Interview with Reverend Will Campbell
QUESTION 9
INTERVIEWER:

OK, WHAT WERE YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT THEM TURNING BACK AT THAT POINT AND BRING JOHN SEIGENTHALER'S NAME INTO YOUR…

Rev. Will D. Campbell:

Well, certainly it was mixed. John Seigenthaler, who had been the editor of the local newspaper, was at that—and a journalist with the Nashville Tennessean—was at that time working with Attorney General Kennedy, as I recall, and asked me if I had enough influence to get the movement to turn back when Bull Connor in Birmingham had, of course, bought the freedom riders back to the county line and so on. And it was obvious that the Nashville kids, as we called them, were going to continue this, and my feelings were mixed. Number one having been born and reared in this city and knowing the climate in the white community there, I really believed they would be killed. And so I didn't want people like John Lewis and Diane Nash dying at the hands of quote "my people" in Mississippi. On the other hand, I knew that in terms of the long range goals of the movement, and the fierce determination and dedication of those youngsters at the time, you know, they were like eighteen, nineteen years old. I knew they were going to do it, and there was, there was nothing I could do but, but weep for what I was certain was going to happen, and for the tragedy even if it didn't happen, that the notion that a group of people can't ride through my state in a Greyhound bus is rather overwhelming.