Charles Marsh: "King told reporters that his decision against calling segregation itself into question had been a mistake and needed to be reversed."

Charles Marsh: Importantly, King’s organizing strategies as head of the MIA become more confrontational.  Three days after the kitchen visit, he authorized attorney Fred Gray to challenge segregation laws.  “My uncertainty disappeared,” King said, making clear that he supported “immediate integration" of the buses.  "Segregation is evil, and I cannot, as a minister, condone evil."(1) King told reporters that his decision against calling segregation itself into question had been a mistake and needed to be reversed. 

The same day, January 30, 1956, King addressed a standing-room only audience from the pulpit of the First Baptist Church when word reached him that his home had been bombed.  King had been talking to the congregation about two recent developments in the boycott which he found distressing:  the city's new get-tough policy and the discontent among certain members of the black community with the church-based  leadership.  He knew that some members of the black community had begun complaining about the slow pace of negotiations and were unhappy with the organizers’s commitment to "the Christian Way”, as the MIA had described its motivation in newspaper advertisements.  The Christian Way was the "only way of reaching a satisfactory solution to the problem." 

In his sermon at First Baptist Church,  King had offered a simple and eloquent rendering of the protesters’ collective soul.  "We are a chain," he said.  "We are linked together, and I cannot be what I ought to unless you are what you ought to be."(2)  He appealed to the beloved community although not yet by name.  His words echoed Jesus’ sunset meditations in the Garden of Gethsemane, spoken on the eve of the crucifixion, his prayer for his disciples that the world would see the oneness of their love.  "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.”  The movement community, King told the audience, is linked with a greater force than moral resolve, strategic goals or sentiment; the movement is an echo, a distant but truthful repetition, of the overflowing love of God.  King encouraged the congregation to recommit themselves to nonviolence and to keep their trust in God.(3)



(1)  Cited in Garrow, Bearing the Cross, p. 54.

(2)  King cited in "Notes on MIA Mass Meeting at First Baptist Church," in The Papers, volume III, p. 114.

(3)  King, Stride Toward Freedom, p. 136.

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