MLK 50: Part One

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. A year before his death, during his "Where Do We Go from Here?" speech, he said that "in spite of a decade of significant progress, the problem is far from solved."

In honor of King's legacy, throughout this month we will be highlighting some of our recent titles that shed light on the progress we’ve made and the work still to be done. Read an excerpt from Deep South Dispatch: Memoir of a Civil Rights Journalist by John N. Herbers, with Anne Farris Rosen, below.

James Farmer, George Raymond, and John Lewis are escorted by Neshoba County deputy Cecil Price and Mississippi Highway Patrolmen from the Neshoba County Courthouse, Philadelphia. June 23, 1964. Photograph by Jim Lucas, from A Past That Won’t Rest: Images of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi.

Selma, 1965

"King approached the front desk to check in as the hotel’s first black guest when Robinson suddenly wormed his way through the crowd and approached him. 'I want to talk to you,' Robinson said. I was standing on the second-floor balcony that ringed the lobby and had a bird’s eye view of what happened next. Robinson drew back his arm, swung, and hit King twice on the right temple. King offered no resistance. But SNCC’s John Lewis did. He pinned Robinson’s arms to his side. But Robinson kicked King twice, catching him lightly on the inner thigh near his groin. Lewis and Robinson fell across the red carpet in a struggle.
           A white woman in tight slacks and a leather jacket stood in a corner shouting to Robinson, 'Get him. Get him.' Baker, who was standing nearby, collared Robinson and dragged him to a patrol car. The black leaders accompanying King helped him to his feet, and all were given hotel rooms as required by law. I hurriedly ran to a pay phone to call in a news story to the Times that King had been assaulted by a white supremacist leader. King later told reporters he suffered nothing more than a headache from the attack."

From Deep South Dispatch: Memoir of a Civil Rights Journalist by John N. Herbers with Anne Farris Rosen