Free at Last – Martin Luther King, Jr.

This Emmy Award-winning, cinema-verite film premiered in April 1968, within days of King's assassination. Produced by NET's Public Broadcasting Laboratory, it provides an insightful, behind-the-scenes portrait of the man and his mission – as Dr. King toured southern black communities, planning and organizing the Poor Peoples’ Campaign and March on Washington.

AIRED: April 23, 2018 | 1:27:58

>> Good evening.

I'm Jenna Flanagan.

Tonight's program first aired on

April 7, 1968, just three days

after the assassination of

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The film was a special

presentation of 13's

Public Broadcasting Laboratory


For three months before King's

assassination, our crew lived

and worked alongside Dr. King.

And 13 had unprecedented access

to King, his organization, and

his quest for civil rights.

Join us now as we remember those

fateful days in Memphis

50 years ago.

>> Good evening.

I'm Greg Shuker.

Three months ago, PBL asked

Dr. King for permission to live

with him and his staff for

three months.

This was to be part of PBL's

regular and continuing

coverage of the black man's

movement toward civil rights in


This time, we wanted to document

Martin Luther King's plans for

what he considered the most

massive and important act of his

career -- a movement that would

go beyond civil rights and into

economics and would include all

poor people, not just the

black man.

Dr. King agreed, and our

photojournalism team went to


The ground rules for our

sound-film and still-picture

report were simple.

We could attend planning

sessions and meetings, go on

private trips, and be with him

and his colleagues whenever they

dealt with the

Poor People's Campaign,

scheduled then for the third

week in April in Washington.

We agreed that nothing should be

broadcast until the end -- the

eve of the march, two weeks from


This is an unfinished report.

Our intent was to let you see

and hear Dr. King, his

colleagues, and his nonviolent

movement as they really were.

PBL shared the belief of these

men and women that what they

were about to do was historic

and that it should be recorded

as such.

These are the people, many of

whom you will now be with in

this report, to whom

Martin Luther King's legacy in

the nonviolent movement

now passes.

>> The national board of

directors of the

Southern Christian Leadership

Conference met in this church in

Washington, D.C., in early


The president of the SCLC,

the Reverend Dr.

Martin Luther King Jr.,

was there to tell them about a

Poor People's Campaign, which he

proposed to lead in April.

>> The nation didn't provide

anything to the black man who

was free -- free from physical


But what you have to see is

this, to show you the racist

strands in our nation and the

refusal to grapple with the


At the very same time that

America refused to give the

Negro any land, through an act

of Congress, our government was

giving away millions of acres of

land in the West and the

Midwest, which meant that it was

willing to undergird its white

peasants from Europe with an

economic floor.

But not only did they give the

land, they built land-grant

colleges with government money,

to teach them how to farm.

Not only that, they provided

county agents to further their

expertise in farming.

Not only that, they provided low

interest rates in order that

they could mechanize their


Not only that, today many of

these people are receiving

millions of dollars in federal

subsidiesnot to farm, and

they're the very people telling

the black man that he ought to

lift himself by his own


And this is what we are faced


And this is the reality.

Now, when we come to Washington

in this campaign, we're coming

to get our check.

In 1776, the nation signed a

huge promissory note.

And we -- it didn't take us very

long to discover that we had

received a bad check.

Now we coming to get it this


[ Vehicle passing ]

>> Two weeks earlier, on

January 15th, the

Poor People's Campaign got

under way in the basement of the

Sunday-school building of the

Ebenezer Baptist Church in

Atlanta, Georgia, whose pastors

then were Dr. King Jr. and

his father.

>> ♪ It's all right

♪ Oh, it's all right

>> ♪ Oh, it's all right

>> ♪ It's all right

♪ It's all right

>> It began with joy and

singing -- a happy time at the

beginning of the three-month


Field organizers from the nine

Northern cities and six Southern

states that would recruit the

marchers were to meet with the

SCLC staff to talk about

organization, financing,

recruiting and, most of all,


>> ♪ Lord, it's all right

>> ♪ Oh, it's all right

[ Rhythmic clapping ]

♪ Talk about Peter,

talk about Paul ♪

♪ Talk about Dr. King,

you can talk about 'em all ♪

♪ As long as, Lord, Lord,

I get my freedom, Lord ♪

♪ It's all right

>> ♪ Oh, it's all right

[ Indistinct conversations

and laughter ]

>> Come on, there,

Brother Bennett, take off your


>> Yeah.

[ Laughter ]

And I see Bernard has on his


>> Yeah.

>> They act like it's cold in my


[ Laughter ]

[ Indistinct conversations ]

[ Chuckles ]

I want to welcome all of you


Dad has already done the

welcoming job.

But I do want to join him,

I guess, in one capacity that is

the same as his and in another

capacity that's a little


I want to welcome you as one of

the pastors of Ebenezer.

And I always think of history

every time we come back to

Ebenezer for any meeting.

You know we had our convention

here in August.

But I can never forget the fact

that the Southern Christian

Leadership Conference

was started in this very room.

The idea was conceived right

here in January of 1957,

right after the

Montgomery Bus Boycott.

So whenever we come to Ebenezer,

we come to a place that has

great significance, from an

historical point of view,

for our organization.

>> ...met up on the Hill...

>> SCLC critics had said that

nonviolence was a thing of the


But Dr. King and his staff had

announced that this

Poor People's March would be

nonviolent -- perhaps a last,

massive test.

Nonviolence workshops were

set up by King.

>> that -- So, in a

society, if you got something...

>> Reverend James Bevel,

director of the nonviolent


>> I hear a lot of catching up.

"Man" -- the "man" thing.

"They're after me."

You can do almost anything, and

there is enough fluidity in the

society that will allow you to

do it if you know how to do it.

Now, if you don't know how to do

it, you need to ask, "What is it

that I don't know?"

Now, let me give you a little


I understand that -- what's his

name? -- Rap Brown went up to

the U.N. the other day and

pushed a policeman.

All right, then, he had to go

into the Cuban Embassy.

Now, everybody would say that,

"See? Police are mean."

Any cat who ain't dignified and

cool enough not to go around

pushing policemen at the U.N.,

you know, probably will get in

trouble, because that didn't

constitute moving energy from

one place to another, relative

to Negroes, about anything.

Now, that's being arrogant, and

nothing to do with philosophical

concept at all -- nothing

at all.

For a leader to fight with the

houseboy is foolishness.

A police is a cat hired to watch

the door.

[ Laughter ]

Understand what I'm saying?

And for Dr. King to get to fight

with the police watching the

door is foolishness.

Let me take another


I'm a LeRoi Jones fan, buy his


A man gets put in jail, walking

through the streets with two

empty pistols in his pocket,

is foolishness.

And that dude was...

>> [ Laughs ]

>> And two empty pistols,

just walking down the street,

cussing, and then he said, "The

man is mean.

See? He's after me."

Then you have to ask him what is

it that he doesn't know.

>> [ Chuckles ]

>> What is it -- What is it that

he doesn't know?

Because I do know that what the

stuff that he can, LeRoi Jones

can get so many young Negro kids

organized in Newark, 'cause he

can walk around to go to town

without nobody even touching


I know that.

That's the way things work.

You know?

What is it that he doesn't know?

So, a lot of times, when we get

in a lot of jams, it's because

we don't think.

But we can create enough almost

anything we want to create, and

people will go along with it,

if we know how to do that.

>> The Rap Brown thing may have

been a bad example.

>> Reverend Jesse Jackson, a

specialist in another form of

nonviolence -- economic


>> ex-Rap confronting

one ex-policeman was symptomatic

of the deeper problem.

But the other thing, from our

perspective as organizers, it

was a very individual and

personal thing, when we're

trying to figure out how to

do a collective thing.

Now, how does one, given the

realities of poverty, ignorance,

and disease, does one move the

social forces "violently," or

does one move them nonviolently?

Does one move these forces

with pistols, or does one move

these forces with his very soul?

>> We have to do it for our own

sense of dignity, our own

self-respect, our own


But we can't do it if we don't

give our all to it.

As I said in Frogmore, we're

going for broke

in the city of Washington and

around this nation in this

campaign, and we mean to move

this nation.

