"...questions were raised."

Charles Marsh: What possessed you to come back from Boston and take this position at Tougaloo?

Ed King: I grew up here in the Church, the Methodist Church… the part of a national church which most Mississippians, black or white, are not and certainly the Southern Baptists were not a national church at that period. I was in a church... National church literature or the youth movement, this sort of thing, talked about social issues and where issues of peace, justice, and civil rights were discussed, so that when I was in high school, from national church literature and even at local Methodist Youth Fellowship meetings around the state, there was this inner connection, people from a local church would go to a regional meeting, a state meeting, then they would go to a national meeting... there were people meeting black [] and talking about racism. I had sympathetic pastors, some, I had sympathetic youth advisors, some but enough that I knew that these things were an issue and I've talked to friends in the Episcopal church who had similar kinds of experiences in high school, enough that questions were raised. I went to {Millsap} during the mid 1950's while I saw the madness taking over in the state as white moderates were silenced but I had good teachers who helped me with questions, there were connections between {Millsap} and Tougaloo that were very important to me. At Tougaloo I met this sociology professor, {Ernst Berensky}… became a friend for life. At one of these interracial meetings at Tougaloo, Berensky introduced me to (Medgar Evers} while I was still a student in college, then he became a friend and an advisor, both these people were teaching me.

CM: What sort of theological literature did you read that you found informative in this way?

EK: The most helpful thing was Lillian Smith who I would say was theological. Killers of a Dream. We had not heard of Bonhoeffer but I'm sure some of the people higher up writing stuff had… I knew when I went to Boston University (BU) that I had had a teacher at Millsap who was from BU, I knew that they had interest in religion and society, the applied faiths, so that was a deliberate choice but I also knew this was where Martin King had went to school so in seminary I had many of the same teachers. I met Martin in Christmas of 1958… led sort of by southern pacifists and Christian teachers at BU, his roots were southern.

CM: Who were… teachers?

EK: {Paul Dietz), who was later chairman of the Fellowship of Reconciliation; the Dean there {Milder} had taught in Kentucky at that point, Dietz was a native southerner with many connections… Ramsey was a Millsap graduate… I appreciate Ramsey's writings on medical ethics: I do not appreciate his writings on the Civil Rights Movement. But he wasn't in the South so he opposed civil disobedience and direct action, this sort of thing, very much in favor of reasoning and working things out. And I had seen that people couldn't reason and work things out. The ministers who tried lost their pulpits. Simple as that. The teachers who tried lost their jobs and in the black community, people are murdered. Through the Fellowship of Reconciliation and through American Friends Service Committee, to meet Quakers around the Boston area, these sort of things, I was in on a lot of the discussion going on in the late 50's over whether there really was a place beyond the Montgomery boycott...