The story behind the picture.
I had the privilege of working for Dr. King for 3 years. It changed my life.
I sat with Mrs. King and Dr. King in their kitchen and shared meals.
I followed him with a microphone and recorded his speeches.
I walked from Selma to Montgomery.
I have so many memories of those heady, youthful times.
Once a year we would have a staff retreat.
The Field staff from all over the deep South would come.
We would have worship services and sing Freedom songs.
We would ask ourselves –
Where do we go from here?
Where does our Movement go?
There were lots of meetings.
Dr. King would talk about his plans for the next year.
Everyone, from the janitor to the senior staff,
would make suggestions
and bring in their own ideas.
The meetings were completely open.
What Dr. King talked about
at the retreat in 1966
has always stuck in my mind.
He could have said today.
He said there was a new turning point in the Movement.
Although Segregation in the South was ended
and Voting Rights were secured,
the lives of Afro-Americans,
especially in the slums of large Northern cities
had not improved.
Their economic situation was getting worse.
He said, the riots up North were cries of their pain.
Dr. King was visionary.
In 1966, he talked about automation
and how it would make much manual labor
In 1966, he said that massive work projects
would not cure poverty;
that a Guaranteed Annual Income
was the best solution.
that Racism, Poverty and War
that the next stages of the Civil Rights Movement
would have to confront this reality.
He began to speak out against the war in Vietnam
and started the Poor People’s Campaign.
He did all this
at a time
when many leaders were convinced
that Non -Violence would not work!
at a time,
they were talking using violence if necessary
and chanting “Burn Baby Burn”.
At the meeting, Dr. King said,
“In every social revolution there is a period of progression,
there is a period of recession.
What we see now is the counter revolution.
He finished with a simple analogy I have never forgotten.
I doubt if anyone there fully grasped its meaning
until after his assassination.
“We brought ‘ the Football of Civil Rights’
through gains in public accommodations,
and the right to vote
to about the 50 yard line.
Now, we are moving
into the opposition’s territory.
There are die-hards on that team
determined to keep us
from getting across the goal.
We have got to get together
and see that we have some good quarterbacks
calling sound signals.
Sometimes we may even fumble the ball,
but for God’s sake recover it.
Then – we will move on down the field!
I believe that with kind of moral power,
with this kind of determination,
with this kind of willingness to suffer,
we’ll get across that Goal Line.
And people everywhere will rise up and sing,
there lives a people,
a Black people with marvelous White allies,
allies who injected new meaning
into the veins of Western Civilization.”
After the Retreat was over
and all the meetings were ended,
we would walk in the woods
or go swimming in the ocean
where the beach was lined with palm trees.
The words of Dr. King would be with us.
We didn’t know in those youthful times,
they would always be with us –
Dr. King’s voice guiding our days.
Photo credit: Penn Center Frogmore S.C. November 4, 1966 Photo Bob Fitch