Louisville marchers fly to Montgomery with King

The Courier-Journal, 18 February 2010

Fifty-two people boarded a plane in Louisville around 7 a.m. March 24, 1965 at what was then Standiford Field, bound for Montgomery, Ala.

The plane departed Louisville at 8:15 a.m. and touched down in Atlanta, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. boarded. King had left Alabama for a day to speak in Cleveland and was returning to Montgomery to rejoin a group of marchers. The plane landed in Montgomery around 11:30 a.m., full of “freedom marchers” coming to join the final portion of the historic Selma-to-Montgomery March.

King’s brother, the Rev. A.D. Williams King, was part of the Louisville contingency aboard the plane, as were Louisville teacher Maxine Buchman, who graded papers before takeoff, and Drs. George and Laura Kimbrough, married physicians who brought their medical bags, telling a reporter they expected “colds, flu and sore feet among the marchers.”

About 300 marchers had camped the previous night in a muddy field owned by a black millionaire whose home and Birmingham hotel had been bombed. They met another 200 marchers that morning on U.S. 80 to begin a fourth day in the 50-plus-mile march, planning to protest Alabama before Gov. George Wallace about the lack of voting rights.

When they stopped to camp again that evening, entertainment was scheduled to include Ella Fitzgerald, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Harry Belafonte, Odetta, Tony Bennett, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, Sammy Davis Jr. and Leonard Bernstein.

When they arrived at the capital March 25, the demonstration was 25,000 people strong.