The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr April 4, 1968

Detroit March to Freedom down Woodward Ave. 1963. My father is in the 2nd row, looking serious.

On April 4, 1968 when Martin Luther King Jr was murdered, I was a senior art major  at Wayne State University in Detroit.  I was walking across campus with Jim, who is now my husband, when Rufus and Brenda Griffin  stopped and told us what had happened. They offered me a ride home. I lived in the house at 5397 Oregon with my mother and Henry.

I remember going to school the next day and being in my printmaking class when my mother, who NEVER appeared in my classes, walked into the room to tell me riots were breaking out. Duffield, her school had closed (she was a teacher) and we left. We passed a small group of high school students marching down West Grand Blvd. but no violence.

Either that night or the next I was taken to the airport before the curfew so that I could meet my sister Pearl, who was coming in from Howard University, which had been closed due to the disturbance. She was a sophomore. We spent the night at the airport hotel. This assassination, both in itself and coming after so many others was so depressing. I was 21.

6 thoughts on “The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr April 4, 1968

  1. I was at Howard in my dorm with my roommate when they announced Dr. Kings death on the radio. We all ran out into the hall. Girls were crying. Then there was a loud explosion. Angry people had blown up the Wonder Bread factory near the campus. That was the start of the DC rioting. It started really fast. Tear gas wafting over the campus. Sirens. The next day they closed the campus. My roommate’s boyfriend took me to the airport in his orange GTO. When I got to the airport I was really glad to see my sister. I think that was my first time staying in a hotel. It was so sad and the riots were scary.

  2. This is such an important personal story to remember and share. For those of us who didn’t experience it, it’s vital to share the memories of those who did.
    Also, as a printmaker, I’d love to see some of your work!
    A-Z of Printmakers

  3. I don’t remember the assassination, too young and too far away.
    My earliest political memory is from December 1967 when our Australian prime minister disappeared while swimming. I can remember standing in my aunt’s bedroom and looking into the sunny garden when I heard the news report on the radio. I am not sure why the memory is so vivid or why it mattered so much to a young child, perhaps because I loved swimming. I still will not let any of my family swim alone at the beach.
    Assassination is a dreadful thing. I do not believe it is ever an appropriate way to deal with political enemies.
    It must have been a scary time for so many people.

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