Days before the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, an excerpt from author Patrick Carr’s book The Seminarian: Martin Luther King Jr. Comes of Age details a young love between 19 year 0ld King, and Betty Moitz, a white woman he went to seminary school.
Carr writes he first heard of Moitz while reading David Marrow’s 1986 biography of the civil rights leader, and grew curious about a woman who reportedly left King with “with a broken heart.” After penning his own book about King, Carr traveled the country to find the woman who supposedly had King’s affection before King married Coretta.
After taking two cross-country flights, making calls that led no where and knocking on doors of wrong homes, Carr finally found Moitz and corresponded with her for a year, before meeting in January 2016. According to Moitz, their relationship started out casually with just small talk, and eventually they delved into more serious topics.
“He would talk, and talk and talk,” Moitz said. “One thing ML knew at age 19 was that he could change the world.”
During their second year at Crozer Theological Seminary is when things became more serious. Carr writes the two grew more comfortable going public with their relationship. They sat on park benches together in full view of anyone of the student body. When asked if the stares and scoffs by students at the northern school bothered her, Moitz said she wasn’t concerned about the opinions of others.
“I never noticed. I always had a tan and dark brown hair,” she said.
While those on campus knew of their romance, King kept it from his mother and family. According to Carr, King’s sister Christine came to visit regularly and he knew if he told Christine about their relationship Christine would tell his mother and the news would disappoint her.
King eventually came to a crossroads with Moitz and sought the guidance of his friend Horace Whitaker who was 10 years older, married and already a father. Whit, as he was often called, said he begrudgingly advised King to end his relationship with Moitz.
“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 having married to Coretta, Carr says in a 1964 biography, King reflected on his relationship with Moitz and spoke of her matter-of-factly, divorced of the love the two reportedly once had.
“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,” King said