When Segregationists Bombed Martin Luther King Jr.’s House

On the evening of January 30, 1956, barely a month after the Montgomery bus boycott began, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s home was bombed while Dr. King, his wife Coretta, their seven-week-old daughter Yolanda, and a neighbor were inside. Although the front of the house was damaged, thankfully no one was injured.

At the time of the bombing, Dr. King was addressing a large crowd. The news of the attack caused him to rush home, only to be met by a large crowd outside, some of whom were armed and ready to defend him if necessary. When Dr. King arrived, the audience erupted in cheers. The mayor and police commissioner intervened, calling for calm and assuring the audience that a full investigation of the blast would be done.

Dr. King confirmed his family was safe and then addressed the anxious and angry crowd, many of whom were members of his church. He advocated for nonviolence. “If you have weapons,” he pleaded, “take them home; if you do not have them, please do not seek them. We cannot solve this problem through violence. We must meet violence with nonviolence.” The crowd dispersed peacefully after Dr. King assured them, “Go home and don’t worry. We are not hurt, and remember, if anything happens to me there will be others to take my place.” 

No one was ever punished or held accountable for the bombing of Dr. King’s home.

References

  • Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63. Simon & Schuster, 1988.
  • Garrow, David J. Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. William Morrow & Co., 1986.
  • King, Martin Luther Jr. Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. Harper & Row, 1958.
  • Rieder, Jonathan. Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation. Bloomsbury Press, 2013.
  • Williams, Juan. Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965. Viking Penguin, 1987.

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