He didn’t fear death- In a Playboy interview with writer Alex Haley, King said he wasn’t afraid to die and knew it would help fuel the movement. “I have a job to do,” said King.
Haley: Haven’t both the White Citizens’ Council and the Ku Klux Klan been implicated in connection with plots against your life?
King: It’s difficult to trace the authorship of these death threats. I seldom go through a day without one. Some are telephoned anonymously to my office; others are sent—unsigned, of course—through the mails. Drew Pearson wrote not long ago about one group of unknown affiliation that was committed to assassinate not only me but also Chief Justice Warren and President Johnson. And not long ago, when I was about to visit in Mississippi, I received some very urgent calls from Negro leaders in Mobile, who had been told by a very reliable source that a sort of guerrilla group led by a retired major was plotting to take my life during the visit. I was strongly urged to cancel the trip, but when I thought about it, I decided that I had no alternative but to go on into Mississippi.
King: Because I have a job to do. If I were constantly worried about death, I couldn’t function. After a while, if your life is more or less constantly in peril, you come to a point where you accept the possibility philosophically. I must face the fact, as all others in positions of leadership must do, that America today is an extremely sick nation, and that something could well happen to me at any time. I feel, though, that my cause is so right, so moral, that if I should lose my life, in some way it would aid the cause.