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MLK’s Funeral: Rare Photos

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was laid to rest in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 9, 1968, five days after his assassination at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Many of those attending King’s memorial service and his funeral were, of course, nationally known ― activists, preachers, politicians, artists, athletes and others who had been by King’s side at countless marches and rallies through the years. But many, many more of the tens of thousands who lined Atlanta’s streets or walked behind the mule-drawn casket were “average” Americans: men, women, and children who came from around Atlanta and around the country to pay their final respects, in person, to a man who gave his life in the struggle for freedom, justice, and peace.

Here, in rarely seen pictures from the private service at King’s own Ebenezer Baptist Church and from the far larger public memorial afterward at his alma mater, Morehouse College, FOTO offers a portrait of that day ― a profile of a community in mourning, and yet unbowed.

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Coretta Scott King (1927 - 2006) listens to one of the speakers at the public memorial for her slain husband in Atlanta, April 9, 1968.

In a tribute to women of the Civil Rights Movement, Joy Reid reminded FOTO that Coretta Scott King once “had ordinary dreams of being a famous entertainer, and instead she became the mother of the movement. She had to navigate being a mom, explaining to four little kids why the threat of death constantly surrounded them. She had to be MLK’s voice when he was gone, and she did it regally, and with depth.”

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Robert F. Kennedy outside of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the first memorial of the day was held for Dr. King.

Less than two months later, Robert Kennedy himself was killed in Los Angeles by a Jerusalem-born assassin named Sirhan Sirhan, who today is serving a life sentence at a prison in southern California. Other prominent figures at both the private and public memorials included Sammy Davis, Jr., Jackie Kennedy, Mahalia Jackson, Marlon Brando, Eartha Kitt, Wilt Chamberlain, Thurgood Marshall, Sidney Poitier, Nelson Rockefeller, and many more.

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Actor, singer, and activist Harry Belafonte (center), his wife, Julie Robinson (left), and his son, David (seated in front of Belafonte), at the public memorial for Dr. King at Morehouse College.

Long one of the most high-profile and vocal celebrity activists in the U.S., Harry Belafonte supported the Civil Rights Movement from its earliest days, and was deeply involved in many of its signature events, from the Freedom Rides in the Deep South to the March on Washington in 1963.

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Andrew Young speaking at the public memorial for Dr. King at Morehouse College.
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Andrew Young was the executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); marched in (and was arrested in) many of the signature protests of the era; and was in Memphis with King when the civil rights leader was murdered. Young went on to serve in Congress; was twice elected mayor of Atlanta; has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom; and in his mid-80s remains active in progressive causes.

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Part of the crowd of tens of thousands who marched in MLK’s funeral procession in Atlanta.

Of the service at Ebenezer Baptist, James Baldwin wrote in an essay for Esquire magazine that it “sort of washed over me, in waves. It wasn’t that it seemed unreal; it was the most real church service I’ve ever sat through in my life, or ever hope to sit through; but I have a childhood hangover thing about not weeping in public, and I was concentrating on holding myself together. I did not want to weep for Martin, tears seemed futile.”

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An overhead shot of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s casket, during the procession from Ebenezer Baptist Church to Morehouse College.

“As we came out [of the church] and I looked up the road,” Baldwin wrote, “I saw them. They were all along the road, on either side, they were on all the roofs, on either side … and they stood in silence. It was the silence that undid me. I started to cry, and I stumbled, and Sammy [Davis Jr.] grabbed my arm. We started to walk.”

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Onlookers crowding a rooftop in Atlanta on the day of MLK’s funeral.

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‘Martin Luther King Jr.’s Unfinished Work on Earth Must Truly Be Our Own’

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Five days after King was assassinated, his “spiritual mentor” Benjamin Mays delivered a eulogy for his former student.

Benjamin Mays was the president of Morehouse College, in Atlanta, while Martin Luther King Jr. was a student there, and the two became friends. King considered Mays his “spiritual mentor” and “intellectual father.” Mays was 70 years old—no longer the college’s president but a civil-rights leader—when he delivered King’s eulogy, at Morehouse, on April 9, 1968. It was later published in Born to Rebel: An Autobiography, by the University of Georgia Press.


To be honored by being requested to give the eulogy at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is like being asked to eulogize a deceased son—so close and so precious was he to me. Our friendship goes back to his student days at Morehouse College. It is not an easy task; nevertheless, I accept it, with a sad heart, and with full knowledge of my inadequacy to do justice to this man. It was my desire that if I pre-deceased Dr. King he would pay tribute to me on my final day. It was his wish that if he pre-deceased me I would deliver the homily at his funeral. Fate has decreed that I eulogize him. I wish it might have been otherwise, for, after all, I am three score years and ten and Martin Luther is dead at thirty-nine.

