Interview with Coretta Scott King
QUESTION 5
INTERVIEWER:

WHAT DO YOU THINK WAS, WAS THE MOST HUMILIATING PART OF IT? WAS IT—IT'S AN INTERESTING QUESTION TO ME. I THINK SOMETHING ABOUT THE PUBLICNESS OF THE SITUATION—THAT YOU PAY, YOU'RE IN A PUBLIC…

Coretta Scott King:

Well, in some instances they would have you pay in the front where the driver was, and then you'd walk out of the bus again and go to the back, particularly when your section is in the back. And that happened, I guess a lot of the time blacks would pay their money and then go out of the bus again, to the back door, and come in the back of the bus and take their seat. That was—that kind of obvious humiliation made people feel something was wrong with them, that they couldn't walk through the aisle to the seats, that they had to go outside and come back in where they were least exposed to the whites who were seated on the buses. And the way blacks were talked to, I mean, they never were—the way they were looked at even, I mean, there was always, you know, tension and feelings of resentment, it seemed and hostility, which made you feel less, less than, you know, human. And, and the way they were spoken to, the tone of voice and all. Very degrading. They were called by, not by their names, or even most times, it would be, "Boy, Girl, you get back. Move over. Let that lady pass." You know, anything, I mean, it was just always a reminder that you were less than. And I remember when—and this was true in Montgomery. When, when I was in school, we used to walk to school every day, a couple of miles. Even when we lived in the city to—I lived, I was born and reared in the country—but I went to the town of Marion to go to high school. And when the white children would, would meet us, they were going to their schools, and we were going in the opposite direction. We were going to ours, and they would walk down the sidewalk and, and they filled up the sidewalk, and we would have to walk off of the sidewalk in order to let them pass. And if you didn't walk off you would get knocked off, or bumped into. It was that kind of thing. Or else you might end up into a fight, and nobody wanted to get into a fight, because, you, you know, you could be arrested and that would be a real serious situation there. So it was always a very uneasy kind of a thing when you saw a group of white youngsters coming down the street, and you had a similar group of black youngsters. …