MARTIN LUTHER KING personal photo album rare aunt civil rights autographs 1977


MARTIN LUTHER KING personal photo album rare aunt civil rights autographs 1977

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MARTIN LUTHER KING personal photo album rare aunt civil rights autographs 1977:
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An exceedingly rare photo album that belonged to Martin Luther King Jr. Aunt and his father's sister Woodie King Brown who lived in Detroit. Photo album mostly taken by Woodie King Brown of Detroit (MLK Sr sister) CONTAINS POLAROID PICTURES MANY SIGNED!!! by great civil rights leaders from the Martin Luther ing JR Center for Social Change First Annual Dinner at the New York Hilton. 11.5x10 inches rough grass woven covers but loose but ok, photos held to pages with yellowing glue and color. Pictures inside include Ted Kennedy (many signed), Leonard Woodcock (signed) Andrew Young (signed), Jack and Judy Carter (Jimmy Carters son), Benjamin Mays (signed) and many many others. Also includes Jimmy Carter inauguration invitation and tickets. Fine photos of King family members at Inaugural breakfast and there other photos of King family members (MLK Sr, Albert KIngYolands, Issac, Dexter, Vernon, Angelina, Bernice, Christine). Some of the photos are of Freddye S. Henderson, Dexter Scot King, Doug Cunningham, Odessa Prevot (cousin), Benjamin Mays, Linda Page, Roberta Grange, andmuchy more.
Stapled pages are of attendees and corporations. Letter is from 1978 Christian Peace Conference to Dr MLK sr. Letter is addressed to Woodie KIng Brown. Mlk Sr. sister.
There is a signed letter from 1977 addressed to Jerome Brown from Coleman Young the Mayor of The City of Detroit
There is a photo from 1965 Depicting MLK Sr with 3 other gentlemen.
THere is also a photo by Moneta Sleet (verr rare African American photographer) from EBONY magazine of Martin relatives
Lastly there is a photo of Rev McPhee from Nassau Bahamas shaking hands with the great Alberta King, MLK Jr. Mother.


Coretta Scott King (April 27, 1927 – January 30, 2006) was an American author, activist, civil rights leader, and the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. from 1953 until his death in 1968. Coretta Scott King helped lead the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. King was an active advocate for African-American equality. King met her husband while in college, and their participation escalated until they became central to the movement. In her early life, Coretta was an accomplished singer, and she often incorporated music into her civil rights work.
King played a prominent role in the years after her husband's 1968 assassination when she took on the leadership of the struggle for racial equality herself and became active in the Women's Movement. King founded the King Center and sought to make his birthday a national holiday. King finally succeeded when Ronald Reagan signed legislation which established Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. She later broadened her scope to include both opposition to apartheid and advocacy for LGBT rights. King became friends with many politicians before and after Martin Luther King's death, most notably John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Robert F. Kennedy. John F. Kennedy's phone call to her during the 1960 election was what she liked to believe was behind his victory.
In August 2005, King suffered a stroke which paralyzed her right side and left her unable to speak; five months later she died of respiratory failure due to complications from ovarian cancer. Her funeral was attended by some 10,000 people, including four of five living US presidents. She was temporarily buried on the grounds of the King Center until being interred next to her husband. She was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame and was the first African-American to lie in State in the Georgia State Capitol.[1] King has been referred to as "First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement".[2]
Contents [hide]1 Childhood and education2 New England Conservatory of Music and Martin Luther King Jr.3 Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968)3.1 House bombing3.2 John F. Kennedy phone call3.3 Kennedy presidency3.4 FBI tapes3.5 Johnson presidency4 Assassination of husband4.1 Early widowhood5 Later life5.1 Opposition to apartheid5.2 Peacemaking5.3 LGBT equality5.4 The King Center6 Illness and death7 Family life8 Lawsuits9 Legacy9.1 Portrayals in film10 Recognition and tributes10.1 Congressional resolutions11 See also12 Footnotes13 References14 External linksChildhood and education[edit]Coretta Scott was born in Marion, Alabama, the third of four children of Obadiah Scott (1899–1998) and Bernice McMurry Scott (1904–1996). She was born in her parents' home with her paternal great-grandmother Delia Scott, a former slave, presiding as midwife. Coretta's mother became known for her musical talent and singing voice. As a child Bernice attended the local Crossroads School and only had a fourth grade education. Bernice's older siblings, however, attended boarding school at the Booker T. Washington founded Tuskegee Institute. The senior Mrs. Scott worked as a school bus driver, a church pianist, and for her husband in his business ventures. She served as Worthy Matron for her Eastern Star chapter and was a member of the local Literacy Federated Club.[3][4][5]
Obie, Coretta's father, was the first black person in their neighborhood to own a vehicle. Before starting his own businesses he worked as a policeman. Along with his wife, he ran a clothes shop far from their home and later opened a general store. He also owned a lumber mill, which was burned down by white neighbors after Scott refused to lend his mill to a white male logger[6] Her maternal grandparents were Mollie (née Smith; 1868 – d.) and Martin van Buren McMurry (1863–1950) – both were of African-American and Irish descent.[5] Mollie was born a slave to plantation owner Jim Blackburn and Adeline (Blackburn) Smith. Coretta's maternal grandfather, Martin, was born to a slave of Black Native American ancestry, and her white master who never acknowledged Martin as his son. He eventually owned a 280-acre farm. Because of his diverse origins, Martin appeared to be White; however, he displayed contempt for the notion of passing. As a self-taught reader with little formal education, he is noted for having inspired Coretta's passion for education. Coretta's paternal grandparents were Cora (née McLaughlin; 1876 – 1920) and Jefferson F. Scott (1873–1941). Cora died before Coretta's birth. Jeff Scott was a farmer and a prominent figure in the rural black religious community; he was born to former slaves Willis and Delia Scott.[5]
At age 10, Coretta worked to increase the family's income.[7] She had an older sister named Edythe Scott Bagley (1924–2011) an older sister named Eunice who did not survive childhood, and a younger brother named Obadiah Leonard (1930–2012).[8] According to a DNA analysis, she was partly descended from the Mende people of Sierra Leone.[9] The Scott family had owned a farm since the American Civil War, but were not particularly wealthy.[10] During the Great Depression the Scott children picked cotton to help earn money[8] and shared a bedroom with their parents.[11] At age 12, Coretta Scott entered Lincoln School as a seventh grader, and with temperament changes. Scott also developed an interest in the opposite sex.[12]
Coretta described herself as a tomboy during her childhood, primarily because she could climb trees and recalled wrestling boys. In addition, she also mentioned having been stronger than a male cousin and threatening before accidentally cutting that same cousin with an axe. His mother threatened her, and along with the words of her siblings, stirred her to becoming more ladylike once she got older. She saw irony in the fact that despite these early physical activities, she still was involved in nonviolent movements.[13] Her brother Obadiah thought she always "tried to excel in everything she did."[14] Her sister Edythe believed her personality was like their grandmother Cora McLaughlin Scott's, after whom she was named.[15] Though lacking formal education themselves, Coretta Scott's parents intended for all of their children to be educated. Coretta quoted her mother as having said, "My children are going to college, even if it means I only have but one dress to put on."[16]
The Scott children attended a one room elementary school 5 miles (8 km) from their home and were later bused to Lincoln Normal School, which despite being 9 mi (14 km) from their home, was the closest black high school in Marion, Alabama, due to racial segregation in schools. The bus was driven by Coretta's mother Bernice, who bused all the local black teenagers.[8] By the time Scott had entered the school, Lincoln had suspended tuition and charged only four dollars and fifty cents per year.[17] In her last two years there, Scott became the leading soprano for the school's senior chorus. Scott directed a choir at her home church in North Perry Country.[18] Coretta Scott graduated valedictorian from Lincoln Normal School in 1945 where she played trumpet and piano, sang in the chorus, and participated in school musicals and enrolled at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio during her senior year at Lincoln. After being accepted to Antioch, Scott applied for Interracial Scholarship Fund for financial aid.[19] During her last two years in high school, Coretta lived with her parents.[12] Her older sister Edythe already attended Antioch as part of the Antioch Program for Interracial Education, which recruited non-white students and gave them full scholarships in an attempt to diversify the historically white campus. Coretta said of her first college:
Antioch had envisioned itself as a laboratory in democracy, but had no black students. (Edythe) became the first African American to attend Antioch on a completely integrated basis, and was joined by two other black female students in the fall of 1943. Pioneering is never easy, and all of us who followed my sister at Antioch owe her a great debt of gratitude.[16]
Coretta studied music with Walter Anderson, the first non-white chair of an academic department in a historically white college. She also became politically active, due largely to her experience of racial discrimination by the local school board. She became active in the nascent civil rights movement; she joined the Antioch chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the college's Race Relations and Civil Liberties Committees. The board denied her request to perform her second year of required practice teaching at Yellow Springs public schools, for her teaching certificate Coretta Scott appealed to the Antioch College administration, which was unwilling or unable to change the situation in the local school system and instead employed her at the college's associated laboratory school for a second year.