>> To move this nation, Dr. King

had to constantly be on the move

throughout it.

And as we were to find many

times in the three months ahead,

he would begin a meeting or come

in, in the middle of one, and

then turn it over to his staff.

>> I would not involve

Black Power people with the

people that have to stand up

there under the pressure,

because I don't think that they

could --

>> You can't answer the


You got to hold your place.

>> Listen, I want this movement

to work.

>> Wait a minute.

>> And I don't want -- I want to

cut down the possibilities of

outside agitation.

>> But you can't do that.

>> This is the wayI see it.

I can get 200 people that are

just as poor as the people in

the Black Power movement.

>> From the way I see it, in

relationship to...

>> Organizing in each area would

have to be different.

Leon Hall from Mississippi, who

was once Stokely Carmichael's

roommate, felt he could not

ignore Black Power at all.

>> ...respected leader, whoever

you may be.

You may be Omar or Jomo or...

>> But what's the principle,


>> ...and these people follow

their leaders.

Get these people orientated,

I think, to bring in the point

that you've got people, and

particularly my area, they are

stomping and walked all over

Mississippi or they organized

it -- FDP.

>> Okay, but what's --

>> And all of these people are

formerly Stokely people.

What's gonna happen when you

bring these same people --

Stokely's been out of touch when

these people are still allies of


When you bring them to

Washington, he's gonna be right


>> The question raises, under

nonviolence, how do you get...

>> Reverend Albert Sampson, who

helped organized voter

registration in Cleveland

last summer.

>> ...of Stokely, not for the

extension of Rockefeller,

not for the extension of

the white farmer, but how do you

get him to act upon himself?

That's the essence of


Get a man to work under the

confines of his own being.

Okay, okay, but in the

principle, what's the whole --

what is it about nonviolence

that throws everybody off the

whole claims to conflict?

You never let anybody take your



That's the essence for


>> That ain't gonna get it.

>> No, wait a minute, now.

>> I disagree.

>> Okay, okay.

>> Respectfully disagree.

>> All right, but let's build a

case on it.

The only thing -- The only

reason why Bevel brought up the

Rap Brown situation this

morning, what he was really

trying to say to Carlos,

everybody, was that you don't

let no white policeman take your



That all of us have worked in

the South, and we know that

whatever white folks did,

because we understood they were

sick, we didn't let nobody take

our mind.

>> So, between the people, do

not let people take your mind.

>> That's the essence of


Once a man takes your mind,

then you're a slave.

>> As we go into these

communities, we must remember

that we are the custodians of a


>> Yeah.

>> The philosophy of


And it has worked.

When people tell you that

nonviolence won't work,

tell them ithas worked.

We know it has worked all across

the South.

And if it hasn't worked in the

North, it just hasn't beentried


And if this church building

would catch on fire right now,

and four or five of us ran out

there and got four or five

buckets of water, and that fire

was pouring forth, and we threw

water on it, and it doesn't

put the fire out, we wouldn't

say that water can't put fire


We would just say you needmore


[ Cheers and applause ]

Now, I know nonviolence will


I know it will work.

>> Yes.

>> It works in personal


It works in marriage.

It works with children.

And it works with Bull Connors.

And it works with Jim Clark.

>> All right!

>> And it can work in


>> Yes!

>> Yes!

>> And I'm convinced that wecan

go in the city of Washington and

do something and make some

changes, and when we leave,

they will have to say,

"These are they

that turned this nation

upside down in order to

get it right side up."


>> "These are they."

>> ...Brother Bill and

Brother Andy, how do you want to

conduct this part?

>> We just need to clap a

little bit.

[ Applause ]

>> The meeting went into the

night with a surprise for

Dr. King.

>> Now, some folks celebrate

Abraham Lincoln, but we gonna

celebrate Martin Luther King's

Day today.

Don't let him out of here.

>> ♪ Happy birthday to you

♪ Happy birthday to you

♪ Happy birthday, Dr. King

♪ Happy birthday to you

>> A few words...

>> This day, January 15th, was

also Martin Luther King's 39th


>> And, Doctor, we know that

you -- you really don't need

much, but we thought of some

things you ought to have.

So we searched around, and

knowing what's coming up for

you, we thought you'd be out of

shoestrings, so when you

go to jail, here's some

shoestring potatoes

we want you to have.

[ Laughter ]

>> [ Chuckles ]

>> Then, we know how fond you

are of our president,

Lyndon Johnson.

[ Laughter ]

And we know how you support him

and everything.

I've got this little cup for

you, and I want this back,

'cause this is mine.

[ Laughs ]

Let me read this.

It says, "We are cooperating

with Lyndon Johnson's

War on Poverty.

Drop coins and bills in the


[ Laughter ]

[ Speaking indistinctly ]

[ Laughter ]

Now, there's a picture of

Dr. King.

You've seen that he's in deep


You've seen that picture many

times, but it takes on new

meaning here.

It says -- caption -- "But,

seriously, President Johnson,

if the pill won't work, then

we're going to need Dr. Spock."

[ Laughter ]

[ Applause ]

>> [ Laughing ]

>> And you get a free

gift certificate to

"The Atlanta Voice," okay?

>> All right.

>> And this is a special gift

from me -- a real one.

[ Applause ]

>> [ Laughs ]

[ Speaking indistinctly ]

[ Chuckles ]

Thank you very much.

I'm just getting older,

that's all.

>> You can't trust Dr. King,

because once he say it, he's

gonna back up.

You know, he's gonna say, "Let's

go," and as soon as the man

waves something, gonna put it in

his pocket and forget it.

I'm saying, this is what is

being said.

I'm not saying I believe that.

All right?

>> Carlos Russell, a militant

and SCLC friend, but not a

member, came as devil's


>> I picture it this way.

I say that, in this country, as

I read it, the majority of

blacks relate to the charisma of

Dr. King.

All right?

Beneath that level, you find

most people relating to what is

said in the concept of

Black Power as such.

Now, if Dr. King, you know, is

serious in what he's projecting,

it seems to me that he has 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 at the cat

on the rooftop or the cop.

But unless you do that, we're


It doesn't come back to be


And I think he said, in the

skit, "Man, you talk about

another match?"

You know? You see?

I'm just trying to say --

>> Hey.

>> I don't know.

>> Hosea Williams was formerly

in charge of voter registration

for SCLC and is now

field director for the

Poor People's Campaign.

>> We have had a thing that was

not a short march towards this


Baby, we witnessed this through

in Birmingham.

Now, you got to think of this.

Now, see, you got to think all

this thing when you're talking

about it.

I know why some cats wearing

their hair long and hollering

"Black Power," baby.

You see?

You got to win in the start.

And the staff got to interpret


Now, Dr. King, when you start

talking about credibility.

And here's why I said, "The most

radical guy living in the

20th century was

Martin Luther King Jr."

It took a radical cat.

Let me say my thing, and then

I'll listen enough.

I said the most radical cat

living in the 20th century was

Martin Luther King Jr.

It took a radical cat to put

50,000 black people in Alabama

on buses.

And didn't stop there.

After they got there, took a

radical cat to say, "Now I think

I'm going to Albany, which is

another hell, and try

Chief Pritchett, the most

brilliant, brutal segregationist

in the Southland."

Well, we didn't get so much out

of Albany.

Well, you know that.

But then we said we gonna try

Bull Connor, baddest rascal in

the nation -- Bull Connor.

I'm talking about a radical cat.

I ain't talking about a cat that

sat on 125th Street and preached


I'm talking about a cat that,

"Here is my body."

Now, somebody say, "Wait a

minute, let me say my thing."

Ain't gonna be much longer,

and I'll listen at your thing,

'cause I got a thing, too.

[ Cheers and applause ]

Now, listen.

Listen, here's what I'm saying.

By no means -- BY no means are

we batting 100.

But by no means are we batting


And when we go out there, ain't

gonna lie about, I'll tell you


I'll tell you for Hosea's part.

I wouldn't go two steps to D.C.

if I wasn't going to die or

bring about some change.

Not two steps unless I'm going

to die, or we wouldn't need

welfare when we leave there

or have a good bit of welfare.

