Interview with Courtland Cox


Courtland Cox:

Well, I think that, first of all, we came up and um when we got up we were all very excited and the march on Washington was supposed to be a huge, big event and I think Bayard Rustin and I went out to the grounds, the monument grounds and by eight o'clock there were I think fifty people out there. And our question was, was anybody going to be out here? And everybody kept saying, well there's no one out here because nobody could get into Washington because the roads are all jammed into Washington. And by ten o'clock there was a sea of humanity that existed in, on the March on Washington on the, the monument grounds, that um, and a number of people were coming in from Virginia and the young NAACPers and so forth were coming in and doing their little marching steps and so forth. And the situation was probably even made even more momentous and dramatic 'cause that was the day that Ossie Davis announced that DuBois had died. He had died, I think the day before in Ghana and it was announced at the March on Washington and those of us who had some appreciation for DuBois saw it as, you know, a tremendous, a passing of a tremendous Afro-American. And I think we were going on, things were going well and so forth and we felt that victory was, you know, we were really going to make an impression this day. And I think in the midst of that, probably about eleven o'clock, we got a message that Archbishop O'Boyle had stated that if we did not withdraw John's statement, that in fact he was going to withdraw from the March on Washington. Now the reason that he was able to make that statement was that, I was a representative for the March on Washington for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and John had gave me, gave me the speech the day before and I passed it out to the press trying to get maximum publicity. And um what happened was, the press gave it to Archbishop O'Boyle and to the Kennedys and, and they looked at it and did not like the speech because of a number of reasons. The first, it, it criticized the Kennedy administration and put them in the same league with the Dixiecrats. Secondly, it alluded to the question of violence ah and I think it had a cynicism, not a cynicism, a, a penetration of the reality as opposed to the kind of good feeling that was supposed to be evidenced at that meeting. We told Archbishop O'Boyle—