Interview with James Forman


James Forman:

Well, in Selma, Alabama, the differences with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference did become acute. And these differences revolved around the nature of the cooperation with the federal government, um, the um, the style of leadership as well as the the the forms of protest, ok. Now, we had been trying to, excuse me, to get people throughout the South not to have a lot of confidence, you know, that the federal government was going, not that the state governments I mean were going to say to them, we, we were operating on two, two levels, I think that to try to make it clear. That inside the states uh, we felt that federal government should be utilized to break the power of the reactionary racist state governments, because people were living in a climate of fear on the, uh, on the, uh, from the state governors and sheriffs and so forth. And that we had to have some fire to break this grip of fear and this torture and terror which it was inflicted throughout the South. And we felt that the federal government was the agency by which to do that. We were fighting for a strong central federal government OK, and we were successful in that. However, we did not agree that people should collaborate and and and cooperate to the detriment of the long range interests of the people and we felt that by agreeing to injunctions, you know, on the part of the federal government or by not fighting those as it happened in in in Albany, Georgia, I mean we explained to Dr. King that, that when the, when the federal courts were handing down injunctions, that those injunctions should be fought. OK, so consequently we did not feel that that that there should be any types of deals worked out with the Justice Department or so forth that you should take, find out what's the principle and fight for the principle. And so therefore then in Selma, Alabama when he was agreeing to various things we were rejecting that but when he picked up the phone at 5 o'clock in the morning and called the United States Justice Department and said I have to go against the injunction, you know we felt that that was a tremendous victory, and that he should be supported, you know and that meant that we should participate actively in the demonstrations you know. And so on the other hand then as a result of Turnaround Tuesday you know the uh uh uh we felt that something, I mean we knew for instance, I mean we had heard all morning you know that, that well the… the march may be called off but so but we felt that people had to be mobilized to continue to march.