So the thing I'm trying to say

to you is this -- this is the

staff's job to interpret this

thing, when we talk about the

credibility of King.

Who has a credibility if he

doesn't have it?

Tell me.

Not some cat that makes some

fiery speeches.

But I'm talking about a cat I

don't mind -- and I'll be frank

with you.

If I ever believe in violence,

I'm gonna get me a gun and get

the head of the damn line and

start shooting like I do in

nonviolent marches.

See, I'm gonna be there for you

when the blood start flowing.

I'm gonna be there to bleed.

And the thing I'm saying, we got

to talk about our credibility.

You must never try to tell

anybody that we batting 100 or

we even batting 50.

But don't you let them thing

that we have not brought about

some change.

And I'll tell you something


You've got to think about why

Hosea wear his hair long now,

why I think the most beautiful

man in this room is Tare, 'cause

Tare blacker than anybody in

this room.

How did it come about?

There's a psychological war we

had to win, to a certain degree.

All right, go ahead.

>> The question, as I understood

it, was not the fact that

Dr. King didn't do anything.

It wasn't the issue.

The issue was, if we gonna take

people on the go-for-broke,

what are we gonna be able to

return back to Mississippi with,

in our hands?

>> Nothing.

>> What are we gonna be able to

return back to Chicago with, in

our hands?

>> Nothing.

>> And what Carlos, if I

understood, was saying, I'd like

you to face it --

>> All right.

>> ...that if we're not gonna do

that, and then he'll know, and

if we are, then we are.

>> Can I speak to that, though,

because --

>> No, no.

>> [ Speaking indistinctly ]

>> Reverend Andy Young,

executive vice president of


>> Those are the typical

questions we have to face,


And I think that there's no need

in getting excited about it.

The two questions we have to

answer -- one is SCLC's

credibility, which has been

strongly attacked by

black nationalists, mostly in

Malcolm's autobiography and

mostly by SNCC, Wilson.

[ Laughter ]

But in terms of that, I think

there's some specifics we have

to deal with.

The other thing, though, is the

question of what are we

gonna come back in our hands.

I don't think we can give

anybody any guarantees --

see? -- that we've reached a

point where we almost are where

the Jews are when Hitler took

power, that, "Are you gonna sit

by and wait until you're put in

a concentration camp, or you're

gonna organize and fight?"

Now, I don't know whether we

gonna win or lose or draw or

what we're gonna bring back, but

I'm not gonna sit by and let the

liberal wing or the progressive

forces in the Negro community

get chopped up.

I'm going to fight and --

because it's come to that point.

And I think, if the Jews had

organized and started fighting

when Hitler put the first one in

a camp -- see? -- then there

wouldn't have been 6 million of

them killed.

>> Wait, wait.

Can I relate to that now?

This is not -- I wish I could

say what I really wanted to say.

This is not nonsense, okay?

Because that is understood.

In other words, you are saying

to people, you're going there to


And then what you've done, by

saying that, there's no one

can then say that you're selling

out, you're doing nothing,

'cause you say exactly what

you're doing.

But if the thing becomes the

man, and then you don't come

back with the demand, you're in


>> Yeah.

>> Okay?

>> ♪ Oh, oh, oh,

on Freedom Road ♪

>> ♪ Yeah

>> ♪ I'm gonna let it shine

>> To deal or not with

Black Power militants, to make

demands specific or general --

these were some of the

unresolved questions.

But the meeting ended that

January night as it had begun --

on a note of joy.

>> ♪ I'm gonna let it shine

>> Now Dr. King and the field

organizers would go out, and our

chronicle of a movement would go

out with him and with them.

>> ♪ I'm gonna let it shine

♪ I'm gonna let it shine

♪ Gonna let it shine, my Lord

♪ I'm gonna let it shine

♪ I'm gonna let it shine,

shine, shine, shine ♪

♪ I'm gonna let it shine

♪ Let it shine, let it shine,

let it shine ♪

[ Airplane engine idling ]

>> Atlanta Airport, 6:00 a.m.

Martin Luther King is going to

Mississippi and Alabama to talk

to people about the campaign,

but also, as it turned out, to

go within himself, into a past

that is deeply rooted in these


>> How far is that gonna be


Mount Beulah?

>> But I'm sure Natchez is on

the other side of Jackson.

[ Indistinct conversation ]

>> Huh?

>> I think it would be too far


Natchez is more north.

[ Indistinct conversation ]

>> I don't recall.

[ Indistinct conversation ]

>> ...if things don't work out

exactly like the...

>> Well, we're trying to make it

clear, as we go along, that we

don't consider this a panacea.

Even if all of our demands were

met, it would not be an answer

to all of the Negro problems or

the problems of the poor.

This is a kind of new beginning.

This is a new beginning on the

economic front.

We've dealt with the social

question of legal segregation

to a great degree, and we've

dealt with the political power

of the right to vote with great


Now we are making a beginning on

the economic.

>> Right.

>> And we are trying to get this


Morningtime here.

Good morning, gentlemen.

>> Good morning.

>> We had sunshine in


>> At the last minute before

this trip, the charter-plane

company in Atlanta that was to

have made the trip canceled it.

"No aircraft available," was the


A second company took the trip.

But that threat of violence was

always there -- this time, fear

of a bomb in the plane.

>> What's the plan?

We're gonna be here about

two hours.

>> I can call when I get back to

church and get a man out here.

>> Hmm.

>> You can't get him in the air?

>> I believe I can.

>> Well, let me talk to his

pilot and tell him about an

hour, about picking us up.

>> They can stay around till we


>> Come back.

>> [ Speaking indistinctly ]

>> [ Speaking indistinctly ]

>> Sorry I missed you last


>> Good news.

Got the news from the national


>> Oh, great.

>> I'd like to let you know.

>> Okay.

[ Cheers and applause ]

>> Whoo!

>> ...we will build a

brotherhood undergirded by

justice and overarched by love.

This will be a great day.

>> Yeah.

>> I still believe it's coming.

And this is why I still work and

fight for it.

And this is why I can still sing

"We Shall Overcome."

[ Crowd cheers ]

We shall overcome because the

arc of the moral universe is

long but it bends toward


>> Yeah!

>> We shall overcome because

Carlisle is right --

"No lie can live forever."

We shall overcome because

William Cullen Bryant is

right -- "Truth crushed to earth

will rise again."

>> Right!

>> We shall overcome because

James Russell Lowell is right --

"Truth forever on the scaffold,

wrong forever on the throne.

Yet that scaffold sways the

future, and, behind the dim

unknown, standeth God within the

shadow, keeping watch above

His own."

>> Yeah!

We shall overcome because the

Bible is right.

>> Yeah!

>> "You shall reap what you


[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Indistinct conversations ]

Okay, Red, see you here.

All right.

>> Bye.

>> FBI claim there's three, uh,

that was gonna ambush Dr. King.

Now, I think they claim they

have found two of them, and --

>> They couldn't

[Speaking indistinctly] what

they were about --

the rear assassinator.

But that they can never get me

as a clear target, because I was


And -- But that wasn't the

scariest part.

Philadelphia, Mississippi, and

Chicago, on the day that we

marched through that narrow

street, and we marched by

4,000 or 5,000 people that day,

but they were in trees,

it was the most serious.

I guess we marched about

5 miles then.

But they had at least 10,000

whites assemble on us.

And there must have been about

4,000 policemen

trying to protect us.

But every minute, almost,

somebody's nose would get


just every way you turned.

And we went through this narrow

street with all these trees.

And the policemen were going

ahead, and they were firing at

people in these trees.

They were calling up, "Come out

of the tree," because they were

in the tree to shoot at


And they were throwing so many

rocks and things that I saw the

policemen duck.

At least one time -- do you

remember? -- it looked like you

could see 4,000 policemen duck.

They all went down.

It was -- That's a fact.

That, to me, in

Philadelphia, Mississippi.

was 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.

I mean, I had concluded.

I concluded.

That day in Philadelphia,

when I was speaking...

>> [ Speaking indistinctly ]

>> ...and Rainey was behind

me -- do you remember? --

and all those other, and I

started saying, "The murderers

are probably around," and some

man behind me say,

"You're damn right.

