Interview with Marian Wright Edelman

Go back to Mississippi. Do it one more time and watching the traditional movement, Dr. King dominated movement, started to come apart around the issue of, of violence and White participation. You had vested incredible years of your life in that, it must have been painful to watch it come to the surface. Or was it a natural consequence?


It was very painful to see the divisions between White and Black, northern White ally, ah, and Black leader, ah, ah, occur in Mississippi but some of that is an inevitable part of change. People have different roles at different stages in the movement and you have to know when to come in and help and you have to know when to leave in order to help. I remember one day, because there were a number of White friends, John Mudd and others, one John Mudd who subsequently became a Director of the Child Development Group of Mississippi and subsequent Executive Director of CDF and who was a very good friend of Bob Moses, ah, and Bob Moses who, I think, after Dr. King was the second great professional figure, ah, of the Civil Rights Movement for me. I mean absolute integrity, extraordinary courage, ah, and as one of the people who kept us all going and, and in a sense was a real servant leader, ah, or non leader and who got so upset about the cultism that was developing around him that he began to withdraw and changed his name as you know. But he was very good friends with John Mudd and with others. But I remember a day in Steven's Kitchen, which was the greasy spoon restaurant next to my law office, which was over a pool hall on Barry Street, when we were eating in there, John Mudd and I and I think one of the Whites and Bob came in but he wanted to speak to me but he was not willing to, to deal with the whole table. And then I knew that something very major had passed, ah. It has always been my view, and you know, you see this old surface argument about, ah, desegregation and, and, and helping impacted schools today, ah, that we've got to continue to work on both fronts. That you have got to develop Black leadership. You got to help Black children in those ghetto schools learn how to read and write better than White children because they need to know it more than the White children do because of the way that society still is and you've got to get them in those suburban cities and make sure they know their culture and, and have good skills and these, both had arguments have to, to give way to dealing with kids wherever they are.