Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Remembered in Burlington, North Carolina (1968)

Marchers gather to hear organizers speak


April 4, 2008 marks the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of the Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. These images were taken in Burlington, North Carolina at a tribute to Dr. King’s life held just days after Dr. King was killed. They come from the Edward J. McCauley (b.1926–d.2003) Photographic Collection, in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives. McCauley was a photographer at the Burlington Times–News (newspaper) from 1949 to 1974. The image at the top of this entry appeared in the April 8, 1968 edition of the Times–News accompanying a story about the tribute/march held on April 7, 1968.

According to the article, over 300 people participated in the mile long march from First Baptist Church (on Apple Street) to City Hall, which was led by First Baptist’s Pastor, Dr. Harold J. Cobb. When he spoke to the group assembled at City Hall after the march, he began by saying “This is not a march on City Hall but a march to City Hall to awaken both colored and white and to say there will be no disorder here.” He went on to praise King’s message of equality and non–violence; closing his remarks by stating “We will and shall overcome.”

The Burlington Police monitored the march and blocked traffic to accommodate the large number of people involved. Due to the violence and rioting that erupted in many cities across the country as a result of Dr. King’s assassination, the Burlington Police prepared for the worst, and were relieved by the “orderly and reverent” manner of those involved in the tribute.

Organizers lead procession along North Church St.


Procession moves along North Church St.

5 thoughts on “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Remembered in Burlington, North Carolina (1968)”

  1. Sorry for the off topic comment, but the 1st photo makes me so hungry! Zack’s hot dogs are the best! About 30 years ago Zack’s moved to the other end of the block around the corner from its location in the above photo. In high school, one lucky enough to get kicked out of English class was able to beat the high school crowd to Zack’s for lunch! After a few dogs, it was up the street to the Tasty Bakery (also shown in the photo). Yum!!!

  2. Every once in a while, down through the pages of time, the life and works of one man forever changes the lives of millions of people. Martin Luther King, Jr. was such a man.

  3. I was also in Burlington, NC, and adopted by people whom were white, but not racists (my brother and I are 6% black, but of course, they never knew). It was an interesting time, when your neighbors tell you the dangers a black republican coming to town (Martain Luther King, Jr, came and stayed in Burlington). Or yikes, the new High School, Cummings High School will have a black principal.. Truth is, the black protests in Burlington, and Greensboro, had support from lots of white folks, including my parents, and I never witnessed anything. (While they might support it, they did not go near any events). Were there racists? Yes, both sides. But, as it was the 60’s, the Blacks were coming out of a period of repression. I believe it ended in the 60’s. From my experience, blacks and whites have had the same opportunities during my lifetime. I have sat in black classrooms, and mostly white classrooms.

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