Interview with Joseph Azbell
QUESTION 15
INTERVIEWER:

I WAS GOING TO SAY, YOU GAVE US AN ANALYSIS OF THE TEAM WORK BETWEEN MARTIN LUTHER KING AND RALPH ABERNATHY HOW THEY COMPLIMENTED EACH OTHER AND I WONDER IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE THAT AGAIN.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

PUSH YOUR GLASSES UP ON YOUR NOSE.

Joseph Azbell:

OK. Martin Luther King was educated in a northern environment. He had lived in a, as we, as they referred to it down here in a Sugar Hill environment. His family was well to do. They had never really lived in a rented house. His father was famous, his grandfather was famous, he had associated with the very finest. And when he came to Montgomery, and this movement was made up of just ordinary black people some of whom made as little as five dollars a week but they would give one dollar of that to helping to support the boycott, and they liked him. But the man that was black, and he was black of skin—King was ginger of skin, he had a white tone to his skin, he had an Irish background, I believe, and an Indian background somewhere in his background. But Abernathy was black, and they knew Abernathy and they trusted Abernathy. And he was the pastor of the First Baptist Church which had took in new town, which was the poorest section, it also had some wealthier members or more prosperous members from other sections and they worked together as a team. Those poor, poor blacks would never have gathered toward in that original beginning toward King like they did without Abernathy being there. Abernathy was a power in this community among the blacks, among the black preachers, the black preachers trusted him and they believed in him and he was a brilliant man. Some people today are saying that was not so smart, that he was this or that but he was smart. To these people, he was smart. To these people, he was a leader and they made a team like in the original days of the partnerships, you know, that really built businesses, and but when they went the street together, they followed them. It was you had to be there to see the cohesion that went in and I loved to hear Abernathy preach in those days. He was a great preacher, and then when he would get through, then would come on this and I think that he's one of the three or four finest speakers that in our times ever, there was King. And King crowned it off. And he had them talking to him. Someone once said that he had them say amen to a quotation from Plato. Whatever it was, he was fantastic. And he knew how to be courteous, and to mood the people. If, I don't want to compare Jesus or to say John and Jesus from the Bible to any human being, but it was very much like that. If Abernathy did the spade work of what was there and then King came on. And that's the way they looked at him. It's the preparation, and then the finale.