Interview with Joseph Azbell
QUESTION 5
INTERVIEWER:

YOU TOLD US HOW YOU FIRST HEARD ABOUT THE BOYCOTT. HOW E.D. NIXON FEED YOU THE STORY, YES, I WONDER IF YOU WOULD TELL US ABOUT THAT TELEPHONE CALL?

Joseph Azbell:

I was at work, doing what you do as a city editor, and I received this phone call, and people are always asking me, "How in the world did you know about the boycott? How did you get on to it, and how did you get the first piece of information?" Two years before the boycott began, I was given an award by Selma University. I was, at the time, a twenty-five year old guy, and they awarded me an honorary doctorate of literature, an LITT.D. And I was this young, twenty-five year old guy, receiving a [sic] award from an all black college for doing so very much for black communities in Alabama, and for being objective, for helping the polio epidemic blacks. I went in and got black children with polio and carried them in my arms to St. Jude hospital, and I had done a lot of things like that. But I had known E.D. Nixon, and he had helped me to have a Christmas party for poor, black children. This was on my own and with him and so forth, and I went and got the things, and E.D. called me. He was a Pullman car porter, and was a—I knew him very well, and I knew that he was a very close friend of A. Phillip Randolph, who was President of the Car Porters Union. And he said, "I've got a big story for you and I want you to meet me." Now E.D. doesn't talk long sentences, he's very short, and brusque, and what have you in what he has to say. He said "Can you meet me?" I said [laughter], "Ye I can meet you." So we met down at the Union Station, and he showed me one of these leaflets these, and what have you that was mimeographed. And he said, "I want to tell you what we're going to do, we're going to boycott these buses, we're tired of them fooling with our women. And they done it for the last time." So I said, "OK." He said, "You going to put this on the front page?" And I said, "Ye I'm going to try to." And I went back to the paper and I called the publisher of the paper, Mr. R.F. Hudson, Jr., and I said, "I've got this story about this bus, the, you know, they're going to boycott the buses, what should I do with it?" He said, "What do you think you should do with it?" I said, "It's news, and I think it should be published." He said, "Well, if you think it's news and it should be published, then publish it on the front page if you think that's where it belongs." And I said, "Well, I think that's where it belongs." So I wrote the story. I put my name on it, and I said they were going to boycott the buses and it went out.