Over the past few months, I have been requested to speak at various and sundry type functions, Civil Rights, Politics, Elections, Awards, Colleges, the subject seems to arrive at the “Daddy” King doorstep. Why did you, a white man decide to write this book? Why? Why? Why?
To me, the response is always the same, “I had the unique experience of being a close friend and confidant to one of the great men of the Twentieth Century!” Perhaps one of the most unique relations in modern history. He was the exact same age as my Father, I am the exact same age as his oldest son, Martin Luther King, Jr. We were introduced by Rev. Fred C. Bennette, Jr., in Atlanta, after I received publicity as the General Counsel of the Georgia Department of Labor, having led the change in compensation laws for the United Automobile Workers in Georgia. After the introduction, several weeks passed and Rev. Bennette asked me “…if I would be comfortable calling him Dad?” I assured him that it would be “…high honor and a personal privilege.”
From that day forward, until his death on November 11, 1984. we chatted at least several times a week, and met at least once a week, the highlight being our weekly luncheons at the Marriott Hotel in the heart of downtown Atlanta, which we experienced for three and one half years.
The single most important impression I want to leave the reader is that history has not paid Martin Luther King, Sr., his due. If the civil rights movement had a father, it was Daddy King, in the same way he was father to his son.
We faced his three tragedies together, Martin Luther King, Jr. murder; A.D. King drowning; and the murder of “Mama” King while she was seated at the organ in Ebenezer Church on Sunday morning. In baseball, three strikes and you are out! For Daddy King they were super-human challenges, which he met with dignity and grace.
To look back at the “Black Church,” over the past one hundred years is to recall some of the most important moments in history, fight for education, battle for civil rights, quest for women’s rights-the church was more than a place of worship, it was a school, theatre, community center, meeting place, political engine, and in each category Daddy King was the vanguard, at the forefront, leading the charge.
Without him, it would have been a very different century in America.