Moment of mourning

THE BALTIMORE SUN

When assigned by The Sun to cover the viewing and funeral last week of Coretta Scott King, the first lady of the civil rights movement, I was stunned.

I applied for credentials, but security was tight and credentials were not to be had.

I was frozen out of the viewing the day before the funeral, and I knew the funeral itself would be even less inviting.

Showing up in the pre-sunrise hours didn't help. Ten thousand people would be allowed to enter the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta, but I couldn't schmooze my way in, even to step foot in the lobby.

As the day wore on, tempers outside the church grew short as hundreds of mourners were refused entry. The police pushed and the public pushed back, with me jammed in the middle. By 2 p.m., I felt as though I didn't have a single image worth sending back to Baltimore.

I kept at it, making a count of some touching moments I caught as the afternoon wore on.

One, a mourner on the verge of tears. Two, pallbearers carrying King to the hearse. Three, mourners clutching their coveted funeral programs.

Then, as I scanned the crowd for interesting moments, I saw him - Feroze Iqbal Porter, 6, of Atlanta, clad in a suit, dress coat and matching earflapped hat. He stood in the sea of mourners as his mother held him close, watching as the casket was tended to. I shot a few tight frames to show his expression. But as I pulled back to capture the child's body language, something struck me.

I was reminded of the timeless image taken by UPI photographer and Annapolis resident Stan Stearns of John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting, captured at his father's funeral in 1963.

I zoomed the telephoto lens to its widest, backing to the police barricade. I shot a number of frames, and then an officer stepped into the scene, blocking the shot. The moment was over.

karl.ferron@baltsun.com

A gallery of Karl Merton Ferron's Coretta Scott King funeral photos can be seen at baltimoresun.com/viewfinder.

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