Interview with Marian Wright Edelman

In a couple of phrases tell me what happened in the fall, that following fall we did this and we listened to the retreat and what happened and what you remember.


Well, after I had gone to Atlanta that time to see Dr. King and conveyed Bobby Kennedy's message about bringing the poor people to Washington and having a Poor People's Campaign, ah, SCLC then began to mobilize and then to, to plan the logistics of such a move. There was a retreat at Early House out in Virginia where he brought together a number of his senior staff, ah, and some outsiders. I remember Joan Baez being there. And it was the first time I think I ever sort of got to see Jesse, ah, in any sustained way. He was a young preacher, ah, but again Martin was back, ah, talking about the mood of the country and how difficult it all was in trying to put into perspective what was happening in the north and all of the violence and the, and the, and the turning away again of a nation, ah, and again, he was real down because it was real hard, it was real hard and still is to get America to hear. And it was the first time I'd heard Jesse preach. Because I really didn't know Jesse then and, and I wondered who this young preacher was that Martin asked to give a sermon the first night. We were singing and praying and struggling and trying to be together. And Jesse preached on Job, ah, and, in a sense asked God's forgiveness for our being, giving up, ah, when things were getting tough. I remember it very poignantly as if it were yesterday. And I remember how, you know as tired as everybody was, ah, and as frustrated as everybody was, ah, how there was also a sense of forgiveness, forgive us, ah, for not wanting to, not, not wanting but not being able to deal with how hard it is, ah, and there was a decision to move ahead and to proceed with the Poor People's Campaign, ah, understanding it was going to be a real struggle, ah, but I think that consolidated it and got the planning process going.