CARD: December, 1968
CORETTA SCOTT KING: Christmas will be sad for us. As it will be for many people I think this year. But I think that it doesn't mean that we will sit around and bathe in our grief. I think that, very often, a time like this causes people to really reflect on the deeper meaning of say, Christmas or any other occasion. I remember Easter of 1963, when my husband was jailed in Birmingham. I had just had my fourth child and was still confined to my house. And he had gone to jail on Good Friday. And I was very depressed. But somehow that was the most meaningful Easter that I have ever experienced because, you know, Easter is a time of suffering. But it's creative...you know, it can be creative suffering. And I think if we think in terms of my husband's life and his death in those terms, then we will not be as sad. We will be hopeful, because in his death there is hope for redemption.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., President, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) (archival): I have long since learned that being a follower of Jesus Christ means taking up the cross. My Bible tells me that Good Friday comes before Easter. Before the crown we wear, there is the cross that we must bear. Let us bear it! Bear it for truth, bear it for justice, bear it for peace! Let us go out this morning with that determination.
WILLIAM GRAY, King Family Friend: In order to understand Martin Luther King you must start with the fact that he was a minister. That is the key to who Martin Luther King Jr. was. If you try to take him as a, quote, civil rights leader, or a political leader, you will miss the real King. He was first and foremost a minister.
HARRIS WOFFORD, Kennedy Administration: From a little boy ... you know the child is father to the man, everything I've heard about the little boy Martin Luther King Jr. moved by the hymns that said you gotta be like Jesus.
DEENIE DREW, King Family Friend: I met Dr. King during the ... in the early days of the Montgomery bus boycott. I was amazed at his age and how young he looked. He didn't even look twenty-six.
DAVID HALBERSTAM, Journalist: He always understood that this was not a course he charted. It in some way, almost mystical way, had been charted for him. He understood that forces had come together, coalesced and put their hand on his shoulder. But it wasn't what he sought.
VICTORIA GRAY ADAMS, SCLC Board Member: Those who are called and those who are sent, they have a choice. They can say yea or nay. But those who are chosen do not have that luxury. And I know there were many times when Dr. King would have chosen to say no. But it was like, you know, he was driven.
REPORTER (archival): Dr. King, can you tell us why you're here?
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Well, we've come here, I have several of my staff members here, at the invitation of Dr. Shuttlesworth and the Alabama Christian Movement to assess the situation and determine whether demonstrations are necessary, that is, whether they should be resumed. We feel that we...
TAYLOR BRANCH, Historian: By the time of Birmingham in 1963, we're eight years past the bus boycott. And ever since then, all the years after that had been "What did that mean? Where can you go from here?" The decision to go into Birmingham was really the first time that Dr. King said, "I'm not going to be responding to a crisis. I'm going to create a campaign to really try to test what we can do with non-violence before it's too late."
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Consequently, I have a feeling that if we can get a breakthrough in Birmingham and really break down the walls of segregation, it will demonstrate to the whole South, at least the hard core South, that it can no longer resist integration. And I think everybody will find themselves going along with it if we can get a breakthrough in Birmingham.
RICHARD CUSTER, Birmingham Fire Department: From what I can remember reading in the paper, a troublemaker. He was, he was coming to make trouble. But, good gracious, way the situation was here... [CHUCKLES]
KKK RALLY (archival): The black man, he got a champion, they call him Martin Luther King, we call him Martin Koon. [APPLAUSE]. And if this nigger thinks he can stir the niggers up, I will also inform him that the white man can be stirred up to defend what is rightfully his [APPLAUSE].
ANDREW YOUNG, SCLC Staff: Nobody wanted to go to Birmingham. Birmingham was a terrible place. There had been 60 unsolved bombings. A black man just had been castrated just... they caught him, saw him walking down the street at night by himself and a white mob jumped out and castrated him. And nothing was done about any of this.
VINCENT HARDING, King Family Friend: The violence that Birmingham represented people knew could easily be turned and focused on King as a representative of the Movement. So he was dealing with a decision that had to do with his own life.
ANDREW YOUNG: He said, "Now y'all think they gon' get me. But all y'all gon' be out there jumping in front of the camera," and he said, "the bullet might be aimed for me but one of y'all going to get it." He said, "But don't worry," he said, "I will preach the best funeral you ever had." And then he'd start preaching your funeral, "Andy Young... was a fine young man." (laughs) "But he thought that he had to have all of the ladies liking him." And he'd crack on ya,' but he pressed right on.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I will not rest until we are able to make this kind of witness in this city so that the power structure downtown will have to say we can't stop this Movement and the only way to deal with it is to give these people what we owe them and what their God given rights and their Constitutional rights demand.
TAYLOR BRANCH: There was an elaborate day-to-day, almost, plan for how Birmingham was going to take the fire.
WYATT T. WALKER, SCLC Staff: I created something called Project C, at Dr. King's instruction. The "C" stood for confrontation. And we had primary, secondary and tertiary targets. And what we wanted to do was to create such a situation that the powers that be would have to deal with us.
TAYLOR BRANCH: The demonstrations were going to build and the black people of Birmingham were going to be inspired and that it was going to spread and that the fact that it spread was going to force the press to pay attention, which would force the government, that is the national government in Washington to move and act. Well, that wasn't working. (laughs) The number of people involved in the demonstrations was dwindling rather than growing.
DOROTHY COTTON, SCLC Staff: I remember we were under an injunction not to march in Birmingham.
DEENIE DREW: And Dr. King had to decide whether he was going to follow the law, or whether he was going to disobey the law.
ANDREW YOUNG: The black business community came to visit us at the Gaston Motel and they were saying to Dr. King that Birmingham was just too tough and everybody made the case for calling the Movement off.
VINCENT HARDING: A lot of the energy in the room, a lot of that was this energy of wrestling. What should he do, what should he do...ah, about the situation there.
TAYLOR BRANCH: There was a lot of doubt, there was a lot of I told you so, in the room. And the question is well, what can we do?
VINCENT HARDING: At one point, Martin simply gets up and leaves the conversation and walks away into his bedroom...
TAYLOR BRANCH: One of the things that we have to remember is that this is a room full of preachers, and this is Easter weekend. And that is a big time. And if you've got a church, you've got to be there on Easter, and he's sitting there talking to them saying we've got to do something this weekend that means that we may not be able to be in our church. And the tension and the opposition from people like his father was there saying you gotta come home to Ebenezer. That's where we belong on Easter. And he's saying we need to do something dramatic instead. And he retreated to a room saying I have to pray over this and when the door to the room opened, Dr. King comes out in blue jeans. And the fact that he came out in blue jeans is announcing I'm not going to the service with the flowers, and the anthems, and the great choirs on Easter. I'm, I'm going somewhere in blue jeans, which meant jail.
SINGING: "Our father which art in heaven..."
TAYLOR BRANCH: He believed in and preached in a merited suffering is redemptive, but this is the first time where he consciously chose a path to suffer. I'm going to walk into the teeth of suffering because that's the only thing I can see here that will... that can rescue this, this huge gamble that we've taken. So, he's, he's taking a step toward it. Cause' believe me, he didn't want to go into the Birmingham jail. And if you see the photographs of the way they're taking him into the Birmingham jail, he's a relatively small man and the cops are lifting him up by his pants. There's no respect for the fact that this is Dr. King. This is somebody that's going to have a national holiday named for him. This is another nigger going to jail.
WYATT T. WALKER: They had Dr. King in solitary confinement and he was incensed at the article that five or six clergymen in Birmingham had put in the local paper criticizing Dr. King for coming, about it wasn't a good time and all of that business. But it was always the old arguments of the status quo.
CLARENCE JONES, SCLC Attorney: He wanted to respond and so he used the time in jail to respond. That was the so-called "Letter from the Birmingham Jail."
