Interview with Courtland Cox
QUESTION 13
INTERVIEWER:

WHAT ABOUT UM, WHAT ABOUT THE FBI DURING THE SUMMERS OF ‘64 IN MISSISSIPPI? CAN YOU TELL ME ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT THEIR INVOLVEMENT WAS IN MISSISSIPPI AND WHAT PEOPLES ATTITUDES TOWARD THEM WERE?

Courtland Cox:

Well I think, I'm trying to remember. I think the, the attitude of the FBI in ‘64 was probably I mean, the the things that strike me most about the FBI is that first of all they would stand and watch, ah, and that things could happen to you and they would watch. I remember one of the, one thing that clearly stands out in my mind in McComb, Mississippi, a house got bombed. I think Curtis Hayes was in it, Mendy Samstein, and a number of the SNCC people were in it and it, fortunately, nobody got hurt but there was a huge hole in the house and the reason people didn't get killed was that a car was in front of the explosion and absorbed most of the, the, the thrust of the explosion and therefore, there was, the house was damaged but people weren't killed. And I think I went down there along with some other people the next day and the FBI made it clear to us that they were there not to look after us to see that we might be hurt but to guard the evidence of the bombing. That's what they were interested in, so somebody could come by and kill us but that wasn't their job to deal with that; their job was to deal with the evidence of the bombing after the fact. I think that the FBI also in that situation was reporting on our activities to J. Edgar Hoover. I mean that's known. I mean, they were not impartial in the situation. They thought we a disruptive force, a force that was out to destroy this country, and therefore reported on us. I think the, the, the FBI also acted in ‘64 as a force to, to, to encourage the quote red baiting unquote that, that occurred in terms of the number of the civil rights leaders. That, I think that, that at their best, they watched; at their worst they reported and, and, and who knows, may be part of the violence that occurred ah, you know, in ‘64 on the people in Mississippi.