We Were Madly, Madly in Love’: The Untold Story of MLK’s White Girlfriend By PATRICK PARR 04/01/2018 07:05 AM

This is not my article!!! I found it to be very fascinating so I decided to share it!!! Happy Reading!!!

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It took me a long time to find Betty Moitz.

I had first learned her full name while reading Bearing the Cross, the 1986 biography about Martin Luther King Jr., written by David Garrow. In the book, Garrow briefly describes a serious relationship between King and a young white woman around the same age, named Betty. They had met at Crozer Theological Seminary, in Chester, Pennsylvania, at the time, where King was a divinity student from the age of 19 until 22, when he graduated in May 1951. In Bearing the Cross, Garrow quoted a close friend and mentor of King’s at the time, Rev. Pius J. Barbour, who said the relationship had left King as a “man with a broken heart. He never recovered.”

In a way, I never recovered from that quote. As I wrote my own book about King, I wasn’t satisfied with such a short description of such an apparently devastating relationship. Garrow was the first biographer to discover Betty’s last name, and, fortunately for me, buried it in a heavyweight endnote at the back of the book. That endnote took me on two cross-country flights, spurred dozens of calls to wrong numbers and knocks on countless doors of people I thought might have known Betty. They didn’t, but I left my business card anyway, and eventually, one of those people found someone who might know Betty, and that person sent me an address, to which I sent a letter. It worked.

From the start, Moitz and King’s relationship was anything but carefree. Almost all of King’s friends, including Barbour, tried to discourage him from staying with Betty, knowing what an interracial relationship would mean for his future. “I thought it was a dangerous situation that could get out of hand, and if it did get out of hand it would smear King,” his Crozer classmate Cyril Pyle recalled in a 1986 interview. “It would make his future hard for him.”

But Betty recalls that time, and the young King, with fondness anyway. In our yearlong correspondence and one long meeting in January 2016, Betty, who recently passed away at the age of 89, told me the story of their relationship and just how close King came to walking away from his future plans for her. “We were madly, madly in love, the way young people can fall in love,” she told me during our conversation at her home.

She started at the beginning.

From a young age, Betty Moitz had a family connection to Crozer, where ML—as King was known at the time—was pursuing his studies before returning to his native Atlanta to follow in his father’s footsteps as a preacher at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Moitz’s grandmother Elizabeth became the school’s dietitian in 1933. When she retired, Betty’s mother, Hannah Moitz, took over the position, and she kept it throughout ML’s years there. The family lived in a five-bedroom, three-bathroom home on the Crozer campus, and Betty graduated with honors from Eddystone High School, located only two miles away. Betty spent many days in her youth walking over to the kitchen to check on her mother, lend an extra hand or just hang around and chat.

Despite the constant exposure to their world, Betty had no intention of becoming a divinity student. She graduated from high school in 1946 and went directly to Moore College of Art, right across the river from the University of Pennsylvania. She was still a student at Moore in late 1948 when she paid one of her regular visits to her mother in the basement of Old Main, the main building on Crozer’s campus. This day was different, because Betty met someone new: a well-dressed, ambitious young man from Atlanta, Georgia, who was in his first year at the seminary and lived on the second floor of Old Main. He had a smooth voice and a sly smile.

At first, she and ML were just making small talk in Miss Hannah’s kitchen, nothing that would cause nearby students to turn their heads. But it continued. As they spoke on and off over the next few months, Betty learned about ML’s background and his tremendous hopes for the future. “Crozer was known as a very radical religious institution,” she told me, “so I was surprised to hear from ML himself [that he] had more conservative beliefs.”

ML’s own feelings for Betty were something he tried to keep secret. Though he’d even written to his mother about his other recent dating prospects, he would not have been at all eager to inform her that he was interested in a young white woman. Walter McCall, ML’s best friend and hall mate, who went by Mac, knew, of course, but he saw no harm in helping his best friend separate himself even further from racial norms they both believed were outdated. And though a few other students took note of ML and Betty’s friendly dialogue—it was, after all, a small world inside Old Main—no one seemed too bothered.

Fellow Crozer seminarian and King friend Marcus Wood in particular understood some of what spurred ML’s attraction. “I supposed he thought that, here I am out of the South now, and not back home,” Wood said in a 1986 interview, “out in the open, nothing illegal, a free place, sure I can go over and talk to this white girl.”

