Interview with Jerred Blanchard

So what was the attitude of the White community in terms of Dr. King coming to Memphis?


No question about the attitude of the White community regarding his coming to Memphis. It was dreadful. We, we didn't like it at all. Wherever he had been through these civil rights demonstrations things had happened and to most of us southerners, and I guess to most Americans, the things that happened really were unpleasant and not to our liking. He had led the march on Selma, Alabama and, ah, he had been there when Rosa Parks had her difficulties in Montgomery and when that terrible bombing occurred in Birmingham and church blown up, little children killed. Martin Luther King, Jr., was right in the middle of all of those things and even then in the spring of 1968 he was preparing this Poor People's March on Washington which was going to be a massive demonstration. We didn't want him coming to Memphis because that meant something was going to happen in Memphis that, that we would not like to happen. And of course, I, for one, and many, many other people tried desperately during those days to get the mayor to come off of it so we could settle it in Memphis without any intervention from outsiders like Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King, Jr., but we failed. Just flat failed.