The Paradox of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Funeral

by J-Mirabelli

“A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. presented a paradox to the existing political establishment both in life and in death. He had what amounted to a state funeral, for a private citizen. Hundreds of national politicians came to pay tribute to a man that actively protested against his country’s military and economic policies. At least 150,000 people peacefully marched through the streets of Atlanta, Georgia, behind King’s coffin including Robert, Jackie, Ethel and Ted Kennedy.

Lester Maddox, governor of the state at the time, refused to close the state government in honor of the slain Civil Rights leader, or attend the funeral. Maddox felt King was an “enemy of the country.” Police, FBI, and Riot-helmeted state troopers looked on as the marchers endlessly sang “We shall Overcome”.

The most glaring paradox was the simple mule drawn carriage that carried his body. Simple and humble in its presentation, it carried the body of one of the most influential peace activists of our time.

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