Benjamin Mays (Larry Burrows / The Life Picture Collection / Getty)

Although there are some who rejoice in his death, there are millions across the length and breadth of this world who are smitten with grief that this friend of mankind—all mankind—has been cut down in the flower of his youth. So multitudes here and in foreign lands, queens, kings, heads of governments, the clergy of the world, and the common man every-where are praying that God will be with the family, the American people, and the President of the United States in this tragic hour. We hope that this universal concern will bring comfort to the family—for grief is like a heavy load: when shared it is easier to bear. We come today to help the family carry the load.

We have assembled here from every section of this great nation and from other parts of the world to give thanks to God that he gave to America, at this moment in history, Martin Luther King Jr. Truly God is no respecter of persons. How strange! God called the grandson of a slave on his father’s side, and the grandson of a man born during the Civil War on his mother’s side, and said to him: Martin Luther, speak to America about war and peace; about social justice and racial discrimination; about its obligation to the poor; and about nonviolence as a way of perfecting social change in a world of brutality and war.

Here was a man who believed with all of his might that the pursuit of violence at any time is ethically and morally wrong; that God and the moral weight of the universe are against it; that violence is self-defeating; and that only love and forgiveness can break the vicious circle of revenge. He believed that nonviolence would prove effective in the abolition of in-justice in politics, in economics, in education, and in race relations. He was convinced also that people could not be moved to abolish voluntarily the in-humanity of man to man by mere persuasion and pleading, but that they could be moved to do so by dramatizing the evil through massive nonviolent resistance. He believed that nonviolent direct action was necessary to supplement the nonviolent victories won in federal courts. He believed that the nonviolent approach to solving social problems would ultimately prove to be redemptive.

Out of this conviction, history records the marches in Montgomery, Birmingham, Selma, Chicago, and other cities. He gave people an ethical and moral way to engage in activities designed to perfect social change without bloodshed and violence; and when violence did erupt it was that which is potential in any protest which aims to uproot deeply entrenched wrongs. No reasonable person would deny that the activities and the personality of Martin Luther King Jr. contributed largely to the success of the student sit-in movements in abolishing segregation in downtown establishments; and that his activities contributed mightily to the passage of the civil rights legislation of 1964 and 1965.

Martin Luther King Jr. believed in a united America. He believed that the walls of separation brought on by legal and de facto segregation, and discrimination based on race and color, could be eradicated. As he said in his [Lincoln Memorial] address: “I have a dream!

He had faith in his country. He died striving to desegregate and integrate America to the end that this great nation of ours, born in revolution and blood, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created free and equal, will truly become the lighthouse of freedom where none will be denied because his skin is black and none favored because his eyes are blue; where our nation will be militarily strong but perpetually at peace; economically secure but just; learned but wise; where the poorest—the garbage collectors—will have bread enough and to spare; where no one will be poorly housed; each educated up to his capacity; and where the richest will understand the meaning of empathy. This was his dream, and the end toward which he strove. As he and his followers so often sang: “We shall overcome someday; black and white together.

Let it be thoroughly understood that our deceased brother did not embrace nonviolence out of fear or cowardice. Moral courage was one of his noblest virtues. As Mahatma Gandhi challenged the British Empire without a sword and won, Martin Luther King Jr. challenged the inter-racial wrongs of his country without a gun. And he had the faith to believe that he would win the battle for social justice. I make bold to assert that it took more courage for King to practice non-violence than it took for his assassin to fire the fatal shot. The assassin is a coward: he committed his dastardly deed and fled. When Martin Luther disobeyed an unjust law, he accepted the consequences of his actions. He never ran away and he never begged for mercy. He returned to the Birmingham Jail to serve his time.

Perhaps he was more courageous than soldiers who fight and die on the battlefield. There is an element of compulsion in their dying. But when Martin Luther faced death again and again, and finally embraced it, there was no pressure. He was acting on an inner compulsion that drove him on. More courageous than those who advocate violence as a way out, for they carry weapons of destruction for defense. But Martin Luther faced the dogs, the police, jail, heavy criticism, and finally death, and he never carried a gun, not even a knife, to defend himself. He had only his faith in a just God to rely on; and the belief that “thrice is he armed that hath his quarrels just.” The faith that Browning writes about when he said: “One who never turned his back but marched breast forward, / Never doubted clouds would break, / Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph, / Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, / Sleep to wake.”

