Julia Roberts is an actress, well known for performing a wide range of roles. Her acting talents encompass a variety of genres including rom-com, comedy-drama, and Biographies. Her diverse portfolio is impressive and her talent is undeniable. A lesser-known fact about Julia Roberts, is astonishing, particularly to history buffs. It turns out that her parents were good friends with civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott.
Julia Roberts shares an Anecdote
Julia Roberts spoke with Gayle King in September to discuss the role Martin Luther King Jr. played in her life. In Washington D.C., the 55-year-old actress revealed an interesting detail about her birth on a segment known as History Talks. The series showcases “premium live events“, allowing audiences to hear live recounts of the experiences of historical figures. She tells Gayle King an anecdote about her birth. Julia Roberts shares how Dr. King and his wife; Coretta, helped her parents.
Today is Julia Roberts birthday! 55 years ago MLK and Coretta Scott King paid for her parents hospital bill after she was born. Can’t stop thinking about this since I read it. Here she is talking about it with @GayleKing https://t.co/5HvpNSUIYb pic.twitter.com/147x6d807W— Zara Rahim (@ZaraRahim) October 28, 2022
Martin Luther King Paid Julia Roberts Hospital Bill
Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and Civil Rights Activist. He was born in 1928 in Tennessee and was most notably known for his “I have a dream” speech. King attended segregated public schools throughout his life and eventually received his Doctorate in 1955, from Boston University. At the age of 35, Martin Luther King Jr. was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize.
He received the award for his leadership skills and desire for peace. King Jr. announced that his winnings would be donated to fight for equality between blacks and whites. He and Coretta had 4 children and were married for 15 years until his assassination in 1968. The year before his death, the King family had helped pay the hospital bill for Julia Roberts’ birth.
Julia Roberts’ Beginnings
Before Julia Roberts became famous, she was born in 1967 to Walter and Betty Lou Roberts. They lived in Smyrna, Georgia at the time. Roberts recalls in a 1990 interview with Rolling Stone her town was “horribly racist” and a “living hell. Her Parents ran the Actors and Writers Workshop in Atlanta, Georgia. This is how and where they first got in touch with the King family.
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Doing Away with Segregation
Prior to 1865, slavery was legal in the U.S. and many blacks were treated poorly by whites and slave owners. After the abolishment of slavery in 1865, segregation still remained for nearly 100 years. Finally in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. Despite the Civil Rights Act, many Southern States still frowned upon the integration of blacks into their schools and communities. Roberts Tells Gayle, “One day Coretta Scott King called my mother and asked if her kids could be part of the school cause they were having a hard time finding a place that would accept her kids, and my mom was like ‘sure come on over,’” adding that after they met, the two families became friends.
Gayle applauded Roberts and her family for their role in integration, stating, “In the 60s you didn’t have little Black children interacting with little white kids in an acting school, and your parents were like ‘come on in.’ I think that’s extraordinary, and it sort of lays the groundwork for who you are,” Gayle said.
Advocating for Equality
The Roberts family fought for equality in a time when dangers broke out. Some people in these communities had problems with Blacks being integrated into their communities. Also, dangers befell the white people who supported integration. In fact, Philip DePoy was just 15 years old when he experienced a demonstration by one member of the KKK.
This demonstration would put into perspective, for him, just how “demented” the KKK could be. Both DePoy and Yolanda King were members of Roberts’ family’s theatrical group, the Actors and Writers Workshop. The theatre was putting on a free production in the Carver Homes housing project. Part of their production required DePoy and King to share a kiss.
The pair were outside in the parking lot rehearsing their kiss when they were spotted by the “tangential” KKK member. The following day he came back to blow up a Buick in the same parking lot. DePoy speculates that he intended to do more damage. He assumes the man was unable to do so because there were so many people around at the time.
Julia Roberts has never stopped being an advocate of equality and stands by the notion that the Kings, “helped us out of a jam”.
Keep Reading: Tom Hanks’ Son Chet Opens Up About the Challenges of Growing Up With Famous Parents
- “Essay: Academy Theatre, Julia Roberts’ parents laid foundation for blossoming of theater in Atlanta.” Arts ATL. Philip Depoy. March 6, 2013.
- “Julia Roberts reveals Martin Luther King Jr.. paid for her birth.” HuffPost. Marco Margaritoff. October 30, 2022.
- “Julia Roberts says Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King paid her parents’ hospital bill after she was born. Insider. Pauline Villegas. October 30, 2022.