Interview with James Bevel

You've talked about the oppression of a city like Birmingham, Bull Connor's reputation and things like that. I want to move forward to the point where you decided to involve children. I mean, if it was such an oppressive environment, wasn't that kind of risky to involve children?


Well, in terms of the nature of the situation because of the intense suppression and the conditioning of the adults, it was necessary to use children because children had not been indoctrinated into that kind of violence and suppression. So they could come on the situation with an—a fresh approach. But it wasn't particularly dangerous from our point of view of using children. At that particular point children were in Vietnam. Guys seventeen was in Vietnam and our thinking was that if a young person could go to Vietnam and engage in a war, then the person certainly the same age and younger could engage in a nonviolent war that didn't violate the constitution of the people, property, and that when you use that method the chances of getting injured is very little anyway.