They're right behind you

right now."

>> Yeah, that was Rainey.

>> Rainey said it.

Said, "Yeah, I'm right behind



And, brother -- And I was

speaking, they all standing

behind me.

And I just knew

they had never seen...

Was it -- Did I pray, or did

Ralph pray?

>> Ralph prayed.

>> Yeah, Ralph prayed that day.

And, uh, we had to close our


And I just knew then that they

was not gonna.

But Bernhard never --

>> Never did.

[ Laughter ]

>> [ Speaking indistinctly ]

>> Ralph says he prayed with

his open.

[ Laughter ]

But I closed my eyes.

I really did.

>> [ Laughs ]

>> Brother, that was some day.

[ Choir singing indistinctly ]

>> Birmingham, Alabama.

This church meeting of King's

began with Hosea Williams.

[ Singing continues ]

>> But there's a lot of

questions being asked around

this country, "Why are y'all

going to Washington?

Why is Martin Luther King Jr.

talking about a Poor People's


>> Uh-huh.

>> I don't have no questions.

I don't have no problem

answering that question.

I just want to be free, and I

don't like what's staring at me

in the face.

I don't normally get out to

the fine parks and articulate

parks and all that.

I don't want to deal with that.

>> Oh, no.

>> I know I am a child of God.

>> Yeah!

>> And I know I'm a citizen of

this United States of America.

>> Yeah!

>> And I know I'm still a slave.

And I know the flame of freedom

is still burning in my heart.

>> Uh-huh.

>> I'm not worried about all

them funny kind of talk

people talking about.

>> Oh, no.

>> But I'm gonna do this.

>> Uh-huh.

>> ♪ I'm gonna do what the

Spirit says to do ♪

♪ I'm gonna do what the Spirit

says to do ♪


♪ Oh, what

>> ♪ The Spirit says

in my heart ♪

♪ I'm gonna do what the Spirit

says to do ♪

♪ What the Spirit says

>> The other thing I want you to

understand is this.

[ Camera shutters clicking ]

That it didn't cost the nation

one penny to integrate lunch


>> Oh, yeah.

>> It didn't cost the nation

one penny to guarantee the right

to vote.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> 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


>> Yeah, yeah.

>> Therefore, we must see that

it is much easier to integrate a

lunch counter than it is to

eradicate slums.

>> Yes, sir.

>> It is easier to guarantee the

right to vote than it is to

guarantee an annual income or to

create jobs.

We've got to see that this is a

different era.

I see a lot of cynicism around.

>> Yeah.

>> A lot of despair, and it's

understandable despair.

>> Yes.

>> And I've tried to say them,

"Don't lose hope.

Don't give up.

Take your disappointments

and transform them into your

own assets and into something


>> Yeah.

>> So let us not despair, and

let's not give up.

Let's have equality even in the

midst of our suffering and our


>> yeah.

>> I said we are going on


>> Yeah!

>> Hi, hi!


[ Cheers and applause ]

Glad to see all of you.

Thank you.

[ Cheering continues ]

How are you all doing?



Got a black movement right here.

>> Yes, sir. [ Chuckles ]

>> I know all of you are

studying hard and you're just

doing fine in school, and I'm

glad to see you.

>> We are glad to seeyou.

>> Thank you very much.

We are rushing to get over to

Alabama, and we've enjoyed being

in Mississippi today.

>> Okay, thank you for coming.

>> Thank you.

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Speaking indistinctly ]

>> [ Speaking indistinctly ]

[ Indistinct conversation ]

>> Goodbye.

>> Bye.

>> Bye.

>> All right, bye-bye.

>> Bye-bye.

>> And they took those peas --

And they took those peas, just

peas and water, and...

>> In the plane, the long last

leg of the trip back to Atlanta,

Hosea Williams and King passed

the time with something

familiar -- memories of jail

and the food they remember in


Hosea thinks he's been in jail

42 times; King, 19.

>> That stood it up.

And you come along with that

gallon bucket, and they would

scoop that in, give you a scoop

of them peas and a scoop of that


[ Speaking indistinctly ]

>> We had the queens of...

>> Hosea's experience with jail

food seemed to be bad, but King,

who is hoarse now from the

constant speaking, remembers

better days.

>> They were so good, they gave

us -- we literally named the


We planned the menu every day.

>> [ Laughs ]

>> Do you know, when they

finally put us -- when they

finally said we could leave,

see, all of us said we'd just

stay forever.

We were not signing any bond.

So, after about six days, they

decided everybody would have to

leave on their own recognizance.

>> [ Chuckles ]

>> Do you know, they had a

sit-in, they didn't want to

leave the jail?

[ Laughter ]

They did not want to leave.

They had a better time in there

than they were having in


Certainly, better food.

Better food.

[ Airplane engine whirring ]

[ Airplane engine idling ]

>> The Atlanta Airport again.

In a few days, an important

staff planning session will take

place here, and we will be here.

But, for the moment, a goodbye.

>> Well, you're all going home,


>> Yeah.

>> See you. See you soon.

>> Thanks a lot.

So long.

>> I do, but I think I've

discussed most of them with


>> The pastor's study at the

Ebenezer Church in Atlanta,

at lunchtime.

A planning meeting for the

campaign, to discuss how to

present demands in Washington.

>> But one of the problems is

that I'm running into so many

people now

who, everywhere I go to speak,

you know, the first thing they

say, "I want to be in


Now, they are not people who can

stay for the whole period, but

they are people who would

certainly be willing to come for

a one-, two-, or three-day


And we just got to -- I don't

know what to tell them, you

know, other than, "Yeah, we want

you in Washington."

But I don't know anything to say

beyond that.

And the other thing is, the

staff will have to be doing a

dual job.

One will be recruiting the 200

or 300, but at the same time,

they've got to try to let the

whole community to the larger

thing, andthey need to know.

>> Not necessarily.

>> Well, let's see.

Andy was suggesting an idea this

morning, which sounds pretty


>> Reverend Bernard Lafayette.

>> That is, on the whole

biblical story of marching

around the walls of Jericho

seven times.

It seemed to me, we can begin to

build up, every Sunday, a big

march that would, you know,

march around the Capitol

someplace, maybe draw upon the

local resources, and that's

where people can come.

And that thing can begin to grow

and develop.

By the time we get to the

seventh march, it could really

be massive for those people

who can't be there full time.

Every weekend, it seem to me,

that people, you know, know

that's a place to come.

So they can come far and near.

People who are near it can come

every Sunday, and those who are

far away can plan to make it


That's a certain number of


>> I kind of believe we can get

a half-million people in

Washington at one time.

And, uh...

it would be we wouldn't have to

lead them in any kind of civil


A half a million people would

automatically disrupt, just our


>> You know, I've noticed,

as long as something is getting

bigger and bigger and bigger,

you don't have nothing to worry


>> Right.

>> But don't let that thing go

too fast on you and you can't

maintain that growth, Doctor.

When that thing start dying

out, that number start dying

down, you're in trouble.

So I'd just keep that in mind.

>> Well, I've felt that

throughout the campaign, it

ought to be a continuing,

massive lobbying.

>> That's right.

>> Now, not just one day.

Every time people come in that

town, they ought to go straight

to Capitol Hill, to the

departments of government --

Justice Department,

Department of Commerce, the

Health, Welfare and Education.

They just go in, day in and day


>> What I think probably should

start in Washington is the

visitation of Congressmen by

the group that's with you.

>> We should go to Washington

three or four days before we

start any action,

not only to talk with the heads

of various, uh, Congressional

committees and departments of

government, but also try to get

them to call together some of

the very important committees of


>> If you go there and ask for

what we really want, you got as

much change of getting it as

flying from the top of this


You ain't gonna get it.

>> It's not whether he gets it.

It's what he does with it.

>> Well -- Well, see, that's

up to us.

We're not supposed to be

babes in the woods.

We got our newspeople.

We got television, we got radio,

and let's make a big deal out of

it that the executives of this

nation have refused us.

>> Let's call the press.

We did.

>> I think we got to use another

kind of jujitsu here.

I don't think -- I think we got

to pit the president against the


I don't think we ought to make

this an anti-Lyndon Johnson


>> I know, I know, I know.

