Interview with Jerred Blanchard

By the time you get to March, um, people must have heard of the fact that King might be coming, that Dr. King might be coming to Memphis. What was the attitude of the White community in Memphis to Mr. King's coming?


The attitude of the White community was one of dread. There's no other way to describe it. Please bear in mind that all of us who could read knew about Watts, Newark, and Detroit and all of the troubles that we'd had in our big city ghettos. And we knew about the march Selma, Alabama and Mrs. Montgomery, Rosa Parks in Montgomery, excuse me. All these things we knew and somehow or other the name of Martin Luther King, Jr., was associated with deep trouble. And Memphis dreaded his approach. We didn't know what was going to happen but I was quite sure that something would happen. Just a question of when and how bad. And I believe that, ah, practically all of the people in town, and this includes of course the strikers and all of the civil rights leaders, anticipated that there might well be something that would go amiss and if so, be it so.