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Ralph David Abernathy Unsung Hero, 'Selma' Movie

Story ID:10284
Written by:Charles Micheaux (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:Micheaux Publishing
Story type:In Memory
Location:Selma Alabama USA
Year:1965
Person:Ralph David Abernathy
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"I went to jail 44 times.
I've been beaten and left for dead on the side of the road fighting for freedom...
yet Rosa Parks is better known in history
than Ralph David Abernathy."

If you were to remove Rosa parks from Dr. King's life he would still be the great giant of civil rights.

If you were to remove Ralph David Abernathy from
Martin Luther King Jr. you do not have the same
man we know today as Martin Luther King Jr.
It was Ralph David Abernathy who first gave Martin Luther King Jr. the crown of King.

1955 in Montgomery Ralph Abernathy was the leading black preacher at that time, Dr. King was a new preacher to Montgomery and he had no great following; he was a stranger to most of the citizens of the city.

It was Ralph Abernathy who selected Dr. King to lead the Rosa Parks Bus Boycott.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not want to be the leader of the boycott and he tried hard not to be it's leader.

Dr. King was fearful the other preachers would dislike him and so he tried hard not to accept the leadership for the bus boycott.

Ralph Abernathy shrewdly forced Dr. King in taking the position of leadership and he did so by explaining to the young preacher from Atlanta
that it was God who sent him into Montgomery to be
Black America's Moses.

Dr. King knew that God's hand was on him; but it was Ralph Abernathy who confirmed for Dr. King his rightful place as the leader not just Montgomery but for all 22 million Black Americans.

I recently saw Ava DuVernay's new movie 'Selma'
starring the wonderful David Oyelowo and at the end of the film I asked myself what happened to
Ralph Abernathy?

I am disappointed in the film and even more disappointed in Ava DuVernay for not providing the audience more depth to the portrayal of the beloved Ralph David Abernathy.

Dr. King had only two anchors in his life from 1955 until his death in 1968 and those two people were Coretta Scott King and Ralph David Abernathy.
In the movie 'Selma' Ralph Abernathy comes off to me as a fan of Dr. King marveling from a distance; like someone would be fascinated by a sports figure or a movie star.

Ralph Abernathy at times was more like a good coach or big brother to Dr. King, he was Yota
the wise.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy's partnership is one of the longest that I know of in American history. Dr. King and Ralph Abernathy
almost always shared the same room. The very last hotel room Dr. King spent the night he and Ralph
Abernathy shared the same hotel room.

The last night of Dr. King's life on earth; his very last speech he said:
"Ralph Abernathy is my best friend I have in the world."

The movie 'Selma' does not show us this...why?
The failure of this good film disturbs me because
you cannot tell the story of Martin Luther King Jr. without telling the story of Coretta Scott King and one Ralph David Abernathy.

Shortly after Ralph David Abernathy died in 1990 I was contacted from some People in New York City
to fly up from my home in Miami to do a new play on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in that Off-Broadway play I portrayed Ralph Abernathy and it was the hardest role i have ever played.

I have playe d the roles of, Jack Johnson, Hamlet, Othello, Marc Anthony, Macbeth, George Washington Carver to name a few, but I must concede playing Ralph David Abernathy took me places that I never knew existed and I creid for a long, long time and I cry today.