CBS NEWS SPECIAL REPORT: THE FUNERAL OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (TV)

Summary

Live, special coverage of the funeral of slain civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn. Funeral services are held at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga. Mayor Carl Stokes of Cleveland makes his way through the huge crowd outside the church; Gov. and Mrs. George Romney (R-Mich.) take their seats inside the church, where an organist plays; former Vice President Richard M. Nixon makes his way through the crowd, followed by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.); Kennedy enters the church, passes McCarthy, and sits near the Romneys and Nixon; Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy makes her way through the crowd; Charles Kuralt comments on the crush of people outside the church and notes Mrs. Kennedy's difficulties in getting through the crowd; Walter Cronkite comments on the crush of people outside the church; Mrs. Kennedy enters the church and joins Sen. Kennedy; and Kuralt says the procession from the Ebenezer Baptist Church will march four miles through downtown Atlanta on its way to memorial services at Morehouse College.

Sen. and Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) take their seats inside the church; Charles Kuralt describes the interior of the church; Walter Cronkite and Kuralt comment as Sammy Davis, Jr., Sidney Poitier, Gov. and Mrs. Nelson Rockefeller (R-N.Y.), New York City's Mayor John V. Lindsay, New York City's Terence Cardinal Cooke, and others enter the church; John Hart describes the arrival of Mrs. Coretta Scott King, her four children, and Dr. King's brother; Kuralt gives background on those who will speak during the services; Vice Pres. Hubert H. Humphrey enters and sits with Ralph Bunche, Thurgood Marshall, and others; the Rev. Ralph Abernathy of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) presides over the service and all stand as the King family enters; the presence of Harry Belafonte is noted; the Rev. Abernathy speaks of King's death as "...one of the darkest hours in the history of all mankind"; the choir sings a favorite hymn; Dr. Ronald English delivers the opening prayer, saying "...he who lives for eternity...will never die"; George Foster and Kuralt comment on scenes of people already marching in the streets of downtown Atlanta; the Rev. William Holmes Borders reads from the Old Testament as marchers pass the Capitol Building in Atlanta; the choir sings a hymn and Abernathy invites everyone to sing King's favorite hymn; Dr. E.H. Dorsey reads from the New Testament; and the choir sings a hymn.

The choir sings a hymn; the Rev. Ralph Abernathy of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) presides over the service and introduces Dr. Harold De Wolfe, the mentor of Dr. King; De Wolfe pays tribute to King as Mrs. Coretta Scott King and other family members appear on camera, including Martin Luther King, Sr.; the Rev. Abernathy asks a choir member to sing "My Heavenly Father Watches Over Me" for Dr. King; the Rev. Abernathy relates an anecdote and reads from Dr. King's words; the organist plays "We Shall Overcome"; a recording of Dr. King's last sermon is played; the camera focuses on Harry Belafonte, Vice Pres. Hubert H. Humphrey, Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.), Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.), Terence Cardinal Cooke of New York City, former Vice Pres. Richard M. Nixon, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Gov. George Romney (R-Mich.), Gov. Nelson Rockefeller (R-N.Y.), New York City's Mayor John V. Lindsay, and others; the congregation stands as Dr. King's casket is carried from the church and as Charles Kuralt comments on the services; the casket is carried outside and placed on a farm wagon to be drawn by a mule team; Kuralt describes the route of the procession; the procession begins its four-mile journey through downtown Atlanta on its way to Morehouse College, where memorial services are to be held; and Atlanta's Mayor Ivan Allen appears near the head of the procession.

The funeral procession follows a four-mile route through downtown Atlanta on its way to Morehouse College, where memorial services are to be held. John Hart describes the scene as Dr. King's casket rides on a farm wagon drawn by a mule team; Charles Kuralt comments as thousands of marchers make their way along the procession route, many of them singing "We Shall Overcome"; Walter Cronkite in New York reports on the speedy progress of a new civil rights bill through Congress, and Kuralt and Cronkite comment on the appropriateness of a civil rights bill as a living tribute to Dr. King; and Kuralt reports from Morehouse College and describes the scene in downtown Atlanta as the casket progresses through the streets. Also featured is footage of a discussion from April 7, 1968, between Kuralt, Hosea Williams of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), publisher Ralph McGill of the Atlanta Constitution, the Rev. Sam Williams of SCLC, Harry Belafonte, and Rev. Andrew Young of SCLC. As the panel discusses Dr. King's leadership role in the civil rights movement, the live camera focuses on marchers in the funeral procession, including Gov. and Mrs. Nelson Rockefeller (R-N.Y.), Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.), Sen. Jacob Javits (R-N.Y.), Gov. George Romney (R-Mich.), and Mrs. Coretta Scott King with family members and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy.

Walter Cronkite comments on the speedy progress of a new civil rights bill through Congress; Charles Kuralt at Morehouse College outlines the format of the memorial services; the camera focuses on Dr. King's casket as it rides on a farm wagon drawn by a mule team; Kuralt gives background on Morehouse College, King's student years, and King's civil rights leadership as the camera focuses on Paul O'Dwyer, Eartha Kitt, and Tony Franciosa among the thousands of marchers; Cronkite comments on the civil rights activities of Martin Luther King, Sr., as the camera focuses on Sammy Davis, Jr., Gov. George Romney (R-Mich.), Sen. Jacob Javits (R-N.Y.), and Gov. and Mrs. Nelson Rockefeller (R-N.Y.) among the marchers; John Hart at Morehouse College speaks with Floyd McKissick of Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) on the new civil rights bill and on the cooperation between CORE and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; the Morehouse College Glee Club sings; the mule team and casket approach the college and the area where the memorial service will be held; the camera focuses on Jackie Robinson and Sen. and Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.); the Rev. Ralph Abernathy begins the service; and the casket is brought forward to the speaker's platform.

