Interview with Marion Barry


Marion Barry:

Well actually I wasn't supposed to be elected in the sense that I, we had decided that if Diane Nash wanted to be nominated for coordinator for chair, whatever the leadership structure, would be, that's what we would do and I was sort of like the second or third person in that whole configuration. And we had the final meeting of the coordinating committee, or the meeting to discuss the continuation committee, that's what it really was, and for whatever reason Diane was not there, and so the Nashville people knew that I was the second person that ought to be talked about. But moreover we had made a lot of friends with people in Atlanta, and in the Carolinas, had a large delegation of people from the up and down the Carolinas because it was close by, plus they were doing a lot of things. And so someone I think Virginia Thornton from Virginia made the motion that I be the temporary chair and it was second and there was no debate about it. And so I was named the temporary chair of the temporary coordinating committee of the temporary Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. That's what it was [laughter]. I mean it wasn't anything permanent. It was temporary and we agreed to meet one month later in Atlanta to talk about how we begin to organize the structure of that organization. And we met in Atlanta. I continued until the fall of 1960. At that time I went to the University of Kansas. First of all, I was out of the movement daily because I couldn't get back and forth into it, and secondly the whole structure at that point was to try to find a full-time chair. Someone who would take off and sort of really direct the attentions and energies to be in the full-time chair of the organization. In between that time I had gone to both the national conventions of the Republican party which was held here in Washington and the Democratic party in Los Angeles. Bernard Lee and I had done that during the summer to try to generate some support for the movement at that time, so it wasn't the only conscious effort I think that we made was the Nashville students were determined to be wherever leadership was. We were going to be in there because we thought we had a good movement and we thought we had something to offer. The other parts of the movement—