POSTED: Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 6:03pm
UPDATED: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 10:27am
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — At 23 years old in the 1960's Eddie Bradford had reached a breaking point after witnessing a white man physically kick his mother, leaving her shaken.
“I grabbed the gun, my brother grabbed one, my daddy grabbed one. We were going to go down there and tear the place up. But mama kept crying and hollering and so we didn't go," Bradford explained.
He then met a man who changed his life forever, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"He taught non-violence. And I told him, he said, 'if they hit you on one cheek you turn the other one.' I told him, point blank, I said, 'rev. you think I am crazy? he's going to hit me on one side and I am going to...no! I am going to fight. I am going to fight,'" Bradford recalled.
But he eventually adopted King's ways. In the spirit of non-violence he started getting involved in the bus boycotts and marching.
"We were singing and having a good time that's all. Just singing good old church songs. We start out there on Fairview avenue and marched all the way downtown. The police tried to break it up, but we were going to march," Bradford said.
It was one of those marches that landed him in the Montgomery County jail, right alongside King.
"They put us all in jail. We didn't stay in there that long because there was somebody to bond us out once they arrested everybody," Bradford said.
He's humble about his role in history, but feels the constant violence in the black community is erasing everything he and his friends fought for.
"It’s just ridiculous that the people let what we did go to waste. Going right back in to slavery. It hurts me to see that happen, you know," Bradford explained.
He told NBC33 the day he went to jail for marching was also the day he registered to vote, and he hasn't missed an election since.
There will also be a memorial bus boycott this Saturday , celebrating Black History Month and commemorating the actions of people like Bradford and King.