Interview with Rev. Ralph Abernathy
QUESTION 39
CALLIE CROSSELY:

You were with him when nobody else was, and it's very clear from everything we read and now seeing you talk about him that your friendship was very important to both of you. And we wonder what did you give him that made your friendship really an anchor for him during the movement years.

Rev. Ralph Abernathy:

Well, I gave to him, I think, strength and courage and God blessed me to have that strength and courage. He wanted me by his side at all times, and I was by his side even until the last, when the fire, when the bullet was fired in his body on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel I was there. I was the first person to get to him and I comforted him and cuddled him in my arms and said to him "Martin, don't worry. It will be all right. It will be all right." And his eyes were staring and turning in. He could not utter a word, but he was upset, but finally he heard me. I'm convinced he heard me and he knew that it would be all right. It would be all right and he relaxed. I could tell you about time and time again, when I had to comfort him, and he turned to me and expected from me that comfort. And I tried to be that consoling force always with him and supporting the ministry and the work of Martin Luther King. He was my Paul, and I was his Timothy. And we worked hand in hand. And he often said to me, David, which is my real name, David, I could never have been to you what you have been to me. And I would say, Martin, and Michael which was his name, Michael, just to be second to you is enough for me. I know I do not want any glory, but I would be terribly upset if anybody took my place in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. We were together at all times. Even when we were not together in prison, we were together in spirit. We thought alike.