Local Man was MLK’s Personal Driver

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Maple Heights man was once Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s personal driver.

He was literally in the driver’s seat during the civil rights movement back in the late 1950s.

During the height of the civil rights movement in 1958, King needed a personal driver. Clarence Bozeman was 21 at the time and a freshman at Alabama State University when he interviewed with King for the job.

“It wasn’t that much of a big deal at the time, but the more the two of us rode around Alabama the more I got to know him as a person, as an individual and as a preacher,” said Bozeman, of Maple Heights

Bozeman said for two years he drove King and his family around Alabama during a time when there were often death threats against them.

“He was getting 40 threats a day at one time on his life, and I think all of that really played havoc internally to him,” said Bozeman.

Bozeman’s driving duties ended when the King family moved to Atlanta in 1960.

Bozeman said King encouraged him to get three educational degrees including one from Cleveland State University. Bozeman retired in 2004, he was a principal at Shaw High School in East Cleveland.

“As I grew older, I found that his wisdom was very inspirational as I grew into my profession,” said Bozeman.

Bozeman usually doesn’t talk about his experiences with King but he feels it’s necessary for this generation to know more about their roots and the sacrifices others have made for the freedoms we have today.

“I think it’s important to speak now to let my younger generation know that everything they have they have now was raised on the backs on people like Martin Luther King,” he said.