Interview with James Forman
QUESTION 4
INTERVIEWER:

I WANT YOU TO GIVE ME A LITTLE MORE OF THE COLOR OF REWRITING THAT SPEECH, I MEAN WE SEE THAT PICTURE AND BECAUSE THE CROWD'S OUT HERE, PEOPLE ARE AT THE PODIUM, I MEAN YOU'RE BACK THERE LOOKING LIKE YOU'RE SWEATING, I MEAN I'D LIKE TO KNOW I MEAN WERE YOU SITTING THERE AND COURTLAND COX SAID NO MAN TAKE THAT OUT OR YOU KNOW GIVE ME A LITTLE BIT MORE OF WHAT, WHAT ACTUALLY THAT WAS…

James Forman:

Well OK then, in order to understand that you have to understand that John Lewis was elected as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1963. And the March on Washington was the first major event in which he participated as a chairperson and that he wanted me to speak at the March on Washington as the Executive Secretary and I felt that he should speak as the new chairperson. I mean he had just been elected as a part of the uh, Nashville student movement and we were attempting to try to project Southern young black leadership in the organization and so we felt that you know, that he should be the one, who should, you know, accept the invitation and give the speech, and that was something that he and I worked out together which was legitimate and uh, so when we got to Washington he along with some of the other civil rights leaders um, had a meeting with the President, so they went off to see the President and the rest of us in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee were assembling here in Washington and we were participating in a very orderly fashion, that's why I don't, I don't agree with anyone's uh statement that we had plans to come to Washington to disrupt Washington and not to participate because we were a very integral part of the March on Washington, and very much involved in its planning. And John Lewis participated as a chairperson in many, many planning meetings, but anyway on this particular day he was uh, uh, meeting with President Kennedy along with other leaders and so when we got to the March on Washington, um, we got to the Lincoln Memorial, I mean I was told that there had been a lot of trouble that the you know some people were objecting to John, you know delivering his speech. Now it's important to understand that there were sort of like two approaches to the March on Washington, there was the official approach you know of negotiations that John was, in which he was involved and then there was the official approach of the organization, that we didn't want the March on Washington to, to uh, in any way kill the student protests and the protests of community organizations. And so we felt that during the summer of ‘63 it was necessary to intensify the local protests and… I'm sorry.