Interview with Joseph Azbell


Joseph Azbell:

OK, all right, now I'll start it over. E.D. Nixon was to the black community at that time what Martin Luther King later became to the black community. He was the hero, he was the man who had stood up for Gertrude Perkins in her attempt to get the policemen to line up so she could pick out whom she said raped her. And he had led that whole campaign which went on for a year. He was so—he was a great big giant of a man at the time and muscular and he had hands that were so strong, huge hands. I've never seen anybody with bigger hands. Tall, and slim and beloved in the community. He and Rufus Lewis were the leaders of the black community at that time. And Rufus Lewis was very much for getting voter registration. And E.D. was for getting voter registration. E.D. once said that he came from such poverty, right up there on the hill, that that poverty that he came from he could never forget. And that he was on the hill, that that poverty that he came from he could never forget, and that he was going to get his freedom. And he ran a Pullman porter job that he had took him from Montgomery to New York and back again, and to New Orleans and back again, and he was the head of the NAACP. He was all the things that you could be in a black...I guess you could say that if, that since the blacks at that time didn't recognize the white mayor, that E.D. Nixon was probably as close as you could get to a black mayor of the black underbelly of Montgomery. They referred to it as the underbelly of Montgomery because they never knew what was going on down there. It was just like you were going into a different world and it was like you were coming out of this lit up world, and you went into that dark world and you didn't understand anything that was happening there.