Interview with Reverend Will Campbell
QUESTION 11
INTERVIEWER:

NO THIS WAS AFTER, THIS WAS THE, LIKE THE, AROUND THE 26th OF MAY, THIS WAS AFTER THE MONTGOMERY AMBUSH.

Rev. Will D. Campbell:

I remember that, yeah, [overlap] OK, OK. When the freedom riders reached Montgomery, and apparently the arrangement had been made that there would be no police protection for X number of minutes, five minutes or whatever, so that a mob was set loose to do what they will. And John Seigenthaler was there as a personal representative of the President and two young women were trying to get into a cab and were being turned away and were being roughed up and John went over and said, "I am a personal representative of the President." And that's the last thing he remembered saying for a long time because someone caught him over the back of the head with a steel pipe and he lay in the sun there for a long time. And I was not present, I was not there at the time, and I, a friend of mine—a young attorney here—George Baird and I, chartered a little plane the next morning, Sunday morning. And John, we thought he was in critical condition, of course they didn't know how seriously he was hurt, but he was in the hospital there. He used to kid me when I was working for the National Council of Churches he'd say, "Oh, here comes the guy who represents forty million Protestants," and of course we didn't represent anybody, you know. So I walked into the room and I said in his hospital room, and the priest was on his way out, and I thought oh lord, is he gone and they're doing unction on John Seigenthaler? And I said, "John, I'm here representing forty million Protestants," and he threw me the bottle of holy water and he said, "Well here, I think one of your forty million damned near killed me yesterday down at that bus station." And I knew John was going to be OK.