Bougie MLK in da Champagne Room

Martin Luther King and his right-hand man, Ralph David Abernathy—as described in Abernathy’s autobiography, “And the Wall Came Tumbling Down”:

“Money was always a problem, of course, because the SCLC was run on the generosity of thousands of people, black and white, who believed in our cause and from time to time would heed our call for help and send in contributions. Also, Martin spent a good deal of his time making appearances throughout the country, speaking before groups, soliciting contributions. We used the money for many things—transportation, literature, legal fees, fines, and for the posting of bonds in case of arrests. But most of it went for staff. At this point, Martin and I were still receiving no salary.” —Page 236, talking about his and MLK’s tireless, gracious fight to win equality for blacks.

From the same book, a few pages later:

“We drove in silence to the Gaston Motel. . . . owned by A.G. Gaston, one of Alabama’s few black millionaires. . . . The Gaston was Birmingham’s only acceptable black inn, the place where black business and professional people stayed where n they visited the city. It was not luxurious, but it was as well decorated as most of the white motels and hotels. We were given the best suite in the motel. . . .[and] [i]t was in that sitting room that most of the strategy was hatched during the campaign.” —Pages 239-40, talking about the important of spending contributions to stay in “Birmingham’s only acceptable black inn”—in order to avoid all the lowly black peasants for whom Abernathy and MLK were the bougie saviors.

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