MLK Assassinated: 1968
As the news of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spread on the evening of April 4, 1968, George Scurlock stayed in his photography studio at 900 U Street NW in Washington, D.C.

This location placed Scurlock in the middle of the historic “downtown” for African Americans in the city and one of the corridors where Washington, D.C. residents lashed out in anger at nearby businesses.

Scurlock photographed the residents’ enraged actions, the police response, the military occupation and the aftermath.

Scurlock shot some of the few photographs that exist of disturbances as they took place – most pictures were taken from the safety of police lines or after troops occupied the city. One photo with an overview of the 7th Street NW corridor has been added to give the collection context.

More than 100 cities experienced the fury of African Americans as they learned of the assassination of the most prominent civil rights leader of the era. Of those cities, Washington, D.C. experienced among the greatest property damage April 4-7 and set a then U.S. record for mass arrests when more than 6,100 were detained.

Twelve died, mostly due to becoming entrapped in burning buildings and over 1,100 were injured. Property damage was extensive as corridors along 14th Street NW, 7th Street NW, U Street NW, H Street NE and Nichols Ave SE (later Martin Luther King Jr. Ave) were set afire. 1,200 buildings were burned.

A few images have been added to this album in addition to the Scurlock photos in order to give additional context.

The Scurlock images in this set have been converted to black and white for easier viewing. Digitalized copies of the original images can be seen at amhistory.si.edu/archives/scurlock/about_the_scurlocks/
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