Dearborn and the Assassination of MLK Jr.

Famous civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis on April 4th 1968. Communities across the United States reacted sharply to this killing and held memorial services commemorating King. On April 8th, hundreds members of the Dearborn community commemorated King by marching across West Dearborn. Given Dearborn’s negative reputation in regards to civil rights issues, the event would have appeared quite unusual to passersby. The march and news coverage of King served as an opportunity for Dearborn to come together and reflect upon its racial attitudes. We here at the Dearborn Historical Museum hope you take the time today to reflect on the contributions of Martin Luther King Jr and the influence he had upon promoting civil rights across the United States.

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As the march commemorating Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the largest civil rights demonstrations in the city’s history, the Dearborn Press, Dearborn Guide, and Dearborn Times Herald all covered the event.

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SKM_C36818040310330Dearbornites at the April 1968 Memorial March for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. carrying signs that say “White Racism — Killed Dr. King” and “Destroy White Racism”.

SKM_C36818040310311A young man carries a sign that says “Martin Luther King — The Way of Suffering Love.”

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Charlotte Knight carried a sign with “Black Is Beautiful” during the memorial march for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At the time of the march, she was a sixteen year old sophomore at Fordson High School. As Charlotte was one of the few African Americans at the march, The Dearborn Guide later profiled her participation in the event. Through this news story, it is evident that the death of Dr King was viewed locally as an important moment in the struggle for civil rights.



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Following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., minor civil disturbances occurred in Detroit. Michigan Governor George Romney, declared a curfew in Metro Detroit and sent in the National Guard to reduce chances of rioting breaking out. As Detroit papers were on strike at the time of King’s killing, photos and information included in the Dearborn Guide provide valuable documentation about the period.41168guide (3)



Even a few weeks after Martin Luther King Jr’s killing, the matter of civil rights was extensively being discussed in Dearborn newspapers. These articles were in the April 18th 1968 Dearborn Guide.



Reactions to the King assassination by leaders of Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, and Inkster were discussed in an April 10th 1918 Dearborn Times Herald article.



1810 Map of the West Dearborn Area


This early 1810 military map depicts the military reservation created a few years earlier in the area that is now West Dearborn. In 1832, the reservation was selected as a location to construct the Detroit Arsenal military base. The village of Dearbornville was originally established in 1833 on lands sold from the military reservation.

The full map can be downloaded here: Military Reservation Map – 1810


How Dearborn Viewed Detroit 67 Unrest

July 23rd is the 50th anniversary of when major civil disturbances began in Detroit. Over 10 days, 43 people died and thousands were injured before order was restored in the city.

So current Dearborn residents can better understand how their city reacted to events in Detroit, we have attached local newspaper coverage from late July and August 1967. These newspapers showcase what best could be described as a state of mild hysteria in the Dearborn area. Despite significant looting being miles away, shoppers stayed away from Dearborn stores and numerous Dearbornites armed themseve

Dearborn Guide 1967-07-27

Dearborn Press 1967-07-27

Dearborn Times Herald 1967-07-26

Dearborn Times Herald 1967-08-02


[Photos from the Dearborn Press]

archives, Event

DHM Partnering with Arab American National Museum for Oral History Opportunity

On September 1st and October 1st, the Dearborn Historical Museum and Arab American National Museum will be partnering for two archives related events

The info and descriptions of the events can be found at

This is a great opportunity to fulfill our mission and preserve the rich history and stories of Dearborn,