Coupled with moral courage was Martin Luther King Jr.’s capacity to love people. Though deeply committed to a program of freedom for Negroes, he had love and concern for all kinds of peoples. He drew no distinction between the high and the low; none between the rich and the poor. He believed especially that he was sent to champion the cause of the man farthest down. He would probably say that if death had to come, I am sure there was no greater cause to die for than fighting to get a just wage for garbage collectors. He was supra-class, and supra--culture. He belonged to the world and mankind. Now he belongs to posterity.

But there is a dichotomy in all this. This man was loved by some and hated by others. If any man knew the meaning of suffering, King knew. House bombed; living day by day for thirteen years under constant threats of death; maliciously accused of being a Communist; falsely accused of being in-sincere and seeking the limelight for his own glory; stabbed by a member of his own race; slugged in a hotel lobby; jailed thirty times; occasionally deeply hurt because friends betrayed him—and yet this man had no bitterness in his heart; no rancor in his soul; no revenge in his mind; and he went up and down the length and breadth of this world preaching non-violence and the redemptive power of love. He believed with all of his heart, mind, and soul that the way to peace and brotherhood is through nonviolence, love, and suffering. He was severely criticized for his opposition to the war in Vietnam. It must be said, however, that one could hardly expect a prophet of Dr. King’s commitments to advocate nonviolence at home and violence in Vietnam. Nonviolence to King was total commitment not only in solving the problems of race in the United States, but the problems of the world.

Surely this man was called of God to do this work. If Amos and Micah were prophets in the eighth century, b.c., Martin Luther King Jr. was a prophet in the twentieth century. If Isaiah was called of God to prophesy in his day, Martin Luther was called of God to prophesy in his time. If Hosea was sent to preach love and forgiveness centuries ago, Martin Luther was sent to expound the doctrine of nonviolence and forgiveness in the third quarter of the twentieth century. If Jesus was called to preach the Gospel to the poor, Martin Luther King Jr. fits that designation. If a prophet is one who does not seek popular causes to espouse, but rather the causes he thinks are right, Martin Luther qualified on that score.

No! He was not ahead of his time. No man is ahead of his time. Every man is within his star, each in his time. Each man must respond to the call of God in his lifetime and not in somebody else’s time. Jesus had to respond to the call of God in the first century, a.d., and not in the twentieth century. He had but one life to live. He couldn’t wait. How long do you think Jesus would have had to wait for the constituted authorities to accept him? Twenty-five years? A hundred years? A thousand? He died at thirty-three. He couldn’t wait. Paul, Galileo, Copernicus, Martin Luther the Protestant reformer, Gandhi, and Nehru couldn’t wait for another time. They had to act in their lifetimes. No man is ahead of his time. Abraham, leaving his country in the obedience to God’s call; Moses leading a rebellious people to the Promised Land; Jesus dying on a cross; Galileo on his knees recanting; Lincoln dying of an assassin’s bullet; Woodrow Wilson crusading for a League of Nations; Martin Luther King Jr. dying fighting for justice for garbage collectors—-none of these men were ahead of their time. With them the time was always ripe to do that which was right and that which needed to be d

Too bad, you say, that Martin Luther King Jr. died so young. I feel that way, too. But, as I have said many times before, it isn’t how long one lives, but how well. It’s what one accomplishes for mankind that matters. Jesus died at thirty-three; Joan of Arc at nineteen … [Paul Laurence] Dunbar before thirty-five; John Fitzgerald Kennedy at forty-six; William Rainey Harper at forty-nine; and Martin Luther King Jr. at thirty-nine.

We all pray that the assassin will be apprehended and brought to justice. But, make no mistake, the American people are in part responsible for Martin Luther King Jr.’s death. The assassin heard enough condemnation of King and of Negroes to feel that he had public support. He knew that millions hated King.

The Memphis officials must bear some of the guilt for Martin Luther’s assassi-nation. The strike should have been settled several weeks ago. The lowest paid men in our society should not have to strike for a more just wage. A century after Emancipation, and after the enactment of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, it should not have been necessary for Martin Luther King Jr. to stage marches in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma, and go to jail thirty times trying to achieve for his people those rights which people of lighter hue get by virtue of their being born white. We, too, are guilty of murder. It is time for the American people to repent and make democracy equally applicable to all Americans. What can we do? We, and not the assassin, represent America at its best. We have the power—not the prejudiced, not the assassin—to make things right.

