Martin Luther King, Jr.’s connection to the Port City

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Hundreds gathered to pay their respect to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Williston Middle School in Wilmington on Wednesday night.

It was 50 years ago he was assassinated in Memphis.

WWAY’s Amanda Fitzpatrick sat down with the founder of the Burnett-Eaton Museum Foundation, Islah Speller, to learn more about the history of Dr. King and his connection to Wilmington.

“Before he died, what two days before he was assassinated, he was scheduled to come to Wilmington,” Speller said.

“When Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Wilmington like every other city and state in the United States was under a curfew. And so therefore people had to be in the house by 6:00, 6:30,” Speller said.

Speller said people here planned a memorial for 3 p.m., but were not given a chance to mourn Dr. King.

“The mayor, the police department they moved the curfew up to 3:00, so Wilmington did not get the opportunity to memorialize Dr. King,” Speller said.

“Had he come to Wilmington, there would have been, you know flowers would have bloomed. And so now we’re going to look around and see what comes out of this,” Speller said.

“I am so happy that we as a community here in Wilmington, North Carolina, that we can make this right and start a new beginning,” Speller said.

If you’re interested in visiting the Burnett-Eaton Museum Foundation, you can make an appointment by calling 910-795-8597 or e-mailing

Categories: Community, Features, Local, New Hanover

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