MEMPHIS, TN (WREG) – On April 4, 1968, Lois Brown was just one of a few black nurses working in the recently integrated Saint Joseph Hospital.
“I was on the 3 to 11 shift that day,” she said.
That day, was like any other, then around 6 o’clock she took a break, “We were standing in the window, that faced out on third street. We had our elbows on the window sill, we were just having small talk, and then all of a sudden this ambulance came around the corner.”
Brown says that ambulance went by so fast it turned on two wheels.
“We heard them paging doctors. It looked like every doctor on staff.”
Then she got a call.
A friend told her Doctor King had been shot, she knew immediately he was the patient whizzed by in the ambulance.
Brown says she tried several times to get down to the emergency room and to try to help save his life, “Were you worried because there weren’t any black nurses in the ER? Yes, yes I was. I was very concerned. He was Dr. Martin Luther King. Everybody didn’t feel about him like I did.”
She finally made it to the ER, but was stopped by an attendant, “Randy said, Lois, don’t go in there. They aren’t going to let you in, not only that, but he is dead. I just felt like the world came down. I wouldn’t feel worse if my father of brothers died.”
Brown was crushed and felt helpless.
She walked back up to her floor and no one was moving.
She says people were just silent and in fear.
Brown, and the only other black nurse around, just held each other in a corner of the hallway, “I don’t think Doris and I said anything to each other. I just remember that touch. What was that touch? It was like we were all each other had.
Despite her initial fear that night, Lois Brown is convinced there is nothing more that could have been done to save Dr. King.