WYATT T. WALKER: And he began to write on whatever was available. Edge of newspapers, toilet paper.
TAYLOR BRANCH: He was so upset that he had to tune out the whole rest of the world to write this letter.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): My dear fellow clergymen, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.
TAYLOR BRANCH: Dr. King comes out of the Birmingham Jail, he's written the letter, he's put himself on the line, he's invited suffering and it still didn't make any difference. But James Bevel is coming to King saying... "We're out of jail volunteers, your going to jail didn't produce the ones that we hoped it would, but if you're out of adults, I got high school students," because he's holding these youth meetings.
CARD: Thousands of students respond to SCLC's call for demonstrations.
RUTH BAREFIELD-PENDLETON, Birmingham Resident: Andy Young and James Bevel wanted permission to use the children, and in the beginning Dr. King was opposed to using the children. But Bevel and Andy Young prevailed.
MICHAEL DIZAAR, 16 years old in 1963: I'd listen to him speak you know, and watch him just to see him, you know how he would sweat and how powerful he sounded and, you know, just the impact of what he said. The words just stayed there in the air, you know, as he talked.
GENEVA JONES, 19 years old in 1963: He took all of the fear out, even though he was talking about doing serious things here in the city of Birmingham. He took all of the fear out of you.
JACK GREENBERG, NAACP Legal Defense Fund: The people in the rest of the country with the vivid pictures of fire hoses and police dogs attacking children and black citizens were, in a very dramatic way, exposed to just exactly what racism meant and how fiercely the South was defending it.
CLARENCE JONES: Martin King was convinced the people of Birmingham would not tolerate police, acting in their name, slamming little girls up against the wall with fire hoses. And having dogs attack kids. They grew up in segregation, and they may not have agreed with him, but there's a limit. Enough, that's too much.
PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY (archival): As the result of responsible efforts on the part of both white and Negro leaders over the last 72 hours, the business community of Birmingham has responded in a constructive and commendable fashion. And pledged that substantial steps would begin to meet the justifiable needs of the Negro community.
REPORTER (archival): Dr. King, how big a victory is this for the American Negro?
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Well I think this is a very significant victory not only for the American Negro, but for the country. I've always felt that a victory in Birmingham would mean a great deal in breaking down the barriers of segregation...
TAYLOR BRANCH: The implications coming out from Birmingham are very profound and Dr. King recognized that it had touched people in, in mass numbers and that's why he said on the telephone to Clarence Jones, his lawyers back here in New York, we are on a breakthrough. We have to do something that will make a landmark.
C.T. VIVIAN, SCLC Staff: Martin went to Washington to lobby for the civil rights bill. Kennedy said, well, you see, Dr. King, is that I understand, I'm from Massachusetts, but I have the Southern Congress to deal with, and they're not ready yet.
ANDREW YOUNG: Bayard Rustin and A. Phillip Randolph had talked about a march on Washington for years. So, Bayard called and asked if he could come down and meet with us. And that Mr. Randolph was willing to lead and organize this March on Washington.
WALTER FAUNTROY, SCLC Staff: My first conversation with Bobby Kennedy... he said, "Look, you all should -- really shouldn't be doing this. You know, there's too many things that can happen. Just little people can ... can disturb it, you could have the town burning and it won't work."
RAMSEY CLARK, U.S. Justice Department: I think the Kennedy Administration, and certainly Robert Kennedy and the President had enormous respect for Dr. King. And um, they were hopeful about the March. But they didn't feel that they could afford to be clearly identified with it.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (archival): Testing, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
CARD: August 28, 1963
COURTLAND COX, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC): Bayard Rustin and I went out to the mall about maybe five a.m., six a.m., and we looked around and there was nobody on the mall. And then just as Bayard said, "Do you think anybody's coming to the march?" a group from Virginia, NAACP Youth Group, came up on the mall. And then we found out that nobody was there because the highways were jammed with buses trying to get into Washington.
JOSEPH LOWERY, SCLC Board Member: We were just happy to see white people, brown people, black people from all parts of the country making their way to Washington, and coming to bring our message, which we had been crying in the wilderness for a long time.
SONG: "I Wish I Know How It Would Feel To Be Free." I wish I knew how it would feel to be free. I wish I could bring all the chains holding me. I wish I could share all the love that's in my heart. Remove all the bars that keeps us apart. I wish you could know what it means to be me. Then you'd see and agree that every man should be free.
JOAN BROWN CAMPBELL, Cleveland, OH: I was just a little speck sitting out on the lawn, and I can't honestly say to you that I realized the historic significance of that event.
A. PHILLIP RANDOLPH (archival): At this time I have the honor to present to you the moral leader of our nation, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.!
JOAN BROWN CAMPBELL: I was overwhelmed by the power of all those people coming together. And, even in that moment, overwhelmed by the message.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note in so far as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check. A check which has come back marked "insufficient funds". [CROWD CHEERING]
WYATT T. WALKER: The primary thing was about the bounced check.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt...
WYATT T. WALKER: The night before Andy Young and I were working on a new climax because we thought the "I Have A Dream" part was tired. We had heard it 25, 30 times.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I have a dream --
WYATT T. WALKER: But Martin Luther King knew far better than we did.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): -- that my four little children --
WYATT T. WALKER: He read the moment...
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): -- will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!
COURTLAND COX: I was sitting in back of him on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. And Dr. King knew he had the crowd, 'cause as he was going to end the speech he said, "Free at last, free at last," and then he turns, "thank God Almighty we're free at last." Like, I've just hit a home run.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): When we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we are free at last."
COURTLAND COX: It spoke to the hopes and dreams of most Americans. People were not prepared to listen that America was a place that was segregationist; treated, mistreated its citizens and so forth. But it was prepared to listen to, "I..." well, I, he said, "I have a dream deeply rooted in the American dream." So he, so his affirmation of the American Dream was something that people were prepared to believe in and therefore they took that part of it and ran with it.
ROGER WILKINS, U.S. Justice Department: Remember, the Civil Rights Bill had not been sent up to Congress. Kennedy had just been slow because of politics and the need for the South and the re-election. You knew after that day that Kennedy was going to have to send the bill up.
DOROTHY COTTON: What I noticed often happened with Dr. King is when he got great and positive feedback as he did after that speech, he could become very subdued. Because that too laid an extra burden on him.
WYATT T. WALKER: He said, "You know, I can't make little mistakes anymore. Every mistake I make now is a big mistake." He said, "History has seized me."
CARD: Sunday, September 15, 1963
NEWS REPORTER (archival): The bombing of this Birmingham, Alabama Church claimed the lives of four little girls attending Sunday School.
JAMES ORANGE, SCLC Staff: After all of this excitement on the March on Washington, and everybody on a high, and everywhere we went people was hailing us about this preacher that y'all work with, Martin Luther King, and then this to happen. You know, it really was a setback.
CLARENCE JONES: My immediate reaction was, "Okay, this is their response."
JAMES ORANGE: You know, during Sunday School, and we know who was in school in Birmingham, young folk. And it was young people who had changed that city.
JOSEPH LOWERY, SCLC Board Member: There were constant accusations from enemies claiming that we stirred up trouble. Whatever violence occurred, "It's your fault." So when these four little girls were killed, I'm certain that through his mind ran the fact that somebody's going to put this at my feet.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): What murdered these four girls? Look around. You will see that many people that you never thought about participated in this evil act. So tonight all of us must leave here with a new determination to struggle. God has a job for us to do. Maybe our mission is to save the soul of America. We can't save the soul of this nation throwing bricks. We can't save the soul of this nation getting our ammunitions and going out shooting physical weapons. We must know that we have something much more powerful. Just take up the ammunition of love.
