Thank you to Yvonne Abraham (“Now is the time to honor King’s city ties’’) for bringing back my memories of marching with Martin Luther King Jr. in Boston in April 1965. I was a 12-year-old white sixth-grader from Dover, and the only black person I knew was the janitor at the town hall. My mother was a staunch Republican, but a contributor to King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and she took me to see him.
As we marched toward Boston Common, we passed a barroom, and a group of white men came out. One man kicked a bottle out, and it landed among the feet of the marchers just ahead of me. A priest was walking two rows ahead. The man said to the priest, “What are you doing with those people, father?’’ The priest looked at him and said, “Jesus would be marching with us today.’’ The answer silenced the man, and I could see that the adults around me were smiling, without saying a word.
I do not remember King’s relatively short speech. I remember I had just started combing my hair down over my forehead, emulating the Beatles. That morning, my hair kept curling up, so I used some soap to stiffen it. As King spoke, the drizzle picked up and my hair sprouted soap suds, which my mother pointed out to me.
I appreciate being reminded of that long-ago day. The priest’s words are as true today as they were then.
Jon Maddox, Belmont