Interview with Amelia Boynton Robinson


Amelia Boynton Robinson:

Martin Luther King came long before the first meeting. But when he came to the meeting we had a number of people. He was very popular because of the bus boycott in Montgomery. And Southern Christian Leadership Conference had representatives, here and SNCC also came in and got the people to realize that they could register and they could vote. And they, we were having this meeting at the Church, Brown Chapel Church, and it was then when many people who were rather nonchalant, and who decided that they would let somebody else try to register and vote and break open the segregated pattern, then they would come in. Those people were people who were professionals. Those people who had jobs that they feared if they should try to register and vote. That they would be thrown in jail, or they would let, they would be fired. It's the case of let John, letting John do the work. However, when it was said that Dr. King would come in, and he was very popular in the movement, but at that time the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was organized, and the people in Montgomery were also struggling. They knew Dr. King by seeing him on TV and when it was said that Dr. King would be in and of course, we had no, no press coverage because of the fact that the newspaper would not say anything that was good only that that was derogatory. The people who came in, they came in because many of their children had been involved in trying to register and vote. And the older ones, the younger ones, the children, all packed this auditorium to the extent that you didn't have standing room. And as usual, Dr. King gave the most uplifting sermon about people and God making, having no respect of people. It was wonderful, it gave them the courage. It was really an encouraging sermon. It gave them the courage to go out and to realize that they must struggle as he had done. Now an example of that is after he had spoken to the group, many people said that, "I'm leaving my job and I'm going out there and register because Miss Ann who people they were working with, can, can get her own meals or can do whatever she wants to do. I am going to take a day off or two days and I am going to try to register." One woman whose daughter, she was sent to the store and she had told her daughter, "Don't you have anything to do with that mess. You stay out of it." The daughter stayed out of it. Then, she sent her daughter to the store and she knew she didn't go any farther than the store. She—you see the word that the daughter was in jail. For the first time she became angry. She became angry enough to do something about it. She came down to the office and said to me, "Mrs. Boynton, I sent my daughter to the store and they put her in jail. I'm going to that meeting tomorrow night. I don't care what happens because I know my daughter was not involved. Then I am going to register and vote if it's the last thing I do because I see now that they're taking advantage of me." These are the things that helped to fill this auditorium when the people were arrested and then Dr. King came in. They had a new look on life.