PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee.
To mark the somber occasion, the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy were honored around the country. In Washington DC, a prayer vigil was held at his memorial. Then, thousands of people marched to the National Mall to protest racism.
But his death also had a big impact on people in Pittsburgh.
KDKA’s Lynne Hayes-Freeland Reports:
In the days after the assassination, like many other cities around the country, Pittsburgh erupted into chaos, with looting and fire. Then, the National Guard was called in.
“I was upset, because I felt there had to be another way,” said Louis “Hop” Kendrick, a retired detective.
KDKA reported on shots fired at helicopters high above the civil disobedience. Photographers were assaulted while in the midst of the chaos.
After days of unrest, community members decided to take back control of the neighborhoods. In Homewood, young men hit the streets in search of peace.
“Red vests, young men mostly, if not totally, that volunteered to help try to keep the peace and to keep the neighborhood intact,” said Rick Adams, an educator.
On April 7, three days after the shooting, Pittsburghers came together for a day of mourning. Blacks and whites marched together under the watchful eye of the National Guard to share grief and try to figure out what happens next.
WEB EXTRA: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 Years Later:
It’s a question that, in many ways, still looms large in 2018 – 50 years later.
“Today, when you look at the city of Pittsburgh, and you see that the white population, its median income is like $51,000, but the black community is $26,000,” said Adams. “When you see unemployment six percent in the white community, but 16 percent in the black community, there’s obviously a lot of things structurally that have not changed.”