Christine King Farris (Finding Aid)

Christine King Farris

1927 -

Interview Length: 145 minutes

Interview Date(s): July 11, 2010

Interview Location(s): Atlanta, Georgia

Abstract

Christine King Farris was born on September 11, 1927 in Atlanta, Georgia to Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Christine Williams King. She discusses her earliest childhood memories of the family home at 501 Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia with her parents, maternal grandparents, Rev. Dr. Adam Daniel Williams and Jenny Celeste Williams, and maternal great aunt Ida. She discusses her earliest childhood memories of her home, her relationship with her great aunt and brothers Martin Luther King Jr. and Alfred King, and her family's activities. She talks about the sights, sounds and smells of her upbringing and her earliest memories of Ebenezer Baptist Church. She discusses family dinner conversations, which included discussions of voting rights, community activities, segregation and political figures.

Christine King Farris discusses the Klu Klux Klan presence in Georgia and major issues affecting the African American community, which included desegregation and voting rights. Her father, Martin, Sr., was an outspoken man who was very active in the community, working with voters' registration and to get equal pay for black educators in Atlanta. These issues were discussed extensively over dinner, and the children were encouraged to participate, which made them socially conscious at a young age. Farris' first experience with tragedy came with the death of her maternal grandmother, who died of a stroke while visiting another church. She describes the family's sorrow and her brother Alfred's guilt caused by his decision not to attend church. Farris talks about her parents' colleges and the assumption that the children in the family would attend Morehouse College and Spelman College like their parents.

Christine King Farris discusses her parents' home on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia, and her father's purchase of a home at 193 Boulevard after her grandmother's death. The neighborhood in which her family lived was an African American community with its own banks, shops and restaurants. Farris describes her father's sermons and her brother's decision to pursue ministry during his freshman year at Morehouse College. Farris and Martin, Jr. attended Atlanta University Laboratory School until it closed, after which they attended Booker T. Washington High School. After graduating from Spelman, Farris attended Columbia University for graduate school and Martin, Jr. attended Crozer Theological Seminary in Upland, Pennsylvania. She discusses her family's relationship with Dr. Benjamin Mays, who encouraged her brother to continue pursuing activism, and describes the dangers her brother faced while traveling through the South during the Civil Rights Movement.

Christine King Farris discusses Martin Luther King, Jr.'s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. He studied non-violent activism at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, and became the leader of the Montgomery Improvement Association. She states that this was his opportunity to implement his studies in non violent social change. Farris discusses Rosa Parks, who also became acquainted with non-violent protest after going to the Highlander Folk School. After returning to Atlanta, Georgia from Alabama, Martin, Jr. became a co-pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church along with his father, and together they founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The King family played a very supportive role in Martin, Jr.'s efforts, even as the family's concerns for her brother's safety increased.

Christine King Farris continues an off-camera discussion of her trip to the Baptist World Alliance Conference. She talks about her brother Alfred's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, and describes him as very supportive of Martin, Jr.'s efforts. During the movement, he was a pastor in Ensley, Alabama and his home was bombed. After the bombing, Farris and her father traveled to Alabama to look for Martin, Jr., whose location was unknown at the time. Farris describes her brother and father's name change from Michael to Martin, after the 1934 Baptist World Alliance conference in Berlin, Germany. She describes Homecoming, an important tradition at Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Women's. Farris describes and explains baptismal ceremonies and tithing in the church. Farris discusses the murder of her mother, Alberta King, who was shot by Marcus Chenault during church services at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Christine King Farris discusses her family's pets, including a monkey and a deer. She talks about her grandmother's death and her brother Martin, Jr.'s grief and guilt. Farris describes the various scarves that women wore when she was a child, and tells the story of her brothers taking her grandmother's fox head stole, and using it to frighten neighbors. Farris talks about the facilities built in honor of her brother, Martin Luther King, Jr., and her work to properly entomb him after his assassination. This required three separate moves due to hateful vandalism and violence against his grave site. Martin's body was permanently placed on the grounds of the Martin Luther King Center. Farris discusses her brother's achievements, and believes that he would be humbled by the number of monuments and facilities built in his honor.

30 Stories (See Ordered Story Set)