Interview with James Forman


James Forman:

Well, because we, you know we went into Selma in 1963 and the way that it carried over into Selma was that Dr. King was asked or it was my understanding you know that that to, to, to participate to try to strengthen the ‘64 Civil Rights Act, but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals was already, had already decided as a, to hand down a lot of injunctions, you know which would strengthen the ‘65, ‘64 Civil Rights Act. And the key thing that I'm talking about is the literacy requirements. The United States Justice Department wanted a provision that would have some degree of literacy requirements, and in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee we objected to that. We felt that all of these literacy requirements were unconstitutional, unnecessary and that people should just present themselves and once they present themselves, they should be able to vote. Now the conditions for that, I mean of course were certainly heightened by a result of the Selma march, but, but mind you that the differences occurred I mean like uh, the Monday before Bloody Tuesday, uh, when we met with Dr. King in Montgomery, um, and discussed the proposal of Judge Johnson that an injunction would be handed down if we called off the march. And we voted against that. We voted that the march should continue and then when we got to Selma of course, Dr. King said to the people that the march would continue. Well, I mean we, you know, even though we knew that he had agreed to this injunction, so we felt that the thing to do then was to have a meeting with him and to try to get him to be consistent, to keep the march going, I mean the march on Turnaround Tuesday, you know, and not to say to people, that, that the march wouldn't continue.