Dr. King canceled a visit to Charlotte scheduled same day as his assassination

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Published: Apr. 4, 2018 at 9:53 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 4, 2018 at 11:06 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - UNC Charlotte's Atkins Library is home to signed letters by Martin Luther King Jr. to Kelly Alexander Sr. of the North Carolina NAACP, but one very telling document came to local civil rights activist Reginald Hawkins from King in the last days of his life.

He canceled a Charlotte visit scheduled for April 4, 1968 after deciding to stay in Memphis, Tennessee to help local sanitation workers.

"It's incredible to have materials created by Dr. King. Things that were in his possession. Things that he wrote his signature on," said Dawn Schmitz the associate dean for special collections and university archives.

Alex Coffin, a reporter for the Atlanta Constitution who covered the events around King's death and his legacy reflects on the assassination of the civil rights leader.

"50 years later, I'm delighted that I'm not having a hard time choking up," Coffin said.

Coffin still has his funeral program and ticket from the 1968 service.

"You're just not a reporter. In fact my heart is beating faster right now from just remembering that day," Coffin added.

Among the mourners was former YMCA Executive George Shinhoster who was assigned crowd control duties in his role with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

"We all were feeling that same sadness and that same sense of emptiness, if you will," Shinhoster said.

Alex Coffin agrees but raises a relevant concern that there is so much more to be done.

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