Interview with Coretta Scott King

OK, So, Mrs. King, can you tell me what happened as you left Mahalia Jackson's to go to Shiloh Baptist for a rally that night.


We were driving, ah, through the neighborhood, and all of a sudden we saw some children running away, ah, and the police chasing them, and, ah, we knew something was going on but we weren't sure what, ah, so as, as we continued to, to watch back and forth, ah, we realized that the children had been playing with the water hydrant and it turned the water on and the police turned it off. It was a very hot day and, ah, this kind of thing going on and, ah, there had been some rock throwing and all. And we saw some of that. And so my husband, of course, always got very, ah, nervous when there was any kind of violence taking place because he knew what it could lead to more violence and, and, somebody, you know, can end up getting hurt or killed. Ah, so we, as we moved along we realized that, you know, the, you know, the, the violence and the, all this was taking place, and, ah, it was spreading. Ah, so we finally went to the church and, ah, made some phone calls and we found out that some of the people had been arrested, a number of people had been arrested, and had been taken to, to various jails in their neighborhood. So we found out where some of these were and we visited some of those jails that night. It seems like we stayed in the streets most of that night. Ah, it was very interesting, you know, with Mahalia being there because being the celebrity that she was, ah, and with Martin Luther King, Jr., us being out on the street, going into these precincts where these, ah, ah, people were detained, naturally, everybody was very pleased, you know, to see them. And, ah, then that night of course we spent the night at Mahalia's, but we didn't get much sleep that night because, you know, it was a very uneasy night with all of this violence taking place. Martin, of course, and the SCLC staff, ah, you know, would be, of course, around in the street trying to do what they could to contain it. Ah, SCLC had a very excellent staff and many of the staff had worked with some of the gang, ah, people. So they were able to, to communicate to some extent with them. And I think they were able to, ah, to do something but they were not able to control it completely. Once violence starts, it's very difficult, you know, to control it. But it was a very frightening kind of thing because we knew it could spread. And of course they never did get the violence to subside. Ah, it went on throughout the night, throughout the day and the next night it had spread on the west side, where, that's where we were living, ah, on Hamlin Street. And of course, ah, it went on for a few days as you know. But this was quite an experience, ah, I never thought that I would be in a situation, up to that point, ah, where, you know, there was a real riot. But I was right in the middle of the riot really, ah, during that Chicago experience.