by Latoya Peterson
Women’s Wear Daily published a “From the archives” feature on the funeral of Dr. King.
While about half of the piece documents the atmosphere and who was there, it also allows a glimpse into the bewilderment and confusion that happened after Dr. King’s assassination.
Amidst the shallow attempts to get a glimpse of the headliners was a very deep sadness and anger. King, a decided pacifist, was often criticized by others in the civil rights movement for being too soft. “They killed the wrong man,” one man said. “Love didn’t work. It’s gonna take some violence now to make these people understand.” So, the opening to Abernathy’s eulogy, broadcast over a loudspeaker perched atop the church, was apropos: “Where do we go from here, chaos or community?”
After his speech and several songs, a procession began from Ebenezer Baptist, passed the Georgia state capitol and ended at Morehouse College. There, Abernathy was joined at the podium by then-Presidential nominee Robert Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney and John Lindsay to speak about Dr. King. By the time King’s casket actually arrived at the cemetery, his funeral had been going for nearly seven hours. He had famously said in February of that year, “I don’t want a long funeral….I want you to say I tried to love and serve humanity.”
According to WWD’s reporter, it took a lot of time to say that.
(Photo Credit: Women’s Wear Daily)