. Numerous tributes to his life were given at both events.
At Ebenezer, the crowd was so thick that family and friends, let alone dignitaries, could get inside only with difficulty. Rev. Abernathy, who succeeded Dr. King as President of SCLC, opened the service by calling it "one of the darkest hours of mankind." At Mrs. King's request, the service included a tape recording of a sermon Dr. King had preached at Ebenezer describing the simple funeral he wanted -- and didn't get. Attending were many of the country's political leaders, as well as quite a few labor leaders, foreign dignitaries, entertainment and sports figures and leaders from numerous religious faiths.
A lengthy funeral procession walked the three and a half miles through Atlanta from Ebenezer to Morehouse. It was a silent procession, though occasionally bystanders sang freedom songs. In accordance with a prior agreement, the police confined their efforts to traffic while SCLC provided marshals to manage the crowd. Between 50,000 and 100,000 people participated in or observed the procession and services. Dr. King's casket was carried in a wooden farm wagon drawn by two local mules. Several of his aides walked in front or immediately behind the wagon. After the public service, the casket was loaded into a hearse for the trip to South View Cemetery, founded by former slaves in 1866. His body was later moved to a crypt at the King Center after it was constructed. Not one incident of violence was associated with the funeral.

Photos of the Dr. King Funeral Services
by Jo Freeman

Please click on thumbnails to view the complete image

Ebenezer Baptist Church   Ebenezer Baptist Church

Dr. King grew up in Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King Sr. was the pastor. During the years he led SCLC, he was associate pastor of this church.

The casket passes through the streets, drawn by mules to highlight
Dr. King's connection with the lives of ordinary people.

Pallbearers   Bernard Lee, Hosea Williams and Albert Turner

A glimpse through the pall bearers as
the casket is moved from Ebenezer for the procession.


From L to R: Bernard Lee and Hosea Williams. Holding the reins of the mule, barely seen, is Albert Turner, SCLC's Alabama director.

Mourners   Standing in Line

Mourners line the streets waiting
for the funeral procession to pass.


People stand everywhere craning to see.

Rev. Ralph Abernathy   Coretta Scott King

Rev. Ralph Abernathy was Dr. King's best friend and served as Secretary-Treasurer of SCLC. Right behind him is the Rev. A.D. King, Dr. King's brother; to his left is the Rev. King Sr; the Rev. Jesse Jackson is further behind.


Coretta Scott King, the widow.

Jesse jackson   Funeral Procession

Jesse Jackson carries the UN flag in the funeral procession.


The funeral procession passes the state capitol. This cross of white chrysanthemums and lilies had flanked the casket during the first funeral service.

Morehouse College

"We Shall Overcome" at Morehouse College



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