DEENIE DREW: The day of the burial he could hardly walk down the church aisle. He was...his back was, instead of bent this way, he was leaning back so far. When we got home later that night I said, "Mike, I thought I was going to have to come down there and help you, you looked like you were going to fall over backwards." He said, "Deenie, the weight of the world was on me. I wondered about my responsibility, whether or not I'm really right. How could I know?"
CARD: November 22, 1963
WALTER FAUNTROY: By 1963, November 22nd, 1963, Dr. King had had his life threatened many times. In Montgomery, they bombed his home. He came up to New York to autograph a book that documented the Montgomery Movement. He had been stabbed in the chest. So death was not a stranger to him. The thought of his own death, was one that often came because people were threatening all the time. But I think when the President went down... I think all of us had a little lump in our throats, because we knew that to take out a president, that they can take out Martin.
DOROTHY COTTON: I remember seeing Dr. King sitting in a very pensive kind of mood, after President Kennedy was shot. Watching the fallout and the feedback from that assassination, he said, "This is a 10-day nation. That in 10 days, we'll be back to business as usual."
CARD: November 25, 1963: Dr. King receives a call from President Lyndon B. Johnson.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I think one of the great tributes that we can pay in memory of President Kennedy is to try to enact some of the great, ah, progressive policies that he sought to initiate.
PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON (archival): Well, I'm going to support 'em all and you can count on that. And I'm going to do my best to get other men to do likewise and I'll have to have y'all's help. I've never needed it more than I do now.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Well you know you have it and just feel free to call on us for anything.
PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON (archival): Thank you so much Martin.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): All right.
PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON (archival): Call me when you're down here next time.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I certainly will.
MUSIC: (instrumental) "Oh Christmas Tree"
XERNONA CLAYTON, SCLC Secretary: I used to love to be at their home. He had a game he played with each child. They had a kiss mark. One child had a forehead and one had a cheek, the other had the other cheek and the other one had the chin. And what he would do sometimes he'd grab 'em and to give a kiss and he'd pretend like he's going to the wrong side. "No, no, no, Daddy, that's my side. That's my side." And he was doing that just to add some jocular moments to the setting.
MARTIN KING III (archival): Daddy, you're not talking.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I'm too hungry Marty. I'm so hungry, I'm busy with this dinner.
JOSEPH LOWERY: Martin had a great love for his family. People think, it's glamorous to do all this traveling, you know. But not when you travel under a terrible, high-pressure schedule. So your life becomes turbulent and it's not your own. You belong to the people, you belong to God, and your family has to share that ownership, as painful as that may be.
RAMSEY CLARK: Early January of '64, everybody was shorthanded and I was brought over to the White House. And Dr. King came in several times. So I would chat with him first and then take him in to see the President. And, the President was anxious to hear his advice.
ROGER WILKINS: Johnson wanted to befriend the Movement but... King was difficult, for him. Martin was not an inside Washington guy. You know Johnson loved to deal with people, choong-choong-choong, he was a checkers player, you know, move these people around. He couldn't move Martin around that way. And then there was Hoover. Always sittin' on Johnson's ear spillin' poison in it about Martin.
TAYLOR BRANCH: J. Edgar Hoover was the original Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. J. Edgar Hoover was more popular than most presidents. Hoover had been around longer, he was seen as a great bulwark against whatever... people feared, whether it was crime, or bank robbers, or subversives, or the atom bomb.
RAMSEY CLARK: Dr. King was threatening to the America that Mr. Hoover believed in, and saw, and wanted.
ROGER WILKINS: Hoover... I think had a pathological hatred of black people. And he just couldn't stand Martin.
WALTER FAUNTROY: And his biggest tool was the Communist bugaboo. As a matter of fact, he persuaded Bobby Kennedy that he just had to have the right to tap Dr. King. Tap his phones, and put him on, under excruciating surveillance.
CARTHA D. DELOACH, FBI Assistant Director: We did receive some very disturbing news about the, about the fact that Dr. King was having his speeches written by an individual who was very closely allied with the Communist Party, who had attended meetings of the National Committee of the Communist Party, and who had given money to the Communist Party. His name was Stanley Levinson.
CLARENCE JONES: Stanley admitted that for a brief period of time that he had been a, a member of the Communist Party, that he admitted. So the FBI... had that information. Now what they did, though, they wiretapped all of my conversations with Martin King, all of Stanley Levison's conversations with Dr. King, all of my conversations with Stanley Levison. That was all subject to wiretap.
WALTER FAUNTROY: As we used to sing, "Ain't gon' let nobody turn us around. Ain't gon' let Bull Connor turn us around. Ain't gon' let J. Edgar Hoover turn us around, because it was the Hoover mentality, and the Hoover rationale, for intimidating us to use Communism." We dismissed it.
CBS NEWS ANNOUNCER (archival): From Washington, D.C. the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference will Face The Nation.
PAUL NEVIN, Journalist (archival): Dr. King, it's been alleged that you have been slow to sever your ties with alleged communists in the Civil Rights Movement, even after government officials have warned you against them.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Now first, I'd like to say that communism is based on an ethical relativism, a metaphysical materialism, a denial of human freedom, and a crippling totalitarianism that I could never accept. The only person that they identified that had any connection with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was removed. He's been off of our staff a long, long time.
DAN RATHER, CBS News (archival): This places you in the direct opposite position of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation., J. Edgar Hoover who gave some testimony recently to the contrary.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I would hope that the FBI would come out and say something that I think is much more significant and that is that is amazing that so few Negroes have turned to Communism in the light of their desperate plight. I think it is one of the amazing developments of the 20th century. How loyal the Negro has remained to America in spite of his long night of oppression and discrimination.
CARD: July 2, 1964: the Civil Rights Act signing to end legalized segregation.
PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON (archival): This Civil Rights Act is a challenge to all of us to go to work in our communities and our states, in our homes and in our hearts, to eliminate the last vestiges of injustice in our beloved country.
WALTER FAUNTROY: As we walked into the White House that day into the East Room, we were just thinking, "You know, this... day will fulfill the aspirations of millions of our people over more than a hundred years who had longed, and one day the government would say, 'It's not right. Stop it.'" So it was a watershed. And every time I look at that picture of the smile on Dr. King's face, and the amazement in my own thoughts of being there; where my grandmama would've wanted to be... (long pause) it was a great day...
ANDREW YOUNG: When we heard that Martin won the Nobel Peace Prize, he was in St. Joseph's Hospital, downtown Atlanta. I went down there immediately. And he was saying when Coretta had called him and told him about it he thought he was dreaming,
TAYLOR BRANCH: A month later, J. Edgar Hoover comes out of nowhere saying that Dr. King is the most notorious liar in the country. That made the front pages. And that phrase came out, but it was a long diatribe on what a nasty person, and if I could only tell you how nasty he is.
DOROTHY COTTON: Dr. King believed deeply in what he was about, what the Movement was about. So, for someone to say he was the most notorious liar, was simply, deeply hurtful and I know that he was wounded by that.
CARTHA DELOACH: I called Dr. King in Atlanta and tried to set up a meeting between the two men. He did not respond to my calls. He waited three, four, five days and finally, I got a call from Andrew Young.
WALTER FAUNTROY: It was Andy, myself, Dr. King, Ralph was with us as well. We went to the FBI office. It turned out to be a rather amusing meeting because we'd come to have him explain to us why he would go public and say Dr. King was the most notorious liar in the country. And he never d -- he never addressed the question, he just took us through a little lecture on what the FBI's tryin' to do, and how they're tryin' to protect the rights of all citizens. Ya, ya, ya. But the bottom line is that he was our leader and it was his strength that enabled us to respond to those kinds of things.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I have had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Hoover this afternoon. And I might say that the discussion was quite amicable. I sought to make it clear to Mr. Hoover...