If we love Martin Luther King Jr. and respect him, as this crowd surely testifies, let us see to it that he did not die in vain; let us see to it that we do not dishonor his name by trying to solve our problems through rioting in the streets. Violence was foreign to his nature. He warned that continued riots could produce a Fascist state. But let us see to it also that the conditions that cause riots are promptly removed, as the President of the United States is trying to get us to do. Let black and white alike search their hearts; and if there be prejudice in our hearts against any racial or ethnic group, let us exterminate it and let us pray, as Martin Luther King Jr. would pray if he could: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. If we do this, Martin Luther King Jr. will have died a redemptive death from which all mankind will benefit.

I close by saying to you what Martin Luther King Jr. believed: If physical death was the price he had to pay to rid America of prejudice and injustice, nothing could be more redemptive. And to paraphrase the words of the immortal John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr.’s unfinished work on earth must truly be our own.

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Howard University students demand answers in financial aid scandal

Howard University students protested on Thursday following news that six university employees were fired for "double-dipping" financial aid.

An outside auditor found last year that university employees misappropriated financial aid funding over the course of nine years. Some university employees were receiving grants from the school to attend classes, while also receiving tuition remission, the investigation found, earning more money than their education cost and pocketing the difference. The university did not disclose the specific amount of money that might have been misappropriated.
The public did not find out about the allegations of financial misconduct until Tuesday, after blogging platform Medium posted an expose which has since been deleted.
Students at the historically black university in Washington, DC are demanding answers, and some have called for University President Wayne A.I. Frederick to resign. Jessica Brown, a Howard alumna, spoke to CNN affiliate WJLA saying that she is heartbroken. "You have students who dream about going to Howard, whose families risk everything."
    "The investigation found that from 2007 to 2016, University grants were given to some University employees who also received tuition remission," Frederick confirmed in a statement released Wednesday.
    "The audit revealed that the combination of University grants and tuition remission exceeded the total cost of attendance. As a result, some individuals received inappropriate refunds."
    Frederick says Howard has made reform efforts following the investigation. "Significant new policies and procedures have been implemented to strengthen Howard's internal controls with respect to the awarding of financial aid," he said. The reforms include new procedures for grant approvals and a way for students to access information on the annual budgets for each category of financial aid.
    The employees implicated by the investigation were fired for "gross misconduct and neglect of duties," the statement adds. The terminated employees have not been publicly identified due to protocol measures, Howard University Spokesperson Alonda Thomas said.
    The outside auditors hired by the University delivered their findings in May 2017, while Howard University was in the midst of their own internal investigation. The University's investigation began in December 2016 and lasted through September 2017, when an investigation of individual employee actions was completed and the six employees terminated.
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    Advertisers Ditching Laura Ingraham’s Show Over Attack On Parkland Survivor

    The Fox News host mocked 17-year-old David Hogg for not getting into a few colleges.

    Several companies announced Thursday that they were pulling the plug on advertising during Laura Ingraham’s show after the Fox News host bashed a teen survivor of the Parkland school shooting.

    Nutrish, the pet food line owned by celebrity chef Rachael Ray, was the first to tweet that it would no longer advertise during Ingraham’s show. 

    “We are in the process of removing our ads from Laura Ingraham’s program, as the comments she has made are not consistent with how we feel people should be treated,” a spokesman for Nutrish told HuffPost in a statement.

    Hours later, travel site TripAdvisor and home goods retailer Wayfair followed suit.

    In a statement to HuffPost, TripAdvisor said Ingraham’s comments crossed “the line of decency”:

    We believe strongly in the values of our company, especially the one that says, “We are better together.”   

    We also believe Americans can disagree while still being agreeable, and that the free exchange of ideas within a community, in a peaceful manner, is the cornerstone of our democracy. 

    We do not, however, condone the inappropriate comments made by this broadcaster. In our view, these statements focused on a high school student, cross the line of decency. As such, we have made a decision to stop advertising on that program.

    Ingraham did not address the controversy on her show, “The Ingraham Angle,” on Thursday evening. Several national retailers still featured advertisements during the commercial breaks, including Gillette and Progressive Insurance, although ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum noted that the Ad Council was also featured, possibly as filler material after some companies distanced themselves from the program.

    A spokeswoman for Wayfair, which pulled its ads, told HuffPost that Ingraham’s comments were “not consistent with our values.”

    “As a company, we support open dialogue and debate on issues,” the Wayfair spokeswoman said. “However, the decision of an adult to personally criticize a high school student who has lost his classmates in an unspeakable tragedy is not consistent with our values. We do not plan to continue advertising on this particular program.”

    The companies’ announcements came a day after Ingraham mocked David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, for not getting accepted into a few of the colleges he’d applied to.

