Interview with Coretta Scott King
QUESTION 18
JACKIE SHEARER:

So what did Dr. King tell you about the press conference the next morning?

CORETTA SCOTT KING:

Ah, Martin said the next morning, when he took--conducted the press conference he, ah, sort of had that take-charge attitude, and, normally, you know, he would let someone else, ah, give an introduction and he would then come on. But, he started himself, and, ah, and he was telling them, you know, what he planned to do. And, I think the idea was to, to, ah, you know, go on and have another march and so on. The press after the conference, asked him, "Dr. King," ah, I mean during the conference they asked him, "What happened since, ah, in the last night that, you know, you seem to, today, you seem to be, ah, quite different. I mean you seem so, ah, up, and so much with it. Last night you seemed kind of down. Did you talk to someone last night?" And, he said, "No, I've only talked to God." And, but, I, but the fact is that he, himself, felt something over night and we are not quite sure except at that connectedness, I think that he did have to God. But the fact is that when he came home and he seemed to have been feeling, ah, you know, pretty good, but there were times in the discussion that, you know, I could tell that he was, the thing was on his mind and he seemed, ah, you know, worried. Ah, That evening we went to the Abernathy's for dinner and, we spent the evening at their home. And, Martin, of course, ah, liked to eat and Mrs. Abernathy had some of his favorite food and even homemade ice-cream**. And so, we, ah, we had, you know, a warm fellowship, ah, after we ate, of course. You know, he fell off to sleep for a while. But, then Bernard Lee started talking about, ah, that experience the night before and the day, that morning. And Rev. Abernathy said, "I've never seen Martin like that." He said, "He had kind of lion quality about him." And, and they were just saying there was really something very special that they felt--even though they knew him very well--that had come over him. And I think, for them, that was, ah, that meant, you know, sort of like an omen of some kind, that, ah, you know, again, they were in awe as to how he could get that strength, ah, when he obviously could be very low and very much like any other human being and then he could transcend and, ah, some how be able to be above it. But, the fact is that that was a very difficult weekend for him. He called in the staff from across the country and from Memphis and they had a meeting in Atlanta and they made plans to go back to Memphis, ah, to regroup and to organize for another march. And, I think the march was going to be held, ah, ah, it was going to be held, would have been held the following Monday after his assassination. Now, this was the twenty-eighth when the march was aborted and the twenty-ninth was the meeting in Atlanta. But, in the process of that meeting Martin, ah, talked to each one of his staff persons, ah, you know, like, individually, but within the group, and he told them the things that they each had to do. And many of them said it reminded them of the last supper. Ah, when Christ talked to his disciples. Ah, then, you know, they came together, because they were not together. Some of them wanted to leave Memphis, some of them didn't want to go. Most of them really didn't want to go to Memphis. They were just going because Dr. King said, "We really needed to go by way of Memphis." And, of course, they all got together and said, "We'll go back to Memphis," and decided when each one would be going in the next week. So I think he felt much better after that, ah, you know, that experience. And, ah, by the time he went back to Memphis on Tuesday, I think it was Tuesday, ah, like I said, this was Saturday, Tuesday of the next week, ah, you know, I think he was prepared and feeling good. The last time I talked to him was, ah, was on a, ah, I guess it was Thursday night. It was Wednesday night just after he had spoken at the Mason Temple. Ah, as a matter of fact, they had been meeting all day And he didn't want to go to that meeting that night. Ah, he said he had sent Rev. Abernathy over and he said, "Because I just didn't feel like going, but it's thundering and lightening here, we have a thunderstorm taking place," he said, "But, you know Ralph has just called and said that I needed to come over and said the people were waiting for me and they really didn't want anybody else to speak but me," so he said, "I guess I'll go on over there. I'll call you later." He said, "I'll call you tomorrow night."** Well, of course, this was April 3 and I didn't get that call, naturally, because he was assassinated. But, I'm told, ah, by Rev. Abernathy and others, who were there, Rev. Abernathy said that Martin spoke that night, you know, again, as if it was kind of a what you call a Swan Song, ah, and he talked about, ah, the fact that if he had had a choice of which period in history that he wanted to live in that he would want to live, you know, in that period at that particular moment. And he went on to give all the reasons why as he went through history and he talked about the great moments of history and as great as they were, ah, and he would name them individually, you know, the Greek period and on and on, certain experiences in United States, but this is the greatest moment in the history of our country that, you know, that I'd like to live in, because, then he talked about all the things that had happened in the Civil Rights Movement that, ah, and the progress that had been made, that made him feel that this was the most important time in history. And then finally he came around to telling about the threats and his final statement, which I think everybody knows now as history. Ah, and, ah, but, that, ah, well, what else can you say?