Tanks In The Streets

March 29, 1968

Teams of police and National Guardsmen patrolled troubled spots over a major part of Memphis last night, as a stunned city counted one death, more than 200 arrests and scores of injuries in its first full-scale race riot.

More than 3,800 National Guard troops moved into the city yesterday afternoon and last night in the wake of rioting and looting that left Main Street and historic Beale Street littered with bricks, blood and broken glass. Police last night were unable to estimate the number of businesses looted. Liquor stores in predominately Negro areas were favorite targets of the looters.

The rioting was touched off during a march down Main led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner was hustled away from the downtown scene as violence began to flare.

A tight curfew — probably the first in the city’s history since the Civil War — was imposed by Mayor Henry Loeb.

Top Photo: The daily sanitation strike marches resumed March 29, 1968 - one day after rioting left Main and Beale littered with bricks and broken glass and dappled with blood. The city was taking no chances on a repeat of the violence: National Guardsmen in armored personnel carriers equipped with 50-caliber machine guns escorted marchers. "I wore that ('I Am A Man') sign front and back. We had to go through all that just to be treated half-way fair. Somebody has to suffer for some good for somebody else. Anything good, there's somebody who suffered for it, " said sanitation worker Otto Carnes in a 1992 interview. (Barney Sellers / The Commercial Appeal)

Bottom Photo: Abram Schwab (left), Beverly Schwab and Michelle Johnson reacted with astonishment and fear when the National Guard rumbled down Beale on March 29, 1968, the day after the march broke up in violence. The trio had been cleaning up glass from the broken windows at A. Schwab’s dry goods store on Beale.

"We were lucky. They (looters) only broke out the glass and got some of the merchandise. They didn’t get in the store."
— Abram Schwab

(Robert Williams / The Commercial Appeal)

Top Photo: The daily sanitation strike marches resumed March 29, 1968 - one day after rioting left Main and Beale littered with bricks and broken glass and dappled with blood. The city was taking no chances on a repeat of the violence: National Guardsmen in armored personnel carriers equipped with 50-caliber machine guns escorted marchers. "I wore that ('I Am A Man') sign front and back. We had to go through all that just to be treated half-way fair. Somebody has to suffer for some good for somebody else. Anything good, there's somebody who suffered for it, " said sanitation worker Otto Carnes in a 1992 interview. (Barney Sellers / The Commercial Appeal)

Bottom Photo: Abram Schwab (left), Beverly Schwab and Michelle Johnson reacted with astonishment and fear when the National Guard rumbled down Beale on March 29, 1968, the day after the march broke up in violence. The trio had been cleaning up glass from the broken windows at A. Schwab’s dry goods store on Beale.

"We were lucky. They (looters) only broke out the glass and got some of the merchandise. They didn’t get in the store."
— Abram Schwab

(Robert Williams / The Commercial Appeal)