93-year-old recalls Dr. King’s travels to Augusta


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Martin Luther King Junior’s push for civil rights made an impact all over the world, and he had a very special connection right here at home.

During his life, Dr. King made several trips to Augusta. Prior to his career, a young MLK would stay at a home downtown.

Before he was a civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Junior was known as “Morehouse.”

“Because we were both junior, that was confusing in the house so you always called me “Hampton” and I called him “Morehouse.” He was a very brilliant kid,” said Father Lewis Bohler.

Father Bohler is a former friend of MLK’s. He recalls when MLK was about 14, he lived with Bohler at his family’s home on Phillips Street.

Bohler explained, “We would shoot pool and go swimming and things like that. There was very little available to us at that time in the 40s and early 50s. His sister taught me to bowl.”

Father Bohler said when the Southern Baptist Sunday School Convention convened in Augusta, King, his brother, sister, and many others stayed at the nine-bedroom home since hotel and motels weren’t available.

“We slept downstairs on pallets We didn’t’ mind that all. We were accustomed to doing that. Thurgood Marshall and Adam Powell. Lead singers with Wings Over Georgia and a group called the Southern Heirs, they all stayed with us,” said Bohler.

Father Bohler is 93 years-old but he remembers his time with Martin Luther King Jr. like it was yesterday. He even accompanied him in Selma and acted as a bodyguard when Dr. King’s life was threatened.

Bohler said, “Andrew Young, I thought Andrew was just positioning me nice so there would be a nice formation. He put me up there. They had told him, ‘pick anything to be confused with King and stick that up there.’ He stuck me up there to take the bullet.”

While Dr. King’s life is honored Monday, educators in Richmond County say it’s always a great chance to have fulfilling conversations about him with your kids.

“They can view online the virtual boyhood home of Dr. Martin Luther King. They can also tap into many of his speeches and make comparisons with what life was like then compared to now. Instill continue to serve, and that was his vision,” said Assistant Director of Teaching and Learning Kinesha Ponder.

Richmond County Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator Sydney Prescott added, “The first thing I think parents can do is to just ask their kids what they’ve been learning. Ask them about Dr. King. Who is he? What did they learn about him? And then that gives the opportunity to dig a little deeper with them. To view the “I Have A Dream Speech” with them. Talk about the speech itself and does it resonate with them today.”

To learn more about Dr. King’s local legacy, take a trip to the Lucy Craft Laney Museum.

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