Interview with James Bevel

Was there any particular time when you felt like you saw that, or understood that, as some event that really triggered it inside you?


Yeah, I guess I started that kind of feeling whenever King, King spoke. When I first heard King speak and when I started hearing him and listening to him when he'd come to Nashville. That it was obvious to me that he was not motivated by, say, political ambition, that his motivation was altruistic and theological. And that he was scientifically correct, and that when a person is scientifically correct, and what they're doing is not designed to injure anybody, it's designed to help everybody, then it has to be motivated by God, because the individual motivation is selfish. OK, so when I said, now, he's not doing this for money, he's not doing this for reputation, 'cause he'll mess around and get killed, right, so he's got to be doing it because he's really—have a love for black people and a love for white people. So as a minister, he really did love all the American people and he saw it as a contradiction between brothers, so he was not like a black racist, or a black nationalist. So he approached it as a Christian minister. So in that sense, I felt that it was a part of the historical abolitionist movement. You know, I read a lot of Gandhi's books, a lot of the Quakers' movements, and I felt that I was a part of that stream of history that addressed the whole problem of oppression.