My Time with the Kings: A Reporter's Recollection of Martin, Coretta and the Civil Rights Movement

My Time with the Kings: A Reporter's Recollection of Martin, Coretta and the Civil Rights Movement

by Kathryn Johnson


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“Let Kathryn in,” said Coretta Scott King to authorities.

Three simple words that provided Kathryn Johnson, a reporter for The Associated Press’s Atlanta bureau, unprecedented access to the grieving widow in the days following her husband’s death. Johnson was on her way to a movie date when word came from Memphis that Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. She immediately headed for the King home where, despite resistance from authorities on the scene, she was the only reporter allowed inside. Johnson’s many years covering King and his family had earned her the trust to be a discreet, observant witness to the aftermath of a defining moment in American history.

Kathryn Johnson covered the Civil Rights movement across the South in the 1960s, often risking her own safety to observe first-hand the events of this great era. Her stories took her from witnessing the integration of the University of Georgia by dressing as a student, to hiding unobserved under a table near an infamous schoolhouse door in Alabama, to marching with the massive crowd from Selma to Montgomery.

Johnson, one of the only female reporters on the scene, threw herself into charged situations with a determination to break the news no matter what. Including never-before-published photos, her personal account of this period is a singular addition to the story of the Civil Rights movement.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780795348013
Publisher: RosettaBooks
Publication date: 01/12/2016
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,186,786
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Kathryn Johnson covered the civil rights movement on assignment from The Associated Press from the early sit-ins through the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Born and bred in a segregated South, Johnson had not sought the civil rights beat, but ultimately covered some of the great stories of that era, including integration of the universities of Alabama and Georgia. She was at the march from Selma and was the only reporter in the King home from the time he was assassinated until he was buried.
Born in Columbus, Georgia in 1926, she attended all-female Agnes Scott College and went to work for AP in 1947 as a clerk-typist. It was not until 1959 that she got her first reporting assignment, which she held until leaving the organization in 1978.
Among other assignments, she covered the wives of the American POWs, held in Hanoi during the Vietnam War, and their return from captivity to the United States beginning in 1973. She also reported on the court-martial of Lt. William Calley in 1971, who was charged with the murder of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai.
She worked later for U.S. News & World Report and for CNN.

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Introduction xii

Preface xiv

1 'Let Kathryn In' 1

2 Visiting King's Home 6

3 Grief and Trust 9

4 The Final Fight 14

5 King's Body Comes Home 17

6 The Viewing 20

7 On the Inside, In the Kitchen 23

8 Rites for a Drum Major 28

9 The Last March 35

10 Growing Up 51

11 Early Reporting Years 54

12 Hot Grits 57

13 Beloved Store 59

14 Freedom Riders 62

15 Nobel Peace Prize 73

16 Locked in Leb's 75

17 Integrating Southern Universities 80

18 Facing Off the Guns 92

19 Mooning the Media 100

20 Stuck in the Balcony 103

21 Rafter-Ringing Pleas 112

22 Bloody Sunday in Selma 129

23 Black Power 136

24 Atlanta Takes Off 139

25 The Revolutionary 145

26 Coretta's Last Years 151

Epilogue 157

Appendix A Oral History 161

Appendix B Original Wire Transmissions 234

Acknowledgments 261

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