Interview with Ethel Mae Matthews

Now, when, as you think of how you had refused to give up, does your memory of Dr. King and his preaching have anything to do with that, do you think?


Mm hmm. Yeah. And, and, when I, when I went to Washington, D.C. for the first time for the Welfare Rights Conference, two weeks conference, that's changing my whole life. Cause there was so many new hurdles. I never thought, you see where I come from in the country, I come from Atlanta in 1950 and my father wasn't allowed to talk about poverty. All I heard him, my father would talk about at night, was how early he had to get up the next morning to catch Mr. Charlie's mule and go to the field. And I went to, ah, Washington, D.C., I heard some things I had never heard before. Because I didn't know Black peoples had a right at that time. I didn't know we had a right. And, I was just like going to school. Those two weeks was just like going to school. I got educated. And they said we had a right. And ever since then I come back and I taught my peoples that they had a right. And I tell them, "Look, we don't have money but we have a right and that's the best thing in the world." All of us need money but there is some things money won't buy, that's happiness, love, health. But we need money to live on. But that's, I came back and I taught my peoples that they had a right just as birthright as anybody else had. And I come back and told them that, man, a handle would be put on their names and that's what they did.