New England Conservatory of Music and Martin Luther King Jr.[edit]Coretta transferred out of Antioch when she won a scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. It was while studying singing at that school with Marie Sundelius that she met Martin Luther King, Jr.[20] after mutual friend Mary Powell gave King her phone number after he asked about girls on the campus. Coretta was the only one remaining after Powell named two girls and King proved to not be impressed with the other. Scott initially showed little interest in meeting him, even after Powell told her that he had a promising future, but eventually relented and agreed to the meeting. King called her on the telephone and when the two met in person, Scott was surprised by how short he was. King would tell her that she had all the qualities that he was looking for in a wife, which Scott dismissed since the two had only just met.[21] She told him "I don't see how you can say that. You don't even know me." But King was assured and asked to see her again. She readily accepted his invitation to a weekend party.[22]
She continued to see him on a regular basis in the early months of 1952. Two weeks after meeting Scott, King wrote to his mother that he had met his wife.[23] Their dates usually consisted of political and racial discussions, and in August of that year Coretta met King's parents Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King.[24] Before meeting Martin, Coretta had been in relationships her entire time in school, but never had any she cared to develop.[25] Once meeting with her sister Edythe face-to-face, Coretta detailed her feelings for the young aspiring minister and discussed the relationship as well. Edythe was able to tell her sister had legitimate feelings for him, and she also became impressed with his overall demeanor.[26]
Despite envisioning a career for herself in the music industry, Coretta knew that would not be possible if she were to marry Martin Luther King. However, since King possessed many of the qualities she liked in a man, she found herself "becoming more involved with every passing moment." When asked by her sister what made King so "appealing" to her she responded, "I suppose it's because Martin reminds me so much of our father." At that moment, Scott's sister knew King was "the one."[26]
King's parents visited him in the fall and had suspicions about Coretta Scott after seeing how clean his apartment was. While the Kings had tea and meals with their son and Scott, Martin, Sr. turned his attention to her and insinuated that her plans of a career in music were not fitting for a Baptist minister's wife. After Coretta did not respond to his questioning of their romance being serious, Martin, Sr. asked if she took his son "seriously".[27] King's father also told her that there were many other women his son was interested in, and had "a lot to offer." After telling him that she had "a lot to offer" as well, Martin Luther King, Sr. and his wife went on to try and meet with members of Coretta's family. Once the two obtained Edythe's number from Coretta, they sat down with her and had lunch with her. During their time together, Martin Luther King, Sr. tried to ask Edythe about the relationship between her sister and his son. Edythe insisted that her sister was an excellent choice for Martin Luther King, Jr., but also felt that Coretta did not need to bargain for a husband.[28]
On Valentine's Day 1953, the couple announced their plans to marry in the Atlanta Daily World. With a wedding set in June, only four months away at that time, Coretta still did not have a commitment to marrying King and consulted with her sister in a letter sent just before Easter Vacation.[28] King's father had expressed resentment in his choice of Coretta over someone from Alabama, and accused his son of spending too much time with her and neglecting his studies.[29] Martin took his mother into another room and told her of his plans to marry Coretta and told her the same thing when he drove her home later while also berating her for not having made a good impression on his father.[27] When Martin declared his intentions to get a doctorate and marry Coretta after, Martin, Sr. finally gave his blessing.[29] In 1964, the Time profile of Martin Luther King, Jr., when he was chosen as Time's "Man of the Year", referred to her as "a talented young soprano."[30] She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority[31]
Coretta Scott and Martin Luther King, Jr. were married on June 18, 1953, on the lawn of her mother's house; the ceremony was performed by Martin Jr.'s father, Martin Luther King, Sr. Coretta had the vow to obey her husband removed from the ceremony, which was unusual for the time. After completing her degree in voice and piano at the New England Conservatory, she moved with her husband to Montgomery, Alabama, in September 1954. Mrs. King recalled: "After we married, we moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where my husband had accepted an invitation to be the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Before long, we found ourselves in the middle of the Montgomery bus boycott, and Martin was elected leader of the protest movement. As the boycott continued, I had a growing sense that I was involved in something so much greater than myself, something of profound historic importance. I came to the realization that we had been thrust into the forefront of a movement to liberate oppressed people, not only in Montgomery but also throughout our country, and this movement had worldwide implications. I felt blessed to have been called to be a part of such a noble and historic cause."[32]
Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968)[edit]
Mrs. King with her husband and daughter Yolanda in 1956On September 1, 1954, Martin Luther King, Jr. became the full-time pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. It was a sacrifice for Coretta, who had to give up her dreams of becoming a classical singer. Her devotion to the cause while giving up on her own ambitions would become symbolic of the actions of African-American women during the movement.[33] The couple moved into the church's parsonage on South Jackson Street shortly after this. Coretta became a member of the choir and taught Sunday school, as well as participating in the Baptist Training Union and Missionary Society. She made her first appearance at the First Baptist Church on March 6, 1955, where according to E. P. Wallace, she "captivated her concert audience."[34]
The Kings welcomed their first child Yolanda on November 17, 1955, who was named at Coretta's insistence and became the church's attention.[35] After her husband became involved in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, King often received threats directed towards him. In January 1956, King answered numerous phone calls threatening her husband's life, as rumors intended to make African-Americans dissatisfied with King's husband spread that Martin had purchased a Buick station wagon for her.[36] Martin Luther King, Jr. would give her the nickname "Yoki," and thereby, allow himself to refer to her out of her name. By the end of the boycott, Mrs. King and her husband had come to believe in nonviolent protests as a way of expression consistent with biblical teachings.[37] Two days after the integration of Montgomery's bus service, on December 23, a gunshot rang through the front door of the King home while King, her husband and Yolanda were asleep. The three were not harmed.[38] On Christmas Eve of 1955, King took her daughter to her parents's house and met with her siblings as well. Yolanda was their first grandchild. King's husband joined them the next day, at dinner time.[39]
On February 21, 1956, King's husband announced he would return to Montgomery after picking up Coretta and their daughter from Atlanta, who were staying with his parents. During Martin Luther King, Sr.'s opposition to his son's choice to return to Montgomery, Mrs. King picked up her daughter and went upstairs, which he would express dismay in later and tell her that she "had run out on him." Two days later, Coretta and her husband drove back to Montgomery.[40] Coretta took an active role in advocating for civil rights legislation. On April 25, 1958, King made her first appearance at a concert that year at Peter High School Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama. With a performance sponsored by the Omicron Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, King changed a few songs in the first part of the show but still continued with the basic format used two years earlier at the New York gala as she told the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The concert was important for Coretta as a way to continue her professional career and participate in the movement. The concert gave the audience "an emotional connection to the messages of social, economic, and spiritual transformation."[41]
On September 3, 1958, King accompanied her husband and Ralph Abernathy to a courtroom. Her husband was arrested outside the courtroom for "loitering" and "failing to obey an officer."[42] A few weeks later, King visited Martin's parents in Atlanta. At that time, she learned that he had been stabbed while signing copies of his book Stride Toward Freedom on September 20, 1958. King rushed to see her husband, and stayed with him for the remainder of his time in the hospital recovering.[43] On February 3, 1959, King, her husband and Lawrence Reddick started a five-week tour of India. The three were invited to hundreds of engagements.[44] During their trip, Coretta used her singing ability to enthuse crowds during their month long stay. The two returned to the United States on March 10, 1959.[45]
House bombing[edit]On January 30, 1956, Coretta and Dexter congregation member Roscoe Williams's wife Mary Lucy heard the "sound of a brick striking the concrete floor of the front porch." Coretta suggested that the two women get out of the front room and went into the guest room, as the house was disturbed by an explosion which caused the house to rock and fill the front room with smoke and shattered glass. The two went to the rear of the home, where Yolanda was sleeping and Coretta called the First Baptist Church and reported the bombing to the woman who answered the phone.[46] Martin returned to their home, and upon finding Coretta and his daughter unharmed, went outside. He was confronted by an angry crowd of his supporters, who had brought guns. He was able to turn them away with an impromptu speech.[47]
A white man was reported by a lone witness to have walked halfway up to King's door and throwing something against the door before running back to his car and speeding off. Ernest Walters, the lone witness, did not manage to get the license plate number because of how quickly the events transpired.[48] Both of the couple's fathers contacted them over the bombing. The two arrived nearly at the same time, along with her husband's mother and brother. Coretta's father Obie said he would take her and her daughter back to Marion if his son-in-law did not take them to Atlanta. Coretta refused the proclamation, and insisted on staying with her husband.[49] Despite Martin Luther King, Sr. also advocating that she leave with her father, King persisted in leaving with him. Author Octavia B. Vivian wrote "That night Coretta lost her fear of dying. She committed herself more deeply to the freedom struggle, as Martin had done four days previously, when jailed for the first time in his life." Coretta would later call it the first time she realized "how much I meant to Martin in terms of supporting him in what he was doing".[50]
John F. Kennedy phone call[edit]Martin Luther King was jailed on October 19, 1960, for picketing in a department store. After being released three days later, Coretta's husband was sent back to jail on October 22 for driving with an Alabama license while being a resident of Georgia and was sent to jail for four months of hard labor. After her husband's arrest, King believed he would not make it out alive and telephoned her friend Harris Wofford and cried while saying "They're going to kill him. I know they are going to kill him." Directly after speaking with her, Wofford contacted Sargent Shriver in Chicago, where presidential candidate John F. Kennedy was campaigning at the time, and told Shriver of King's fears for her husband. After Shriver waited to be with Kennedy alone, he suggested that he telephone King and express sympathy.[51] Kennedy called King, after agreeing with the proposal.
Sometime afterward, Bobby Kennedy obtained King's release from prison. Martin Luther King, Sr. was so grateful for the release that he voted for Kennedy and said "I'll take a catholic or the devil himself if he'll wipe the tears from my daughter-in-law's eyes."[52] According to Coretta, Kennedy said "I want to express my concern about your husband. I know this must be very hard on you. I understand you are expecting a baby, and I just want you to know that I was thinking about you and Dr. King. If there is anything I can do to help, please feel free to call on me." Kennedy's contact with King was learned about quickly by reporters, with Coretta admitting that it "made me feel good that he called me personally and let me know how he felt."[53]
Kennedy presidency[edit]During Kennedy's presidency, she and her husband had come to respect him and understood his reluctance at times to not get involved openly with civil rights.[54] In April 1962, Coretta served as delegate for the Women's Strike for Peace Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.[55] Martin drove her to the hospital on March 28, 1963, where King gave birth to their fourth child Bernice. After King and her daughter were due to come home, Martin rushed back to drive them himself.[56] After her husband's arrest on April 12, 1963, King tried to make direct contact with President Kennedy at the advisement of Wyatt Tee Walker, and succeeded in speaking with Robert F. Kennedy. President Kennedy was with his father Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr, who was not feeling well.[57] In what has been noted as making Kennedy seem less sympathetic towards the Kings, the president redirected Mrs. King's call to the White House switchboard.[58]
The next day, President Kennedy reported to King that the FBI had been sent into Birmingham the previous night and confirmed that her husband was fine. He was allowed to speak with her on the phone and told her to inform Walker of Kennedy's involvement.[59] She told her husband of her assistance from the Kennedys, which her husband took as the reason "why everybody is suddenly being so polite."[60] Regarding the March on Washington, Coretta said, "It was as though heaven had come down."[61] Coretta had been home all day with their children, since the birth of their daughter Bernice had not allowed her to attend Easter Sunday church services.[62] Since Mrs. King had issued her own statement regarding the aid of the president instead of doing as her husband had told her and report to Wyatt Walker, this according to author Taylor Branch, made her portrayed by reports as "an anxious new mother who may have confused her White House fantasies with reality."[58]
Coretta went to a Women Strike for Peace rally in New York, in the early days of November 1963. After speaking at the meeting held in the National Baptist Church, King joined the march from Central Park to the United Nations Headquarters. The march was timed to celebrate the group's second anniversary and celebrated the successful completion of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Coretta and Martin learned of John F. Kennedy's assassination when reports initially indicated he had only been seriously wounded. King joined her husband upstairs and watched Walter Cronkite announce the president's death. King sat with her visibly shaken husband following the confirmation.[63]
FBI tapes[edit]
Coretta Scott with her husband and Vice President-elect Hubert Humphrey on December 17, 1964The FBI planned to mail tapes of her husband's alleged affairs to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference office since surveillance revealed that Coretta opened her husband's mail when he was traveling. The FBI learned that King would be out of office by the time the tapes were mailed and that his wife would be the one to open it.[64] J. Edgar Hoover even advised to mail "it from a southern state."[65] Coretta sorted the tapes with the rest of the mail, listened to them, and immediately called her husband, "giving the Bureau a great deal of pleasure with the tone and tenor of her reactions."[66] King played the tape in her presence, along with Andrew Young, Ralph Abernathy and Joseph Lowery. Publicly, Mrs. King would say "I couldn't make much out of it, it was just a lot of mumbo jumbo."[67] The tapes were part of a larger attempt by J. Edgar Hoover to denounce King by revelations in his personal life.
