Interview with Coretta Scott King

Now, when did your children come up and join you and how did you feel about raising children in a neighborhood like this?


Well it was, ah, the summer of, I think in July when we brought the kids up and, ah, they came for a few weeks. And we thought that it was important that they, ah, have this experience. But since Martin was away so much it was also a matter of just spending time together because he'd have to come back and forth to Atlanta. So having the family there for that period and having the children experience this kind of living was very important and I remember, ah, I guess one of the hardest parts of the whole experience was when I would, ah, bathe the kids in the morning and get them dressed and they would go out in the back yard to play and the dirt was very dark, it was really Black dirt. Ah, ah, it was, it apparently was mixed with, with coal or something, I don't know, but the dirt would stick on their clothes and so within a short period of time they would all be dirty as they could be all over again. And I kept thinking if the kids had to live this way, you know, all of their lives, what effect it would have on them and, and yet, you know, there were other children who knew no other life but this. So the kids enjoyed playing in the dirt. And they enjoyed playing with their little playmates in the neighborhood. Of course we had supervision and all of that but it was a tremendously valuable experience I think for them, although they were very young. Ah, the other part of that experience was, we just happened to be there the night when, ah, the rioting, ah, started on that side of town. We were in that apartment and with the children and that was very scary for a while. Because the children had no sense of the danger of, of, of a riot at all. And they thought it was funny to hear the guns popping and, and, and the shooting in the neighborhood. They didn't realize that they could be killed. Ah, and I was there in the apartment alone with the children trying to get them to, to calm down and to get them ready to go to bed. And, ah, it was a night that I shall always remember because I stayed up most of the night in the apartment, ah, while my husband and the SCLC staff, ah, stayed out in the streets just trying to control the violence as much as they could and--