Famous Black Economic Stories and Anecdotes

Martin Luther King – Funtown Story

From Playboy, Interview in January 1965 by Alex Haley

Playboy: Dr. King, are your children old enough to be aware of the issues at stake in the civil rights movement, and of your role in it?

King: Yes, they are—especially my oldest child, Yolanda. Two years ago, I remember, I returned home after serving one of my terms in the Albany, Georgia, jail, and she asked me, “Daddy, why do you have to go to jail so much?” I told her that I was involved in a struggle to make conditions better for the colored people, and thus for all people. I explained that because things are as they are, someone has to take a stand, that it is necessary for someone to go to jail, because many Southern officials seek to maintain the barriers that have historically been erected to exclude the colored people. I tried to make her understand that someone had to do this to make the world better—for all children. She was only six at that time, but she was already aware of segregation because of an experience that we had had.

Playboy: Would you mind telling us about it?

King: Not at all. The family often used to ride with me to the Atlanta airport, and on our way, we always passed Funtown, a sort of miniature Disneyland with mechanical rides and that sort of thing. Yolanda would inevitably say, “I want to go to Funtown,” and I would always evade a direct reply. I really didn’t know how to explain to her why she couldn’t go. Then one day at home, she ran downstairs exclaiming that a TV commercial was urging people to come to Funtown. Then my wife and I had to sit down with her between us and try to explain it. I have won some applause as a speaker, but my tongue twisted and my speech stammered seeking to explain to my six-year-old daughter why the public invitation on television didn’t include her, and others like her. One of the most painful experiences I have ever faced was to see her tears when I told her that Funtown was closed to colored children, for I realized that at that moment the first dark cloud of inferiority had floated into her little mental sky, that at that moment her personality had begun to warp with that first unconscious bitterness toward white people. It was the first time that prejudice based upon skin color had been explained to her. But it was of paramount importance to me that she not grow up bitter. So I told her that although many white people were against her going to Funtown, there were many others who did want colored children to go. It helped somewhat. Pleasantly, word came to me later that Funtown had quietly desegregated, so I took Yolanda. A number of white persons there asked, “Aren’t you Dr. King, and isn’t this your daughter?” I said we were, and she heard them say how glad they were to see us there.

Now, there is another reason that I am happy to be here. For some reason, the flight that we got

out of Atlanta to Chicago, and then on into Springfield, confronted a little turbulence in the air. We had a little bad weather in the South, and even getting into Chicago it was a little choppy. And whenever I have a choppy flight I am always happy to get on the ground. I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I don’t have faith in God in the air; it is simply that I have had more experience with him on the ground. (Laughter and applause)


I have been doing a research project on the economic thought(or philosophy) of Martin Luther King. When you read a lot of one person work you find re-occuring themes, stories, quotes and ideas.

The above story is one MLK used frequently when warming up the crowd.

Don’t assume anything: Enterprise rent-a-car and college premium

Five why’s story of Washington Monuments