Johnson presidency[edit]Most prominently, perhaps, she worked hard to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. King spoke with Malcolm X days before his assassination. Malcolm X told her that he was not in Alabama to make trouble for her husband, but instead to make white people have more appreciation for King's protests, seeing his alternative.[68] On March 26, 1965, King's father joined her and her husband for a march that would later end in Montgomery. Her father "caught a glimpse of America's true potential" and for the called it "the greatest day in the whole history of America" after seeing chanting for his daughter's husband by both Caucasians and African-Americans.[69]
Coretta Scott King criticized the sexism of the Civil Rights Movement in January 1966 in New Lady magazine, saying in part, "Not enough attention has been focused on the roles played by women in the struggle. By and large, men have formed the leadership in the civil rights struggle but...women have been the backbone of the whole civil rights movement."[70] Martin Luther King, Jr. himself limited Coretta's role in the movement, and expected her to be a housewife.[70] King participated in a Women Strike for Peace protest in January 1968, at the capital of Washington, D.C. with over five thousand women. In honor of the first woman elected to the House of Representatives, the group was called the Jeannette Rankin Brigade. Coretta co-chaired the Congress of Women conference with Pearl Willen and Mary Clarke.[71]
Assassination of husband[edit]Main article: Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. She learned of the shooting after being called by Jesse Jackson when she returned from shopping with her eldest child Yolanda.[72] King had difficulty settling her children with the news that their father was deceased. She received a large number of telegrams, including one from Lee Harvey Oswald's mother, which she regarded as the one that touched her the most.[73]
In an effort to prepare her daughter Bernice, then only five years old, for the funeral, she tried to explain to her that the next time she saw her father he would be in a casket and would not be speaking.[74] When asked by her son Dexter when his father would return, King lied and told him that his father had only been badly hurt. Senator Robert Kennedy ordered three more telephones to be installed in the King residence for King and her family to be able to answer the flood of calls they received and offered a plane to transport her to Memphis.[75] Coretta spoke to Kennedy the day after the assassination and asked if he could persuade Jacqueline Kennedy to attend her husband's funeral with him.[76]
Robert Kennedy promised her that he would help "any way" he could. King was told to not go ahead and agree to Kennedy's offer by Southern Christian Leadership Conference members, who told her about his presidential ambitions. She ignored the warnings and went along with his request.[77] On April 5, 1968, King arrived in Memphis to retrieve her husband's body and decided that the casket should be kept open during the funeral with the hope that her children would realize upon seeing his body that he would not be coming home.[75] Mrs. King called photographer Bob Fitch and asked for documentation to be done, having known him for years.[78] On April 7, 1968, former Vice President Richard Nixon visited Mrs. King and recalled his first meeting with her husband in 1955. Nixon also went to Mrs. King's husband's funeral on April 9, 1968, but did not walk in the procession. Nixon believed participating in the procession would be "grandstanding."[79]
On April 8, 1968, Mrs. King and her children headed a march with sanitation workers that her husband had planned to carry out before his death. After the marchers reached the staging area at the Civic Center Plaza in front of Memphis City Hall, onlookers proceeded to take pictures of King and her children but stopped when she addressed everyone at a microphone. She said that despite the Martin Luther King, Jr. being away from his children at times, "his children knew that Daddy loved them, and the time that he spent with them was well spent."[80] Prior to Martin's funeral, Jacqueline Kennedy met with her. The two spent five minutes together and despite the short visit, Coretta called it comforting. King's parents arrived from Alabama.[81] Robert Kennedy and his wife Ethel came, the latter being embraced by Mrs. King.[82] Mrs. King and her sister-in-law Christine King Farris tried to prepare the children for seeing Martin's body.[83] With the end of the funeral service, Mrs. King led her children and mourners in a march from the church to Morehouse College, her late husband's alma mater.[84]
Early widowhood[edit]Two days after her husband's death, King spoke at Ebenezer Baptist Church and made her first statement on his views since he had died. She said her husband told their children, "If a man had nothing that was worth dying for, then he was not fit to live." She brought up his ideals and the fact that he may be dead, but concluded that "his spirit will never die."[85] Not very long after the assassination, Coretta took his place at a peace rally in New York City. Using notes he had written before his death, King constructed her own speech.[86] Coretta approached the African-American entertainer and activist Josephine Baker to take her husband's place as leader of the Civil Rights Movement. Baker declined after thinking it over, stating that her twelve adopted children (known as the "rainbow tribe") were "...too young to lose their mother".[87] Shortly after that Mrs. King decided to take the helm of the movement herself.
Coretta Scott King eventually broadened her focus to include women's rights, LGBT rights, economic issues, world peace, and various other causes. As early as December 1968, she called for women to "unite and form a solid block of women power to fight the three great evils of racism, poverty and war", during a Solidarity Day speech.[88] On April 27, 1968, King spoke at an anti-war demonstration in Central Park in place of her husband. King made it clear that there was no reason "why a nation as rich as ours should be blighted by poverty, disease and illiteracy."[89] King used notes taken from her husband's pockets upon his death, which included the "Ten Commandments on Vietnam."[90] On June 5, 1968, Bobby Kennedy was shot after winning the California primary for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. After he died the following day, Ethel Kennedy, who King had spoken to with her husband only two months earlier, was widowed. King flew to Los Angeles to comfort Ethel over Bobby's death.[91] On June 8, 1968, while King was attending the late senator's funeral, the Justice Department made the announcement of James Earl Ray's arrest.[92]
Not long after this, the King household was visited by Mike Wallace, who wanted to visit her and the rest of her family and see how they were fairing that coming Christmas. She introduced her family to Wallace and also expressed her belief that there would not be another Martin Luther King, Jr. because he comes around "once in a century" or "maybe once in a thousand years". She furthered that she believed her children needed her more than ever, and that there was hope for redemption in her husband's death.[93] In January 1969, King and Bernita Bennette left for a trip to India. Before arriving in the country, the two stopped in Verona, Italy and King was awarded the Universal Love Award. King became the first non-Italian to receive the award. King traveled to London with her sister, sister-in-law, Bernita and several others to preach at St. Paul's Cathedral. Before, no woman had ever delivered a sermon at a regularly appointed service in the cathedral.[94]
As a leader of the movement, Mrs. King founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. She served as the center's president and CEO from its inception until she passed the reins of leadership to son Dexter Scott King. Removing herself from leadership, allowed her to focus on writing, public speaking and spend time with her parents.[95]
She published her memoirs, My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1969. President Richard Nixon was advised against visiting her on the first anniversary of his death, since it would "outrage" many people.[96]
Coretta Scott King was also under surveillance by the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1968 until 1972. Her husband's activities had been monitored during his lifetime. Documents obtained by a Houston, Texas television station show that the FBI worried that Coretta Scott King would "tie the anti-Vietnam movement to the civil rights movement."[97] The FBI studied her memoir and concluded that her "selfless, magnanimous, decorous attitude is belied by...[her] actual shrewd, calculating, businesslike activities."[98] A spokesman for the King family said that they were aware of the surveillance, but had not realized how extensive it was.
Later life[edit]
Coretta Scott King, along with Rosalynn Carter, Andrew Young, Jimmy Carter, and other civil rights leaders during a visit to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, January 14, 1979Every year after the assassination of her husband in 1968, Coretta attended a commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta to mark his birthday on January 15. She fought for years to make it a national holiday. In 1972, she said that there should be at least one national holiday a year in tribute to an African-American man, "and, at this point, Martin is the best candidate we have."[99] Murray M. Silver, an Atlanta attorney, made the appeal at the services on January 14, 1979. Coretta Scott King later confirmed that it was the "...best, most productive appeal ever..." Coretta Scott King was finally successful in this campaign in 1986, when Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was made a federal holiday.
After the death of J. Edgar Hoover, King made no attempt to hide her bitterness towards him for his work against her husband in a long statement.[100] Coretta Scott King attended the state funeral of Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973, as a very close friend of the former president. On July 25, 1978, King held a press conference in defense of then-Ambassador Andrew Young and his controversial statement on political prisoners in American jails.[101] On September 19, 1979, Mrs. King visited the Lyndon B. Johnson ranch to meet with Lady Bird Johnson.[102] In 1979 and 1980 Dr. Noel Erskine and Mrs. King co-taught a class on "The Theology of Martin Luther King, Jr." at the Candler School of Theology (Emory University). On September 29, 1980, King's signing as a commentator for CNN was announced by Ted Turner.[103]
On August 26, 1983, King resented endorsing Jesse Jackson for president, since she wanted to back up someone she believed could beat Ronald Reagan, and dismissed her husband becoming a presidential candidate had he lived.[104] On June 26, 1985, King was arrested with her daughter Bernice and son Martin Luther King III while taking part in an anti-apartheid protest at the Embassy of South Africa in Washington, D.C.[105]Coretta Scott attends the signing of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by President Ronald Reagan on November 2, 1983When President Ronald Reagan signed legislation establishing the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, she was at the event. Reagan called her to personally apologize for a remark he made during a nationally televised conference, where he said we would know in "35 years" whether or not King was a communist sympathizer. Reagan clarified his remarks came from the fact that the papers had been sealed off until the year 2027.[106] King accepted the apology and pointed out the Senate Select Committee on Assassinations had not found any basis to suggest her husband had communist ties.[107] On February 9, 1987, eight civil rights activists were jailed for protesting the exclusion of African-Americans during the filming of The Oprah Winfrey Show in Cumming, Georgia. Oprah Winfrey tried to find out why the "community has not allowed black people to live there since 1912." King was outraged over the arrests, and wanted members of the group, "Coalition to End Fear and Intimidation in Forsyth County," to meet with Georgia Governor Joe Frank Harris to "seek a just resolution of the situation."[108] On March 8, 1989, King lectured hundreds of students about the civil rights movement at the University of San Diego. King tried to not get involved in the controversy around the naming of the San Diego Convention Center after her husband. She maintained it was up to the "people within the community" and that people had tried to get her involved in with "those kind of local situations."[109]
On January 17, 1993, King showed disdain for the U.S. missile attack on Iraq. In retaliation, she suggested peace protests.[110] On February 16, 1993, King went to the FBI Headquarters and gave an approving address on Director William S. Sessions for having the FBI "turn its back on the abuses of the Hoover era."[111] King commended Sessions for his "leadership in bringing women and minorities into the FBI and for being a true friend of civil rights." King admitted that she would not have accepted the arrangement had it not been for Sessions, the then-current director.[112] On January 17, 1994, the day marking the 65th birthday of her husband, King said "No injustice, no matter how great, can excuse even a single act of violence against another human being."[113] In January 1995, Qubilah Shabazz was indicted on charges of using telephones and crossing state lines in a plot to kill Louis Farrakhan. King defended her, saying at Riverside Church in Harlem that federal prosecutors targeted her to tarnish her father Malcolm X's legacy.[114] During the fall of 1995, King chaired an attempt to register one million African-American female voters for the presidential election next year with fellow widows Betty Shabazz and Myrlie Evers and was saluted by her daughter Yolanda in a Washington hotel ballroom.[115] On October 12, 1995, King spoke about the O. J. Simpson murder case, which she negated having a longterm affect on relations between races when speaking to an audience at Soka University in Calabasas.[116] On January 24, 1996, King delivered a 40-minute speech at the Loyola University's Lake Shore campus in Rogers Park. She called for everyone to "pick up the torch of freedom and lead America towards another great revolution."[117] On June 1, 1997, Betty Shabazz suffered extensive and life-threatening burns after her grandson Malcolm Shabazz started a fire in their home. In response to the hospitalization of her longtime friend, Mrs. King donated $5,000 to a rehabilitation fund for her.[118] Shabazz died on June 23, 1997, three weeks after being burned.
