Mischief Makers

Martin Luther King_ Jr. - Mischief Makers

Martin Luther King, Jr., 2017

acrylic on canvas  
30 x 24 in

MLK, Jr. had Joan’s number. “They say he used to prolong his speeches about nonviolence when I was there because he loved to see me cry, ” Joan says, then imitates his stentorian voice, “Every time I say nonviolence, I know Joan Baez is going to be in tears.”

She once joined him and other civil rights leaders for a march in Grenada, Mississippi. He had come in late on the plane and went to take a nap in a bedroom of the home he was staying in. When he hadn’t gotten up and it was getting later and later, Joan was sent in to see if she could rouse him. In her silvery soprano, she sang “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”

“He just rolled over and said, ‘I think I hear the sound of an angel,’” she recalls. “Then he said, ‘Let’s have another one, Joan.’ And he went back to sleep. It was very funny.”

On another occasion, Joan was invited to ride along with Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young when they drove to pick Rev. King up at the airport for a Southern Christian Leadership Conference meeting and march the next day. “I was excited to hear how they would plan the march,” Joan remembers. “Instead, they told off-color jokes from the airport back to the conference. That evening I told Andy (Young) that I was surprised and disappointed, saying I thought I was going to hear how they planned a march. Andy just smiled and said, ‘You did.’”