During the Kennedy/Nixon campaign Martin Luther King was arrested in Georgia.
King’s wife, Coretta, then pregnant with their third child, feared her husband would be killed in jail. Her fear turned to terror after he was yanked from his cell in the middle of the night and taken to a maximum-security prison in Reidsville, Georgia. By the time she reached Wofford, a friend since the 1955-1956 Montgomery bus boycott, she was hysterical.
Wofford helped hatch a plan.
“The idea came to me… . Why shouldn’t Kennedy just call Mrs. King? She was very anxious. Why can’t Kennedy call and say, ‘We’re working at it; we’re going to get him out. You have my sympathy.’ A personal, direct act.”
With encouragement from Shriver, Kennedy placed the call during a campaign stop in Chicago.
King was released the next day after Robert Kennedy, his brother’s campaign manager, made another call – this time to the judge. Kennedy drove home the political importance of freeing King and assured the jurist that his help would make him “a welcome visitor in a future Kennedy White House,”
Harris Wofford died this Monday on Martin Luther King Day