Interview with Rev. Joseph Ellwanger
QUESTION 22
INTERVIEWER:

NOW, WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN THE, THE LINE TURNED AROUND? EVERYBODY WAS NOT PRIVY TO THAT DECISION AND DID YOU THINK THAT MARTIN LUTHER KING HAD TO TURN AROUND THEN?

Rev. Joseph Ellwanger:

That's a big question. Now, none of us in the march were aware of the fact that apparently this agreement had already been made and the leaders knew that once they crossed the Edmund Pettis bridge they were going to stop and call it a victory for the day and come back. So the rest of us were really surprised. Of course we didn't know exactly what was going to happen because we knew we couldn't march to Montgomery, that was 50 miles, on that day. Uh, we didn't really know how far we were going to go. We were completely on the mercy of the people who were leading us. So, uh, when the leaders did stop and finally the word trickled back that we were turning around uh, we felt let down because we wanted to get beyond the point where the people had gotten on Bloody Sunday just as a moral victory and a symbolic victory but uh that didn't happen and uh, as we think back on it historically uh, you can argue back and forth, whether this was the right decision. Uh, ultimately, what did happen certainly was for the good, and that is that uh, Lyndon Johnson did give permission uh, for uh, troopers to come and protect uh, the marchers from Selma to Montgomery and the Selma to Montgomery march did take place. I think one of the concerns that King had uh, was for the safety of the marchers, because uh if anybody's driven the road from Selma to Montgomery, that Highway 80 is a very very lonely highway uh, and there all kinds of stretches of the highway where people could be uh, in ambush as we found out uh, a couple of days, or the day after uh the day of the march that was completed then when uh, Viola Liuzzo was shot.