Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
M. Lane Bruner - Chair
The seven-and-a-half-hour series of funeral rites that occurred in Atlanta on April 9, 1968 in honor of assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. were broadcast live to 120 million U.S. television viewers and reported extensively in local and national newspapers and magazines. While King's April 4 assassination triggered deadly riots in more than 100 cities, Atlanta remained peaceful before and during the funeral. In this research thesis I explore how the funeral was leveraged by three disparate stakeholder group's King's family, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Atlanta's liberal white leadership- to stage image events. I create a historiography for each group that draws on primary sources and original interviews. Using an intertextual approach I conduct qualitative content analysis of the media coverage generated by each group's actions, identifying seven major messages that emerged.
Burns, Rebecca Poynor, "Mourning and Message: Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1968 Atlanta Funeral as an Image Event" (2008). Communication Theses. Paper 43.