>> I really think that we ought

to leave Lyndon alone and go on

and throw attention on the

Congress and have Lyndon in the

position where he'll almost be

forced to support us.

Split them.

>> I'm not saying, "Make an


Well, I don't want to get into

it -- I want to get into it

because it's something I've been

fighting for.

I'm saying we ought to meet with

the seat of power in this nation

and make a demand before we go

into action.

>> The Congress is a greater

seat of power than the Executive

because it can negate anything

the Executive has done.

Let's go on to the other thing.

We are having -- We decided to

have a meeting tonight, and

we're having it today.

Now, those are the things that

y'all ought to really think

through tonight.

And then we...

Even this question of meeting

with the President and all of

that, you think through that


And then we come back with

something very concrete

tomorrow, and let's try to

finalize it by next Monday.

And we all understand that any

kind of action is tentative.

Once you get in action, things

can happen to cause you to

change your strategy and

everything else.

But we do need this tentative

plan of action.

And let's work on that tonight

and get to these other things


>> New York City, the youth

center in Astoria, Queens.

>> A presentation by Jim Collier

on my right and

Fred Kirkpatrick on my left.

These two gentlemen have come


>> Dr. King's two organizers

here have found one unique way

of reaching potential marchers

for the campaign -- with their

own songs about it.

>> play some songs for

you, and then they're gonna

tell you about

Dr. Martin Luther King's

campaign to march on Washington

with a number of poor people and

to try to get the rights that

the poor people in this country

are entitled to.

[ Applause ]

>> First song we'll do for you

is "Everybody's Got a Right to


Don't you believe that?

Everybody got a right to live.

Jesus died that we all might

have a right to a free life,

didn't he?

You know the history of it.

You read the story.

So we feel that everybody got a

right to live.


♪ Everybody's got a right

to live ♪

♪ Everybody's got a right

to live ♪

♪ And before this campaign

fails ♪

♪ We'll all go down in jail

♪ Everybody's got a right

to live ♪

♪ On my way to Washington

♪ Feelin' awful sad

♪ Thinkin' 'bout an income

♪ That I never had

♪ Everybody's got a right

to live ♪

♪ Everybody's got a right

to live ♪

♪ And before this campaign

fails ♪

♪ We'll all go down in jail

♪ Everybody's got a right

to live ♪

Looky here.

♪ The black man picks

the cotton ♪

♪ Long time ago

♪ He's been the victim

♪ Since they brought him

to this shore ♪

♪ Black man dug the ditches

♪ Heeled down the pine

♪ Gave his troubles to Jesus

♪ And he kept on

toeing the line ♪

♪ Everybody's got a right

to live ♪

>> Yeah.

>> ♪ Everybody's got a right

to live ♪

Clap your hands, if you want.

>> ♪ And before this campaign

fails ♪

>> ♪ Yes, we'll all

go down in jail ♪

♪ Everybody's got a right

to live ♪


♪ Black man dug the pipelines

♪ Both night and day

♪ Black man did the work

♪ While the white man

got the pay ♪

♪ Now looky here, Congress

♪ This is a brand-new day

♪ No more full-time work

♪ No more part-time pay

♪ Everybody's got a right

to live ♪

♪ Everybody's got a right

to live ♪

♪ And before this campaign

fails ♪

♪ We all go down in jail

♪ Everybody's got a right

to live ♪

Come on.

♪ Everybody's got a right

to live ♪

Sing the song!

♪ Everybody's got a right

to live ♪

♪ And before this campaign

fails ♪

♪ We'll all go down in jail

♪ Everybody's got a right

to live ♪

[ Applause ]

That was very good.

Very good.

They really sang, too.

They really clapped their hands.

Everybody got a right to live.

>> In Grenada, Mississippi,

Leon Hall has found another way

to recruit for King's march --

to use an already existing


In this case, his own successful

two-year boycott of white-owned


>> How you do, pops?

Bro, that store I done been.

That one next door to it.

I got two or three on this side

of town.

A whole line of them.

That one.

All of them there.

That one on the corner, we drove

all those out of business.

That one there, we just killed

them crackers on that side of

the street.

Good morning, gentlemen.

How you all feel?

Y'all ain't shopping out here

this morning, are you?

>> No, no.

>> That's right.

Don't y'all shop down here.

Don't buy nothin' from no


Yes, sir.

We're gonna have us a colored

man run for mayor soon.

I want y'all to vote for me.

Them stores over there, we got

that second one over there, that

big one down there with that

dollar sign.

That was the biggest supermarket

in Mississippi.

They had sales every week for

the last two years.

They had to have sales.

Look at them nice suits in

there, too.

I like that coat, man.

>> Leon, out recruiting for

King, had learned that there was

still time for him to get a

candidate on the ballot in a

local election.

>> Just trying to figure out,

would it be best --

I need to have somebody that's

looking and saying, "I need to

know what is best for that guy

to run for city councilman or

run for mayor.

Good morning.

How y'all feel?

Get out that truck, man.

How you feel?

I come to talk business, you

sitting up in a truck.


I know what y'all doing.

>> Discussing business.

>> Yes, sir, I figured that.

We don't need no petition.

You just need to pay $10,

qualifying fee.

Now that's what them crackers


>> Uh-huh.

What we gonna do --

And the deadline's tomorrow.

So what we want you to do is pay

that qualifying fee today.

>> Okay.

>> Okay.

>> But the main business at hand

this day in early March, with

six weeks to go to the target

date in Washington, was

recruiting, and Leon would drive

450 miles today.

But he knew that here, Dr. King

was the right man to be working


>> In the South, King is still

the leader.

Now, the North, they got little


But in the South, come hell or

high water, whomever he may be,

they don't have no stuff on

Martin Luther King.

And here's the thing -- I'm glad

of it, but --

And, see, the thing that makes

King so successful in the South,

it isn't that he spent so much

time --

I think he spends very little

time here.

But it's 'cause of our people

that are out in different

communities working, and I --

And one thing about our staff,

our staff works, for the most


Particularly in the South,

'cause you have to work to stay

on top of things.

I tell you, you don't get a

chance to rest and drink scotch

and eat caviar...

You gonna work down here.

>> You've got to get your list

of your demands.

Like just what she said, put it

on paper.

>> Leon Hall's technique for

involvement is in listing

specific grievances.

And here, in Quitman County,

Mississippi, the poorest county

in America, there are a lot of


>> ...go to Washington with a


>> That's right.

>> ...with the county name over

it, saying, "The people in

Quitman County tired of, missed

that opportunity, or they tired

of et cetera.

We tired of people in

Quitman County living on farms

and working that day in and day

out till they kill themselves

and don't even have a burial

parlor, so don't know how they

gonna be put in the ground.

So you've got to get this list

to me.

We want, county by county, a

list of your specific demands.

No matter if you don't --

Don't even worry about it.

You may say what they already

talked about -- housing, jobs --

Put it down on there.

We want everybody that's got --

Whatever you're gripin', you're

just mad about the garbage man

don't pick up the garbage.

Put that down and get your list

of your grievances down.

>> What we concerned about is,

we have...

And this money they said that

when they first established,

they told us that it was to help


And Quitman County never reached


What supervisors and local

government handling this money

and what they're planning to do

with it, we don't know, but

that's what we concerned about.

In six days, what is they gonna

do with this money?

Why should my son got to go

to...when the white man back

here taking everything, and then

he gonna leave his mama here,

and she ain't have -- had no


And the problem is right over

there in the local -- in the

local government's hands.

>> We've got to get our demands


Don't worry about how many it


Some people have been telling me

about, "We cut it down."

Put every one of them down


Put every one of them, whatever

you mad about.

>> Then, to a meeting room of

the Freedom Democratic Party in

Hattiesburg, an activist group

formed by Stokely Carmichael,

Leon's old friend.

Leon will work with these

people, recruiting for the

campaign, but the choice for

Leon between Carmichael and King

as a leader has been made.

Leon went with King.

>> We ain't barring nobody.

And don't be worried about it.

You know there's some young cats

arriving, some young guys, like

myself, who mad about going to

that war in Vietnam.

>> That's right.

