Interview with Ralph Abernathy

Now, I've read that, that once you got up there, Dr. King got into bed and there were a lot of people who came to visit, and that his mood, maybe later on that night after people left was pretty extreme, and that you had a long conversation he was talking about what he was feeling. How was he feeling, and what, how did he express it to you?


Well, ah, there were not so many visitors permitted, ah, to come, that evening. Ah, because there was a curfew in the city, and this, ah, was the first time that, ah, violence had broken out on the march led by Dr. King. Even though, technically, ah, Jim Lawson had called the march off. But, ah, the young man from the Invaders were, was killed that evening. And so, ah, there was a lot of tension in the air, and ah, Dr. King was heartbroken, ah, because he didn't want to lead a violent march, he wanted his record to be clear. And he said to me, "ah, Ralph, ah, why don't we just step aside and let the violent forces run their course? Because they will soon run out." Ah, I said to him, "No, Martin, ah, we will remain non-violent and we will be actively engaged in non-violent activities, because violence is not the way. We cannot ever be free, ah, with ah, ah, violence. And ah, because violence destroys the hated as well as those who, ah, against evil in this nation." And I, I, I prevailed with him, but I didn't satisfy him. And he called New York, and California and he just, um, was most upset. Until the wee hours of the morning, ah, he finally fo--fell asleep, and ah, and ah, it was not very long, ah, after that, ah, the Invaders came and asked to speak to Dr. King.