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Martin Luther King Day, 2003

Amelia Boynton Robinson
Schiller Institute Vice Chairman

I Walked And I Talked With The King

by Amelia Boynton Robinson January 16, 2003

Mrs. Robinson's Biography

Links to Related Pages

Library of Congress
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King, Jr., was a champion of non-violence through love and tolerance. He taught the young people how to control their temper, hold their heads up, look their adversaries in the eye and pity their uncontrollable rage. This had the conveyance of the last words of Christ as he was being crucified, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

I met Dr. King a few months after he went to Montgomery, Alabama, to pastor the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. My sister-in-law, a member of the church for forty years, took my husband and me to the house to meet Dr. King's family, his wife and one child, Yolanda. When Dr. King walked in, our conversation was brief but I found in him a face that radiated a light of kindness, patience, and love.

Working in Selma and Dallas County, Alabama, for thirty years, getting the sharecroppers to get from under the yoke of the penal system of slavery, getting them to buy property and raise their own crops, my husband and I became enemies of the system. And when they discovered that we were teaching people how to fill out the application in order that they could register to vote, we were targetted and pressured by the system — which caused my husband's death. Why were they so angry with us? Because African-Americans would demand their human and civil rights and the system did not want their way of life to be changed.

After Rosa Parks sat on the bus and refused to give up her seat to a white man, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was formed and Dr. King became its president, we attended meetings in Montgomery, Birmingham, and other places, asking Dr. King to come to Selma and help us. Our people were being forced to leave town, being beaten and even killed, and the courts did nothing about it. We needed help. Later a member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who laid the groundwork for Dr. King, came to our rescue.

On January 2, 1965, after my husband had passed, Dr. King came into Selma and to my office, which was on the street of business and professional African Americans. They saw Dr. King as he disembarked from his car. Not one person greeted him, offered him a drink of water, or an invitation to their home. My home, and half my office were given to him. He asked to go to the African-American restaurants. As he sat at the counter drinking coffee, men who were on the outside as entered greeted him with enthusiasm. As he left each of these restaurants, the people (often called have-nots, or "loafers") followed him throughout his tour.

On one of Dr. King's visits, on a Tuesday which was a day one would register to vote, I, as a registered voter, left the court house en route to my office, when I was arrested for walking down the street. Dr. King was disturbed and he and his staff went to my house to discuss what should be done. Two or three nights later, a young man, Jimmy Lee Jackson of Marion, Alabama, was killed by a state trooper. At that point, Dr. King and his staff mapped out the plan to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, a distance of fifty miles, which resulted in "Bloody Sunday," where I was beaten and left for dead. But it was "Bloody Sunday" which gave all Americans the right to vote and become first-class citizens. The voting age was dropped from 21 to 18.

In May, 1965, Dr. King delivered the commencement address at my alma mater, Tuskegee (Institute) University. En route to Selma in the same car with me, he said he was amazed to see the improvements made in Montgomery since he moved to Atlanta, Georgia. As we stopped at a traffic light, another car with a single white man drove up beside us. As he stopped, he looked at Dr. King steering, not taking his eyes off until the traffic light changed and traffic began to move. At the next light, again he pulled up beside us, opened the window, and stooped down as though he was picking up something. At that point, the driver drove through the red light, turning off the main highway, and the pursuer was right behind us. We began to go through many streets in a zig-zag fashion until we lost him. I said to Dr. King, "That man's eyes were fired with hate." Someone else said, "He was after you, Dr. King," whose reply was, "Oh no, there would be no one man who would try to kill me. If it were more than one, I would feel as you do." The conversation drifted to something like this: "Well, Dr. King, if you die, we will see that your wife and family will be well taken care of." King said, "Please don't talk like that. I want to live a long time — but if I must die, I want to die for something, not on a humbug." Thus the conversation ended.

What a brave and courageous man, who was prepared to face danger for others without fear. He was endowed by God with the tender loving care that reached out to the poor, the humble, the old, the young, the high, the low, the prince, and the pauper. He is one of a kind. His legacy will live in the hearts of man, perhaps forever.

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Biography of Civil Rights Heroine, Amelia Boynton Robinson

Her Book, Bridge Across Jordan

Through the Years - A Musical Drama

Through the Years Performances

Contact Mrs. Robinson

Join the Schiller Institute

MLK Day 2002 Message from Amelia Boynton Robinson


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