Journalists recall Rev. Martin Luther King’s assassination
It’s been 50 years since Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. Four retired journalists recall their roles in reporting his death. Nancy Shipley was working in AP’s office in Nashville, Tennessee, when the call came 50 years ago. Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot. Shipley filed the story by ordering a machine operator to break into the AP’s main national newswire. Later, in the bathroom, she cried. Kathryn Johnson was a young AP reporter in Atlanta when the civil rights movement began, and she wound up on the civil rights beat partly because older, male reporters didn’t want it. Johnson had been covering King and his wife for years by the time she stood outside their home with other reporters on a rainy night in Atlanta following the assassination. Jack Thornell climbed over a church pew in Atlanta to photograph King’s widow and children viewing his body. AP photo editor Gene Herrick flew from Chicago to Memphis. The next morning, he stood in the bathtub where police said James Earl Ray stood to fire the shot that killed King.