>> And they mad because they

can't do nothing but stand on

that block in front of that pool

room down the street down there

or in that hole in the wall

that's in there now and then.

Ain't got nothing to do.

That's just like a job to them.

They sit there all day long,

like a knot on a log.

Tell them, say, "Come on, y'all.

I know some of us may be scared

to go down there 'cause they

look so rough, but go and talk

to them."

Right now, we're trying to

recruit the black nationalists

and guys that are so upset about

it and so frustrated, 'cause

these are the kind of cats who

find some of your most

articulate black people, some of

your most energetic black

people, some of the smartest

black folks in the country, and

they're nationalists.

They've gotten caught up in a

bind, and they're so frustrated,

and they just can't take it no


They said, "Before I'll be a

slave, I'd truly rather be dead

than in my grave."

So what'd they say?

"We'll go out and burn down the

town if it comes to that."

Now, these are the kind of

people we need, to take them and

bring all that energy you want

to burn with and sit up there

and talk to President Johnson

and look him right square in the

eye and tell him like a man.

Say, "Now, Brother Johnson, we

here one last time to tell you.

Now you gonna have to stop the

war in Vietnam, first of all.

Secondly, bring the money from

Vietnam that you were gonna

spend down to Mississippi, feed

us with it.

Come and re-fund these

Head Start programs."

And I realize when I get to

Washington, it ain't gonna be no

easy job, it ain't gonna be a

thing I can march today and sing

"We shall overcome," and come

back home.

I may have to sleep on the

cherry tree.

I may have to sleep out on the

Washington Monument.

I may be in jail sleeping.

But whatever it is, I don't

care, 'cause I know what I'm

asking for, if I get it, I ain't

got no more problems worrying

about something to eat.

I ain't got no problem worrying

about somewhere to sleep.

The one problem is, we got to

get together.

We got to put some massive

pressure on him.

Just like when a snake bites you

on your leg.

You've got to put pressure, keep

it from blood poisoning.

And I'll tell you, we got snake

poisoning in us.

Some rattlesnake done bit this


Whether we want it or not.

The core thing is moving up.

The venom from this snake has

spread through us, and it's by

the disguise of racism.

>> That's right.

>> That's what it is.

>> An Atlanta motel, March 14th.

A critical meeting in the

Poor People's Campaign begins

with a tribute to Dr. King by

Andy Young.

>> ...usually in the most

emotional and arousing part of

his particular speech or

announcement, they see a

caricature of a man.

We very seldom think that

"Here's a man like us, like

other men, a man with four nice

children that he sees very

seldom, a man who pastors one of

the largest Baptist churches in

the Southwest -- uh, Southeast

with his father, and who, in

spite of a very busy schedule,

manages to preach usually about

three Sundays a month in his own


I think we very seldom realize

the extent to which Dr. King is

the backbone and substance of

the Southern Christian

Leadership Conference, that not

only is he the executive head,

even though many of the rest of

us have executive titles, he

basically has most of the burden

put on his shoulders.

He's our chief fundraiser for

one of the reasons we are

struggling with this meeting

today is that we made a decision

to go to Washington to do

something, to dramatize the

plight of the poor in this

nation, but it wasn't till after

we made the decision to go and

it was announced that we decided

we better sit down and think

where the money's coming from.

But this is the way we found

that we've had to work over the

past few years, and, usually, it

does come from somewhere, so...

I think he's a leader of faith

who's leading us on some very

expensive and faithful ventures.

The day-to-day administrative

struggles, the day-to-day family

relationships, the day-to-day

problems as a counselor and

pastor for those of us who are

close to him and for the staff,

I think, is something that

almost never gets reported.

And so, with Dr. King, I'd like

to introduce his wife,

Mrs. Coretta Scott King.

Young lady who hails from the

black belt of Alabama, from

Perry County, and...

who has really been the strong


And somebody said that "Behind

every great man, there's a woman

nagging him to death."

Well, nothing could be further

from the truth in the case of

Coretta King.

Or I think, if it's one thing

that stands forth as her

crowning virtue, it's her

complete understanding and

devotion to the work of her

husband, so that in the last

10 years, whether it be the

bombing of their home or the

continued absence in the face of

illness or the problems of the

children, I've never known of or

heard tell of a single


And so I'd like to introduce

them together and invite

Dr. King to come forward and

bring you words on our

Poor People's Campaign in


Dr. and Mrs. King.

[ Applause ]

>> Thank you very kindly.

This is a marvelous development,

in the sense that we assemble

here together today with common

problems, bringing together

ethnic groups that maybe have

not been together in this type

of meeting in the past.

I know I haven't been in a

meeting like this, and it's been

one of my dreams that we would

come together and realize our

common problems.

And I do want to express my deep

personal gratitude and the

appreciation of the Southern

Christian Leadership Conference

to each of you.

>> This meeting of other poor

groups had twice been postponed,

and King and his staff had

worried about weak or no


The number, nearly 100

organizers representing many

thousands, surprised him.

And the depth of their

commitment was obvious.

>> And powerful poor people will

really mean having the ability,

the togetherness, the

assertiveness, and the

aggressiveness to make the power

structure of this nation, say

years, when they may be desirous

of saying, "No."

And it is my hope that we will

get together and be together and

really stand up to gain powerful

poor people -- black people,


American Indians, Puerto Ricans,

Appalachian whites -- all

working together to solve the

problem of poverty.

>> So, what we're talking about

now -- how do we effectively...

>> Reverend Bevel, the

Nonviolence Director, explained

the psychology of the march.

>> If you go to Washington and

knock a policeman's eye out, for

the next two weeks, the

newspapers write about a

one-eyed policeman.

[ Laughter ]

The issue is not a policeman.


We don't want papers discussing

one-eyed policemen.

We want the papers to discuss

the issue.

So that's why we don't get

caught up in throwing rocks


Because we are getting a truth


We say that our very presence on

the issue will so convey the

truth that the people -- poor

people and middle-class

people -- who now support the

position of the rich people,

will support our position, which

creates a dynamic political


But you can't do that when you

get to arguing about whether you

should beat up on Lady Bird.

That is not the issue.

[ Laughter ]

You see? That is not the issue.

The issue is whether people that

was born on this Earth should

share the resources.

So we keep that issue clear.

That's very clear.

That's all we talk about -- one


Poor people must have the right

to eat.

Poor people must have the right

to eat.

It's like music, you see?

You sing it, you march it, you

say it.

It's called political


It comes to the consciousness,

and the people can act on them.

That's what -- That's wisdom.

Now, that doesn't get down to

all this scheming and killing

and shooting and lying, and

that's why the nonviolent

movement, you don't have to have

schemes and tricks.

Because you're conveying a

truth, a reality.

The only thing we say is, "You

got to live the reality."

So we don't go looking pitiful.

We don't go using nonviolence

'cause we scared.

We go using nonviolence because

we're superior.

We are educators, you see.

[ Applause ]

>> Invariably, King had had to

leave, this time to fly to


But what he had begun continued.

>> Mr. Chairman, ladies and

gentlemen --

Let me get untied from this


There's been a lot of talk here

today, and there's two words

that we think, within ourselves,

should be excluded among us, as

far as the dictionary is

concerned -- prejudice and

racism should be completely


Because we are human beings,

regardless of the color of our

skin, the talk of our tongue, or

whatever it might be.

We are human beings.

>> Amen.

[ Applause ]

>> Now, the reason that we have

to organize together and stick

together is that the same system

that holds the white man down

holds the black man down, holds

the Mexican down.

[ Applause ]

And until we rid ourselves of

this cancer, this is exactly

what it would refer to.

The system is eating us and

killing us, keeping us under the

feet for the power structure,

and until we attack this here

system and get rid of it, we

will never get anywhere, and

we'll have to do it as a united

body, regardless of who we are.

Thank you.

>> That's right!

[ Applause ]

>> If we can get all poor people

together, regardless of race,

creed, or color, to go to

Washington -- stay if we have

to -- that's one thing now that

scares the power structure is

when poor, white, black, or

whatever gets together.

That scares the hell out of


>> So they breed that white


White power breeded black power,

and they breeded the brown power

and the red power.

