Rhetoric, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965

By Davis W. Houck; David E. Dixon | Go to book overview
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§73 Marion King

On Monday, July 23, 1962 Marion King, with her two children, drove from her home in Albany, Georgia to the Mitchell County Jail in nearby Camilla. Her maid’s daughter was incarcerated there following mass arrests during a protest march two days earlier. She had brought food for the daughter and fellow incarcerated protestors. While standing and singing freedom songs outside near a chain link fence, King did not move back fast enough for the sheriff and his deputy. As the sheriff slapped her hard across the face, sending her three-year old daughter Abena flying to the pavement, the deputy kicked her in the shins, knocking her to the ground, whereupon he kicked her several more times as she lay on the ground. Marion King was six months pregnant at the time of the assault. She later miscarried the child. Charges were never pressed.

Typically it was Marion King’s husband, Slater, a real estate broker and civil rights activist, who delivered the speeches. But during the Thanksgiving holiday of 1962, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) invited Ms. King to speak, recounting the Albany protests as well as the death of her unborn child. While praising SNCC for starting what would become the Albany movement, particularly Charles Sherrod and Cordell Reagon, King briefly contextualizes the loss of her child. While not privy to any “divine revelation,” she nonetheless claims that her spiritual strength had grown. And while she saw “pure, unadulterated hatred of the two persons who attacked me,” she also sees a God at work among some white southerners.

Reflections on the Death of a Child

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Meeting, Nashville, Tennessee
November 1962

My husband has said that he cannot always buy non-violence and that had he been present when the incident occurred at Camilla, he would have had to die trying to protect me. But let me say that we have both learned many lessons in non-violence during the past year, and we are still learning.

As I stand here now and look into your faces I feel that we are attending


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