During the 1990s, King was subject to multiple break-ins and encountered Lyndon Fitzgerald Pace, a man who admitted killing women in the area. He broke in the house in the middle of the night and found her while she was sitting in her bed. After nearly eight years of staying in the home following the encounter, King moved to a condominium unit which had also been the home, albeit part-time, for singers Elton John and Janet Jackson.[119] In 1999, the King family finally succeeded in getting a jury verdict saying her husband was the victim of a murder conspiracy after suing Loyd Jowers, who claimed six years prior to having paid someone other than James Earl Ray to kill her husband.[120] On April 4, 2000, King visited her husband's grave with her sons, daughter Bernice and sister-in-law. Regarding plans to construct a monument for her husband in Washington, D.C., King said it would "complete a group of memorials in the nation's capital honoring democracy's greatest leaders, including Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and now Martin Luther King, Jr."[121] She became vegan in the last 10 years of her life.[122][123]
Opposition to apartheid[edit]During the 1980s, Coretta Scott King reaffirmed her long-standing opposition to apartheid, participating in a series of sit-in protests in Washington, D.C. that prompted nationwide demonstrations against South African racial policies.
King had a 10-day trip to South Africa in September 1986.[124] On September 9, 1986, she cancelled meeting President P. W. Botha and Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi.[125] The next day, she met with Allan Boesak. The UDF leadership, Boesak and Winnie Mandela had threatened avoiding meeting King if she met with Botha and Buthelezi.[126] She also met with Mandela that day, and called it "one of the greatest and most meaningful moments of my life." Mandela's husband was still being imprisoned in Pollsmoor Prison after being transferred from Robben Island in 1982. Prior to leaving the United States for the meeting, King drew comparisons between the civil rights movement and Mandela's case.[127] Upon her return to the United States, she urged Reagan to approve economic sanctions against South Africa.
Peacemaking[edit]Coretta Scott King was a long-time advocate for world peace. Author Michael Eric Dyson has called her "an earlier and more devoted pacifist than her husband."[128] Although Mrs. King would object to the term "pacifism"; she was an advocate of non-violent direct action to achieve social change. In 1957, Mrs. King was one of the founders of The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (now called Peace Action),[129] and she spoke in San Francisco while her husband spoke in New York at the major anti-Vietnam war march on April 15, 1967 organized by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam.
Mrs. King was vocal in her opposition to capital punishment and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[130]
LGBT equality[edit]Corretta Scott King was an early supporter in the struggle for lesbian and gay civil rights. In August, 1983 in Washington, DC she urged the amendment of the Civil Rights Act to include gays and lesbians as Protected class.[131]
In response to the Supreme Court's 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick that there was no constitutional right to engage in consensual sodomy, King's longtime friend, Winston Johnson of Atlanta, came out to her and was instrumental in arranging King as the featured speaker at the September 27, 1986 New York Gala of the Human Rights Campaign Fund. As reported in the New York Native King stated that she was there to express her solidarity with the gay and lesbian movement. She applauded gays and lesbians as having "always been a part of the civil rights movement."[132]
On April 1, 1998 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Mrs. King called on the civil rights community to join in the struggle against homophobia and anti-gay bias. "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood", she stated.[133] "This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group."
In a speech in November 2003 at the opening session of the 13th annual Creating Change Conference, organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Coretta Scott King made her now famous appeal linking the Civil Rights Movement to LGBT rights: "I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people. ... But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King, Jr. said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream, to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."[citation needed]
Coretta Scott King's support of LGBT rights was strongly criticized by some black pastors. She called her critics "misinformed" and said that Martin Luther King's message to the world was one of equality and inclusion.[citation needed]
In 2003, she invited the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to take part in observances of the 40th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech. It was the first time that an LGBT rights group had been invited to a major event of the African-American community.[134]
On March 23, 2004, she told an audience at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Pomona, New Jersey, that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue. She denounced a proposed amendment advanced by President George W. Bush to the United States Constitution that would ban equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. In her speech King also criticized a group of black pastors in her home state of Georgia for backing a bill to amend that state's constitution to block gay and lesbian couples from marrying. Scott King is quoted as saying "Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union. A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriage."[citation needed]
The King Center[edit]Established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King, The King Center is the official memorial dedicated to the advancement of the legacy and ideas of Martin Luther King, Jr., leader of a nonviolent movement for justice, equality and peace. Two days after her husband's funeral, King began planning $15 million for funding the memorial.[135] She handed the reins as CEO and president of the King Center down to her son, Dexter Scott King, who still runs the center today.[136] The Kings initially had difficulty gathering the papers since they were in different locations, including colleges he attended and archives. King had a group of supporters begin gathering her husband's papers in 1967, the year before his death.[137] After raising funds from a private sector and the government, she financed the building of the complex in 1981.[138]
In 1984, she came under criticism by Hosea Williams, one of her husband's earliest followers, for having used the King Center to promote "authentic material" on her husband's dreams and ideals, and disqualified the merchandise as an attempt to exploit her husband. She sanctioned the kit, which contained a wall poster, five photographs of King and his family, a cassette of the I Have a Dream speech, a booklet of tips on how to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and five postcards with quotations from King himself. She believed it to be the authentic way to celebrate the holiday honoring her husband, and denied Hosea's claims.[139]
King sued her husband's alma mater of Boston University over who would keep over 83,000 documents in December 1987, and said the documents belonged with the King archives. However, her husband was held to his word by the university; he had stated after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 that his papers would be kept at the college. Coretta's lawyers argued that the statement was not binding and mentioned that King had not left a will at the time of his death.[140] King testified that President of Boston University John R. Silber in a 1985 meeting demanded that she send the university all of her husband's documents instead of the other way around.[141] King released the statement, "Dr. King wanted the south to be the repository of the bulk of his papers. Now that the King Center library and archives are complete and have one of the finest civil-rights collections in all the world, it is time for the papers to be returned home."[142]
On January 17, 1992, President George H. W. Bush laid a wreath at the tomb of her husband and met with and was greeted by Mrs. King at the center. King praised Bush's support for the holiday, and joined hands with him at the end of a ceremony and sang "We Shall Overcome."[143] On May 6, 1993, a court rejected her claims to the papers after finding that a July 16, 1964 letter King's husband wrote to the institute had constituted a binding charitable pledge to the university and outright stating that Martin Luther King retained ownership of his papers until giving them to the university as gifts or his death. King however, said her husband had changed his mind about allowing Boston University to keep the papers.[144] After her son Dexter took over as the president of the King Center for the second time in 1994, King was given more time to write, address issues and spend time with her parents.[145]
Illness and death[edit]Main article: Death and funeral of Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King's temporary gravesite in Atlanta, GeorgiaBy the end of her 77th year, Coretta began experiencing health problems. Her husband's former secretary, Dora McDonald, assisted her part-time in this period.[146] Hospitalized in April 2005, a month after speaking in Selma at the 40th anniversary of the Selma Voting Rights Movement, she was diagnosed with a heart condition and was discharged on her 78th and final birthday. Later, she suffered several small strokes. On August 16, 2005, she was hospitalized after suffering a stroke and a mild heart attack. Initially, she was unable to speak or move her right side. King's daughter Bernice reported that she had been able to move her leg on Sunday, August 21[147] while her other daughter and oldest child Yolanda asserted that the family expected her to fully recover.[148] She was released from Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta on September 22, 2005, after regaining some of her speech and continued physiotherapy at home. Due to continuing health problems, Mrs. King cancelled a number of speaking and traveling engagements throughout the remainder of 2005. On January 14, 2006, Coretta made her last public appearance in Atlanta at a dinner honoring her husband's memory. On January 26, 2006, King checked into a rehabilitation center in Rosarito Beach, Mexico under a different name. Doctors did not learn her real identity until her medical records arrived the next day, and did not begin treatment due to her condition.[149]
Coretta Scott King died on the late evening of January 30, 2006,[150] at the rehabilitation center in Rosarito Beach, Mexico, In the Oasis Hospital where she was undergoing holistic therapy for her stroke and advanced stage ovarian cancer. The main cause of her death is believed to be respiratory failure due to complications from ovarian cancer.[150] The clinic at which she died was called the Hospital Santa Monica, but was licensed as Clinica Santo Tomas. After reports indicated that it was not legally licensed to "perform surgery, take X-rays, perform laboratory work or run an internal pharmacy, all of which it was doing," as well as reports of it being operated by highly controversial medical figure Kurt Donsbach, it was shut down by medical commissioner Dr. Francisco Versa.[151][152][153] King's body was flown from Mexico to Atlanta on February 1, 2006.[154]
King's eight-hour funeral at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia was held on February 7, 2006. Bernice King did her eulogy. U.S. Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter attended, as did their wives, with the exception of former First Lady Barbara Bush who had a previous engagement. The Ford family was absent due to the illness of President Ford (who himself died later that year). Senator and future President Barack Obama, among other elected officials,[155] attended the televised service.
President Jimmy Carter and Rev. Joseph Lowery delivered funeral orations, and were critical of the Iraq War and the wiretapping of the Kings.[130][156] Mrs. King was temporarily laid in a mausoleum on the grounds of the King Center until a permanent place next to her husband's remains could be built.[157] She had expressed to family members and others that she wanted her remains to lie next to her husband's at the King Center. On November 20, 2006, the new mausoleum containing the bodies of both Dr. and Mrs. King was unveiled in front of friends and family. The mausoleum is the third resting place of Martin Luther King, and the second of Mrs. King.
