Martin was a jokester. My mother had these long pans and she could put a dozen biscuits on each one of them. Martin would say, “Now, who is that coming in the door?” And everybody would look, and he’d get another biscuit. It was a delight to see that. They knew any minute could be their last. To relax like this was therapy for them, I think.
This house was once the living quarters of people that worked at the cotton gin, which is located across the street. The people that owned the land sold these houses. And my mother and father bought them. These houses are about 110 years old, but they’re still steady and strong.
Coretta and I had been knowing each other since, I think we were 14. We had an organ that my granddaddy used to play. I would be on the organ and Coretta would sing. She had the most beautiful voice. The people all in this neighborhood would come out on their porches and out in their yard, and just stand, and said, “Who is that?” I never heard her sing after we grew up. She laid aside her talent, and took on Martin and the movement.
We had regular meetings, massive meetings at St. Matthews Church, which is over there. That particular night, we had Reverend Shuttlesworth, TY Rodgers, Hosea Williams, Albert Turner.
You know, Martin was the slowest person. He’s slow to speak. He’s slow to walk. He’s slow to talk. And he was still there talking and someone came in the church in such a hurry, and they said, “Is Dr. King here?” And we said, “Yes, he’s here.” He said, “Don’t take him down 14th, because the Klans are waiting on him.”
All the churches around was burning. That’s why we brought him here. Every man in the neighborhood, they got to grab their gun, and they surrounded this house. And Martin was in there asleep. He was so tired, he didn’t even know what was going on outside. The Klans were still riding and we woke him up around 4 o’clock and said, “Hey, we have to get out of here.” They took him into Selma, on into Montgomery. We snuck him out of here.
I have so many pictures. I said, “They need to be seen by even the unborn generation that’s coming along. We have nothing to show of our participation in this Movement.” We need something positive that you could see, walk in there and see, and you can almost feel as you walk in the door.
We had a group came here from all different places and we sang “We Shall Overcome,” that’s one song everybody knows. Everybody sang in their native song. It was the most beautiful thing you wanted to see. Martin would love that.