I WAS THERE—Alma Speed Fox, civil rights activist who took part in the march and raised awareness, conveys her recollection of that day.
The month of April 2013 marked the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.; the riots that erupted in cities across the country, including Pittsburgh; and the proclamation by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson calling for a Day of National Mourning to be observed three days after King’s April 4, 1968, death.
Pitt’s University Library System recounted Pittsburgh’s participation in the Sunday, April 7,1968, Day of National Mourning with a free public program and a compelling series of black-and-white photographs taken that day by Charles Martin, who enjoyed a 66-year career as a freelance photographer. Martin captured the day with his 35 mm Nikon camera as thousands of residents from around the region peacefully marched from the fire-ravaged Hill District to the Federal Building, Downtown, many dressed in their Sunday best.
The program was titled “The MLK Jr. Pittsburgh March: Through the Lens of Charles Martin.”
Laurence Glasco, a Pitt professor of history, put the event in historical context; and Martin, described, through a PowerPoint presentation, what it was like to be photographing the historic event. Twelve of Martin’s 189 photos from that day will be on display through the summer on the library’s ground floor, near the elevators.
Martin says when he heard that there might be violent clashes between police and the marchers, and that no traffic was being allowed into Downtown, he walked from the North Side to the Hill District to document the event. As it turned out, there were no clashes. Instead, Martin captured the participants—young and old, Black and White—marching peacefully to commemorate the life of King.