Family life[edit]Martin often called Coretta "Corrie," even when the two were still only dating.[158] The FBI captured a dispute between the couple in the middle of 1964, where the two both blamed each other for making the Civil Rights Movement even more difficult. Martin confessed in a 1965 sermon of his secretary having to remind him of his wife's birthday and the couple's wedding anniversary.[159] For a time, many accompanying her husband would usually hear Coretta argue with him in telephone conversations. King resented her husband whenever he failed to call her about the children while he was away, and learned of his plans to not include her in formal visits, such as the White House. However, when King failed to meet to his own standards by missing a plane and fell into a level of despair, Coretta told her husband over the phone that "I believe in you, if that means anything."[160] Author Ron Ramdin wrote "King faced many new and trying moments, his refuge was home and closeness to Coretta, whose calm and soothing voice whenever she sang, gave him renewed strength. She was the rock upon which his marriage and civil rights leadership, especially at this time of crisis, was founded."[161] After she succeeded in getting Martin Luther King, Jr. Day made a federal holiday, King said her husband's dream was "for people of all religions, all socio-economic levels and all cultures to create a world community free from violence, poverty, racism and war so that they could live together in what he called the beloved community or his world house concept."[162]
King considered raising children in a society that discriminated against them serious, and spoke against her husband whenever the two disagreed on financial needs of their family.[163] The Kings had four children; Yolanda, Martin III, Dexter and Bernice. All four children later followed in their parents' footsteps as civil rights activists. King thought she raised them to be proud of the color of their skin, until being asked by her daughter Yolanda why "white people are pretty and Negroes are ugly?"[164] Her daughter Bernice referred to her as "My favorite person."[165] Years after King's death, Bernice would say her mother "spearheaded the effort to establish the King Center in Atlanta as the official living memorial for Martin Luther King Jr., and then went on to champion a national holiday commemorating our father's birthday, and a host of other efforts; and so in many respects she paved the way and made it possible for the most hated man in America in 1968 to now being one of the most revered and loved men in the world."[166] Dexter Scott King's resigning four months after becoming president of the King Center has often been attributed to differences with his mother. Dexter's work saw a reduction of workers from 70 to 14, and also removed a child care center his mother had founded.[167]
Lawsuits[edit]
King poses next to portrait of her husband in 2004The King family has mostly been criticized for their handling of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s estate, both while Coretta was alive and after her death. The King family sued a California sale in 1992, the family's attorneys filed claims of stolen property against Superior Galleries in Los Angeles Superior Court for the document's return. The King family additionally sued the sale house for punitive damages.[168] In 1994, USA Today paid the family $10,000 in attorney's fees and court costs and also a $1,700 licensing fee for using the "I Have a Dream" speech without permission from them.[169] CBS was sued by the King estate for copyright infringement in November 1996. The network marketed a tape containing excerpts of the "I Have a Dream" speech. CBS had filmed the speech when Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered it in 1963 and did not pay the family a licensing fee.[170][171]
On April 8, 1998, Mrs. King met with Attorney General Janet Reno as requested by President Bill Clinton. Their meeting took place at the Justice Department four days after the thirtieth anniversary of her husband's death.[172] On July 29, 1998, Mrs. King and her son Dexter met with Justice Department officials. The following day, Associate Attorney General Raymond Fisher told reporters "We discussed with them orally what kind of process we would follow to see if that meets their concerns. And we think it should, but they're thinking about it."[173] On October 2, 1998, the King family filed a suit against Loyd Jowers after he stated publicly he had been paid to hire an assassin to kill Martin Luther King. Mrs. King's son Dexter met with Jowers, and the family contended that the shot that killed Mrs. King's husband came from behind a dense bushy area behind Jim's Grill. The shooter was identified by James Earl Ray's lawyers as Earl Clark, a police officer at the time of King's death, who had been dead for several years before the trial and lawsuits emerged.[174] Jowers himself refused to identify the man he claimed kill Martin Luther King, as a favor to who he confirmed as the deceased killer with alleged ties to organized crimes.[175] The King lawsuit sought unspecified damages from Jowers and other "unknown coconspirators." On November 16, 1999, Mrs. King testified that she hoped the truth would be brought about, regarding the assassination of her husband. Mrs. King believed that while Ray might have had a role in her husband's death, she did not believe he was the one to "really, actually kill him."[176] She was the first to testify of her family, and indicated that they all believed Ray did not act alone.[177] It was at this time that King called for President Bill Clinton to establish a national commission to investigate the assassination, as she believed "such a commission could make a major contribution to interracial healing and reconciliation in America."[178]
Legacy[edit]Coretta was viewed during her lifetime and posthumously as having striven to preserve her husband's legacy. The King Center, which she created the year of his assassination, allowed her husband's tomb to be memorialized. King was buried with her husband after her death, on February 7, 2006. King "fought to preserve his legacy" and her construction of the King Center is said to have aided in her efforts.[179]
King has been linked and associated with Jacqueline Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy, as the three all lost their husbands to assassinations. The three were together when Coretta flew to Los Angeles after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy to be with Ethel and shared "colorblind compassion."[180] She has also been compared to Michelle Obama, the first African-American First Lady of the United States.[181]
She is seen as being primarily responsible for the creation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The holiday is now observed in all fifty states, and has been since 2000. The first observance of the holiday after her death was commemorated with speeches, visits to the couple's tomb and the opening of a collection of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s papers. Her sister-in-law Christine King Farris said "It is in her memory and her honor that we must carry this program on. This is as she would have it."[182]
Portrayals in film[edit]Cicely Tyson, in the 1978 television miniseries King[183]Angela Bassett, in the 2013 television movie Betty and Coretta[184]Carmen Ejogo played Coretta King in both the 2001 HBO film Boycott and the 2014 film Selma.Recognition and tributes[edit]Coretta Scott King was the recipient of various honors and tributes both before and after her death. She received honorary degrees from many institutions, including Princeton University, Duke University, and Bates College. She was honored by both of her alma maters in 2004, receiving a Horace Mann Award from Antioch College[16] and an Outstanding Alumni Award from the New England Conservatory of Music.[185]
In 1970, the American Library Association began awarding a medal named for Coretta Scott King to outstanding African-American writers and illustrators of children's literature.[186]
In 1978, Women's Way awarded King with their first Lucretia Mott Award for showing a dedication to the advancement of women and justice similar to Lucretia Mott's.
Many individuals and organizations paid tribute to Scott King following her death, including U.S. President George W. Bush,[187] the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force,[188] the Human Rights Campaign,[189] the National Black Justice Coalition,[190] and her alma mater Antioch College.[191]
In 1983 she received the Four Freedom Award for the Freedom of Worship.[192] In 1987 she received a Candace Award for Distinguished Service from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.[193]
In 1997, Coretta Scott King was the recipient of the Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award.[citation needed] [194]
In 2004, Coretta Scott King was awarded the prestigious Gandhi Peace Prize by the Government of India.[195][196]
In 2006, the Jewish National Fund, the organization that works to plant trees in Israel, announced the creation of the Coretta Scott King forest in the Galilee region of Northern Israel, with the purpose of "perpetuating her memory of equality and peace", as well as the work of her husband.[197] When she learned about this plan, King wrote to Israel's parliament:
"On April 3, 1968, just before he was killed, Martin delivered his last public address. In it he spoke of the visit he and I made to Israel. Moreover, he spoke to us about his vision of the Promised Land, a land of justice and equality, brotherhood and peace. Martin dedicated his life to the goals of peace and unity among all peoples, and perhaps nowhere in the world is there a greater appreciation of the desirability and necessity of peace than in Israel."[citation needed]In 2007, The Coretta Scott King Young Women's Leadership Academy (CSKYWLA) was opened in Atlanta, Georgia. At its inception, the school served girls in grade 6 with plans for expansion to grade 12 by 2014. CSKYWLA is a public school in the Atlanta Public Schools system. Among the staff and students, the acronym for the school's name, CSKYWLA (pronounced "see-skee-WAH-lah"), has been coined as a protologism to which this definition has given – "to be empowered by scholarship, non-violence, and social change." The school is currently under the leadership of Dione Simon (Principal). There Is Also A High School With A Graduating Class Next Year. The High School Is Currently Under The Leadership Of Termerion McCrary Lakes. That year was also the first observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day following her death, and she was honored.[182]
Super Bowl XL was dedicated to King and Rosa Parks. Both were memorialized with a moment of silence during the pregame ceremonies. The children of both Parks and King then helped Tom Brady with the ceremonial coin toss. In addition two choirs representing the states of Georgia (King's home state) and Alabama (Park's home state) accompanied Dr. John, Aretha Franklin and Aaron Neville in the singing of the National Anthem.[citation needed]
She was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in 2009.[198]
Congressional resolutions[edit]Upon the news of her death, moments of reflection, remembrance, and mourning began around the world. In the United States Senate, Majority Leader Bill Frist presented Senate Resolution 362 on behalf of all U.S. Senators, with the afternoon hours filled with respectful tributes throughout the U.S. Capitol.[citation needed]
On August 31, 2006, following a moment of silence in memoriam to the death of Coretta Scott King, the United States House of Representatives presented House Resolution 655 in honor of her legacy. In an unusual action, the resolution included a grace period of five days in which further comments could be added to it.[199][citation needed]This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (February 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)The ReverendMartin Luther King Sr.Martin Luther King Sr, c1977-81.jpgBorn Michael KingDecember 19, 1899Stockbridge, Georgia, United StatesDied November 11, 1984 (aged 84)Atlanta, Georgia, United StatesCause of death Heart attackOccupation Religious ministerPolitical party Republican PartySpouse(s) Alberta Williams King (1926–1974; her death)Children Christine King FarrisMartin Luther King Jr. (deceased)Alfred Daniel Williams King (deceased)Parent(s) James King (1863–1933)Delia Linsey King (1875–1924)SignatureMartin Luther King, Sr. Signature.svgMartin Luther King Sr. (born Michael King; December 19, 1899 – November 11, 1984), was an American Baptist pastor, missionary, and an early figure in the Civil Rights Movement. He was the father of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Contents [hide]1 Early life2 Ebenezer Baptist Church3 Murder of wife4 Later life and death5 In film6 See also7 References7.1 Footnotes7.2 Further readingEarly life[edit]King was born Michael King in Stockbridge, Georgia, the son of Delia (née Linsey) and James Albert King.[1] He led the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and became a leader of the Civil Rights Movement, as the head of the NAACP chapter in Atlanta and of the Civic and Political League. He encouraged his son to become active in the movement.
Ebenezer Baptist Church[edit]King was a member of the Baptist Church and decided to become a preacher after being inspired by ministers who were prepared to stand up for racial equality. He left Stockbridge for Atlanta, where his sister Woodie was boarding with Reverend A.D. Williams, then pastor of the First Baptist Church (Atlanta, Georgia). He attended Dillard University for a two-year degree. After King started courting Williams' daughter, Alberta, her family encouraged him to finish his education and to become a preacher. King completed his high school education at Bryant Preparatory School, and began to preach in several black churches in Atlanta.
In 1926, King started his ministerial degree at the Morehouse School of Religion. On Thanksgiving Day in 1926, after eight years of courtship, he married Alberta in the Ebenezer Church. The couple had three children in four years: a daughter, Willie Christine King (born 1927), Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr., 1929–1968), and a second son, Alfred Daniel Williams King (1930–1969).
