Interview with Reverend Will Campbell
QUESTION 5
INTERVIEWER:

NOW IN 1960 PEOPLE SAY THAT NASHVILLE WAS A PRETTY PROGRESSIVE CITY, ESPECIALLY IN TERMS OF RACE THAT THEY HAD CITY EMPLOYEES WHO WERE BLACK. THERE WERE MOVES, PEOPLE WERE SAYING THERE WERE MOVES—MOVEMENT IN THE CITY TO DEAL WITH THE RACE ISSUE, AND THAT THIS WAS NOT THEN—THE PROTEST MOVEMENT WAS JUST TOO, WASN'T TIME, IT WAS LIKE PUSHING THEM TOO FAST. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT, AND THE FEELINGS OF THE COMMUNITY TOWARDS, ABOUT THAT WHOLE…

Rev. Will D. Campbell:

I think in 1960, Nashville was a progressive city, but so was Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 when Governor Faubus called out the troops to stop this horrendous onslaught of nine black children coming to Central High School. So was New Orleans, where you had serious riots the same year and the following year, and it took marshals to escort one child through the lines and so on. But when you're, when you're, when you say progressive, I think it reflected a mood with within a large group of individuals, but when those individuals go up against structures and institutions and—well, let's take segregation as an institutionalized reality in Nashville—then those individuals made little or no difference. So, if you came and talked to X number of white and black in, in Nashville in 1960, or the late 5O's, you might well go away saying, well, this city can do anything it wants to because it's, it has an enlightened citizenry, but, but these evil structures are so institutionalized and so demonic and so difficult to deal with that these quote "enlightened" individuals were relatively powerless.