Politico's Mike Allen reports that two women claim to have seen Martin Luther King Jr. with George W. Romney, father of Mitt Romney, at the Grosse Pointe, Michigan march in 1963.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, speaking on the Howie Carr radio show this afternoon, spoke about the controversy. The Romney campaign provided this transcript to the Phoenix:
"Well, it’s been my understanding all my life that he marched with Martin Luther King, and it’s actually been written about in a couple of books. David Broder wrote a book about it and talked about him marching there. And, I know that some people can debate that. That’s been my understanding all my life. I think the key thing is that he marched with Martin Luther King Jr.’s Freedom Marchers, and did march, and Martin Luther King did come to Detroit and organized these Freedom Marches, and my Dad was in one of them. And my memory and my understanding is that he was in one that Martin Luther King himself was in, but you know, we’ll see as time goes on."
The two witnesses interviewed by Politico, women now living in Florida and Massachusetts, describe seeing then-Governor Romney with King in Grosse Pointe. Both contacted the Romney campaign when they learned of the controversy, and the campaign gave their contact information to the reporter, the story says.
Contemporaneous news accounts confirm that George Romney, then governor of Michigan, unexpectedly joined that Grosse Pointe march, which took place on June 29, 1963, six days after King led a large Freedom March in Detroit, which Romney did not attend.
None of those accounts of the June 29 event in Grosse Pointe mention King's presence.
An Associated Press report of the event, which ran in several newspapers the following day, reported that "this Saturday's orderly parade attracted an estimated 250 people." The report mentions that Romney had rejected the invitation to participate in the earlier Detroit march, because it was held on Sunday.
The Detroit Free Press has reported that its coverage of the event, which estimated the crowd at 500, describes George Romney attending, but not King. A New York Times account of the event likewise mentions Romney but not King.
Another Associated Press story, which also appeared in newspapers of Sunday, June 30, 1963, says that Dr. King spoke to an AFL-CIO gathering in New Brunswick, New Jersey, that Saturday of the Grosse Pointe event.
Earlier today, the Boston Globe quoted Susan Englander, assistant editor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University, saying that: "I researched this question, and indeed it is untrue that George Romney marched with Martin Luther King."
Grosse Pointe historians have told the Phoenix that King was not at that June 29, 1963 march in that town.
A detailed timeline of all of Martin Luther King Jr.'s appearances in Michigan appeared earlier this year in the Michigan Citizen, compiled by Paul Lee; it includes the June 23 march in Detroit, but not the June 29 event in Grosse Pointe.
"The answer is no, Governor Romney did not march with Dr. King -- not in Detroit, not in Grosse Pointe," Lee emailed the Phoenix.
Lee noted, however, that Romney's mother, Lenore Romney, attended Dr. King's speech at East Lansing on February 11, 1965.