Dr. Martin Luther King led 200 singing, chanting, demonstrators across the Coldwater River Bridge yesterday?
Dr. Martin Luther King led 200 singing, chanting, demonstrators across the Coldwater River Bridge yesterday to resume James Meredith's "Mississippi Freedom March". In Memphis, Meredith gave a press conference at the hospital and collapsed while talking to newsmen.
Meredith's 200 mile "Mississippi Freedom March" was interrupted on Monday when Meredith was shot from ambush. Now Dr. Martin Luther King has taken up the march, and yesterday, under a broiling sun, the demonstrators set off single file from a spot about eight miles from the shooting incident occurred. A dozen Federal, State and County law officers were strung along the line of the march, and scores more gathered in a roller skating rink across the bridge.
As the march started off, Dr. King was wearing new boots and a straw hat with an orange band. Crossing the bridge over the Coldwater River, the group began to pick up more participants, and as the column moved into Coldwater the numbers had swelled to 350. The first rest stop was under a clump of oaks at the outskirts of the town. The marchers yelled to negro bystanders to join them. Dr. King told newsmen: "I think this march will encourage people to register and vote, and we will get a great demand for federal registrars". Police arrested two white men as the marchers passed through Coldwater. Officers said that a shotgun was taken from one of them.
Meanwhile Meredith, who started the march from Memphis to Jackson as a personal affair to appeal to Negroes to vote, left the William Bowld Hospital in Memphis in a wheelchair. Negro leaders claimed that Meredith had been evicted from the hospital, but officials denied this. Before he left Meredith met personally with newsmen for the first time since he was shot. He told them: "When I'm able, I'll return to the march. We will arrive in Jackson." Then, tears streaming down his cheeks, he collapsed in his chair in the improvised newsroom. The hospital chief of staff, Dr. Lewis Anderson, called it "just a fainting spell". While the newsmen were waiting for Meredith to recover sufficiently to resume the conference, he left the hospital and sped away with a police escort.