“My father was one of the most fearless men I’ve ever met. The racial pressure on him was relentless, but it never broke him. Growing up, he provided me with incredible examples of courage. He stood at only about five feet seven inches, but he was a powerhouse. Curiously enough, he was resented because he was a hard worker and independent. He believed in rising before the sun, and would always tell us kids, ‘Get up early even if you don’t do anything but sit down, so you won’t be lazy.’ By 4:00am, hours before daybreak, he would begin to haul lumber. He was the only black man around who had a truck, which he used to transport logs. He also cut hair, collected and sold scrap iron, and did other odd jobs to pick up extra money.
It seemed like my father was always being threatened, especially when he hauled his lumber to the train station. The whites, who were angry because he was in competition with them, would lie in wait, stop him on the road, pull out their guns, and curse him, calling him every name they could think of. He told us he never took his eyes off them. ‘If you look a white man straight in the eyes, he can’t harm you,’ he said. When he was threatened, the other black men who worked with him were so frightened they would disappear into the woods, leaving my dad alone. But he never ran. If he had, they might have shot him in the back.
At some point, in the face of these constant threats, he began carrying a gun. Now, my daddy wouldn’t have killed a soul, but he placed the gun in the glove compartment of his truck, which he left open so that anyone could see he had it. He wasn’t trying to intimidate his attackers. He was just letting them know he wasn’t unarmed. Once, I overheard him telling Mother, “I don’t know if I’ll get back tonight because they just might kill me.” Every time we heard a car coming, and it wasn’t my dad’s, my sister and I would tremble. We thought it was somebody coming to tell us our dad had been killed.”
– Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King quote: “My father was one… sources: Portrait of Coretta Scott King taken in 1964 – Coretta Scott King, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2008677732/>. / Quote from King, Coretta S, and Barbara A. Reynolds. My Life, My Love, My Legacy. , 2017. Print.