TAYLOR BRANCH: It was a real signal of pressure from the FBI, on the other hand, the Nobel Peace Prize is an insp-, was an inspiration to him because, as a sign that the message of the Civil Rights Movement was a message for the whole world.
SONG (archival): "Yonder Come Day"
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I bring you greetings from many, many Americans of good will, Negro and white who are committed to the struggle for brotherhood and to the crusade for world peace.
JOSEPH LOWERY: This Nobel Peace Prize seemed to vindicate the controversial nature of his leadership. And he had been right to criticize violence at every level. He was right. He criticized hatred at every level. He was right. The Nobel Peace Prize said he was right, he was right. And so, we were overjoyed. Martin was glad and appreciative, but he didn't shout for joy. He took it in stride.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. This award is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time. The need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.
WALTER FAUNTROY: Once Dr. King left Oslo with the Nobel Peace Prize, he came back with a sense that we had a higher calling not only acting for the rights of African Americans in the United States, but for people of goodwill all over the world.
JAMES CONE, Historian: It is without question that King did not seek greatness. He did not seek that award. And he didn't see the award for himself. He saw the award for the Movement. That's why he gave all the money away. He would not keep it for himself.
TAYLOR BRANCH: As an icon of the Movement, and a non-violent Movement, it was appropriate for him to say, "This is not a tribute to me. This is a tribute to the Movement. All the money should go to the Movement." But as a father of four children, he doesn't have any money in the family, he's not making provision, he's getting death threats every day, and he didn't even have a will. And that put him under a lot of tension.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): And I, I'll take good care of this check.
ANDREW YOUNG (archival): Ralph Abernathy insists that he looks at it about every three or four hours . . .
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): This check is made out in Swedish Kronos, 273,000. And I understand a Krowns, and I understand that in our money this comes to about $54,600 dollars. And as I said, every penny of this money will go, ah, to the Civil Rights Movement. And I think you have a statement about how it will be divided.
NEWS REPORTER (archival): Dr. King, is that why Reuters had a story that said you were coming home with a bodyguard?
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Oh, well, no, I don't th-, I didn't know I had a bodyguard. I never traveled with a bodyguard.
NEWS REPORTER (archival): Your wife...
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): (laughs) Yeah, other than my wife. (laughs) Did you get it?
WALTER FAUNTROY: We went to the President to talk about where we'd go from here, 'cause we wanted a voting rights act. And I'll never forget Johnson suggesting this. "Look man, you gotta give the white people a rest in this country. You know, you've gone so far, and we've gotta give 'em a chance to catch up. So let's not go for voting rights."
TAYLOR BRANCH: He had already resolved to go to Selma. And it's when he's trying to work forward to get a commitment to go to Selma and work for the right to vote that Coretta calls because she's opened this package at home that had a letter telling him to look into his evil heart. You know what you must do.
CLARENCE JONES: They had wiretapped certain instances in which Martin King had on limited times, been with women who were not his wife. That's what the FBI had.
TAYLOR BRANCH: This is a heart-stabbing moment from I don't know how many different directions beginning with the fact that his own wife opens it, and what the tape is, is it has compilations of bugging materials of King in compromising situations privately, in various different places. So this really is a low moment and I think where Dr. King comes out of this. And you hear it in the sermons as well as anyone else: "I never held myself as a great model but I have to do the best that I can to redeem myself and America through the witness of this Movement."
REPORTER (archival): What strain has it meant for your wife and your children to have a husband and father who is a revolutionary, ending up in jail, being in danger of his life very often.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Well, it has been difficult. There has been a great deal of personal strain brought in our family as a result of this. We live every day under a great deal of tension because there's still those individuals who desperately oppose us and what we're trying to do.
ANDREW YOUNG: When we went to Selma and checked into the hotel, some white man came up as though he was going to shake Martin's hand, and then hauled off and hit him. When people tried to grab him, Martin wouldn't let anybody touch him. And the police came and took him away. But he hadn't been having much like that, so he began to sense that things were moving to another level.
BERNARD LAFAYETTE, SCLC Staff: His staff was committed to one project at a time. One issue. And he stayed with it until there was some results. And the goal there in Selma was to get a Voters Right Bill that would protect people and their efforts to try to register to vote.
JAMES BEVEL, SCLC Staff: The march primarily was to get the American people involved in the dialogue. Media will be there and so after we get off of this march, everybody in America will be involved in the discussion on the right to vote.
ANDREW YOUNG: The people had organized to show up that Sunday. And Martin was in Atlanta. I was talking with Martin on the phone and I said, "Well, we have to march 'cause everyone came here prepared to march. But the police are lined up over there, and they're not going to let us march." And he said, "Well, don't all of you all get arrested."
HARRIS WOFFORD: I heard King call for people to go down to Selma to march and to go over that bridge again. And it was, of course, a place I wanted to be.
ANDREW YOUNG: So people just flooded down but once they got there, Judge Johnson then enjoined us against marching but scheduled a hearing for the end of the week. And the students wanted to go ahead and march anyway and violate the injunction.
COURTLAND COX: SNCC had decided already that it was going to continue the march. We were not going to allow the people who beat us down on Edmund Peddis Bridge to intimidate us.
JAMES FORMAN, SNCC (archival): Federal injunctions and court injunctions have been handed down in the past and it's, really it's, people here have to make up their minds and make certain decisions themselves about what it is that they want to do.
BERNARD LAFAYETTE: Martin Luther King did not want to offend the courts, the federal courts, because we were looking to them for support.
COURTLAND COX: King and the SCLC people debated the issue until 4 o'clock one morning. Lyndon Johnson did not want the march to take place. But Dr. King was firm and decided he was going to march.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): We have no alternative but to keep moving with determination. We've gone too far now to turn back. And in a real sense, we are moving and we cannot afford to stop because Alabama and because our nation has a date with destiny.
HARRIS WOFFORD: When we got to the top of the bridge, we saw the state troopers lined on the highway.
POLICEMAN (archival): Stand where you are. This march will not continue.
HARRIS WOFFORD: We paused and a minister gave this prayer:
UNIDENTIFIED MINISTER (archival): America was founded on the principles that all men are created equal. Not just white men, but all men.
HARRIS WOFFORD: And at the end of the prayer, as we got up and assumed we were going to be led into the stonewall of troops, the troopers cleared the road, they moved to the side of the road. The road was wide open. And everybody'd felt a miracle had occurred and the Red Sea had opened and we were going to march to Montgomery. And so we started marching singing "We Shall Overcome" and at that point, King turned around, stopped, and Andy Young stepped forward, and King started leading the procession around and back over the bridge. As we were marching back, everyone said, "What in the world happened?" Then we got back to the chapel and all hell broke loose.
ANDREW YOUNG: People who came South for the march were angry. They were sort of what we used to call "freedom high." Because people had gotten beat up, they came down wanting to get beat up.
BERNARD LAFAYETTE: In Martin Luther King's judgment, if we can ultimately win the right to vote, let's go through the courts to preserve that right rather than the courts coming against us for violating an injunction.
HARRIS WOFFORD: I began hearing a number of the young militants calling him "the Lord" derisively. I don't know when the "Martin Loser King" became one of the slogans, but it was the first time I had seen the growth of that kind of, you might say, "anti-King" movement.
TAYLOR BRANCH: I think to some degree he understood that he was the natural object of people's frustration, that was part of the price he had to pay for the position that he was in. And he's trying to get black people the right to vote.
SINGING: "Our father which art in heaven..."
ROGER WILKINS: What happened was astonishing, 'cause it was on television and people were sickened all over the country. Congressmen were hearing from their constituents, and those of us in the government figure, well now it's time for the Voting Rights Act. Johnson was a very practical politician. The response to Selma made him do it.
