Re-Hearse-al Quack

Alexandria, LA

With JJ Kwashnak

March 2012


Inside the Silver Dollar Pawn and Jewelry Center in Alexandria, among the jewelry, tools and electronics, in a quiet corner, sits an unusual item which is not for sale. Owner Jimmie DeRamus, fulfilling the dreams of his deceased son Chad had successfully tracked down, purchased and restored the hearse used by R.S. Lewis and Son’s Funeral Home in Memphis, Tennessee to transport the body of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the days after his assassination outside the Lorraine Motel on April 4th, 1968.

MLK Hearse 1

The hearse picked up King’s body from the morgue in the John Gaston Hospital and transported it to funeral home. The hearse then was used to transport the body from the funeral home to the Memphis airport where Dr. King would be flown back one last time to Atlanta. The hearse, a 1966 Cadillac Superior Royale Hearse, was used as a trade in back to the dealer in 1969 for a new hearse.

MLK Hearse 2

The vehicle went into storage for nearly 40 years and after an abortive attempt to sell it on eBay; in 2007 DeRamus purchased it and had it go through a restoration in secret. In 2010 the hearse returned to Memphis to be unveiled and then was returned to Alexandria, Louisiana where it has been displayed in the store. It is the centerpiece of a collection of artifacts in the store related to the civil rights movement. The hearse sits in an alcove behind a velvet rope but school groups are allowed to go beyond the rope to see history close up.

MLK Hearse 3

 




North American Travel

United States Travel

Louisiana Travel

Photos courtesy of J.J. Kwashnak

Last Updated May 2012