Apr 05

1968 Martin Luther King Memorial



More than 700 attended San Luis Obispo service.

April 7, 1968

For the second time in five years the nation was shocked by the assassination of a national leader. In 1963 President John F. Kennedy was slain in Dallas.
On the afternoon of April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King was murdered by a sniper in Memphis.
Mitchell Park was the regional gathering point during a national day of mourning. Mourners marched from six locations in the city and Cal Poly to pay tribute to the Dr. King. Generations of injustice, the glacial pace of change and the martyrdom of a pacifist leader led many across the nation to react with violence. While the raw violence did not reach the Central Coast anger was expressed in speeches.

700 attend King Memorial;
call for deeds, not words
By Gilbert Moore
Staff Writer

San Luis Obispo was told Sunday it must respond with deeds instead of words to the death of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King.

The call to action came during a solemn 90 minute memorial service to the slain Negro minister in Mitchell Park on the National day of mourning in his honor.

As the flag flew at half mast, more than 700 persons – black and white, young and old – came to the park from across the city for the tribute that passed without incident. More than one onlooker burst into tears.
Darryl W. Bandy, a Cal Poly student and a member of the Black Students Alliance, said that blacks “will guarantee that Dr. Martin Luther King did not die in vain.”

He said, “White racist America killed Dr. King, a decadent demoralized white racism that lives right here in San Luis Obispo.”

He praised King’s work but said that blacks have not been able to get respect through marching.

He said he disagreed when whites say “we have to earn their respect. We are guilty the moment we come out of the womb of our black mothers.

“We would rather die in the streets than live under white racist doctrines,” Bandy said.
“We are not asking for equality any more, just respect. We think we deserve it. You backed us into a corner.”


Echos of those speeches are still heard today, and seen on YouTube.

Bobby Kennedy would pick up Dr. King’s fallen banner for ending the war in Viet Nam.
Two months later, the nation would be shocked again.

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