The Rev. Ralph Abernathy speaks, continuing from the previous portion of coverage; Robert Williams sings a spiritual, "My Soul Is a Witness for My Lord"; the Rev. H. W. Creecy of the Atlanta Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) sings a hymn, "I Shall Be Free Some Day"; the camera focuses on Gov. and Mrs. George Romney (R-Mich.), Gov. and Mrs. Nelson Rockefeller (R-N.Y.), Sen. Jacob Javits (R-N.Y.), Mrs. Coretta Scott King, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., and others in the audience; Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) takes his place on the speaker's platform; a hymn is sung; the Rev. Thomas Kilgore of the SCLC delivers a prayer; Rabbi Abraham Heschel reads a lesson from the Old Testament; the Rev. Andrew Young asks the crowds to move back to relieve the crush around the platform; the Morehouse College Glee Club sings a spiritual; the Rev. E. Franklin Frye reads from the New Testament; the Ebenezer Baptist Church Choir sings a spititual, "I Ain't Got Time To Die"; and Mahalia Jackson sings a spiritual, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand."

Dr. Benjamin Mays, former president of Morehouse College, eulogizes Dr. King as the camera focuses on Mrs. Coretta Scott King, the Rev. A.D. King, and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr.; Mays calls King a "prophet of the 20th century" and says King's "...unfinished work on Earth must truly be our own"; the Rev. Ralph Abernathy speaks briefly and asks all to stand and sing the Morehouse College hymn, which is sung by the Morehouse College Glee Club; the assemblage sings "We Shall Overcome"; Bishop William Wilkes pronounces the benediction; and Charles Kuralt comments as the pallbearers take Dr. King's casket from the area and prepare for the journey to the cemetery.

Dr. King's casket journeys to the South View Cemetery from the memorial services at the campus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. Walter Cronkite comments on the speedy progress of a new civil rights bill through Congress. Roger Mudd narrates a film biography of King, highlights of which include coverage of the following: the May 17, 1957, prayer pilgrimage to Washington, D.C.; the march on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963; King's eulogy for the children killed in the Sept. 15, 1963 bombing of a Baptist church in Birmingham, Ala.; King's 1964 Nobel Peace prize; the march from Selma to Montgomery in March of 1965; the June 1966 shooting of James Meredith in Mississippi; a Mike Wallace interview with King in 1966 on the subject of the black power movement; and King's last public speech, including the line, "I've been to the mountaintop..." delivered in Memphis, Tenn., on April 3, 1968. Other coverage highlights include the following: Cronkite summarizes the services that were held at the Ebenezer Baptist Church and Morehouse College; John Hart and Charles Kuralt, both at Morehouse College, describe the day's mood thus far; the camera focuses on the scene at the South View Cemetery as guests begin to arrive; Harry Belafonte, Martin Luther King, Sr., and the pallbearers proceed to the gravesite; the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, King's successor in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, speaks as the camera focuses on King's widow, Mrs. Coretta Scott King; and family and friends pay their last respects. Cronkite concludes the broadcast. (Airtime approximate.)

Details

  • NETWORK: CBS
  • DATE: April 9, 1968 Tuesday 10:11 AM
  • RUNNING TIME: 7:19:55
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T81:0796
  • GENRE: News
  • SUBJECT HEADING: African-American Collection - News/Talk
  • SERIES RUN: CBS - TV, 1968
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

    • Morehouse College Glee Club … Choir/Chorus
    • Ebenezer Baptist Church Choir … Choir/Chorus
    • Walter Cronkite … Reporter
    • Charles Kuralt … Reporter
    • John Hart … Reporter
    • Roger Mudd … Reporter
    • Ralph Abernathy
    • Ivan Allen
    • Harry Belafonte
    • William Holmes Borders
    • Ralph Bunche
    • Terence Cardinal Cooke
    • H. W. Creecy
    • Sammy Davis Jr.
    • Harold De Wolfe
    • E. H. Dorsey
    • Ronald English
    • Tony Franciosa
    • E. Franklin Frye
    • Abraham Heschel
    • Hubert H. Humphrey
    • Mahalia Jackson
    • Jacob Javits
    • Edward M. Kennedy
    • Ethel Kennedy
    • Jacqueline Kennedy
    • Robert F. Kennedy
    • Thomas Kilgore
    • A. D. King
    • Coretta Scott King
    • Martin Luther King, Jr.
    • Martin Luther King Sr.
    • Eartha Kitt
    • John V. Lindsay
    • Thurgood Marshall
    • Benjamin Mays
    • Eugene McCarthy
    • Ralph McGill
    • Floyd McKissick
    • James Meredith
    • Richard M. Nixon
    • Paul O'Dwyer
    • Sidney Poitier
    • Jackie Robinson
    • Nelson Rockefeller
    • George Romney
    • Carl Stokes
    • Mike Wallace
    • William Wilkes
    • Hosea Williams
    • Robert Williams
    • Sam Williams
    • Andrew Young