Throughout the course of ML’s first year at Crozer, his relationship with Betty continued to develop as their chats moved out of Miss Hannah’s basement kitchen. Soon, ML was also making the straight five-minute walk from Old Main to visit her at the Moitz home. “He used to go over their house quite often to see her,” Wood wrote in his 1998 memoir.

ML felt at ease with Betty. It was the enthusiasm with which he spoke on a wide range of topics that first attracted her. “He would talk, and talk and talk,” Betty says. At first they discussed his time in the South and how different it was from the idealized culture within the seminary. He didn’t yet know how but, according to Betty, “one thing ML knew at age 19 was that he could change the world.”

When ML returned to school the following fall of 1949, his and Betty’s relationship continued to blossom—but this was also when the difficulties began for the young couple.

By this point, they had become more comfortable on campus, sitting on benches and talking about their plans and goals for the future in full view of ML’s classmates and teachers. When asked if she had concerns about how they might be seen, Betty shrugs. “I never noticed. I always had a tan and dark brown hair.” But the 20-year-old ML was more aware of the potential social fallout.

It’s important to note that in 1949, interracial relationships were still very much taboo in the United States. Fewer than 40 miles from Crozer was the state of Maryland, where the first law against interracial marriage was enacted in 1664; the state would keep similar laws on its books for more than 300 years. Even in 1958, a Gallup poll would report that an astounding 94 percent of white Americans disapproved of interracial marriage.

Pennsylvania was one of the most flexible states when it came to “miscegenation” laws. Still, that didn’t mean ML and Betty could head over to a local café and hold hands out in the open. Members of the Crozer community, despite their liberalism, would have had trouble throwing their support behind such an arrangement. They weren’t against it, but they weren’t exactly for it, either. Glares, scoffs and head shakes were inevitable. Cyril Pyle, ML’s classmate from Panama who worried about the relationship “smearing” King, worked in the kitchen and dining hall and witnessed ML and Betty getting closer. “I knew about it, thought it was bad, but I didn’t want to get involved.”

Soon, their “dates” mainly consisted of Betty driving ML around the city of Chester, ignoring the scowls of society. “I listened,” Betty says, “and he’d just talk and talk.” But she loved it—his enthusiasm, his anxious hopes “to return South and help people. He was wonderful—a joy to be with and listen to.”

When ML’s sister Christine came to visit him at Crozer, as she did regularly, his friendship with Betty crept back into the shadows. It wasn’t that ML didn’t trust Christine—their relationship had always been strong—it was the fact that Christine was a direct conduit to their mother, and that was something ML could not risk. Telling his sister about Betty would have meant putting her in the unenviable position of withholding important information from her mother in every letter and phone call home. And if Christine were to let slip that ML had been getting closer to a white woman, ML could only imagine the disappointment in his mother’s eyes. Betty knew about these concerns: “He was worried what she’d think,” she recalls.

Over the course of ML’s second year, his relationship with Betty grew closer—and more public. From chats in Miss Hannah’s kitchen and around campus, the couple had progressed to hanging out with Mac, ML’s friend Horace Whitaker, known as Whit, and others in the recreation room down the hall from the kitchen. Betty would watch as ML and his friends played pool. “The men who worked in the kitchen and dining room used to go down to shoot pool or play table tennis every evening after dinner,” she remembers. “I was surprised how well [ML] played.”

And their private time together was no longer limited to Betty driving ML around Chester. “We did go out on dates,” Betty says. “He was always trying to get me to go with him to restaurants in Chester. I was embarrassed to let him know I had never been to any of those places. In those days, who went to restaurants?”

ML would have known that dining at a predominantly white restaurant was a risky proposition, not only for himself but for Betty as well, but their relationship was a way for him to test the limits of northern culture. Such boundary-pushing becomes easier when one starts to fall in love, and according to Betty, that’s exactly what was happening.

Many of ML’s classmates could see how enamored he’d become. “King was extremely fond of her,” Marcus Wood recalls. “But he was also rather proud of the fact that he was able to socialize openly with a white girl.”

“There were people who knew about them,” Whit said—himself among them—but “they didn’t flagrantly show their feelings toward each other.”

