April 5, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr. killed

On the evening of April 4, 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of a Memphis hotel. He was visiting the city to lead a protest march in support of local sanitation workers.

The next day, The Herald published two articles: One that detailed the events of King’s death and the Attorney General’s hope to find his murderer, another that relayed President Lyndon B. Johnson’s proclamation of the following Sunday as a day of mourning. Read excerpts from both front-page stories below:

Clark Hopeful of Finding Slayer

“Before King’s bronze and copper casket was closed for the journey home, his body was on view at the R. S. Lewis and Sons funeral home in Memphis.

About 200 Negroes filed past the coffin, and most of them were visibly shaken.

One elderly woman walked up to the casket, shaking her head from side to side.

‘I didn’t know you,’ she whispered, ‘but I loved you.”

Proclamation Sunday Day of Mourning

“Johnson, addressing the nation on radio and television ‘in this hour of national need,’ vowed that ‘American shall not be ruled by the bullet.’

The President met with top Negro and government leaders earlier.

He had hastily arranged the meeting after Negroes took to the streets in more than a dozen big city ghettos, smashing windows, looting and hurling bricks.

In designating Sunday a national day of mourning, Johnson urged the nation to pray for an end to racial hatred.

In our churches, in our homes, in our private hearts, let us resolve before God to stand against the divisiveness in our country and all its consequences,’ the President said.”

Read through the April 5, 1968 edition in our collection of historical front pages.

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