CARD: August 6, 1965. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act.
JAMES CONE: King believed that with the achievement of the right to vote, that the struggle for justice for black people in this society was about to be achieved.
CARD: August 11, 1965: Watts section of Los Angeles. 6 days of rioting. 34 people killed.
RAMSEY CLARK: Within ten days of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, the Watts riots broke out. And they stunned the country. Just picture after picture, day after day of the riots. And gun purchases in Los Angeles and around the country just skyrocketed.
JAMES CONE: King was on vacation when that happened. And when he heard about it, he was shocked. And he came back. He visited Watts. And the people were mad and angry. King had never seen this, this close up.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I have come to Los Angeles at the invitation of a number of concerned individuals and major organizations....
JAMES CONE: And when he walked into one community meeting, somebody shouted after they saw him, "Get out of here, Dr. King, we don't need you."
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (archival): Dr. King, yeah, we have here, I say this. Sure we- we like to be non-violence but we up here in the Los Angeles area will not turn that other cheek.
ROGER WILKINS: He was booed. And you can't be human and have done all the things that Martin King had done and not be hurt, deeply hurt, and profoundly puzzled by being booed by black people.
REPORTER (archival): Dr. King, do you feel that these riots have set back the Civil Rights Movement?
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I am still absolutely convinced that non-violence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and human dignity. But the fact is that when people don't get attention through normal social channels they often go outside of these channels in antisocial behavior to get it. And there is a quest for attention in the Watts area and in the ghettos of the North. And I think we've got to give these people more attention and give them more concern and leave them ... give them a sense of belonging...
JAMES CONE: King had assumed that the Southern Movement victories would trickle down to the North. But it didn't work like that. And it was in the context of Watts that he made that decision, that he had to find out more about black people in the North and he chose Chicago.
ANDREW YOUNG: I was opposed of that move toward Chicago because I was uncomfortable in Northern cities. I didn't know the lay of the land. It was complicated politics, but also we were spread too thin. You couldn't run a movement in Chicago with the staff we had.
CHARLES COBB, SNCC: I did not understand him going to Chicago and felt that it was doomed to failure. I thought, you know, those Northern politicians would do him in, was what I felt. Chicago? Dick Daley's city?
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): We are moving in Chicago at this time in order to gain our rightful place. We must not allow anybody to make us feel that we are born to live in poverty and deprivation. We must make it clear we are going to live in dignity and honor. That we are supposed to live there because we are God's children and if we are God's children he loves us like he loves all of his children.
DAVID HALBERSTAM: There was a certain new loneliness. He was in unchartered water. He was going into big cities where his constituents were going to be different, and where he would not be as welcome on the part of an existing black leadership.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): We are here today because we are tired. Yes, we are tired of being lynched physically in Mississippi and we're tired of being lynched spiritually and psychologically in Chicago. ...
DAVID HALBERSTAM: In the South they had all turned to him. He was chosen in Montgomery 'cause he was young, and new, and bore a great, great name. He was a, a black Baptist Brahmin, in a way, in the way that Jack Kennedy was the first Irish Brahmin. But now he was going where there was an existing leadership that was going to fight him, black leadership that did not want him there, that had its own, I mean, there was a, a formed culture, and he would be an outsider, and they would like to keep him an outsider.
ROGER WILKINS: He said he was going to live in the ghetto in Chicago. And... one of my best white liberal friends said, "Yeah, in the ghetto it's probably the only gilded apartment in the ghetto and he's going to be walking up there with money falling out of his pockets." And a lot people had that view.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Do you know I pay more rent for that rundown apartment that I live in out on the West Side than people who live in places like Gage Park? In fact they get five rooms for eighty-two dollars and I have four run down rooms that cost me ninety-two....
DAVID HALBERSTAM: I think as he got to the dilemma of poor blacks in the inner cities, he was becoming more radical, or his radical side was being called more to the surface. And I think he understood that there would be a price for this.
ANDREW YOUNG: When we took on Chicago it was simply as a demonstration project to demonstrate that some of the tactics that we used in the South would work in the North. And then without talking to anybody Meredith decides to walk through Mississippi and get shot. And it wasn't related to anything or anybody.
CARD: June, 1966: activist James Meredith begins a "march against fear" across Mississippi.
ANDREW YOUNG: One of the principles of the Movement was that you couldn't let somebody get shot or get hurt doing something that was legitimate and morally sound. And of course there was nothing morally wrong with walking down the highway.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Freedom is not some lavish dish that the white man will pass out on the silver platter while the Negro merely furnishes the appetite. If we are going to be free, we will have to suffer for that freedom, we will have to sacrifice for it. But I'm still convinced that that is nothing more powerful to dramatize an injustice than the tramp-tramp of marching feet.
Music (archival): "Ain't going to let nobody turn me 'round"
STOKELY CARMICHAEL (KWAME TURE), Chairman SNCC: We planned to use the march as a political platform. And we understood this political platform would put us in contradiction to King. But we didn't want any hostility with King.
CHARLES COBB: Within the context of picking up the Meredith March, King really spends, arguably, his most sustained time in Mississippi. But of course, the march was where Stokely Carmichael first utters "Black Power," and all the controversy about that swirls around him.
STOKELY CARMICHAEL (archival): We want Black Power. We want Black Power. We want Black Power. We want Black Power. What do you want?
CROWD (archival): Black Power!
REPORTER (archival): What do you mean when you ... when you shout "Black Power" to these people back here?
STOKELEY CARMICHAEL (archival): I mean that the only way that black people in Mississippi will create an attitude where they will not be shot down like pigs, where they will not be shot down like dogs, is when they get the power of where they constitute a majority in counties to institute justice.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I feel, however, that while believing firmly that power is necessary that it would be difficult for me to use the phrase "Black Power" because of the connotative meaning that it has for many people and...
TAYLOR BRANCH: Most of the decisions along the road, as they were debating were King trying to convince Stokely that the problem with Black Power was not that it was too scary, but that the white press seized on it so eagerly. It's not that they're afraid of Black Power, they love Black Power because this is news because it essentially says, "There's a war coming." Black people are, about to make war, that's great news. They love it.
ANDREW YOUNG: We were, just having a meeting on a schoolyard and the school was closed and we pulled our truck up to serve as a sort, just to talk to all of the people on the march... when we realized that, that we were surrounded by police.
STOKELEY CARMICHAEL (archival): We don't want anybody to move. The time for running has come to an end. You tell them white folk in Mississippi that all the scared niggers are dead!
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): This demonstrates to us this evening that things still must be dealt with firmly and with power here in the state of Mississippi. Now don't you know if we had political and economic power they wouldn't think of assembling here or trying to get us off of our own school ground.
ANDREW YOUNG: Without any provocation they started shooting tear gas. And I was trying to explain to the people which way to run and I was up on top of this truck and the, the next thing you know the tear gas got me.
ANDREW YOUNG (archival): We'll get him, let's everybody be calm and go to the church...
ANDREW YOUNG: There's nothing more humiliating than tear gas 'cause you do lose control and you're angry at the people but you're also angry at yourself.
REPORTER (archival): What's going to happen now?
ANDREW YOUNG (archival): Nothing's going to happen. We're going to the church...we got to worry about the people now. We'll give you the news...
REPORTER (archival): How many people were hurt?
ANDREW YOUNG (archival): I don't know...
ANDREW YOUNG: That was a rough night on us all emotionally. And Martin Luther King saw that beyond the race question, America had to deal with the question of violence. And that we could not solve problems in America or in the world through violence, that we had to find ways to resolve conflicts without destroying either persons or property.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): This is one of the best expressions I've ever seen of the fact that this is a police state. Mississippi is still evil, it is still the lowest and worst state in our Union, and we are again going to make it clear that we aren't going to be stopped. We are going now to map strategy and think through exactly what we'll do.
