Newsfront – Special report/Discussion – April 5, 1968 – Eastern Educational Network – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
April 5, 1968 – When Dr. Martin Luther King jr. died in a Memphis hospital at around 7 pm, an hour after he was gunned down while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel April 4th, it sent a shockwave of violence throughout the country and an outcry over the state of race relations in America. Although there were numerous pleas to remain calm, to not resort to rioting, looting and bloodshed as a means of protest, it didn’t do much to stop the events from unfolding in more than 100 cities across America as news spread of Dr. King’s death. The site of National Guard troops on the streets and smoke from burning buildings billowing up to the sky led many to believe this was the moment it would fall apart. A nation teetering on anarchy, with a war in Vietnam becoming more unpopular each day – the voices of dissent growing stronger and the rampant despair in cities from poverty and no future tearing apart the frayed fabric of democracy, 1968 for all intents and purposes was looking like a year where America as we knew it was going to fall apart. The violence and repercussions would continue for weeks – even though the riots and urban unrest would go from boil to simmer, the underlying emotions and frustrations brought on by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King would not go away anytime soon.
And this wave of unrest brought about much introspection; most of it by way of media. This episode of the nightly news program Newsfront, which aired as part of the Eastern Educational Network (forerunner of PBS), gives over most of its broadcast on this April 5th to a discussion between Dr. Alvin Poussaint (associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard), Congressman James Scheuer (D-N.Y.) Dr. Benjamin Spock, James Farmer (NAACP), Saul Wallen of The Urban Coalition and moderator Mitchell Krauss.
Maybe leaving more questions than answers at the conclusion, it was indicative of how America was feeling on this particular night in 1968. Here is that 90 minute broadcast.
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