CBS NEWS SPECIAL REPORT: THE MEMPHIS MARCH (TV)

Summary

Live, special coverage of a march by striking sanitation workers and their supporters in Memphis, Tenn. This march occurs under a lifted injunction and also serves as a memorial march in memory of slain civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis. Roger Mudd notes that the march was underway earlier but has now stopped, and is awaiting the arrival of Dr. King's widow, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, who subsequently appears at the front of the march. Mudd points out the Rev. Ralph Abernathy and Harry Belafonte, who appear at the head of the march with Mrs. King, two of her sons, and others, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Andrew Young. The program includes a brief overlapping NBC audio broadcast, with correspondents Edwin Newman, David Burrington, and Douglas Kiker, who comment on the route of the march through downtown Memphis to City Hall. Posters appear that read "Honor King: End Racism!" and "Union Justice Now." The overlapping broadcasts are cut off by Walter Cronkite's on-air commentary, which is joined in progress. Mudd and Ed Rabel comment on the route of the march and note that no suspect has been named in King's murder. Morton Dean reports from City Hall and remarks on the National Guardsmen along the march route, after which Mudd gives a history of the strike. Further overlapping audio is heard from NBC correspondent Newman. After Cronkite signs off, coverage resumes as Mrs. King and others are now seated outdoors at City Hall Plaza, where Ossie Davis and Belafonte address the crowd of marchers.

Coverage continues from City Hall Plaza, where marchers have gathered to hear speakers. The crowd sings "Lord Guide My Feet While I Run This Race"; marchers continue to arrive as Walter Reuther, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, three of the four King children, the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Harry Belafonte, and others appear on the speaker's stand; a bishop from Nashville tells the crowd that America weeps not only for Dr. King, but also for itself; Mrs. King thanks the crowd for its devotion and dedication to her husband's beliefs, and says she hopes that America can be transformed into a "...society of love, of justice, peace and brotherhood, where all men can really be brothers"; a union organizer speaks; Dr. Ralph Jackson says that the strike must be settled successfully to honor Dr. King; the Rev. Benjamin Hooks, a Baptist pastor, introduces the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, King's successor in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); and the Rev. Abernathy says his task is to take King's mantle and lead his cause into the "land of promise."

The Rev. Ralph Abernathy, King's successor in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), continues his remarks as the camera focuses on Mrs. Coretta Scott King and three of the four King children in the audience. The Rev. Abernathy says that the civil rights movement has not abandoned the practice of non-violence but that the "contagious disease" of hatred has spread throughout the country. Some of the microphones are turned off, allegedly by the city administration as a form of harassment, and the crowd responds by singing "We Shall Overcome." The Rev. Abernathy resumes and calls on Congress to feed the hungry and end the war in Vietnam. Other highlights include the following: Mrs. King, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Harry Belafonte, and others congratulate Abernathy as the crowd sings "Amen"; a union official from the AFL-CIO calls the event a march for the dignity for all Americans; a Methodist bishop appeals to white Americans in Memphis to change the atmosphere "before hate takes hold"; Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers (UAW), says that the U.S. has lacked the will to make human progress for human dignity; Mrs. King and others leave the speaker's platform; an SCLC official says that Memphis needs an economic program, not more police; Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Rosa Parks speak to the crowd; and Bayard Rustin talks about Dr. King's personal qualities.

Rustin praises King's courage and calls King's life "an example to us all." Other highlights include the following: Victor Gotbaum of the AFSCME union addresses a barb to the mayor of Memphis; various announcements are made; Dr. Benjamin Spock urges white people to work for equal rights; the benediction is delivered; the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, King's successor in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and others leave the speaker's platform as the march resumes; marchers walk hand-in-hand as the camera focuses on contingents of U.S. Army personnel; and the coverage concludes.

Details

  • NETWORK: CBS
  • DATE: April 8, 1968 Monday
  • RUNNING TIME: 3:51:59
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T81:0804
  • GENRE: News
  • SUBJECT HEADING: African-American Collection - News/Talk
  • SERIES RUN: CBS - TV, 1968
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

    • Walter Cronkite … Reporter
    • Roger Mudd … Reporter
    • Morton Dean … Reporter
    • Ed Rabel … Reporter
    • Ralph Abernathy
    • Harry Belafonte
    • David Burrington
    • Ossie Davis
    • Benjamin Hooks
    • Victor Gotbaum
    • Jessie Jackson
    • Ralph Jackson
    • Douglas Kiker
    • Coretta Scott King
    • Martin Luther King, Jr.
    • Edwin Newman
    • Rosa Parks
    • Walter Reuther
    • Bayard Rustin
    • Benjamin Spock
    • Andrew Young