King became leader of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in March 1931 after the death of Williams. With the country in the midst of the Great Depression, church finances were struggling, but King organized membership and fundraising drives that restored these to health. By 1934, King had become a widely respected leader of the local church. That year, he also changed his name (and that of his eldest son) from Michael King to Martin Luther King after becoming inspired during a trip to Germany by the life of Martin Luther (1483–1546), the German theologian who initiated the Protestant Reformation (though he never changed his name legally).[2][unreliable source?]
King was the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church for four decades, wielding great influence in the black community and earning some degree of respect from the white community. He also broadcast on WAEC, a religious radio station in Atlanta.
In his 1950 essay An Autobiography of Religious Development, King Jr. wrote that his father was a major influence on his entering the ministry. He said, "I guess the influence of my father also had a great deal to do with my going in the ministry. This is not to say that he ever spoke to me in terms of being a minister, but that my admiration for him was the great moving factor; He set forth a noble example that I didn't mind following."
King Jr. often recounted that his father frequently sent him to work in the fields. He said that in this way he would gain a healthier respect for his forefathers.
In his autobiography, King Jr. remembered his father leaving a shoe shop because he and his son were asked to change seats. He said, "This was the first time I had seen Dad so furious. That experience revealed to me at a very early age that my father had not adjusted to the system, and he played a great part in shaping my conscience. I still remember walking down the street beside him as he muttered, 'I don't care how long I have to live with this system, I will never accept it.'"[3]
Another story related by King Jr. was that once the car his father was driving was stopped by a police officer, and the officer addressed the senior King as "boy". King pointed to his son, saying, "This is a boy, I'm a man; until you call me one, I will not listen to you."
King Jr. became an associate pastor at Ebenezer in 1948, and his father wrote a letter of recommendation for him to Crozer Theological Seminary. Despite theological differences, father and son would later serve together as joint pastors at the church.
King was a major figure in the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia, where he rose to become the head of the NAACP in Atlanta and the Civic and Political League. He led the fight for equal teachers' salaries in Atlanta. He also played an instrumental role in ending Jim Crow laws in the state. King had refused to ride on Atlanta's bus system since the 1920s after a vicious attack on black passengers with no action against those responsible. King stressed the need for an educated, politically active black ministry.
In October 1960, when King Jr., was arrested at a peaceful sit-in in Atlanta, Robert Kennedy telephoned the judge and helped secure his release. Although King Sr. had previously opposed Kennedy because he was a Catholic,[citation needed] he expressed his appreciation for these calls and switched his support to Kennedy. At this time, King had been a lifelong registered Republican, and had endorsed Republican Richard Nixon.[citation needed]
King Jr. soon became a popular civil rights activist. Taking inspiration from Mohandas Gandhi of India, he led nonviolent protests in order to win greater rights for African Americans.
King Jr. was shot and killed in 1968. King Sr.'s youngest son, Alfred Daniel Williams King, died of an accidental drowning on July 21, 1969, nine days before his 39th birthday.
In 1969, King was one of several members of the Morehouse College board of trustees held hostage on the campus by a group of students demanding reform in the school’s curriculum and governance. One of the students was Samuel L. Jackson, who was suspended for his actions. Jackson subsequently became an actor and Academy Award nominee.[4]
King played a notable role in the nomination of Jimmy Carter as the Democratic candidate for President in the 1976 election. After Carter's success in the Iowa caucus, the New Hampshire primary and the Florida primary, some liberal Democrats were worried about his success and began an "ABC" ("Anyone But Carter") movement to try to head off his nomination. King pointed to Carter's leadership in ending the era of segregation in Georgia, and helping to repeal laws restricting voting which especially disenfranchised African Americans. With King's support, Carter continued to build a coalition of black and white voters and win the nomination. King delivered the invocation at the 1976 and 1980 Democratic National Conventions. King was also a member of Omega Psi Phi.
Murder of wife[edit]King Sr.'s wife and King Jr.'s mother, Alberta, was murdered by Marcus Wayne Chenault on Sunday, June 30, 1974, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church during Sunday services. Chenault was a black man from Ohio who stood up and yelled, "You are serving a false God", and began to fire from two pistols while Alberta was playing "The Lord's Prayer" on the church organ.[5] Upon capture, the assassin disclosed that his intended target was Martin Luther King Sr., who was elsewhere that Sunday. After failing to see Mr. King Sr., the killer instead fatally shot Alberta King and Rev. Edward Boykin.[6] Chenault stated that he was driven to murder after concluding that "black ministers were a menace to black people" and that "all Christians are my enemies".[7]
Later life and death[edit]With his son's widow Coretta Scott King, King was present when President Carter awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom to King Jr. posthumously in 1977. In 1980, he published his autobiography. King died of a heart attack at the Crawford W. Long Hospital in Atlanta on November 11, 1984, at age 84. He was interred next to his wife Alberta at the South View Cemetery in Atlanta.[8]
In film[edit]
Poster for the 2016 documentary film In the Hour of Chaos.In the Hour of Chaos is a 2016 American documentary drama written and directed by Bayer Mack (The Czar of Black Hollywood), which tells the story of King Sr.'s rise from an impoverished childhood in the violent backwoods of Georgia to become patriarch of one of the most famous – and tragedy-plagued – families in history.[9]
From The Huffington Post:
The documentary weaves strands of three stories into one. The underpinnings of the documentary are the events of the time — everything from the Atlanta Riots and the disenfranchisement of blacks throughout the South to the era of prohibition and war time. Over this background, there are two more stories — that of Daddy King and the story of Daddy’s influence on Martin Jr.[10]
Part one of In the Hour of Chaos aired on public television in early 2016 and the full film was released online July 1, 2016.[11][12]
See also[edit] Biography portalMartin Luther King Jr., King's son, American clergyman, activist, and leader in the Civil Rights Movement; famous for his "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963.Martin Luther King III, one of King's grandsons.
In a speech expressing his views on ‘‘the true mission of the Church’’ Martin Luther King, Sr. told his fellow clergymen that they must not forget the words of God: ‘‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor.… In this we find we are to do something about the brokenhearted, poor, unemployed, the captive, the blind, and the bruised’’ (King, Sr., 17 October 1940). Martin Luther King, Jr. credited his father with influencing his decision to join the ministry, saying: ‘‘He set forth a noble example that I didn’t [mind] following’’ (Papers 1:363).
King, Sr. was born Michael King on 19 December 1897, in Stockbridge, Georgia. The eldest son of James and Delia King, King, Sr. attended school from three to five months a year at the Stockbridge Colored School. ‘‘We had no books, no materials to write with, and no blackboard,’’ he wrote, ‘‘But I loved going’’ (King, Sr., 37).
King experienced a number of brutal incidents while growing up in the rural South, including witnessing the lynching of a black man. On another occasion he had to subdue his drunken father who was assaulting his mother. His mother took the children to Floyd Chapel Baptist Church to ‘‘ease the harsh tone of farm life’’ according to King (King, Sr., 26). Michael grew to respect the few black preachers who were willing to speak out against racial injustices, despite the risk of violent white retaliation. He gradually developed an interest in preaching, initially practicing eulogies on the family’s chickens. By the end of 1917, he had decided to become a minister.
In the spring of 1918, King left Stockbridge to join his sister, Woodie, in Atlanta. The following year, Woodie King boarded at the home of A. D. Williams, minister of Ebenezer Baptist Church. King seized the opportunity to introduce himself to the minister’s daughter, Alberta Williams. Her parents welcomed King into the family circle, eventually treating him as a son and encouraging the young minister to overcome his educational limitations.
In March 1924, the engagement of Alberta to Michael King was announced at Ebenezer’s Sunday services. Meanwhile, King served as pastor of several churches in nearby College Park, while studying at Bryant Preparatory School. He followed the urging of Alberta Williams and her father to seek admission to Morehouse College and was admitted in 1926. King found the work difficult; however, he relied on the help of classmate Melvin H. Watson, the son of a longtime clerk at Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Sandy Ray of Texas, a fellow seminarian. ‘‘We shared an awe of city life, of cars, of the mysteries of college scholarship, and, most of all, of our callings to the ministry,’’ King recalled (King, Sr., 77).
On Thanksgiving Day 1926, Michael Luther King and Alberta Christine Williams were married at Ebenezer. The newlyweds moved into an upstairs bedroom of the Williams’ house on Auburn Avenue. The King family quickly expanded, with the birth of Willie Christine in 1927, Michael Luther, Jr. in 1929, and Alfred Daniel Williams in 1930, a month after King, Sr. received his bachelor’s degree in Theology.
After the death of A. D. Williams in 1931, King, Sr. succeeded his father-in-law as pastor of Ebenezer. According to King’s recollections, A. D. Williams inspired him in many ways. Both men preached a social gospel Christianity that combined a belief in personal salvation with the need to apply the teachings of Jesus to the daily problems of their black congregations.
The Kings raised their children in what King, Jr. described as ‘‘a very congenial home situation,’’ with parents who ‘‘always lived together very intimately’’ (Papers 1:360). Hidden from view were his parents’ negotiations regarding their conflicting views on discipline. Although King, Sr. believed that the ‘‘switch was usually quicker and more persuasive’’ in disciplining his boys, he increasingly deferred to his wife’s less stern but effective approach to childrearing (King, Sr., 130).
In 1934, King, Sr. attended the World Baptist Alliance in Berlin. Traveling by ocean liner to France, he and 10 other ministers also toured historic sites in Palestine and the Holy Land. ‘‘In Jerusalem, when I saw with my own eyes the places where Jesus had lived and taught, a life spent in the ministry seemed to me even more compelling,’’ King recalled (King, Sr., 97). A story appearing in the Atlanta Daily World upon King’s return to Atlanta in August 1934 increased his prominence and relative affluence among Atlanta’s elite. This was also reflected in the final transformation of his name from Michael King to Michael Luther King and finally Martin Luther King (although close friends and relatives continued to refer to him and his son as Mike or M. L.).
In Atlanta, King, Sr. not only engaged in personal acts of political dissent, such as riding the ‘‘whites only’’ City Hall elevator to reach the voter registrar’s office, but was also a local leader of organizations such as the Atlanta Civic and Political League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1939, he proposed, to the unopposition to more cautious clergy and lay leaders, a massive voter registration drive to be initiated by a march to City Hall. At a rally at Ebenezer of more than 1,000 activists, King referred to his own past and urged black people toward greater militancy. ‘‘I ain’t gonna plow no more mules,’’ he shouted. ‘‘I’ll never step off the road again to let white folks pass’’ (King, Sr., 100). A year later, King, Sr. braved racist threats when he became chairman of the Committee on the Equalization of Teachers’ Salaries, which was organized to protest discriminatory policies in teachers’ pay. With the legal assistance of the NAACP, the movement resulted in significant gains for black teachers.
