Interview with Coretta Scott King
QUESTION 17
JACKIE SHEARER:

So, can you tell us how your husband felt when the march in Memphis on March 28 ended in violence.

CORETTA SCOTT KING:

He was very depressed over the whole situation, and the fact that the march had been aborted. I think at first he did not really know what caused it. Ah, he said that he had arrived in Memphis and got off the plane and went directly to the head of the line. Normally, ah, the staff of SCLC was involved in the organizing process. Ah, that is getting ready for the march, and usually if there are any problems and conflicts within the community, they would know about it. There were no SCLC staff people present in Memphis; it was just the local people, the sanitation workers and the local committee. However, there were some SCLC board people who lived there, and, ah, so he was not apprised of the fact that there was a conflict within the community. There were some youngsters who were, who had some problems with the way things were being done, and I guess they, had this assumption was that, ah, that had been smoothed over, ah, but Martin was not aware of this. That is by the leaders had assumed that it had been smoothed over. So, as the march--when the march began--when the rock throwing started, ah, Martin was very nervous because he knew that if violence be started, if it broke out it could lead in any direction, and, ah, ah, he also felt that he would be held accountable and responsible, although he, you know, he, he really didn't know anything about the background of it at all. Ah, so when he called he was, he was very distressed, but he was also, ah, I would say depressed. Ah, and he said to me, "You know I, I really hate to see the newspapers in the morning because I know they're going to say Martin Luther King, Jr. is responsible for this violence." And, ah, you know I tried to dissuade him from thinking that way, ah, but he, ah, and I said, "Well, you know you are not responsible and every demonstration that SCLC has organized, you know, this did not happen." It didn't come from the demonstrators, but it came from people on the sideline, of course. But, the fact is that, you know, he got blamed. Ah, I did everything I could to try to encourage him and, ah, all, but he was obviously very much depressed and down in spirits. Ah, I understand that he had a press conference that night and, ah, the press, of course sensed that he was, you know, he was, he was very much depressed, but the next morning, ah, when he had a press conference again, I understand that, you know, he was almost like a new person. Ah, he, he, he, ah, seemed to be, ah, ah, you know really inspired. He spoke with a lot of energy in his voice. And--

JACKIE SHEARER:

I'm sorry, we just--