Saturday, January 2, 2010

#9 Carring Mrs. Coretta King's Hangbag was History



Vernon M. Herron

In 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. helped organize protests in Selma, AL. The demonstrators protested against the efforts of white officials there to deny most black citizens the chance to register and vote. Several hundred protesters attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital, but police officers used tear gas and clubs to break up the group. King immediately announced another attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery.

It is at this point that I joined the movement, the likes of which I have not seen since. I took a “leave of absence” from a pastorate in Joliet, Ill. (Second Baptist Church), a wife and three lovely daughters, to join this historic Selma to Montgomery march. After a quick verbally commitment to the non-violent principles and an equally quick bus ride- course in self-preservation, I joined the line of marchers, where hundred of volunteers had laid down their “necks” for the cause of freedom.

Here, literally I was not only a part of a history making process, but now was being used by fate to record a simple act. Marching directly behind Martin and Coretta King, I carried Mrs. King’s handbag so she could be free to hold Martin’s hand if she wished. To relieve her of that task was to free us all to sing the more in gust, “We Shall Overcome.” Carrying Coretta Scott King’s handbag, thirty-four years ago was history in the making. Within a few months, Congress approved the Voting Right Act of 1965.

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