Press Conference Following Malcolm X's Assassination...
[Q:] Dr. KING, could
things possibly lead to if worse came to worse?
[MARTIN LUTHER KING,
JR.] Well, it just continues to degenerate and to darken nights
of violence. I think it has to stop somewhere. It isn‚t
good for the image of our nation. It isn‚t good for the
Negro cause. It isn‚t good for anything that we hold dear
in our country and our democracy. I believe firmly in non-violence.
I think we have got to learn to disagree without being violently
disagreeable and this whole philosophy of expressing dissent through
murder must be vigorously condemned.
[Q:] DR. James Farner
has indicated that he believes this is part of an international
conspiracy. Do you have any comment on this?
[K:] Well, I don‚t--I
know about that. I have no knowledge to follow through or make
such a statement. This may well be but my knowledge doesn‚t
reveal this and I don‚t try at this point to even further
a speculation as to who assassinated Malcolm X. The Police Department
of New York, I assume, is vigorously investigating this and I
think until the investigation is finished I would withhold any
statement about the person or persons who perpetrated this dastardly
[Q:] DR. KING, you
have just come from Selma. What is the feeling of the Negro in
general about this thing that is going on now as far as the Black
Muslims are concerned. Do they have a feeling about it?
[K:] Well, I think
the general feeling in the Negro community, that this is very
unfortunate and that we have such large problems to deal with
in getting rid of racial injustice that it is both impractical
and immoral to be fighting among ourselves. I think this is the
general attitude that prevails among the people that I have had
a chance to talk with about it.
[Q:] DR. KING, is there
a present threat to your life?
[K:] Well, I get threats
quite often. This is almost a daily and weekly occurrence. I mentioned
in Selma just the other day that I had received information from
reliable sources that there would be an attempt to take my life
and that there was an attempt when I was in Marian, Alabama which
is in Perry County about a week ago but at the time I was surrounded
by a number of people and I was never clear enough to be a target
and we got some anonymous threats on Monday when I returned to
Selma; so that this continues and its something that we get, as
I said, ever so often.
[Q:] Did this information
come to you from a well placed source like the FBI?
[K:] Well, no it didn‚t
come from the FBI. This information did come from investigative
agencies though. Particularly the incident in Marian. This came
from sources within the investigative machinery of the State.
[Q:] Now, when you
say the threat on your life, you‚re not talking now
about from the Black Muslim or the Nationalists. You‚re
talking about white segregationists.
[K:] Oh yes, from segregationists.
[Q:] DR. KING, have
the threats on your life been increasing, the number of them.
Have they been increasing?
[K:] Well, they always
increase when we get in the heat and the heighth of the movement.
They tend to decrease in periods when we are not in an intensified
development but I think that whenever we have ben in the midst
of a determined struggle, whether it was in Birmingham or St.
Augustine Florida, or Albany, Georgia, or now in Selma. The threats
tend to increase at that time.
[Q:] Dr. King, do you
feel there is a possibility that something might happen to you
some time? Have you made arrangements for someone to carry on--something
like President andVice President have if anything happens?
[K:] O, yes, we have
in our movement many dedicated, intelligent and dynamic leaders.
We have this in my own organizations and we have definitely discussed
these things very realistically. We are not fooling ourselves
about the dangerous possibilities that we face.
Q. Dr. King, what is
your attitude toward the threats that you received?
K. Well, I guess I
have learned now to take them rather philosophically. I think
this cause is right and because of my deep feeling about the rightness
of the cause, it gives me courage to carry on, and I think that
one has to conquer the feeling of death if he is going to do anything
constructive in life and take a stand against evil, and I go along
with the view that one who has not found something so true and
so meaningful and profound that he will die for it is not fit
to live, so I am prepared to face anything that comes in standing
up to this struggle with the great belief and the great feeling
that unmerited suffering is redemptive.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
during a press conference following the assassination of
February 25, 1964; Los Angeles