    In response, Hogg called on people to pressure a dozen companies to remove their ads from Ingraham’s programs, which include “The Ingraham Angle” on Fox News and a morning radio show on Talk 1370 AM of Austin, Texas. Nutrish, TripAdvisor and Wayfair are pulling their commercials from the Fox News show, the companies confirmed to HuffPost.

    Ingraham apologized Thursday afternoon on Twitter for “any upset or hurt my tweet caused [Hogg] or any of the brave victims of Parkland.”

    Hogg dismissed Ingraham’s apology in an interview Thursday with The New York Times.

    “She only apologized after we went after her advertisers,” Hogg said. “It kind of speaks for itself. ... I’m not going to stoop to her level and go after her on a personal level. I’m going to go after her advertisers.”

    Expedia and Nestlé told HuffPost on Thursday that they would no longer advertise on Ingraham’s show, but did not immediately specify when this decision was made or whether her remarks about Hogg played a role in it.

    “We have no plans to buy ads on the show in the future,” the Nestlé spokesman said.

    Johnson & Johnson told HuffPost on Thursday that it “will pull advertising from Ms. Ingraham’s show.” Stitch Fix also confirmed to HuffPost that it would stop purchasing ads on her program.

    Hulu tweeted that evening in reply to Hogg, saying it would similarly cease such advertising.

    HuffPost reached out to every company on Hogg’s list of Ingraham advertisers, as well as others the teen tweeted out from a list compiled by Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog. Nutrish, TripAdvisor, Wayfair, Expedia, Nestlé, Johnson & Johnson, Hulu and Stitch Fix have responded or otherwise made public statements. Jos. A. Bank also told The Daily Beast it had no plans to buy ads on her program in the future.

    A representative of Fox News declined to comment beyond Ingraham’s apology on Twitter.

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    Linda Brown, Center Of Brown v. Board Of Education, Dies At 76

    Linda Brown, the young girl at the center of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case, died on Monday at the age of 76. 

    Brown’s sister, Cheryl Brown Henderson, confirmed the death to the Topeka-Capital Journal. Peaceful Rest Funeral Chapel of Topeka independently confirmed Brown’s death with HuffPost.

    “Sixty-four years ago a young girl from Topeka brought a case that ended segregation in public schools in America,” Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer tweeMonday. “Linda Brown’s life reminds us that sometimes the most unlikely people can have an incredible impact and that by serving our community we can truly change the world.”

    It was Brown’s father, Rev. Oliver Brown, who sued the Topeka school board to allow his daughter the right to attend an all-white school in the Kansas capital city. Four other school segregation cases were combined with Brown’s to be heard by the Supreme Court, but the justices’ unanimous ruling was named for Brown.

    Brown, who was also known as Linda Carol Thompson after her marriage in the mid 1990s, was forced to attend an all-black school far away from her home even though an all-white school was only blocks away.

    CARL IWASAKI VIA GETTY IMAGES
    Linda Brown (left) with her parents, Leola and Oliver, and little sister Terry Lynn in front of their house in Topeka, Kansas, in 1954.

    Brown told MSNBC in 2014 that she remembered the embarrassment of being separated from her neighborhood friends and the long walk to the bus stop.

    “I remember a couple of times turning around and going back home because I — you know, it was a small town,” she said. “I got really, really cold and would get home and be crying. And mother would, you know, she would try to warm me up and tell me it would be all right and everything.”

    The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Brown. In its decision, the court overturned the 1896 “separate but equal” ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, marking the case as one of the biggest legal victories of the civil rights era. It was due to Brown v. Board of Education that the federal government could force states to integrate schools, allowing children of color the opportunity for an equal education to white children.

    Brown credited her father and the other families who took their cases to court for removing the “stigma of not having a choice” during a 1985 interview for the PBS documentary series “Eyes on the Prize.”

    “I feel that after 30 years, looking back on Brown v. The Board of Education, it has made an impact in all facets of life for minorities throughout the land,” Brown said during the interview. “I really think of it in terms of what it has done for our young people, in taking away that feeling of second class citizenship. I think it has made the dreams, hopes and aspirations of our young people greater, today.”

    Even with the decision, it took years of protest and legal battles before segregation would end. Only three years after the Brown case, nine black students had to be escorted by federal guards in order to safely attend the previously all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

    Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, called Brown heroic for her role in helping to end “ultimate symbol of white supremacy.”

    “The life of every American has been touched by Linda Brown,” Ifill said in a statement released to HuffPost. “This country is indebted to her, the Brown family, and the many other families involved in the cases that successfully challenged school segregation.” 

    NEW YORK POST ARCHIVES VIA GETTY IMAGES
    Linda Brown (center left) in 1984.

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