CHARLES COBB: When I talked to him last about this, Stokely said, "Well, Charley, by the end of that march I got King saying 'black'." Uh, (chuckles) uh, and he was. I mean, I don't, (chuckles) you know, I don't know whether Sto -- whether you can credit Stokely, but it, without question, King, by the end of that march was talking about Black people, as distinct from the Negro people. That's a major shift.
DAVID HALBERSTAM: He was changing. The Movement was changing. And I think he was thinking through challenging his own beliefs, his own foundation, his bedrock, things that maybe the country was not the country that he had thought it was -- the good America which would hear you. That there were maybe darker parts of this country, and I think he was wrestling with that.
CARD: June 12, 1966: Chicago, Illinois.
ROGER WILKINS: In the summer of '66, Chicago had a riot. President called me and said, "I want you to go."
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I want to stop riots, I want to see them end. But I must confess that the largest job of stopping riots will be in the hands of those who lead the city politically. And they....yes, Mr. Daley. I think he can do much more to stop a riot than I can. I'm not going to serve in the role of a fire engine. I'm not a fire engine, I'll do all I can, but until the conditions are removed which make for riots, many of our pleas for nonviolence will fall on deaf ears.
ROGER WILKINS: So John Doar, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, and I went out there... and we decided to go see Martin. Martin didn't know we were coming. So we get there, and we knock on the door, and um... the place was packed with people, young men sitting everywhere. And soon it became clear, the people who were in the room were the toughest kids in Chicago. They were gang kids. And here's Martin Luther King, Nobel Prize winner, one of the most famous men in the world, and he's having a seminar on non-violence with them. And it went on for four hours after we got there. Four hot hours, sweaty hours... until it was clear to him that all these kids were committed to not go out and commit suicide that night on those Chicago streets.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Now we've to go all out to make Chicago an open city. And somebody may say why is it that you emphasize this? Why shouldn't we be satisfied to stay in our community, so to speak, and in our ghettoes? That isn't the issue, the main issue is this: whenever you segregate a minority you inevitably discriminate against that minority -- that's the issue.
RENAULT ROBINSON, Chicago Police Officer: Dr. King decided that, um, he was going to march in Cicero. Cicero is a suburb to the west of Chicago. It was not a place that you wanted to go or be.
CROWD (archival): "Which side are you on, boy, which side are you on?"
POLICEMAN (archival): Get out of here!
MAN (archival): I live in here. I live here. Those fuckin' niggers don't live here.
RENAULT ROBINSON: Our job was to watch King. And to keep danger from occurring to him. Now King, of course, had no fear.
PEOPLE YELLING (archival): We want King. We want King.
RENAULT ROBINSON: He didn't want to appear to be surrounded by bodyguards. He didn't want to appear to be afraid.
ADDIE WYATT, Chicago Organizer: As we'd march down the streets... it was disheartening to hear workers saying, "There's John" or "There's Mary that works in my plant or in my office." And they are now swearing at us, throwing bricks, firecrackers.
RENAULT ROBINSON: One guy hit King with a brick in the Cicero march, and gashed him in the head ... And we caught him ... And the police (laughs) had to help rescue him from those who caught him.
REPORTER (archival): Were you hit Dr. King?
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Yes, uh huh.
REPORTER (archival): Are you all right?
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I think so, yes.
MAN ON STREET: Your Mother's a whore....
ADDIE WYATT: We had walked for I don't know how many miles. And when we got back to the park where our cars were, they were on fire. And as Dr. King said, it was one of the worst situations that he had been in.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I think it is one of the most tragic pictures of man's inhumanity to man that I've ever seen and I've been in Mississippi and Alabama. But I can assure you that the hatred and the hostility here are really deeper than what I've seen in Alabama and Mississippi.
MIKE WALLACE (archival): Why is it so important, for instance, that a Negro move into Cicero, Illinois?
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Well, I wouldn't only say Cicero, I would say ...
MIKE WALLACE (archival): I understand, but as an example --
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I think it is important because it is humiliating to say to anybody that because of your race you must be confined to a certain area.
MIKE WALLACE (archival): But don't you find that the American people are getting a little bit tired...truly of the whole civil rights struggle? Right or wrong, do you sense that?
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I don't know. I would say that that's true of some people, I don't think --
MIKE WALLACE (archival): The New York Times, for instance, calls for a moratorium on demonstrations and marches.
TAYLOR BRANCH: America did not rise up and say, "We're going to change Chicago because they're hitting Dr King with a brick, and because thousands and thousands of people are marching through the streets of Chicago behind this Movement." What was distinctive about Chicago was that there was no national response. The historical pattern of the Movement was not to bowl over the local opponents, it was, it was to mobilize the nation to do something, and they did not do that in Chicago.
DAVID HALBERSTAM: By 1967, Martin Luther King was tired. He'd not only been doing this for 12 years, and, you know, every day the phone had rung for 12 years and people telling him he had to come here, he had to do this, he had to go there, he had to speak here, he had to go on television. I mean, the pull of all the semi-enfranchised of a very rich society, that had worn him down.
ANDREW YOUNG: He was never sick. He was strong as a bull but he could never get any rest. And sometimes he'd go in just for a checkup and this was sort of an annual checkup. He did a couple of things regularly in his life. He almost always right after Christmas went down to Jamaica to think about where he was going the next year and to start working on a book. That was sort of his private vacation time.
TAYLOR BRANCH: Bevel went down and saw him and told him that he had heard a voice telling him that he had to go to Vietnam.
JAMES BEVEL: Well, I went out to Jamaica to see him. And I asked him to take a position against the war and to speak at the mobilization at the United Nations on April the fifteenth. He agreed. In order to sort of soften the blow of all of that, Andy Young and some more moderate guys said, "Well, what you need to do is set up a meeting to talk to more preachers at Riverside."
TAYLOR BRANCH: A, a lot of, a lot of disparate signals hit Dr. King that the Vietnam War was becoming such a drag on the, on the goodwill of America.
CARD: April 4, 1967: the Riverside Church, Harlem.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I speak as one who loves America. Who the leaders of our own nation the great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours...
JAMES LOWERY: When Martin led us into the, into opposition to the war in Vietnam, he expected and was aware that he received criticism from many, many quarters, including civil rights leadership.
VICTORIA GRAY ADAMS: There were those who felt like, "Oh no, you, you don't dare." You know, "That's not, that's not... what we are about." And so he said something like this: "What you must understand is... M.L." -- which is what he called himself -- "is a preacher. And I have been called to preach the Word, the Good News. And that is what I must do."
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): And don't let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, "You are too arrogant. If you don't change your ways I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I will place it in the hands of a nation that doesn't even know my name. Be still and know that I'm God."
DAVID HALBERSTAM: It seemed to me that the country was going through convulsions because of civil rights still ongoing, and now the war, and that every strand of tension, of division, led to Martin Luther King. That he was at the center of dissidence and a nation divided against itself.
CARD: April 15, 1967: United Nations Plaza.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): The promises of the Great Society have been shot down on the battlefields of Vietnam. Making the poor white and Negro bear the heaviest burden both at the front and at home.
TAYLOR BRANCH: The reaction of the press was the most damaging public reaction that he had from the white press. It was one of the few times when, when people felt that King was na´ve, that he had expected the Vietnam War critics to take his criticism as, at face value, for being heartfelt and for what he was really trying to say. Most people said, "You don't have any business talking about this, stick to civil rights."
