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Hearse used to carry Martin Luther King Jr.’s body in Memphis being shown in Natchitoches

This hearse, shown here at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge, carried the late civil...
This hearse, shown here at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge, carried the late civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s body almost 54 years ago in Memphis, Tenn. The 1966 Cadillac 616 Superior Coach remained in storage for decades until Todd Graves, founder and CEO of Raising Cane's, procured it in 2018. The following year, the hearse was unveiled in Baton Rouge at the Course Con Baton Rouge event addressing violence in the Capital City.(Source: The University of Louisiana System's Reginald F. Lewis Scholars Program)
Published: Jan. 16, 2022 at 6:08 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2022 at 8:46 PM CST
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(KSLA) — People can see firsthand the hearse that was used to carry civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s body almost 54 years ago in Memphis, Tenn.

The 1966 Cadillac 616 Superior Coach is on display through Sat. Feb. 5 at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, 800 Front St. in Natchitoches, as part of the statewide Carrying on a Dream tour.

The hearse was used to transport King’s body from the hospital to the funeral home and then from the funeral home to the Memphis airport, where it was received by his widow, Coretta Scott King.

Raising Cane’s founder and CEO Todd Graves procured the vehicle in 2018 after it was held in storage for decades. The following year, the hearse was unveiled in Baton Rouge at the Course Con Baton Rouge event addressing violence in the Capital City.

“It’s important that the next generation really understands how the contributions of Martin Luther King Jr. changed the world,” Graves is quoted in a news release about the tour. “Many of us did not get a chance to hear MLK during his lifetime, so I am hoping they will be able to appreciate him and his work through this tribute to honor his life.”

Graves and the University of Louisiana System’s Reginald F. Lewis Scholars Program are displaying the hearse as a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month.

The exhibit also features regional civil rights artifacts, a Civil Rights art piece produced by artist and Reginald F. Lewis Scholar Robert Hill and screenings of the documentary “I am MLK Jr.,” " which celebrates the life and explores the character of the American icon.

The first showing was at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston.

OTHER SHOWINGS:

  • When: Jan. 20-Feb. 5
    • Where: Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, 800 Front St. in Natchitoches
    • Hours: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
  • When: Feb. 7-10
    • Where: Lake Charles Civic Center, 900 Lakeshore Drive in Lake Charles
    • Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • When: Feb. 14-19
    • Where: Blackham Coliseum, 2330 Johnston St. in Lafayette
    • Hours: TBD

More stops may be added.

The Reginald F. Lewis Scholars Program recruits Black male students and provides educational programs, mentoring opportunities and co-curricular experiences. Two students are chosen from each University of Louisiana System institution for a total of 18 members each year.

“This exhibit provides our (Reginald F. Lewis Scholars) the opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than themselves,” UL System President Jim Henderson said. “Honoring the legacy of Dr. King will inspire them to dream even bigger as individuals and for others.”

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