ML could only trust one friend with his feelings toward Betty, and that was Mac. Around this time, ML and Betty went into Philadelphia with Mac and his girlfriend at the time, policewoman Pearl E. Smith. The four headed back to Pearl’s home, and there was a moment when Betty and Pearl were speaking to each other in the kitchen. “They didn’t tell her anything about me,” Betty says.

Pearl, who was black, measured Betty up. It was true, Betty was tan, and Pearl gave her a nod of approval: “You know, you could pass.” Mac overheard what Pearl said and, according to Betty, “rolled on the floor, laughing.“

ML’s friends sensed how serious he was getting about Betty Moitz, and all of them, except for Mac, worried about how this would affect his future plans. According to Marcus Wood, “The more we warned [ML] that marriage was out of the question—especially if he hoped to become a pastor in the south—the more he refused to ‘break off’ the potentially controversial relationship.”

ML’s counterargument had two components. The first, of course, was the obvious one: He loved Betty. She listened to him, supported him and greatly admired his ambitions. He could see himself marrying her. The second was a symbolic component: Wouldn’t their union also be a powerful statement that barriers can be brought down? It could serve as living proof of his belief in the idea of social integration. Late one night, after making out with Betty on a bench near Old Main, a smitten ML headed over to Horace Whitaker’s apartment. Whit, while in the same graduating class, was a decade older than ML and was already married, with one child. ML needed guidance, and though he trusted Mac, it was time to turn to an older and more settled friend.

“They were very serious,” Whit remembered, “although he was young.” Whit felt a certain sense of dread in telling ML to deny his feelings toward Betty: “I’m not saying he wasn’t mature enough for that kind of experience, but I remember talking to him about that kind of marital situation … and we had talked about it from the standpoint that if he intended going back to the South and pastoring at a local church, that that might not be an acceptable kind of relationship in a black Baptist church, and I think he would be valuing that in light of whether or not it was a workable situation, knowing his own particular sense of call.”

Eight years later, King himself would say in a sermon that “there is more integration in the entertaining world, in sports arenas, than there is in the Christian church.” That was the reality Whit was urging his friend to consider. Would ML’s predominantly black congregation fully accept it if their preacher had a white wife? Was Betty prepared to handle life as the spouse of a black southern minister? Or was ML willing to give up on returning to the South? Could he be content to remain in the North and obtain a position in academia, contributing to the southern cause in some other way?

The only time King ever made a reference to Betty in public comes from a 1964 MLK biography by Lerone Bennett, titled What Matter of Man. In it, Bennett masks the quote with a tricky set of pronouns, so the source of it is unclear. King, then a married father, is quoted as saying: “She liked me and I found myself liking her. But finally I had to tell her resolutely that my plans for the future did not include marriage to a white woman.”

While we already knew the decision King ultimately reached about Betty, we didn’t know how he struggled with it throughout his time at Crozer. He was clearly old enough and mature enough to know even at the time that his decision on Betty would change the course of his life. And perhaps he even had a small idea of what his life would mean for the course of history.

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Who Cares?

I am digging down deep in the depths of my soul and saying this most nonchalantly. “Who cares?” Who cares about who a person dated in their past? If it’s not affecting you in any way why is it any of your business?

I had touched on this subject before however, a recent situation pushed me to blog about it once more. A black woman felt compelled to explain her current dating choice because of her past dating choices. This situation is about interracial dating. I am over people who want to bond through the pain because they can’t stand to see others happy. Who this woman was in the past and who she is today more than likely aren’t the same. Everything happens for a reason, and everything serves some purpose. Adverse situations can teach people that they deserve better. We live. We learn. We grow. This black woman that I speak of used to date both black and white men. She has since decided to partner with white men only. So what? There could be several reasons why she has chosen to change her dating choices, things like past relationships, or doing what she always wanted to do. I can relate. My mother didn’t welcome my preference for white men, and she made me feel like I was doing something wrong. I get that she came up in a different time, but it didn’t change my desires. She allowed me to listen to heavy metal but watching the videos was so hard. I loved watching the video of handsome white men with gorgeous long hair. The video for Christian Woman by Type O Negative changed my life.

We all are quick to say live your life, but if you don’t have the support of your family, certain life events can be challenging to pursue when people are making you feel as if you are doing something wrong or they show that they are straight against it. We all need support, which is the reason why people keep their deepest desires to themselves until they feel confident enough to act on them.

