Martin Luther King Gravesite

Martin Luther King Gravesite

After his assassination in Memphis by James Earl Ray in April 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s body was brought home to Atlanta. A farm wagon, drawn by mules, carried his coffin to Atlanta’s South-View Cemetery, where his parents would later be buried.

South-View Cemetery was founded in 1886 by nine former slaves who were barred from the whites-only graveyards. Because of this, South-View is the oldest African-American not-for profit corporation in the United States. It serves as the final resting place for over 70,000 African-Americans and others, regardless of race or religion.

Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, opened the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in the basement of the couple’s home in June 1968. In 1970, she had his body moved to a new tomb on a cleared lot east of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King had preached. The tomb was faced with Georgia marble, in order to “acknowledge his southern roots.”

The grave site has evolved over time. Originally, it held only the white marble crypt with an epitaph taken from his I Have a Dream speech: “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.” In 1976, a memorial park was built around the marble crypt. It consisted of a brick and concrete plaza ringed by an arch-covered walkway. In time, the raked gravel directly around the sarcophagus was replaced by a reflecting pool, with King’s crypt on a raised pedestal in the middle.

An Eternal Flame was added in 1977. It symbolizes the continuing effort to realize Dr. King’s dream of the “Beloved Community”: his vision for a world of justice, peace, and equality for all mankind.

Coretta Scott King died in January 2006 from a stroke and complications of ovarian cancer. She was initially interred in a smaller white tomb near Dr. King’s grave until a sarcophagus to match his could be constructed. She joined her husband, from whom she had been separated for almost 40 years, on February 7, 2006. Her epitaph comes from I Corinthians: “And now abide Faith, Hope, Love, these three; but the greatest of these is Love.”

Mrs. King worked tirelessly to establish Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national holiday. She spoke before Congress many times and continued her husband’s work through the Center in his name that she had founded.

News photo of laying flowers at MLK’s original gravesite

A full schedule of events to celebrate Dr. King’s 83rd birthday, observed next Monday, is available here.

