Seven days that changed the country
In the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, riots broke out in 110 cities across the country. For five days, Atlanta braced for chaos while preparing to host King’s funeral. An unlikely alliance of former student radicals, the middle-aged patrician mayor, the no-nonsense police chief, black ministers, white churchgoers, Atlanta’s business leaders, King’s grieving family members, and his stunned SCLC colleagues worked to keep Atlanta safe, honor a murdered hero, and host the tens of thousands who came to pay tribute. On April 9, 1968, 150,000 mourners took part in the largest funeral ever staged for a private U.S. citizen. The ceremonies took place against a national backdrop of war protests and presidential politics and in a still-segregationist South where Georgia’s governor surrounded the state capitol with troops. Burial for a King is an account of this landmark week. It encapsulates King’s legacy, America’s shifting attitude toward race, and the emergence of Atlanta as a new kind of southern city.