Interview with Coretta Scott King
QUESTION 15
JACKIE SHEARER:

So, begin again with you're talking about your husband's searching for an answer to these problems.

CORETTA SCOTT KING:

Martin had, ah, had been, ah, searching for a, a creative solution to, ah, the problems that existed during the summer of 1967. Ah, you know, the, the poverty that was, ah, growing, ah, the number of poor people in, in this country, ah, of, all races. He, ah, he had not been able to find that, that, that creative solution that he was looking for until he, ah, had a conversation with Marian Wright, and she had been, ah, in Mississippi, ah, and started talking to him about some of the things that she had experienced there. And, ah, this, this whole, ah, the whole question of how do you dramatize the plight of poor people in the country, poverty at its worst, and he felt that somehow if he didn't come up with a, with a dramatic way of doing that the nation would perhaps respond. And also at the same time you'd get other people involved. Ah, so the, the, ah, the thing, the thing that happened was, When he came home, of course, he was excited, really excited. I mean he left home, you know, kind of down. He had been going through sort of a depression, you know. Ah, he had been depressed because there was so much violence. And he knew that the nation couldn't survive this way. Something had to give. Ah, and, and the more violence there was, the more, ah, some people would blame Martin Luther King for the violence. And, ah, so when he came home that evening, he was real excited, you know, about this idea of a Poor People's Campaign starting in Marks, Mississippi with a mule train and going all the way to Washington, D.C., picking up people along the way**. And, ah, he talked about it and during the fall period he worked very hard and all into the early part of the year. And in the spring he went all over this country talking about it and promoting the idea and most people who knew him felt that he was working as if this was going to be his last job. I mean he really was, we were very concerned about him, ah, but the fact is that, you know, he could see, I think, a way that this could all come together and he felt very confident that this could be a real test of how non violence can, can work, ah, to change the lives of people economically. When the press asked him, "Dr. King, what if you fail?" He said, "It will not be Martin King Jr., who failed. It will be that America failed." He believed very firmly, reaffirmed his commitment in non-violence as, ah, the most important weapon available to oppressed people. And he said, "If I be the sole person on earth who clings to the belief and practice of non-violence, I will be that person."