Interview with Coretta Scott King
QUESTION 32
INTERVIEWER:

STOP. WE'RE GOING TO TAKE THIS AGAIN BECAUSE THAT'S A VERY IMPORTANT POINT AND I DO WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT, PLEASE.

Coretta Scott King:

For instance, in Birmingham, we had a federal injunction, and see, it had, it began to be a strategy of the opposition to stop the movement. They started in Albany, and it caught us off guard. So in Birmingham, when the federal injunction was placed, Albany had become a learning ground, and Martin had decided that he was going to go against that federal injunction and go on to jail, and take that risk and whatever, come whatever, but we had in Birmingham a different situation. We had a more inhumane and brutal police force and what they were able to do was arouse the conscience of the nation in support of the demonstrators because they brought out the fire hoses and the dogs, and all of that. And because of that, Martin began to, to have the moral authority on his side and he went to jail in, in Birmingham, despite the fact that there was a federal injunction. He broke it. The fact is that he had to serve time, even in 1967, as late as December 1967, he had to go back to Birmingham and serve five days, because of that—that he broke that law. He went willingly. But the fact is, that, if people don't understand that, they—they talk about all other kinds of reasons, why Albany didn't work. Albany didn't work because it was a new tactic that had come and I'm not sure the opposition even realized it fully. But Martin began to realize it, because he kept hoping and pleading to Burke Marshall. I heard him on the telephone, saying, "We need some help down here." You know, he said, "We've got to have a victory in order to keep, you know, people in the movement inspired." And, and, and so the only thing they could do, then, was to try to fill up the jails. When we all decided to go to jail, and the wives were going to march—I was going to lead it, along with Jean Young, and Juanita Abernathy, and others—they decided to let Martin and Ralph out of jail. And that sort of took the steam out of what we were doing. I mean, they were very clever. And the others were not as smart as that in many of the other places.