It’s so vital for us to love and know ourselves enough to do what is best for us in our lives. If there is one that I have learned over the years through the bullying etc. is that it’s essential to love yourself. I have seen people attempting to expose someone else as a way to stop them from pursuing their happiness — the same way this black woman’s past relationships came out. Just because a person is afraid to act on their desires doesn’t give them the green light to influences yours these people’s opinions should be the least to be concerned about especially if these people are strangers. Why are these people attempting to stop someone else’s happiness? We should never forget that messengers have motives. Some people will stop at nothing to keep others miserable. What could be so wrong about being attracted to someone from a different race? After all, love has no color. We should be able to love who we want unapologetically without feeling the need to explain ourselves.

My Idea of Love

First and foremost
Love has no color
In my eyes
If anything
We only deprive
Ourselves of
The endless possibilities
By limiting ourselves
Because we are afraid
To think outside
Of the box
Which has nothing
To do with preferences
Let’s be clear
It all boils
Down to fear
Why not step
Beyond our comfort zone
We become free to fly
High and broaden our horizons
We find out that
There is a whole
New world
To explore
That will embrace
Us and give
Us what we deserve
And a lot more
What a treasure
When we realize
That we can
Have better
We begin to change
We begin to grow
We become less hard
We feel more safe
In our womanhood
Understanding that we
Can be tough as nails
Or soft as Daffodils
There is something about
Being a confident lady
Where we feel safe
It changes things
We owe it to ourselves
To see what’s
Out in the world
To stop questioning
Our worth
Because our past relationship
Choices showed it
Our name is not
The United Way,
Salvation Army,
Or Goodwill
We are not
Charity cases
Therefore no one
Should expect to
Come into our worlds
All while displaying
Very little effort
We deserve more
Than lazy daters
We deserve more
Than deadbeat fathers
Who have multiple
Children mothers
All of which they
Have zero thoughts about
Life is so short
Each passing day that goes by
Should consist
Of choices
That reflects realistic
Plans that were thought out
We are better
Than spontaneous decisions
Unless we are traveling
Around the world
Having a priceless worth
If not it will
Be our future
That will be hurt
The right mentality
Will attract the right people
Who are destined to
Be in our lives
But it can’t happen
Without being open
To change
And valuing who we are
We are courageous
We are radiate
We are brilliant
We are a gift
Anyone who says or thinks different
Is out of place
It’s our life
People who wants to
Bring us down shouldn’t be in it
It’s our choice
People who express negative
Is the opposite of positive
They do not serve a purpose
So let them go their way
As we keep shining
Being a beacon light
For true love to find us

A Crush

I have been a huge fan of Regina King’s ever since the television show 227. It’s excellent that she is finally receiving the recognition that is well deserved. Recently she was on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show where she revealed who her longtime celebrity crush is. Now hang on to your hats for this one it’s not Billie Dee Williams or Denzel Washington. Nope, Nope, and Nope. It’s Sam Elliott. Regina spoke of how she loved him in the movie Roadhouse. Roadhouse came out in 1989 that tells you how young that she was when she first developed a crush on Sam Elliot. She was around 17 or 18 years of age. She gushed about the thought of being able to finally meet him. Who wouldn’t? Sam Elliot was amazing to me in the movie Tombstone. Ahhhhhh. The memories when I think of the movie Tombstone. He was always labeled as a sex symbol.

Regina King looks absolutely amazing her arms are on point, it’s like she’s aging backwards. It was comical reading the comments of the videos of her sharing who her celebrity crush is. Which supports everything that I have been saying about the double standards when it comes to black women dating non-black men. So Yeah. Regina King was in movies like Poetic Justice and Boyz in the Hood yet Sam Elliot is her all time celebrity crush. It was so refreshing to hear about that. It just goes to show how there are many black women who have had a crush on a sexy white man. And it’s quite all right. Woot Woot!

Unity

With every course that I take, there is something that sticks out to me that gets me to thinking. Multicultural alliance is so important. Different people have a way of thinking and doing things differently. Cross-cultural communication is so important it helps people to become intuitive and sensitive to others, which helps with interacting. Communication helps with understanding others. It’s also should be understood that individualistic and collectivistic cultures differ too primarily in a negative sense. I can’t stand when a person wants to lump a whole group of people together based on a bad experience with one person, which is why I say some about certain people and not all.

