Julia Roberts revealed that the known civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta King, paid her parents’ hospital bills when she was born. This historical information was confirmed to the public in her interview with the CBS News reporter Gayle King for the series HISTORYTalks on History Channel.
Though the conversation was released last September, the clip in which she revealed the information went viral when Zara Rahim, the former Strategic Adviser to President Barack Obama, shared it on her Twitter account to celebrate the actress’ 55th birthday.
Julia added in the interview that MLK Jr. and his wife were very close to her parents. Her parents, Betty Lou Bredemus and Walter Grady Roberts, were co-founders of the Atlanta Actors and Writers Workshop and an acting school for children, where Martin’s children also attended classes. When her mother gave birth to her in Smyrna, Georgia, MLK’s wife, Coretta, asserted to pay their bills as gratitude for her parents’ kindness in accepting Black children in the 1960s. Julia said that MLK Jr. and Coretta called her parents’ school and asked them if they could accommodate their children, as they had difficulty looking for a school that would admit their kids. Her parents wholeheartedly accepted them into the school. When they could not afford to pay huge hospital bills, the Kings insisted on paying.
There was segregation in the 60s, in which Black and white children did not mix in class, especially in acting schools. There was also a time when his eldest daughter, Yolanda, was cast and partnered with a white protagonist in a play; the Ku Klux Klan member exploded a Buick car outside. Although the play sparked violence, journalists praised Pretty Woman’s parents for deciding to let Black children interact with white kids in a play. They called this action “extraordinary,” as this is not usually happening in an acting school.
Julia also shared that her family is very close with the Kings and even Yolanda, who died in 2007 due to a chronic heart condition and other complications. She also has many Black friends and is very vocal about racial injustices. Julia was fearless and called South Carolina town “horribly racist” and “a living hell” after her friend refused service in a restaurant. After the incident, she said she was shocked that this kind of thinking and maltreatment still existed in America in the 90s, not only in the South.