This was the scene on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia Wendesday morning January 15, 1969. I took this picture from across the street at Ebenzer Baptist Church. Notice the vintage automobile parked in front of the church as the crowd gathers outside to enter the building for the ceremony.
Harry Belafonte confers with Mrs. Coretta Scott King while seated next to Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and Mrs. Alberta King. Dr. King's parents were affectionally [sic] known as "Mama King" and "Daddy King".
Seated (left) on front row of picture is Mr. Isaac Farris Sr., Dr. King's brother-in-law. Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays can be seen at the extreme right. Dr. Mays was president of Morehouse College when a young Martin Luther King Jr. was a student there.
This was my first time ever taking pictures at an event. My brother in service had sent me a camera from overseas and I took it along just to have it. While insde the church with my fraternity brothers, a lady saw me with my camera and escorted me down to the front of the church with the news media.
There was a lot of press coverage at this first memorial service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but most of the media represented was local. There was not a large number of representatives from the national media present.
This is A. D. King, Dr. King's younger brother. Some years after Dr. King's assasination [sic], Rev. A. D. King was found floating in his swiming pool dead. Some people speculated that the King family was "cursed", comparing it to the Kennedy family and it's [sic] many misfortunes .[ sic]
Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, president of Morehouse College is seen here (seated on right). Next to Dr. Mays is a young Isaac Farris Jr. and a friend. You can also see a partial view of Mr. Isacc Farris Sr. on the front row as well.
Mrs. Coretta Scott King arrives at Ebenezer Baptist Church. This was the first time that there was an official gathering to honor and celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 15, 1969 in Atlanta, GA., nine months after Dr. King was assasinated [sic]. That's my reflection in the car window.
Pictures above is Andrew Young addressing the audience at the first birthday celebration in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Young was one of Dr. King's closest leutenants [sic] and was at his side within seconds after the shots rang out that killed him at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
Beautiful music filled Ebenezer Baptish [sic] Church on this 15th day of January in 1969 as they celebrated the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Here we see the renowned Dr. J. DeKoven Killingsworth, chairman of the music department, conducting the Clark College Philharmonic Society.
Notice the press covering the program as Mrs. King is surrounded by family members and friends. I have been told that there are very few recorded and published images from this first birthday celebration which make the photographs that you are seeing here extremely rare. I've seen no others.
Mrs. King is being protected by police officers and civil rights workers as she leaves Ebenezer Baptist Church. Notice the three vintage reel to reel movie cameras which television stations used to record stories during that time.
Many adoring fans sought to get close enough to Harry Belfaonte to shake his hand, but because of this extraordinary event for which he was in Atlanta, they showed restraint and respect during his visit.
We can see a street scene on Auburn Avenue outside of Ebenezer Baptist Church immediately after the first memorial service for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This was nine months after he was assasinated [sic] in Memphis, Tennessee while standing on the second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel.
In 1969, the First National Bank (on left) was the tallest building in downtown Atlanta. The Regency Hyatt Hotel (right) was a skyscraper, and the Equitable Building (center) was on it's [sic] way to becoming another tall structure in downown. I took this picture from the Jackson Street Bridge.
Mourners gathered at Southview Cemetery after the memorial service. Many people came to visit Dr. King's tomb. Southview Cemetery on Jonesboro Road was Dr. King's original burial site. His tomb was later relocated to Auburn Avenue, where both Dr. King and his wife Coretta are entombed today.
These are some students from Clark College that gathered in front of Dr. King's tomb at Southview Cemetery for a small ceremony which took place after the Ebenezer Baptist Church event. Do you see anyone that you can identify?
Dr. King was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and members of the Eta Lambda Graduate Chapter laid this wreath at his tomb to honor, to celebrate, to rejoice and remember the life of a King., ....And all of this happened ... "One Day In January". - HORACE C. HENRY-
This annual event was to grow from year to year until eventually, an official national holiday was named in honor of Dr. King. The wives of Dr. Joseph E. Lowery and Andrew J. Young can be seen in the audience. Are you able to pick them out?
The Rev. E. W. Lumpkin conducts the Iterdenominational [sic] Theological Center male chorus during one of the many musical presentations at this first ecumenical service for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. You may be able to identify some of the I.T.C. students in the chorus if you look carefully.
"When an usher who saw me with my camera took my arm and led me down to the front of the church with the rest of the media, I was so nervous that I almost froze up. But after a few minutes of finding out that no one was paying any attention to me I loosened up, raised my camera and started shooting."