So as religious differences and

walls are coming down, colors

are going up.

[ Cheers and applause ]

It is for us to start learning,

the denominator, how to combine

colors, as a good artist.


It is our job to combine the

colors and bring peace to our


[ Applause ]

So, as much as I hate it and as

much as you hate it, more and

more, we are seeing that the

destiny of this country will be

decided on the basis of color.

So let's take time, let's start


Right now!

Yes, there's plenty of

differences between the black

people and the Indian tribes --

they're all fighting against

each other -- and the


But those differences are too


God is not against those


God is against this monster!

The white devil!

The white power!

>> We must face the fact that

SCLC has laid the foundation for

this particular movement to

Washington already.

That's clear.

I would hope...

I would hope that SCLC would

make that as a contribution to

something larger and be willing

to -- to, uh, invite not just

nominal participation but real

participation in formulating the

program from here on out.

>> I want to know...

>> Reverend Ralph Abernathy,

Vice President at Large of SCLC

and Martin Luther King's oldest

friend in the Civil Rights


>> Isn't that right?

>> Right.

>> Are you with this

Poor People's Campaign?

>> Yeah!

[ Applause ]

>> If so, raise your hand.

All right, get that written


[ Laughter ]

With the movement.

With this Poor People's


Now, who is it?

Now I've got to run now to

preach a sermon.

[ Laughter ]

But I did want to get that on

the record before I left.

Now, who is the next speaker?

>> The meeting broke into

smaller groups, each minority,

to try and relate its problems

to the King leadership.

The white minority meeting was

especially heated, filled with

concern over the possibility

that King's presence would

overshadow their demands.

Jose Williams was there to try

to moderate.

>> But Dr. King is much desirous

of the greater participation on

the part of all, even up to the

decision-making left.

>> Well, there's no argument


What we're discussing --

>> That's not what the question


The question was about, that

Dr. King is so well-known that

what's gonna happen is the

tendency is going to be -- is to

focus on him.

I mean, everybody knows that,

and it's not Dr. King's fault.

But that's a fact, that things

are going to focus on him, and

it is important that the public

relations, the way in which the

thing is handled, is it -- is it

white folks from --

That it not be just, you know,

"Well, there happens to be a

group of white faces out in this

black mass, and there's Dr. King

standing up doing it, with all

the --

But the country understand that

there are -- that there are

white people also involved in

this thing to the degree that

they are involved in the

presentation of demands, that

they have complaints, and that

poor white people are screwed,

too, and here are their things.

And this is not...

>> But it's different than a

white liberal.

That's true.

>> But here's the thing I'm

saying, brother.

Uh, let me tell you, I got a

theory that I often talk about

that I'm not sure.

I know that we black folks have

always said that we'd never get

nowhere simply because we were

like a bunch of crabs.

And every time one cat get

almost to the top of the bell,

another cat grabs him by the

leg, and he's up behind another

cat, another cat grabs, and all

the damn crabs fall.

We say that we've been in that

bell since slavery.

Now, this is the truth for --

This is the same thing that's

true with ethnic groups.

I got an idea that black folks

and --

'Cause Dr. King was not a

well-known leader in Montgomery,


But black folks understood their

dilemma, and they decided they

had to have a leader.

>> They made him a leader.

>> And they made him a leader.

It just so happened they were so

lucky -- and I guess it's the

work of God -- they picked the

cat that could articulate the


They might've picked another

cat, too, but here was a young

boy, educated, and had a heart

and a soul and a feeling for


And they start, in Montgomery,

Alabama, all the preachers, all

the Negro, everybody start from

high heaven,

"Martin Luther King Jr.'s our


And it coagulated, the whole

city, the forces of goodwill.

That isn't what I --

And I hope he'll be your leader

just like he mine.

'Cause what we're going to

Washington for is to chop up,

you know --

And I want to say this.

People deal in semantics.

I'm saying this to show you why

he --

I'm hoping that he can

articulate, when he speak, he is

the man articulating what all of

us want, not just what the black

folks want.

So what the white folk want?

Because if you can't get some

source of unanimity --

If the white people want to get

over here and speak what they

want and the Mexican-American

got to get over here and speak,

then this is the division again.

>> How many rednecks and

crackers have you got in this


You haven't got none.

And I base that on the fact that

they can't relate to a black man

telling them that they're equal

to a black man because their

condition is the same.

>> All he's saying is not that

Dr. King doesn't articulate the

demands of everybody.

That's fine.

All he's saying is that, out of

this, Southern white people

probably hope to get some kind

of leadership, and the

leadership is also gonna have to

come into the position of

speaking to the press, of

getting militant, of demanding

things, of just being a Southern


You agree with it, I think.

>> Let me ask you a question.

Because I'm really --

I'm worried about this point.

When that white man, that

redneck's standing up there,

then he talk, I want him to talk

for me, too.

>> Okay.

>> ♪ Turn me around

♪ Turn me around

♪ Ain't gonna let Old Tom

♪ Turn me around

♪ I'm gonna keep on...

>> Later that night, the

steering committee for the

campaign voted to include two

members from each of the other


This meeting, like that earlier

one in Atlanta, ended with joy

and singing.

[ Applause ]

>> Then, we need to do that...

>> Lorraine Motel in Memphis,


Planning for the campaign in

Washington was continuing, and

it moved to Memphis because

Dr. King had come here to speak

this night to a rally of 10,000

persons gathered to support a

sanitation workers' strike.

While they waited for him,

logistics in Washington were

advised because of the success

of the other minorities meeting.

>> ...may need more than one of

these sites.

What I'm wondering is whether or

not --

And this is really sort of a


>> Bill Rutherford, SCLC,

executive director.

>> ...if any one of these sites

would be enough to house 15,000


>> I think we ought to go and

see what happens.

We ought to go in and...

>> Well, aren't they gonna --

Point you're just making to me

now that we're not using that as

a part of the demonstration.

We're trying to prepare housing

for the people who are gonna

come to Washington.

>> Right. So let someone go in

advance and do that.

Don't wait till people get


Let them go ahead and start

building permanent sites for


>> Well, then if we're not using

it as a part of the

demonstration, why not go ahead

and ask for permission to build

a permanent housing site here

and use the other sites as --

>> Well, what if they let us use

it without asking for


Let's see what happens.

>> After midnight, King returned

to the Lorraine.

Now the staff wanted to discuss

with him whether or not he

should take part in a march

planned in support of the


Some opposed it, saying it would

take valuable planning time away

from the larger campaign.

A college choral group was there

and wanted to sing for him.

King, visibly tired, weighing

Memphis against Washington,


Our reporting understanding with

him involved the Washington

campaign only, and so we agreed

to leave when the students did,

after the song had ended.

>> ♪ Hallelujah

♪ Hallelujah

♪ Hallelujah

♪ Hallelujah

♪ Hallelujah

♪ Hallelujah

♪ Hallelujah

♪ Hallelujah

♪ Hallelujah

♪ Hallelujah

♪ Hallelujah

♪ Hallelujah

♪ Hallelujah

♪ Hallel-u-u-u-ujah

♪ Hallelujah

♪ Am-e-e-en

[ Applause ]

>> The decision is made late

that night here in the Lorraine.

King will come back to Memphis.

Now, the next morning, he is

driving south into the

Mississippi Delta country, a

land of often extreme poverty

but a solid base of support for


Marks, Mississippi, in

Quitman County, the country's


The church here has been filled

for hours.

King has come to listen and

speak to mothers on welfare.

Many men cannot get into the

church, but they wait outside


There is no reason not to.

They are out of work.

>> You all are really to be


And I want you to know that you

have my moral support.

I'm gonna be praying for you,

I'm gonna be coming back to see

you, and we are gonna be

demanding, when we go to

Washington, that something be

done and done immediately about

these conditions.


Madam, uh...?

>> Bond.

>> Bond? Yes.

>> I am a mother with six kids,

six children.

I live on a plantation, an old

piece of house, and my husband

work on the plantation.

He don't make make --

Man just give him $8 a day.

I don't have a job, and it's

hard for him to make a job with

$8 a day and nothing else to go

up against.

I got one son stopped school

because I didn't have the money

to buy him the clothes that he

needed to wear, and he just

dropped out of school.