I watched an interview that Phil Anselmo did; he is the former lead singer of Pantera. Some people call him a racist because of comments that he made in the past. He spoke of how he was an angry insolent child. He has gotten older and has matured. I know of racist people, and they later changed. I’m not saying that he ever was. I do know that skinheads and the KKK seek children who are angry and hurt to direct those emotions towards people of different races. Remember the movie American History X?

I saw a post that was so hateful it spoke about how the black people of today could never measure up to the black people of the 60s. I agree to a certain extent. The black people of today are strangers to the importance of unity. Not unity within the black community only but across racial lines. Some of the black people of today are tearing down the hard work that was done in the 60s.

There were some things that I did not agree with when Obama was in the office, but I did admire how his cabinet was multicultural. He understood the importance of people from every culture. People from all walks of life can offer some sound advice because sometimes the most valuable lesson is the kind that isn’t taken. I refuse to let that happen. I don’t want to miss a thing.

I have a post about sisterhood, and I consider my few friends as sisters. My friends are of different races. I am black, and I don’t have anything against some black women just the ones who makes everything a competition it’s not that serious. We as people, can sometimes be our enemies, and it is for no reason. For example, if more black women choose to date outside of their race, that’s great. What difference does it make if or when people come around? As long as they are doing better. Do you want to see one another succeed? Or is it about getting into a person’s business to use them as a case study? There was a time when we all thought differently about so many things. So why not extend the courtesy of understanding to others? We know more now then we did ten years ago and so on. Come on. And why does everything have to be about who idea was first George Washington Carver made peanut butter but do you think people think about that when they are eating Skippy or Jif. The first computer was established in 1946 but do you think the people on an apple computer thinks of that. Self-centeredness and self-absorbed people grind my gears!!!

My whole point is nothing positive comes from hate or division even if some don’t want to admit it. Unity stays in my vision.

Just a Thought

I have been meaning to post about this days ago. It’s about Nia Wilson she was killed because of a random act. Everywhere on Facebook it’s hashtag justice for Nia Wilson. I would like to say that I have her family in my prayers.

I find some of the people of my race comical. I read a post by a black man that said:
Dear White Men,
“In my presence Do Not And I Repeat Do Not Disrespect, Touch, Cuss, Do Anything To Harm My Black Women!”
Is this brother serious? I have seen him tell black women when they complain about black men to “choose better.” This is the kind of stuff that I am talking about!!! I can’t and don’t take some of these black men seriously. The hypocrisy is unreal! I see it every day.

What I am about to write could piss people off but it’s my opinion which I am entitled to. There is a video that I saw and the lady made a lot of sense. She spoke of how when she researched further about the Nia Wilson’s story that she found other stories that no one was talking about.

I’ll tell you the reason why the Nia Wilson story is talked about and not the others for the same reason why Rosa Parks was talked about and Claudette Colvin wasn’t. Or the Lovings and not Elinor Powell. The black community pick and choose the stories that they want to get outraged about. Some black people look at looks, prestige, and skin color as important and blame the white race. If you don’t believe me read Claudette Colvin’s story.

The moment that some black people see a situation with a white person they scream racism. It’s not always about race. I’m so sorry about Nia Wilson but the fact is more black women die by the hands of black men. There are more violent black on black crimes than black people being killed by another race. Murder is never right by anyone’s hands just like it’s not right to make up excuses about black on black crime. Where is the outrage about domestic violence? Where is the outrage when an innocent child is killed during a drive by? Where is the outrage about gang violence?

I wrote a post about this a few days ago all of my life I have embraced who I am. I have never followed the trend but did what made me happy. The point is some black people in the community pick and choose what to get outraged out as well as who to embrace. I have been mistreated by people who share my skin color however that’s a post for another day.

All life is precious and no one has the right to cut someone else’s short I don’t care what race the person is.

Love Wins in the End

Happy Sunday to Everyone! I pray and hope that everyone is enjoying this beautiful day!

My day started wonderful as I have just found out about another amazing interracial couple. The couple’s names were Frederick Albert and Elinor Powell.

Long before the Lovings there was Frederick and Elinor who fell in love during World War 2! Frederick was a white man and Elinor was a black woman.

Their story is incredibly amazing and inspiring! The heart wants what the heart wants.

Love always wins in the end!