The gravesite of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And his wife Loretta Scott King are viewed as Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19, 2020 in Atlanta,...
martin luther king jr. national historic site - atlanta - martin luther king jr gravesite stockfoto's en -beelden
Dexter King visits the grave of his father Martin Luther King Jr. One year after his assassination.
Jesse Jackson , Baptist minister and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988, visits the grave of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther...
South African anti-apartheid leader and African National Congress member Nelson Mandela stands 27 June 1990 in Atlanta with his wife Winnie after...
Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr., widow of the assassinated civil rights leader, and his successor, Reverend Ralph Abernathy, kneel at the gravesite of...
The crew of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project , a joint US-Soviet space mission, lay a wreath at the grave of assassinated civil rights leader Dr Martin...
Senator Barack Obama , lays a wreath at the grave of Martin Luther King's grave with members of King's family January 20, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia....
Senator Barack Obama , lays a wreath at the grave of Martin Luther King's grave with members of King's family January 20, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia....
Bouquets lay by the grave and memorial for Martin Luther King at his family's Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
Coretta Scott King and her son Dexter visit the grave of Martin Luther King Jr. One year after his assassination.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s grave rests beside a reflecting pool in the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
Nelson Mandela raises his hands in praise at the memorial of Martin Luther King Jr. Present are his former wife, Jesse Helms, SCLC president Joseph...
View of an unidentified young boy as he stands in front of Dr Martin Luther King Jr's headstone, Atlanta, Georgia, April 9, 1968.
View of mourners as they stand beside Dr Martin Luther King Jr's headstone during his burial service, Atlanta, Georgia, April 9, 1968.
View of an unidentified young boy as he stands in front of Dr Martin Luther King Jr's headstone, Atlanta, Georgia, April 9, 1968.
Close-up of Dr Martin Luther King Jr's headstone, Atlanta, Georgia, April 9, 1968.
tomb of martin luther king and coretta scott king - martin luther king jr gravesite stockfoto's en -beelden
martin luther king jr. national historic site - atlanta - martin luther king jr gravesite stockfoto's en -beelden
martin luther king jr. national historic site - atlanta - martin luther king jr gravesite stockfoto's en -beelden
martin luther king jr. national historic site - atlanta - martin luther king jr gravesite stockfoto's en -beelden
Martin Luther King III places a flower bouquet on the grave of Mother Teresa, at the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata on February 26, 2009. Martin...
Senator Barack Obama walks with the nephew of Martin Luther King, Isaac Ferris, Jr. Before placing a wreath on the grave of Martin Luther King Sunday...
Senator Barack Obama walks with the nephew of Martin Luther King, Isaac Ferris, Jr. Before placing a wreath on the grave of Martin Luther King Sunday...
Senator Barack Obama , carries a wreath to the grave of Martin Luther King with King's sister Christine Farris January 20, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia....
Picket fences and flower arrangements surround the grave of Martin Luther King Jr.
Pallbearers carry the coffin of Martin Luther King ,Jr. To its grave at the South View Cemetery.
Flowers lay at the grave of Martin Luther King Jr. At South View Cemetery in Atlanta.
The King family and mourners gather for the burial service at South View Cemetery for Martin Luther King Jr..
The King family and mourners gather for the burial service at South View Cemetery for Martin Luther King Jr..
Civil Rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson attends the burial services of Martin Luther King Jr. In South View Cemetery.
An eternal flame glows in the night in front of Martin Luther King Jr.'s grave.
Floral offerings cover grave of assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. In Atlanta cemetery.
Protesters shout as President George W. Bush placed a wreath at the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Several hundred protesters loudly booed Bush...
Reverend W. C. Smith, , leads the prayer at the tomb of slain Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as ceremonies got underway to...
The widow , and family members of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., attended a memorial service at the King crypt, marking the 44th birthday of...
With marches and memorial services planned around the country for her late husband, Mrs. Martin Luther King Jr., arrives with her family to place a...
Atlanta, GA: Chinese Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-ping gestures as a wreath is placed for him of the black leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Accompanying...
South African President Thabo Mbeki bows his head, as his wife Zanele looks on, at the gravesite of slain US civil rights leader Martin Luther King...
South African President Thabo Mbeki and his wife Zanele walk to the grave site of slain US civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. During a...
Atlanta: Tawana Brawley, left, of Wappinger Falls, N.Y., was the center of the legal controversy over her charges that she was raped by six white...
Atlanta: Tawana Brawley, left, of Wappinger Falls, N.Y., was the center of the legal controversy over her charges that she was raped by six white...
President George W. Bush walks to the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with his widow Coretta Scott King and his sister Christine King Farris 15...
President George W. Bush lays at wreath at the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as his widow Coretta Scott King looks on 15 January at the King...
Mynyon Graves, Sonja Graves ,her son Julian Graves II and cyclist Mike Blakley watch Rev. Jesse Jackson leave the Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the...
tomb of martin luther king and coretta scott king - martin luther king jr gravesite stockfoto's en -beelden
Christine King Farris is seen laying a wreath on the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King during the 2021 King Holiday Observance Beloved Community...
Christine King Farris is seen laying a wreath on the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King during the 2021 King Holiday Observance Beloved Community...
Dr. Bernice A. King is seen laying a wreath on the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King during the 2021 King Holiday Observance Beloved Community...
Dr. Bernice A. King is seen laying a wreath on the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King during the 2021 King Holiday Observance Beloved Community...
Christine King Farris, Dr. Bernice A. King and the family of Dr. Martin Luther King lay a wreath on his grave during the 2021 King Holiday Observance...
Christine King Farris, Dr. Bernice A. King and the family of Dr. Martin Luther King lay a wreath on his grave during the 2021 King Holiday Observance...
Christine King Farris, Dr. Bernice A. King and the family of Dr. Martin Luther King lay a wreath on his grave during the 2021 King Holiday Observance...
Christine King Farris, Dr. Bernice A. King and the family of Dr. Martin Luther King lay a wreath on his grave during the 2021 King Holiday Observance...
Mourners pay their respects at the gravesite Rep. John Lewis at the South-View Cemetery on July 30, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Former U.S....
Mourners pay their respects at the gravesite Rep. John Lewis at the South-View Cemetery on July 30, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Former U.S....
Mourners pay their respects at the gravesite Rep. John Lewis at the South-View Cemetery on July 30, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Former U.S....
Mourners pay their respects at the gravesite Rep. John Lewis at the South-View Cemetery on July 30, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Former U.S....
Mourners pay their respects at the gravesite Rep. John Lewis at the South-View Cemetery on July 30, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Former U.S....
Mourners pay their respects at the gravesite Rep. John Lewis at the South-View Cemetery on July 30, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Former U.S....

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