Caption

Thousands march downtown to  commemorate MLK’s funeral procession

The March for Humanity — more than 2,000 strong and commemorating the funeral procession of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years ago to the day — started down Auburn Avenue toward downtown at 12:55 p.m.

Singing “I Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round” and “This Little Light of Mine,” the marchers were led by King’s granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King; his son, Martin III; his daughter, Bernice King; Robert Kennedy’s daughter, Kerry Kennedy; March for Our Lives organizer Jaclyn Corin; and King family members  Isaac Farris, Alveda King Beal and Naomi King, widow of King’s brother, A.D. Also in the front ranks: the Rev. Al Sharpton and rapper T.I. 

“There is no one day or one hour. This is a remaking and a rise of our movement. The people are here. The concern is here. The spirit is here. All over the nation,” said C.T. Vivian, a King lieutenant, shortly before the march began. “We will return to the same kind of continuous movement that Martin had.”

Demonstrators at Liberty Plaza, across from the State Capitol. The March for Humanity on Monday made its way from the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church to the Capitol. (Rosalind Bentley / rbentley@ajc.com)

It was a common sentiment.

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“I leave here today with a rejuvenated spirit,” the Rev. Gerald Durley, pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church, said after a pre-march service at Ebenezer Baptist Church. “A renewed sense that the movement is still alive.”

The 1.3-mile March for Humanity comemmorated a portion of the original funeral procession from Ebenezer to Morehouse College. The 1968 procession was 4.3 miles. Today’s march ended at the state Capitol with a ceremony at Liberty Plaza.

The combined choirs of Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” beneath the statue of Martin Luther King Jr. At the state Capitol.

Crowds gather across from the State Capitol fpr tje culmination of the March for Humanity. Rosalind Bentley / rbentley@ajc.com

Sojourner Marable Grimmett, daughter of scholar and historian Manning Marable, made the walk in honor of King and her late father.

Manning Marable was only 17 when he made his first solo trip from Dayton to attend the funeral.
“I’m just thinking about my dad and what it must have been for him to come here alone for such an important event,” Grimmett said. “He would be so proud today.”

At 10:30 a.m. on April 9, 1968, the pews at Ebenezer were filled with dignitaries and the streets were crowded with tens of thousands of mourners. 

Today, 50 years later to the moment, a memorial service began at Ebenezer commemorating King’s home-going service. The pews in the historic sanctuary were again filled, this time with King family members, Andrew Young and other King associates. An overflow crowd of tourists and visitors watched the services across the street at the contemporary Ebenezer building. 

Just as Coretta Scott King had directed that her husband’s “The Drum Major Instinct” sermon be played as his eulogy, a segment of the same sermon played today. His voice filled both chapels, his words seeming to predict his early death. 

People march through the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic District during the March for Humanity in Monday. The march marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s funeral procession through Atlanta. (REANN HUBER/REANN.HUBER@AJC.COM)

As the ceremony came to a close, King’s young granddaughter, Yolanda Renee, introduced 

Corin, a survivor of the Parkland, Fla., high school shootings and a March For Our Lives organizer. 

Corin said her generation of activists has learned important lessons from the old warriors of King’s generation, and it’s now their time to pick up the mantle.
“Young people have changed the world in the past and we’re going to do it again,” Corin said.

The service was in advance of the March for Humanity, a 1.3-mile path memorializing a portion of the original funeral procession from Ebenezer to Morehouse College. The 1968 procession was 4.3 miles. Today’s march will end at the state Capitol with a ceremony at Liberty Plaza.

Staff writer Ernie Suggs contributed to this article.

Read and sign the AJC’s online remembrance book for Martin Luther King Jr.

On AJC.com, WSB-TV and WSB radio

The March 21 documentary ‘The Last Days of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’ on Channel 2 kicked off a countdown of remembrance across the combined platforms of  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Channel 2 Action News and WSB Radio.

The three Atlanta news sources released comprehensive multi-platform content through April 9, the anniversary of King’s funeral.

On April 4, the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, the three properties devoted extensive live coverage to the memorials in Atlanta, Memphis and around the country.

The project culminates today with coverage of the special processional in Atlanta marking the path of Dr. King’s funeral, which was watched by the world.

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