The Rev. Jonathan McPherson holds the double-barrel shotgun he carried to guard Martin Luther King Jr. when the civil rights leader rested in this Smithfield house. (The Birmingham News /Bernard Troncale)
Martin Luther King guard, Birmingham's Rev. Jonathan McPherson, working on memoir.
Note that these informal armed guards predated The Deacons for Defense and Justice by several years.
As he and Frank Dukes stood with guns in their hands outside a home in Smithfield, then called "Dynamite Hill" because of bombings targeting civil rights workers, Jonathan McPherson had no idea they were playing a part in history.
The home was a gathering spot for civil rights strategy sessions and with the help of McPherson and Dukes, who organized students at Miles College to conduct the 1962 boycott of segregated downtown stores, it gave Martin Luther King. Jr. a safe place to lay his head.
"We knew they'd throw bombs, so we decided if we saw someone so much as light a cigarette we were going to shoot," McPherson said.
McPherson says they weren't afraid they'd be overcome by those seeking to kill King. "The only thing we were concerned with was freedom, justice and equality."
I can't wait to read his book.