SENATOR EDWARD BROOKE (archival): My objection with what Dr. King has done, and as I said, I don't question his motives I question his judgment, in that in tying the Vietnam War into the Civil Rights Movement that he is doing irreparable harm to the Civil Rights Movement. He is losing thousands and thousands of allies.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Others can do what they want to do, that's their business. If other civil rights leaders for various reasons refuse or can't take a stand or have to go along with the administration, that's their business. But I must say tonight that I know that justice is indivisible. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice every where.
RAMSEY CLARK: With the war... I, I think the moral force of Dr. King's opposition... had to be a, an enormous body blow to the President. That's when I first observed him not meeting with Dr. King. And I don't think Dr. King came into the White House many times after that.
DAVID HALBERSTAM: He went from being someone whom Lyndon Johnson had brought to the White House on his way back from winning the Nobel Prize, to someone -- once he gave his speech, attacking the war in '67 -- and you'll have to pardon the language -- Johnson referred to as "a nigger preacher."
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): I want to make it clear I'm going to continue with all of my might, with all of my energy and with all of my actions to oppose that abominable, evil, unjust war in Vietnam.
JAMES CONE: King begins to see that what was happening in Vietnam, was also connected with, with poverty and connected with racism, and classism. And, that's when he begins to think about another march. And this march is going to be a march to transform the economic situation of people in this country.
CARD: Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta. January, 1968: SCLC Staff Meeting.
SINGING (archival): "We're gonna get our freedom. It's all right... Talk about Peter, talk about Paul talk about Dr. King, you can talk about us all. But Lord we're gonna get our freedom. It's all right, Lord, it's all right."
MAN (archival): What's going to happen when you bring these same people Stokely's been out of touch with 'em... these people are still allied to Stokely, when you bring them to Washington, he's going to be right there?
DOROTHY LADNER (archival): Listen, I want this Movement to work. And I don't want... I want to cut down the possibilities of outside agitation.
TAYLOR BRANCH: The last ferocious debate within King's inner circle was over whether to make a -- try to build a whole movement out of the Riverside speech against the war, or do the Poor People's Campaign.
CARLOS (archival): If Dr. King, you know, is serious in what he's projecting, it would seem to me that he has to, to be able to rally these forces to really have what you call a united black movement around the country. To include those guys who are willing to die by shooting ... by shooting at the cat on the, on the rooftop.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Now I know non-violence will work, I know it will work. It works in- in personal relationships. It works in marriage, it works with children. And it works with Bull Connors. And it works with Jim Clark. And it can work in Washington.."
TAYLOR BRANCH: The Poor People's Campaign ultimately won Dr. King's allegiance because even though he didn't expect it to be embraced at the time, it was the right call it was the next headlight, it was saying, you know, "We have people in this country who, no matter what laws are passed are still going to be so damaged, and so excluded, and so invisible that the richest country in the world needs to take special steps.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): We have to do it for our own sense of dignity, our own self-respect, our own determination....
XERNONA CLAYTON: I was home this particular day, January 15th. They were at the church planning a, a march and they called me and said, "You know, we're concerned about Doc, and said we haven't seen his laughter in a long time and we need to see that old spark again, and we think you can help us get that spark back. So will you come over to the church and we're going to celebrate his birthday. We're going to take a break around four or five o'clock and we're going to celebrate and give him a little surprise."
CARD: January 15, 1968: Dr. King's 39th Birthday.
ANDREW YOUNG (archival): We're going to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. Don't let him out of here.
SINGING (archival): Happy Birthday to you....
XERNONA CLAYTON: Usually the staff would give him a suit for his birthday and this time, Andrew Young and Abernathy and Jesse Jackson and the people around him said, "Let's don't give him a suit, let's give him some laughter. Let's make him laugh." And so that was my assignment to come over and make him laugh.
XERNONA CLAYTON (archival): We know that you really don't need much but we know there are some things you ought to have. So we searched around and knowin' what's comin' up for ya, we knew you would be strung out for shoe string. So when you go to jail here are some shoe string potatoes. We want you to -- [LAUGHTER]. Then, we know how fond you are of our president, Lyndon Johnson, [LAUGHTER] and we know how you're supporting everything. I got this cup for you and I want this back 'cause it's mine, it says-- let me read it -- it says, "We are cooperating with Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. Drop coins and bills in the cup." [LAUGHTER]
CARD: February 1968: Mississippi.
BERNARD LAFAYETTE: Part of the Poor People's Campaign was Martin Luther King wanted to go and listen to the people. So we had hearings. March, Mississippi, one of the first places we went.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Here's Madam...
WOMAN (archival): Bond
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Madam Bond, yes.
WOMAN (archival): I am a mother with six kids, six children. I live on a plantation, an old piece of house. We don't know what it is to get a good meal. We go work in Ms Ann's house for two dollars a day and if you don't want to do that then she tell us, "Well, you got to move." Where you going to go if you got nowhere to go to?
BERNARD LAFAYETTE: That's the way the Poor People's Campaign started. Martin Luther King said, he was absolutely convinced that the rest of the world needs to hear a testimony of these people.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): And I just want you know how deeply moved I have been. I've listened to your problem and it has touched me and I just want you to know that we're with you and we are going with you and work in your behalf.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Yes, sir. I know all of you are studying hard and you're just doing fine in school and I am glad to see you.
STUDENTS (archival): We're glad to see you.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival):
Thank you very much.
ANDREW YOUNG: Our plan was to mobilize people in about 15 different poverty areas. We had poor whites, we had Native Americans, we had Hispanic, we had rural blacks, urban blacks. It was sort of decided that this was not something we could win but we remembered that the bonus marches in the Depression didn't win either. They actually got run out of Washington by General MacArthur, but their being there set the stage for the New Deal.
MARTIN LUTHER KING: (archival) The other thing I want you to understand is this: that it didn't cost the nation one penny to integrate lunch counters. It didn't cost the nation one penny to guarantee the right to vote. But now we are dealing with issues that cannot be solved without the nation spending billions of dollars and undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power.
MAN (archival): Yes, yes.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): "Okay, Red, see ya... Alright."
HOSEA WILLIAMS, SCLC (archival): FBI claimed they had three people trying to ambush Dr. King.... I think they claim they had found two of 'em.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): They were there to really assassinate me but they could never get me as a clear target because I was surrounded. But that wasn't the scariest moment. Philadelphia, Mississippi and Chicago on the day that we marched through that narrow street and we marched about four or five thousand people that day, but they were in trees and they were throwing so many rocks and things that I saw the policeman duck at least one time -- you remember it looked like you could see four or five policeman duck. They all went down. It was... and that's a fact. And that to me and Philadelphia, Mississippi were the most ... I just gave up. I wouldn't say I was so afraid as that I had yielded to the real possibility of the inevitability of death....
CLARENCE JONES: He was a... never getting enough sleep, never being able to eat regularly ... torn by his obligations as a husband and father to his kids and so forth. And, and, and constantly worrying about whether there's going to be enough money to meet payrolls of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and you know the kind of stress he was under, why those of us who were aware of some of it didn't move more aggressively, perhaps alleviated some of what Dr. King's demons and pain.
ANDREW YOUNG: We were on the road for the Poor People's Campaign. And in the middle of this, the Memphis garbage workers went on strike.
Memphis strikes -- set up the Memphis strike --
CARD: March, 1968: Memphis, Tennessee.
MAYOR HENRY LOEB, Memphis (archival): Public employees can not strike against their employer. And this you can't do. I suggested to these men today that you go back to work.
TAYLOR BRANCH: This thing started with two garbage men who were crushed in the back of a garbage truck, along with the garbage because they were not allowed to seek shelter in white neighborhoods in Memphis.
REVEREND JAMES LAWSON, Memphis Organizer: When a public official orders a group of men to get back to work and then we'll talk and treats them as though they are not men that's a racist point of view. And no matter how you dress it up in terms of whether or not a union can organize it is still racism for at the heart of racism is the idea that a man is not a man.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): All labor has dignity. But you are doing another thing you are reminding not only Memphis but you are reminding the nation that it is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages.
