Kathryn Johnson was the only journalist who sat down with Mrs. King on that April night.

Funeral services set for former civil rights journalist Kathryn Johnson

Kathryn Johnson was the only journalist allowed in allowed inside Martin Luther King Jr.'s home the day he was assassinated

Johnson died Oct. 23, at the age of 93. She was known for developing close sources, and was the only journalist allowed inside Martin Luther King Jr.'s home the day he was assassinated.

»RELATED: Kathryn Johnson was one of the few women reporters to cover civil rights

A visitation is planned for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at H.M. Patterson & Son-Arlington Chapel in Sandy Springs, Georgia. Graveside services will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Greenwood Cemetery in Atlanta.

Kathryn Johnson and Coretta Scott King examine keepsakes of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. shortly after his assassination. Johnson was "very close to Coretta," former Mayor Andrew Young said. Photo courtesy of Kathryn Johnson.
Photo: Kathryn Johnson

Born in Columbus, Georgia, Johnson graduated from Agnes Scott College, a private, all-woman school in Decatur, Georgia, in 1947. In December of that year, she dropped by the local AP office looking for a job; she was offered a secretarial position.

"I think she was an unknown pioneer in that field," Winters said.

Twelve years later, after the American Newspaper Guild interceded, Johnson was finally given a writing job. She said she got the civil rights beat because the men "did not want to cover a black movement."

"When my aunt was interested in this young preacher named Martin Luther King, the men in journalism didn't want anything to do with a black man and interviewing him," Winters said. "She was just enthralled with the man, before he was famous."

She scored exclusive interviews with 2nd Lt. William L. Calley Jr. before he was convicted of his role in the My Lai massacre.

Kathryn Johnson, who covered the Civil Rights movement and other major stories of the 1960's and 1970's for The Associated Press and is featured in a book about the AP, at her home in Atlanta's Morningside neighborhood. RICH ADDICKS/AJC File
Photo: Rich Addicks/AJC

"I was never ambitious, really, anxious to make money ...," she told an interviewer for an AP oral history project in 2007. Johnson said she didn't want to be bored and added, "in most of my career, I really wasn't."

That career spanned a half-century, from the era of reporters racing each other to pay phones to the birth of 24-hour cable television news.


Read and sign the online guestbook for journalist Kathryn Johnson

Read her obituary from The Associated Press

Read her obituary from H.M. Patterson & Son

From the AJC in 2016: Reporter Kathryn Johnson reflects on life, work and reporting during the civil rights era

Associated Press writers Bernard McGhee and Jeff Martin in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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