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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Latrelle McAllister, June 25, 1998. Interview K-0173. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Remembering Martin Luther King's assassination

In this excerpt, McAllister remembers the assassination of Martin Luther King. She was out of town with her mother and her father warned them not to return home because black youths in their area were rioting.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Latrelle McAllister, June 25, 1998. Interview K-0173. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

My mother and I were at a teachers’ convention when Martin Luther King was assassinated. As a matter of fact, my mother was playing pinochle with the superintendent. We were in his hotel room. The state superintendent--. I think it was E. Craig Phillips. I was sleeping in his bed and they were playing pinochle. We left his room and got on the elevator and someone told us that Dr. King had been assassinated. I remember my father calling and asking us not to come home because all the kids in the street--. You know there’s North Carolina Central and Shaw and Livingstone. So just a number of historically black colleges and universities, not to mention Smith [Johnson C.] in that corridor between Charlotte and Raleigh. So, he said, “Kids are laying in the street protesting.” And even there in Raleigh outside the hotel people were turning cars over, setting cars on fire. A lot was going on there. But, again, I was sleeping in a white man’s bed. My mother was playing cards with a white man and they were using me as, I guess, as a demonstration as to how early intervention would help children to read. I was there reading for teachers from all over the state, a mixed group. Even in what you would consider to be the most severe circumstances, I didn’t feel threatened, nor did I feel frightened. But, again, like I said, I realize that I was fortunate in terms of my experiences growing up and they may have been different from others.