Interview with James Farmer
QUESTION 25
INTERVIEWER:

OK, I WANT TO JUST GO BACK A BIT TO THE PART WHERE YOU WERE TELLLING US ABOUT DIANE NASH GIVING YOU A PHONE CALL.

James Farmer:

Yes. Well, after the first group of Freedom Riders had been clobbered in Birmingham, it was clear they could not go on. Some were still suffering from smoke inhalation from that burning bus at Anniston. Others had been so badly bloodied in Birmingham, and in the hospital or had just gotten out of the hospital. I was at home in Washington after having buried my father. I got a call from Diane Nash, who was a leader of the SNCC student movement in Nashville and Diane asked if I would have any objections if she took or sent some of the young SNCC students into Alabama to pick up the Freedom Ride where the first CORE group of 13 had left off. Now, we had that kind of relationship with SNCC before they would go into a CORE project, they would seek our permission; before we would go into a SNCC project, we would do the same. I told Diane that I felt it might be suicide. She said: "Of course, we realize that. We're not stupid." She said, "But we can't let them stop you with violence, because if we do, then the movement's dead. Anytime we start something, all they'll have to do is roll out the violence and we'll roll over and play dead." She said, "Jim, please, let me send in fresh troops to pick up the baton and run with it." I said, "By all means do, Diane, and I will double back and join you right after the funeral", which I did.