Although too young to fully understand his father’s activism, King, Jr. later wrote that dinner discussions in the King household often touched on political matters, as King, Sr. expressed his views about ‘‘the ridiculous nature of segregation in the South’’ (Papers 1:33). King, Jr. remembered witnessing his father standing up to a policeman who stopped the elder King for a traffic violation and referred to him as a ‘‘boy.’’ According to King, Jr., his indignant father responded by pointing to his son and asserting: ‘‘This is a boy. I’m a man, and until you call me one, I will not listen to you.’’ The shocked policeman ‘‘wrote the ticket up nervously, and left the scene as quickly as possible’’ (King, Stride, 20).
King, Sr. was generally supportive of his son’s participation in the civil rights movement; however, during the Montgomery bus boycott, he and his wife were very concerned about the safety of King, Jr. and his family. King, Sr. asked a number of prominent Atlantans, such as Benjamin Mays, to try to convince King, Jr. not to return to Montgomery; but they were unsuccessful. King, Sr. later wrote, ‘‘I could only be deeply impressed with his determination. There was no hesitancy for him in this journey’’ (King, Sr., 172). King, Sr. traveled with the delegation to Oslo in 1964 to see his son accept the Nobel Peace Prize. In his autobiography, King, Sr. recalled, ‘‘As M. L. stood receiving the Nobel Prize, and the tears just streamed down my face, I gave thanks that out of that tiny Georgia town I’d been spared to see this and so much else’’ (King, Sr., 183).
Throughout his life, King, Sr. was a prominent civic leader in Atlanta, serving on the boards of Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and the National Baptist Convention. After the assassination of King, Jr., he spoke at numerous events honoring his son. A strong supporter of Jimmy Carter, he delivered invocations to the Democratic National Convention in 1976 and 1980. After serving Ebenezer for 44 years, he died in Atlanta in 1984.
Alberta Christine Williams King (September 13, 1904 – June 30, 1974) was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s mother and the wife of Martin Luther King, Sr. She played a significant role in the affairs of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. She was shot and killed in the church by Marcus Wayne Chenault six years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.[1]
Contents [hide]1 Life and career2 Family tragedies, 1968–19743 Death4 Notes5 References6 External linksLife and career[edit]Alberta Christine Willias was born on September 13, 1904, to Reverend Adam Daniel Williams, at the time preacher of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and Jennie Celeste (Parks) Williams.[2] Alberta Williams graduated from high school at the Spelman Seminary, and earned a teaching certificate at the Hampton Normal and Industrial Institute (now Hampton University) in 1924.
Williams met Martin L. King (then known as Michael King), whose sister Woodie was boarding with her parents, shortly before she left for Hampton. After graduating, she announced her engagement to King at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. She taught for a short time before their Thanksgiving Day 1926 wedding, but she had to quit because married female teachers were not then allowed.
Their first child, daughter Willie Christine King, was born on September 11, 1927. Michael Luther King Jr. followed on January 15, 1929, then Alfred Daniel Williams King I, named after his grandfather, on July 30, 1930. About this time, Michael King changed his name to Martin Luther King, Sr.
Alberta King worked hard to ikidl self-respect into her children. In an essay he wrote at Crozer Seminary, Martin Luther King Jr., who was always close to her, wrote that she "was behind the scenes setting forth those motherly cares, the lack of which leaves a missing link in life."
Alberta King's mother died on May 18, 1941, of a heart attack. The King family later moved to a large yellow brick house three blocks away. Alberta would serve as the organizer and president of the Ebenezer Women's Committee from 1950 to 1962. She was also a talented musician who served as the choir organist and director at Ebenezer, which may have contributed to the respect her son had for the Black arts.[3] By the end of this period, Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr. were joint pastors of the church.
Family tragedies, 1968–1974[edit]Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. King was in Memphis to lead a march in support of the local sanitation workers' union. He was pronounced dead one hour later. Mrs. King, a source of strength after her son's assassination, faced fresh tragedy the next year when her younger son and last-born child, Alfred Daniel Williams King I, who had become the assistant pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, drowned in his pool.
Death[edit]Alberta King was shot and killed on June 30, 1974, at age 69 by Marcus Wayne Chenault, a 23-year-old black man from Ohio, who fired two Handguns into her as she sat at the organ of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Chenault stated that he shot King because "all Christians are my enemies," and claimed that he had decided that black ministers were a menace to black people. He said his original target had been Martin Luther King, Sr., but he had decided to shoot his wife instead because she was close to him. One of the church's deacons, Edward Boykin, was also killed in the attack, and a woman was wounded. Alberta was interred at the South View Cemetery in Atlanta. Martin Luther King, Sr., died of a heart attack on November 11, 1984, at age 84 and was interred next to her.
Chenault was sentenced to death; although this sentence was upheld on appeal, he was later resentenced to life in prison, partially as a result of the King family's opposition to the death penalty. On August 3, 1995, he suffered a stroke, and was taken to a hospital, where he died of complications from his stroke on August 19, at age 44.[4][5]Letter from Birmingham Jailby Martin Luther King, Jr.From the Birmingham jail, where he was imprisoned as a participant in nonviolent demonstrations against segregation, Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote in longhand the letter which follows. It was his response to a public statement of concern andcaution issued by eight white religious leaders of the South. Dr. King, who was born in 1929, did his undergraduate work atMorehouse College; attended the integrated Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, one of six black pupilsamong a hundred students, and the president of his class; and won a fellowship to Boston University for his Ph.D.WHILE confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling our present activities "unwiseand untimely." Seldom, if ever, do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all of the criticismsthat cross my desk, my secretaries would be engaged in little else in the course of the day, and I would have no time forconstructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I would liketo answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.I think I should give the reason for my being in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the argument of "outsiderscoming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operatingin every Southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliate organizations all across theSouth, one being the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Whenever necessary and possible, we share staff,educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago our local affiliate here in Birmingham invited us to beon call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hourcame we lived up to our promises. So I am here, along with several members of my staff, because we were invited here. I amhere because I have basic organizational ties here.Beyond this, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eighth-century prophets left their little villages and carriedtheir "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their hometowns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village ofTarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Greco-Roman world, I too am compelledto carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular hometown. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call foraid.Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not beconcerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in aninescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Neveragain can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States cannever be considered an outsider.You deplore the demonstrations that are presently taking place in Birmingham. But I am sorry that your statement did not expressa similar concern for the conditions that brought the demonstrations into being. I am sure that each of you would want to gobeyond the superficial social analyst who looks merely at effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. I would nothesitate to say that it is unfortunate that so-called demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham at this time, but I would say inmore emphatic terms that it is even more unfortunate that the white power structure of this city left the Negro community with noother alternative.IN ANY nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive,negotiation, self-purification, and direct action. We have gone through all of these steps in Birmingham. There can be nogainsaying of the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated cityin the United States. Its ugly record of police brutality is known in every section of this country. Its unjust treatment of Negroesin the courts is a notorious reality. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham thanin any other city in this nation. These are the hard, brutal, and unbelievable facts. On the basis of them, Negro leaders sought tonegotiate with the city fathers. But the political leaders consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation.Then came the opportunity last September to talk with some of the leaders of the economic community. In these negotiatingsessions certain promises were made by the merchants, such as the promise to remove the humiliating racial signs from thestores. On the basis of these promises, Reverend Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for HumanRights agreed to call a moratorium on any type of demonstration. As the weeks and months unfolded, we realized that we werethe victims of a broken promise. The signs remained. As in so many experiences of the past, we were confronted with blastedhopes, and the dark shadow of a deep disappointment settled upon us. So we had no alternative except that of preparing for directaction, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and nationalcommunity. We were not unmindful of the difficulties involved. So we decided to go through a process of self-purification. WeLetter From Birmingham Jail 2started having workshops on nonviolence and repeatedly asked ourselves the questions, "Are you able to accept blows withoutretaliating?" and "Are you able to endure the ordeals of jail?" We decided to set our direct-action program around the Easterseason, realizing that, with exception of Christmas, this was the largest shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strongeconomic withdrawal program would be the by-product of direct action, we felt that this was the best time to bring pressure onthe merchants for the needed changes. Then it occurred to us that the March election was ahead, and so we speedily decided topostpone action until after election day. When we discovered that Mr. Conner was in the runoff, we decided again to postponeaction so that the demonstration could not be used to cloud the issues. At this time we agreed to begin our nonviolent witness theday after the runoff.This reveals that we did not move irresponsibly into direct action. We, too, wanted to see Mr. Conner defeated, so we wentthrough postponement after postponement to aid in this community need. After this we felt that direct action could be delayed nolonger.You may well ask, "Why direct action, why sit-ins, marches, and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are exactly rightin your call for negotiation. Indeed, this is the purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis andestablish such creative tension that a community that has consistently refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeksso to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. I just referred to the creation of tension as a part of the work of thenonviolent resister. This may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I haveearnestly worked and preached against violent tension, but there is a type of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary forgrowth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondageof myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need of havingnonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racismto the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. So, the purpose of direct action is to create a situation so crisis-packedthat it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. We therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has ourbeloved Southland been bogged down in the tragic attempt to live in monologue rather than dialogue.One of the basic points in your statement is that our acts are untimely. Some have asked, "Why didn't you give the newadministration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this inquiry is that the new administration must be prodded aboutas much as the outgoing one before it acts. We will be sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Mr. Boutwell will bring themillennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is much more articulate and gentle than Mr. Conner, they are bothsegregationists, dedicated to the task of maintaining the status quo. The hope I see in Mr. Boutwell is that he will be reasonableenough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from the devotees ofcivil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal andnonviolent pressure. History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privilegesvoluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr hasreminded us, groups are more immoral than individuals.We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by theoppressed. Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct-action movement that was "well timed" according to the timetable ofthose who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "wait." It rings in theear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This "wait" has almost always meant "never." It has been a tranquilizingthalidomide, relieving the emotional stress for a moment, only to give birth to an ill-formed infant of frustration. We must cometo see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." We have waited for more thanthree hundred and forty years for our God-given and constitutional rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlikespeed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffeeat a lunch counter. I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say "wait." But when youhave seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seenhate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vastmajority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; whenyou suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why shecannot go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her little eyeswhen she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her littlemental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people; whenyou have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son asking in agonizing pathos, "Daddy, why do white people treat coloredpeople so mean?"; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortablecorners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signsreading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger" and your middle name becomes "boy" (however old youare) and your last name becomes "John," and when your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you areharried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never knowing what toexpect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of"nobodyness" -- then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runsover and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corrodingdespair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.Letter From Birmingham Jail 3YOU express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we sodiligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, it is ratherstrange and paradoxical to find us consciously breaking laws. One may well ask, "How can you advocate breaking some laws andobeying others?" The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. Iwould agree with St. Augustine that "An unjust law is no law at all."Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-madecode that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. Toput it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law thatuplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust becausesegregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated afalse sense of inferiority. To use the words of Martin Buber, the great Jewish philosopher, segregation substitutes an "I - it"relationship for the "I - thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. So segregation is not onlypolitically, economically, and sociologically unsound, but it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin isseparation. Isn't segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, an expression of his awful estrangement, histerrible sinfulness? So I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court because it is morally right, and I can urgethem to disobey segregation ordinances because they are morally wrong.Let us turn to a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a majority inflicts on a minority thatis not binding on itself. This is difference made legal. On the other hand, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority tofollow, and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.Let me give another explanation. An unjust law is a code inflicted upon a minority which that minority had no part in enacting orcreating because it did not have the unhampered right to vote. