Interview with Rev. Ralph Abernathy
QUESTION 33
CALLIE CROSSELY:

On Good Friday when you and Dr. King were arrested, what was different about that? When you went to jail in Birmingham?

Rev. Ralph Abernathy:

Well, it was Good Friday, and we went thinking and feeling like Christ, I guess, felt on his Good Friday when he surrendered and when he was crucified, when he was killed, and I was prepared to suffer with him and suffer with Martin Luther King, Jr. We had the backing of thousands of people all across America and thousands of people right there in Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of people there in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church of Birmingham Alabama. And we were not alone, we were, but Bull Connor, pulled that trick for the first time. We, Martin Luther King and I, were segregated. He put in solitary confinement on the sixth floor, and put me in solitary confinement on the fifth floor. And so consequently, we could not talk to each other. And so, he wrote the letter for the Birmingham jail. If we had been together talking to each other, maybe we would not have that eloquent and profound letter from the Birmingham Jail. Bull Connor discovered that we drew strength from each other, because I always carried in my inside coat pocket a Bible, a small Bible, and I always repeated my psalms, the twenty seventh number of the psalms. Every time I was arrested, Martin would say, Ralph, read your psalms. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even my enemies, came up on me to eat up my flesh they stumbled and fell, and so forth, and so forth, and it closes with I would've fainted unless I believed to see the goodness of the Lord and the land of the living wait on the Lord feel, feel courage and he shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord. We had a good time. We had the assurance that we had the power, even though the policemen had the guns and the billy clubs.