Interview with Coretta Scott King
QUESTION 22
INTERVIEWER:

NOT IN MONTGOMERY, IN MONTGOMERY WE WEREN'T FILLING THE JAILS. WE'LL COME TO THAT THOUGH. I'M JUST GOING TO FINISH OFF THE MONTGOMERY THING. ACTUALLY, ONLY TWO MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT MONTGOMERY. WE'LL GET INTO THE FULLER MOVEMENT TIMES. ONE THOUGHT IS THAT AT THE BEGINNING OF MONTGOMERY, THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT, DR. KING WAS A LOCAL PREACHER, A YOUNG MAN WHO HAD JUST FINISHED HIS DISSERTATION, WAS IN HIS FIRST PULP—MAJOR, MAJOR ROLE, HAD HIS FIRST CONGREGATION. AT THE END OF IT, HE WAS A NATIONAL LEADER. I'M WONDERING WHAT THAT MEANT TO YOU, AS HIS WIFE? IT MUST HAVE BEEN A BIG CHANGE FOR YOU.

Coretta Scott King:

I think it was a, an evolution that we were all experiencing because I was very much involved as an activist in college. So that when Montgomery started you know, I was very excited about all this because my only really regret was that I could not be there, all the time, when the action was taking place, but I was there in spirit. The movement started spontaneously and our home became the place where everybody met, where—it was a gathering place—it was, the focus was really right there in the parsonage. Where the leadership came, so much of the time, to meet, and so I was able to keep abreast of everything to it. And I watched the news, a lot of my husband's interviews were held at the house, most of the people who visited Montgomery, and there were people who started coming from all around the world, very quickly. The news spread fast, you know, 50,000 people, this had never happened anywhere where 50,000 black people stood up in solidarity and, and, and were boycotting the buses. And it was working. So that was quite a phenomenon. And it attracted attention as far away as South Africa. In that year, it was reported by the press that there was a boycott in Johannesburg, South Africa, there was one in Tallahassee, Florida, one in Mobile, that the Reverend Lowery led, and one in Birmingham that Fred Shuttlesworth, and of course, C. K. Steele in Tallahassee. And in Atlanta, later, Reverend William Holmes Borders led the one in Atlanta. So there were all these movements springing up right after Montgomery, during the year '56, and people from the North were so excited and they were coming. I mean, people were coming from all over, just to, to talk, to be with people, to see what they could do, to give encouragement. If they were white, it was more difficult for them to be visible, but they would give support. But blacks were, you know, offering support and wanting to be a part of, and naturally, they didn't live there so boycotting the buses, it was difficult for them to, to help very much with that, except by not patronizing. But with morale and things, they would come and visit the meetings. And just to have these people coming in, and, and, and telling us how proud they were, and how, how they felt, you know, more like human beings, because somewhere people were standing up for, for freedom, and they know that they would win. And you know things of this kind really encouraged us to continue. Now, when Martin first was arrested—was for a traffic violation which they—it was a rather trumped-up charge. And that was in January of 1956, early, and, and, and that was going alone. You know, he did go alone, I mean, that was not planned. There were times when he went to jail when it wasn't planned. But when they planned to go to jail that's when, you know, people were prepared, because a part of the process of nonviolence is preparation.