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up thesegregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout the state of Alabama all types of conniving methods are used toprevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties without a single Negro registered to vote, despitethe fact that the Negroes constitute a majority of the population. Can any law set up in such a state be considered democraticallystructured?These are just a few examples of unjust and just laws. There are some instances when a law is just on its face and unjust in itsapplication. For instance, I was arrested Friday on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong with anordinance which requires a permit for a parade, but when the ordinance is used to preserve segregation and to deny citizens theFirst Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and peaceful protest, then it becomes unjust.Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was seen sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach,and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar because a higher moral law was involved. It was practiced superbly by theearly Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks before submitting to certainunjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civildisobedience.We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did inHungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germanyduring that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal. If I lived in a Communistcountry today where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I believe I would openly advocate disobeyingthese anti-religious laws.I MUST make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few yearsI have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's greatstumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderatewho is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peacewhich is the presence of justice; who constantly says, "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methodsof direct action"; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth oftime; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people ofgood will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much morebewildering than outright rejection.In your statement you asserted that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. Butcan this assertion be logically made? Isn't this like condemning the robbed man because his possession of money precipitated theevil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophicaldelvings precipitated the misguided popular mind to make him drink the hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because Hisunique God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to His will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see,as federal courts have consistently affirmed, that it is immoral to urge an individual to withdraw his efforts to gain his basicconstitutional rights because the quest precipitates violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.Letter From Birmingham Jail 4I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth of time. I received a letter this morning from a white brother inTexas which said, "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but is it possible that you arein too great of a religious hurry? It has taken Christianity almost 2000 years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christtake time to come to earth." All that is said here grows out of a tragic misconception of time. It is the strangely irrational notionthat there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time is neutral. It can be used eitherdestructively or constructively. I am coming to feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than thepeople of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people butfor the appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. Itcomes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work timeitself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.YOU spoke of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see mynonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I started thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces inthe Negro community. One is a force of complacency made up of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, have beenso completely drained of self-respect and a sense of "somebodyness" that they have adjusted to segregation, and, on the otherhand, of a few Negroes in the middle class who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because at pointsthey profit by segregation, have unconsciously become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one ofbitterness and hatred and comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groupsthat are springing up over the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. This movement isnourished by the contemporary frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination. It is made up of people who havelost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incurabledevil. I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need not follow the do-nothingism of the complacent or thehatred and despair of the black nationalist. There is a more excellent way, of love and nonviolent protest. I'm grateful to God that,through the Negro church, the dimension of nonviolence entered our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, I amconvinced that by now many streets of the South would be flowing with floods of blood. And I am further convinced that if ourwhite brothers dismiss as "rabble-rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who are working through the channels ofnonviolent direct action and refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes, out of frustration and despair, will seeksolace and security in black nationalist ideologies, a development that will lead inevitably to a frightening racial nightmare.Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The urge for freedom will eventually come. This is what has happened to theAmerican Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom; something without has reminded him that hecan gain it. Consciously and unconsciously, he has been swept in by what the Germans call the Zeitgeist, and with his blackbrothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America, and the Caribbean, he is moving with a sense ofcosmic urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. Recognizing this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community,one should readily understand public demonstrations. The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations. He has toget them out. So let him march sometime; let him have his prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; understand why he must have sitins and freedom rides. If his repressed emotions do not come out in these nonviolent ways, they will come out in ominousexpressions of violence. This is not a threat; it is a fact of history. So I have not said to my people, "Get rid of your discontent."But I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled through the creative outlet of nonviolent directaction. Now this approach is being dismissed as extremist. I must admit that I was initially disappointed in being so categorized.But as I continued to think about the matter, I gradually gained a bit of satisfaction from being considered an extremist. Was notJesus an extremist in love? -- "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you." Was notAmos an extremist for justice? -- "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Was not Paul anextremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ? -- "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist?-- "Here I stand; I can do no other so help me God." Was not John Bunyan an extremist? -- "I will stay in jail to the end of mydays before I make a mockery of my conscience." Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist? -- "This nation cannot survive halfslave and half free." Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist? -- "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are createdequal." So the question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists forhate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for thecause of justice?I had hoped that the white moderate would see this. Maybe I was too optimistic. Maybe I expected too much. I guess I shouldhave realized that few members of a race that has oppressed another race can understand or appreciate the deep groans andpassionate yearnings of those that have been oppressed, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out bystrong, persistent, and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers have grasped the meaning ofthis social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too small in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some,like Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, and James Dabbs, have written about our struggle in eloquent, prophetic, andunderstanding terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They sat in with us at lunch counters androde in with us on the freedom rides. They have languished in filthy roach-infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality ofangry policemen who see them as "dirty nigger lovers." They, unlike many of their moderate brothers, have recognized theurgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation.Letter From Birmingham Jail 5LET me rush on to mention my other disappointment. I have been disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Ofcourse, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands onthis issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand this past Sunday in welcoming Negroes to your BaptistChurch worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Springhill Collegeseveral years ago.But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say that asone of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say it as a minister of the gospel who lovesthe church, who was nurtured in its bosom, who has been sustained by its Spiritual blessings, and who will remain true to it aslong as the cord of life shall lengthen.I had the strange feeling when I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery several years agothat we would have the support of the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests, and rabbis of the South would be someof our strongest allies. Instead, some few have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement andmisrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind theanesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.In spite of my shattered dreams of the past, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of thiscommunity would see the justice of our cause and with deep moral concern serve as the channel through which our justgrievances could get to the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.I have heard numerous religious leaders of the South call upon their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision becauseit is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers say, follow this decree because integration is morally right and the Negro isyour brother. In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churches stand on the sidelines andmerely mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial andeconomic injustice, I have heard so many ministers say, "Those are social issues which the gospel has nothing to do with," and Ihave watched so many churches commit themselves to a completely otherworldly religion which made a strange distinctionbetween bodies and souls, the sacred and the secular.There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period that the early Christians rejoiced when they weredeemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideasand principles of popular opinion; it was the thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Wherever the early Christiansentered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being "disturbers of the peace" and"outside agitators." But they went on with the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven" and had to obey God rather thanman. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated."They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest.Things are different now. The contemporary church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so oftenthe arch supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the averagecommunity is consoled by the church's often vocal sanction of things as they are.But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of theearly church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with nomeaning for the twentieth century. I meet young people every day whose disappointment with the church has risen to outrightdisgust.I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid ofjustice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motivesare presently misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal ofAmerica is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America. Before thePilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson scratched across the pages of history the majestic word ofthe Declaration of Independence, we were here. For more than two centuries our foreparents labored here without wages; theymade cotton king; and they built the homes of their masters in the midst of brutal injustice and shameful humiliation -- and yetout of a bottomless vitality our people continue to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us,the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternalwill of God are embodied in our echoing demands.I must close now. But before closing I am impelled to mention one other point in your statement that troubled me profoundly.You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I don't believe you wouldhave so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its angry violent dogs literally biting six unarmed, nonviolentNegroes. I don't believe you would so quickly commend the policemen if you would observe their ugly and inhuman treatment ofNegroes here in the city jail; if you would watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you would seethem slap and kick old Negro men and young boys, if you would observe them, as they did on two occasions, refusing to give usfood because we wanted to sing our grace together. I'm sorry that I can't join you in your praise for the police From Birmingham Jail 6It is true that they have been rather disciplined in their public handling of the demonstrators. In this sense they have been publicly"nonviolent." But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the last few years I have consistentlypreached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. So I have tried to make it clearthat it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or even more, to usemoral means to preserve immoral ends.I wish you had commended the Negro demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer, andtheir amazing discipline in the midst of the most inhuman provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. Theywill be the James Merediths, courageously and with a majestic sense of purpose facing jeering and hostile mobs and theagonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized ina seventy-two-year-old woman of Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not toride the segregated buses, and responded to one who inquired about her tiredness with ungrammatical profundity, "My feets istired, but my soul is rested." They will be young high school and college students, young ministers of the gospel and a host oftheir elders courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience's sake. One daythe South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up forthe best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage.Never before have I written a letter this long -- or should I say a book? I'm afraid that it is much too long to take your precioustime. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else is thereto do when you are alone for days in the dull monotony of a narrow jail cell other than write long letters, think strange thoughts,and pray long prayers?If I have said anything in this letter that is an understatement of the truth and is indicative of an unreasonable impatience, I begyou to forgive me. If I have said anything in this letter that is an overstatement of the truth and is indicative of my having apatience that makes me patient with anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 1963 WMU Speech FoundMLK at WesternIntroduction This Web site highlights Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, December 18, 1963 speech at Western MichiganUniversity. The pages include historical background, details about the recovery of the tape recording,transcription of the speech and question and answer session, primary source documents, and a list oflibrary and Internet sources about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.The speech transcription is important for several reasons. It adds to the body of knowledge about thedevelopment of Dr. King's work and ideas. Dr. King spoke at WMU just four months after he made hisfamous "I Have a Dream" speech. King's WMU address contains elements of earlier speeches andsermons, including his address at the Freedom Rally in 1957 and a sermon about loving enemies that hehad given at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.The speech transcription is also an important document for studying the continuing dialogue aboutracial prejudice and race relations on Western's campus. The speech transcription and accompanyingdocuments provide additional information to better understand Dr. King's enduring influence onWestern's campus through the programs and curricula established in the late 1960s and the broadersocietal changes brought about by his nonviolent movement for civil rights and social justice for all.The Lost Tape The tape recording of the live broadcast of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s December 18, 1963 speech waslost for almost 30 years. The tape was rebroadcast at the time of Dr. King's assassination in 1968 but waslater lost until 1997 when Phill Novess contacted WMUK general manager, Garrard Macleod.A copy of King's address had been found on a reel‐to‐reel machine that Novess had acquired from hisgrandfather, Phillip Novess. The senior Novess owned a small grocery store on the east side ofKalamazoo and accepted the reel‐to‐reel tape recorder as collateral for groceries in the early 1970s.When he sold the grocery store and the tape player had not been reclaimed, Novess took it home andput it in his basement. He gave the tape to his grandson for restoration purposes. Novess' business,Eclipse Media Group, specializes in noise reduction and restoration of audio tapes. Novess restored thetape with the assistance of Kevin Brown, of Brown & Brown Recording & Music Productions in Portage.

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