Interview with Coretta Scott King
QUESTION 39
INTERVIEWER:

STOP FOR A MOMENT. YOU'RE HAVING A—READY WHEN YOU ARE. WE'LL TELL THE STORY UP ‘TIL THAT POINT IF YOU, IF YOU'D LIKE TO JUST…

Coretta Scott King:

When I arrived in Selma, and went to the church where the meeting was being held, it was a noontime mass meeting, Andy Young said to me, "Malcolm X is here, and he just made a speech, and he has really aroused the people, and you're going to have to speak, because you're going to have to, really, talk about nonviolence and sort of invoke you know, the whole nonviolent spirit, because the people now have been turned a different way." And I said, "Andy, I don't feel like speaking. I really don't want to speak." He said, "But you're going to have to speak." And I was there to visit Martin, who was in jail, really. And so he finally kept saying, "Well, you know, you really got to do it, and I, we just need it." So I said "Well, OK, for the cause, you know, I'll do it." Though it wasn't that inspired, myself. Well, you know, when you get into a situation with an audience, and people who have that spirit, you know, you kind of get some spirit yourself. And as I was sitting on the platform, Malcolm X leaned over toward me, 'cause we sat next to each other, and he said, "Mrs. King, will you tell Dr. King that I'm sorry I won't get to see him. I had planned to visit him in jail, but I have to leave. I have to go out of the country" to I believe he said France or England, to an all-Africa conference. "But I want him to know, you tell him that, that I didn't come to make his job more difficult. I thought that if the white people understood what the alternative was, that they would be willing to listen to Dr. King." Well, I didn't quite know how to take it because, prior to that, I had my own perception of Malcolm. And I, you know, I, I thought of him as being a really violent-type person. I mean, you know, but he was so meek, and he was, he was so different, you know, as most people are, when you get to know them, when you confront them. And so I said "Well, thank you very much. I'll be sure and tell him." And of course, within a few weeks, Malcolm had been assassinated. And it made a tremendous impact on me, because I kept thinking what a, what a waste. He had, he had begun to turn around, after having gone to Mecca and understanding what true Islam is.