CROWD APPLAUDS (OC)
CARD: March 28, 1968
ANDREW YOUNG: He got up at five o'clock in the morning to catch a six o'clock plane to Memphis and was planning to be back in Washington that evening for a meeting. And he said, "Well, you go on to Washington." So I went on to Washington and he and Bernard Lee went to Memphis. He planned to just start the march and then go, get on the plane. But as soon as the march started people started breaking windows and throwing bricks and bottles.
DOROTHY COTTON: Dr. King felt very strongly, he didn't want to be a part of anything that was disrupted with that kind of violence 'cause it appeared that people who were in the march had thrown bricks and disrupted the march.
ANDREW YOUNG: It was obviously a planned disruption. In fact, there was some of the young people that told us that they were paid to start trouble.
SENATOR ROBERT BYRD (archival): Martin Luther King fled the scene. He took to his heels and disappeared leaving it to others to cope with the destructive forces he had helped to unleash. And I hope that well-meaning Negro leaders and individuals in the Negro community in Washington will now take a new look at this man who gets other people into trouble, and then takes off like a scared rabbit.
REPORTER (archival): Dr King.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): Yes.
REPORTER (archival): You've been criticized for coming in from outside and then abandoning the march when the going got rough. What is your reaction to that?
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): My only reaction is that I did not abandon the march when the going got rough. I've always said that I will not lead a violent demonstration.
JAMES ORANGE: And he summons all of us to Atlanta. We didn't know what to think because that never had happened at any march that we participated in.
WALTER FAUNTROY: And Dr. King's determination was that we're going to go back to Memphis, we're going to do it right, we're not going to allow provocateurs to destroy our Movement, and then we're going to Washington.
JUANITA ABERNATHY: Well, that evening we were supposed to go out to dinner and, um, he called and said to me, he called me Juan... "Juan, I don't want to go out to dinner. Um, I want to come to your house. If I get some fish, Ralph and I bring the fish, would you cook it?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Cory will help you." So they came over with the fish and, um, we cooked fish and the news was on and Martin was very sensitive about violence. And I had never seen him with the kind of spirit he had that night. He was just sad. He looked like he was burdened down. And we tried to make small talk, light talk. But every time we would lift the conversation to something lighter you could see him just sink. He was more distraught that night than I have ever seen him in my life....
CARD: April 3, 1968
ANDREW YOUNG: All of us went back with him, and we did meet with the young men and we did meet with the preachers and we did try to help the community to understand that it was possible.
DOROTHY COTTON: There was, as always, a mass meeting going on where the garbage workers had gathered and massive numbers of people from the city had gathered, and the church was crowded because, well, they knew Dr. King was coming back to town.
ANDREW YOUNG: And we went to the church saying that Ralph would make the speech, and he would stay in and rest. But when we got to the church and saw so many people there, we called him and went back and made him get dressed and say you just have to come on and say a word to these people.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): We have an injunction and we're going into court tomorrow morning to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is to be true to what you said on paper.
CHARLEY COBB: The eyes were tired. I'll stop short of saying "defeated". He was smoking and, and he looked something short of disheveled. Looking at him, there's a sense of... being alone. Not, or at least being uncertain as to who your allies are.
MARTIN LUTHER KING (archival): We've got some difficult days ahead, but it really doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountain top and I don't mind. Like anybody I'd like to live a long life, longevity has its place, but I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will and he's allowed me to go up to the mountain, and I've looked over and I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I'm happy tonight, I'm not worried about anything, I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
ANDREW YOUNG: He was exhausted, he had a slight fever. He didn't want to go but once he said it all he was feeling good and, you know, he was sort on a high the next day. We had to go into federal court to get an injunction overturned and I spent most of the time testifying in the court. When I came back to the hotel, Martin was in his brother's room. When I came in the room he said, "Where have you been?" And he threw a pillow at me. And I was trying to tell him, you know, that I'd been in court all day. And he said, "Don't you know you can't stay in court? You supposed to report to me. You supposed to let me know what's going on. I've been worried all day long." And he kept throwing pillows at us so I started throwing 'em back at him. And the next thing you know they had all jumped on me and, and put me down between these two beds and piled the pillows on top of me and it was, you know, it was just childish play. And somebody came and knocked on the door and said, you know, they're here to pick you up for dinner. And he said well, let me go up. And he went upstairs to his room to dress. And we were standing out in the courtyard... I was telling him it's getting cold and you've had a cold, you need to bring your top coat. And he was, you know, wondering whether he really wanted to bring a coat [SNAPS] and next thing you know... I thought a firecracker had gone off or something until I looked up there and I saw that he wasn't there. And I, and I thought he was clowning 'cause he'd been so playful and, and, and happy and clowning.
SAMUEL "BILLY" KYLES, Memphis Minister (archival): Loud real sh-- real loud shot. And I heard somebody holler "Oh Lord!" and I turned around back to where he was and he had fallen backwards....
CARD: April 4, 1968: Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
SENATOR ROBERT F. KENNEDY (archival): I have some very sad news for all of you. And I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis.
BERNARD LAFAYETTE: I was inflight to Washington, D.C. National Airport, so I didn't know Martin Luther King had been shot until I arrived.
VICTORIA GRAY ADAMS: My first inclination was to cry. But I said, "Uh-uh. If I cry I'm not going to cry for Dr. King. I'm going to cry for the rest of us"
VINCENT HARDING: I don't know who it was who called, and told me that Martin was dead. And what I remember most was I really almost tried to punch my way through the wall.
C. T. VIVIAN: Hard, it hit hard. And so, I was trying to drive home and you know listen to the radio and before I got home, they told us that he had actually been murdered and slain and killed, shot down.
CARD: People in more than 100 cities across the country respond with outrage.
STOKELY CARMICHAEL (archival): White America killed Dr. King. They had absolutely no reason to do so. He was the one man in our race who was trying to teach our people to have love, compassion and mercy for what white people had done. White America killed Dr. King. She declared war on us. The rebellions that have been occurring around the cities of this country is just light stuff to what is about to happen. We have to retaliate for the death of our leaders. The execution of those deaths will not be in the courtrooms, they are going to be in the streets of the United States of America.
CORETTA SCOTT KING (archival): My husband often told the children that , "If a man had nothing worth dying for for than he was not fit to live" He said also, "It's not how long you live but how well you live." He knew that this was a sick society, totally infested with racism and violence that questioned his integrity, maligned his motives and distorted his views which would ultimately lead to his death. And he struggled with every ounce of his energy to save that society from itself.
SONG: "Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair." Black is the color of my true love's hair. His face so soft and wondrous fair. The purest eyes and the strongest hands. I love the ground on where he stands. I love the ground on where he stands. Black is the color.
ANDREW YOUNG: We didn't have a chance to grieve after Martin's death 'cause we had to keep the Poor People's Campaign going, and we did. We took the poor people to Washington and we made our point even though it poured down rain and we were in a puddle of mud. Then Robert Kennedy got killed and [SIGHS] we really fell apart.
JAMES LOWERY: Someone wrote a poem that said, "Now that he is safely dead let us praise him, for dead men make such convenient heroes, they can not rise up to challenge the images we fashion for them. Besides, it easier to build a monument than it is a Movement."
TAYLOR BRANCH: The Movement took a huge toll on him. When they did the autopsy, they said he had the heart of a 60 year old, he's 39. So yes, it took a big toll on him, and he was constantly fantasizing about getting out of the Movement, but I don't know of anybody around him who ever took it seriously, who felt that even he really thought that he could follow through on that. The Movement was his life.