Interview with Coretta Scott King
QUESTION 38
INTERVIEWER:

HE WAS WONDERFUL IN OUR INTERVIEW WITH HIM. HE WAS QUITE WONDERFUL. LET ME JUMP TO SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS AT THE END OF THE, REALLY AFTER THE CAMPAIGN, WHICH IS THE, THE BOMBING OF THE SIXTEENTH STREET CHURCH, WHEN THE FOUR LITTLE GIRLS WERE KILLED. DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR REACTION TO THAT?

Coretta Scott King:

Well, I was shocked, really, because it was right after the March on Washington in 1963, which was such a great experience. It was a great moment of fulfillment, when Martin gave his "I Have a Dream speech," and we really felt that sense of progress. That people came together, black and white. Even though the South was totally segregated, but here black and white people were there together. And we felt that, felt that sense of oneness. And we, we just, you know, had the feeling that, you know, the dream could be realized. And then a few weeks later, this bombing in Birmingham with four innocent little girls. And then you realized how intense this whole feeling was, and the opposition was, and that it would take a lot more than what was being done, to change the situation. In a sense it was, it was just one of those things. What could you say? I mean, these are innocent children, in a Sunday School. I mean, you know, the person, you think about the, the human being that did this. But I think it was those young girls were martyrs, were martyrs for the cause. And whenever you have martyrs, it tends to—it advances the cause. I think that in Birmingham, in this Birmingham story and the achievement of the settlement that led to the Civil Rights Act, John F. Kennedy, too, became a martyr, because in the fall, November, as a matter of fact, 22nd, he was assassinated in that same year. And with the four little girls, and John F. Kennedy, President Johnson was able to get the Civil Rights Act passed, I think, in 1964, in July because it became a memorial to, to President Kennedy. I understand that was part of the technique that was used to get the bill through the Congress.