And a lot of time, I don't even

know where I'm gonna get the

next meal for my children.

>> My, my.

>> It's just hard.

People just don't know, but it's

really hard.

Not only me, it's so many more

that's in the same shape.

I'm not the only one.

There's just so many of us right

around that just children don't

have shoes, clothes, just to go


He's naked and hungry.

You have to cook your children

pinto beans morning, noon, and


They don't know what it is to

get a good meal.

We go work in this man's house

for $2 a day.

If you don't want to do that,

she tell us, "Well, you got to


See, where you gonna go if you

don't have nowhere to go to?

You ain't got nowhere to go to.

>> And I just have to stretch

everything I can for my


>> Uh-huh.

>> And so...

I got a friend.

He helping me with the children,

but he ain't able to give them

what they need.

>> Get this lady...

I've listen, uh...

to your problems, and they have

deeply moved me.

To find people without adequate

food to eat and unable to get

shoes for their children, unable

to send their children to school

is just something that shocks


And that makes me more

determined to go to Washington

in this movement.

Now, I want some of you all to

go to Washington with us, even

if you have to bring your whole


We are gonna have in Washington

facilities, and we are gonna

have food, and we are gonna

demand that the government do

something about these

conditions, and we are gonna

demand that they stop cutting

off poverty funds, which end up,

often, making the rich richer...

>> That's right!

>> ...and the poor poorer.

[ Cheers and applause ]

Now, we're gonna do this, and I

just want you to know how deeply

moved I have been.

I've listened to your problem,

and it is -- it has touched me.

>> It is awful, Doctor.

>> And I just want you to know

that are with you, and we are

gonna work with you and work in

your behalf.

It's a sin, it's criminal, for

people to have to live in this

kind of poor situation.

>> Batesville, Mississippi.

King, always running behind

schedule, is now more than two

hours late, but no one leaves.

[ Choir singing in distance ]


>> Hello.

>> Hey. How you doing?

>> Fine. How are you doing?

Who are you, brother?

>> Miles.

>> Miles.

This is Dr. Abernathy.

>> Nice to know you.

>> Yes, sir.

Glad to see you.

>> We have a congregation that's

waiting back there.

>> All right.

>> We're gonna get right in the


We're running late.

[ Indistinct conversations ]

Yeah, get it.

>> Hey, now.

>> Glad you're here.

>> Yes, sir.

>> Which way?

Just follow him.

>> Speak in a minute.

[ Choir singing ]


[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Cheering intensifies ]

>> We're gonna start right away.

But now we're getting ready to

deal with the economic issue.

We're getting ready to demand

jobs and income.

We're tired of working full-time

jobs for part-time income.

>> All right, all right.

>> We are tired of living in

run-down, dilapidated,

rat-infested shacks and slums.

We are tired of our children...

>> All right.

>> ...having to attend

overcrowded, inferior schools.

>> Make it plain.

>> And we are tired...

of our men not being able to be

men because they can't find


So we are going this time not to


not to Montgomery...

not to Atlanta.

We are going this time to the

seat of government.

We are going to Washington, D.C.

>> Yes, sir.

[ Cheers and applause ]

>> And we are going there to

take the burdens of poor people.

We are poverty-stricken, and we

have been at the bottom too


>> All right.

>> And we are determined to come


Thanks, man.

How you doing?

Good to see you.

>> You gonna stop somewhere for

a bite to eat?

>> We're gonna eat in Marks, I


But we got to make some brief

stop on the way into Marks.

I don't remember where it is.

Somebody reminded me.

Then we'll eat at Marks.

>> Uh-huh.

>> I'll catch up with you then.

>> See you all.

You all just took off from

school, huh?

>> Yes, sir.

>> All right, see you later,


>> Bye.

>> All right, bye-bye.

>> I got to come in here.

>> All right.

>> Everybody shake his hand,


>> Wonderful.

>> Shake it once.

>> And we want you all to come

on to Washington when you get

out of school.

>> Yes, sir, we will.

>> Big time in Washington.

Yes, sir.

Good luck, hear?


>> Bye.

[ Indistinct conversations ]

>> Rick, tell Jose and Ralph to

rush on.

We --

Hello. Give me some sugar.

>> Where we stopping?

Where we stopping?

>> Ah, I like you.

>> Where we stopping?

Is there some town between here

and Marks?

>> You said something about we

had a stop, but he didn't say

where it was.

>> How you been?

>> Fine. How you been?

>> All right.

>> Fine.

>> Yeah.

How you doing?

All right, then.

>> Fine. How you feeling?

Glad to see you.

You said somewhere about we

gonna stop on the way.

>> The Poor People's Campaign is

well under way.

This trip, for King, is the

first in a national tour for it.

But he has also agreed now to

march in Memphis, somehow trying

to fit that into the already

overfilled schedule.

He will go back, and he does.

This film report was to

continue, but it doesn't.

>> I'm Joe Louw.

Last Thursday, I was at the

Lorraine Motel in Memphis,

waiting to cover the next part

of the story of Dr. King's

Poor People's Campaign.

At 6:00, I went back to my room

to watch the "Huntley-Brinkley"


I was in room 309.

Dr. King was in room 306, less

than 60 feet away.

As soon as I turned on the

television set, he came on the

screen, speaking to the audience

he had addressed the night


He was saying very powerfully

that he was ready to die.

When the program ended, I

reached over to turn the set


That was when I heard the shot

ring out.

At first, it sounded like a loud

explosion, but there was an echo

right after it.

I knew something had happened,

and I rushed out on the balcony.

I saw Dr. King lying about

40 feet away.

Ralph Abernathy was there and so

was Andy Young.

I was the only photographer.

I raced back to my room to get

my cameras.

Then, I ran along the balcony to

where he was.

I saw that the wound was bad,

very bad.

Blood was gushing out of the

side of his neck.

His lips seemed to be forming a

last word, a final, "Oh."

Reverend Young and the others

were pointing out across the

street in the direction the shot

had come from.

Police poured down the street,

running with rifles.

The scene was confused and


Word spread that an assassin had


Who had fired the shot?

Police seemed to be everywhere.

More trouble had been expected,

but not this.

The men who had come so far with

Dr. King were helpless now,

Young and Abernathy.

Reverend Abernathy had put a

white cloth to the wound, trying

to close it.

It was no use.

Then, Abernathy was praying, his

head down, his words barely


As I looked at Dr. King, I could

almost feel the wound myself.

Police swarmed toward the place

from which the shot must've


Dr. King's Memphis chauffeur had

tears running down his face.

The SCLC is a like a family, and

it's reacted that way now, like

a family that had lost a father.

An ambulance arrived.

It hadn't taken long.

Maybe five minutes.

I ran to help, but there wasn't

much anyone could do.

I knew he was dead.

I knew they had killed him.

It was hard to believe.

After all the threats and close

calls, that it had finally

happened here, at a motel in

Memphis, Tennessee.

Two nights earlier, at that same

Memphis motel, Dr. King and I

had been out on the balcony


I was outside my room, and he

was outside his.

The sky was filled with black

clouds and lightning.

I remember pointing to the sky

and calling out to Dr. King,

saying, "Hey, Doc, now we really

know who's boss."

He said, "Yes, sir.

He sure is."

For me, that was the first time

I had seen Martin Luther King as

a man as well as a great man.

And I felt that way when I was

watching him on that cement

floor of the balcony, bleeding

to death.

He was just a man, and he was a

great man.

>> Thought-provoking and


For 13, I'm Jenna Flanagan.

Good night.

[ "Everybody's Got

a Right to Live" plays ]

>> ♪ Everybody's got

a right to live ♪

♪ Everybody's got

a right to live ♪

♪ And before this campaign

fails ♪

♪ We'll all go down in jail

♪ Everybody's got

a right to live ♪

♪ Yeah

♪ I want my share of silver

♪ I want my share of gold

♪ Want my share of justice

♪ To save my dyin' soul

♪ Black man picked the cotton

a long time ago ♪

♪ He has been a victim since

they brought him to this shore ♪

♪ Everybody's got

a right to live ♪

♪ Everybody's got

a right to live ♪



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