Interview with Tom Hayden


Tom Hayden:

I don't want to say that President Kennedy took the lead. Uh, that's not the way it seemed at the time and that wouldn't be accurate. Uh, many of us in the Civil Rights Movement felt that we had to push the administration, that uh, their response in the South to brutality and beatings was token or was too slow, uh, that at times uh, they wanted to recommend uh, that the movement stop. I remember when the Assistant Attorney General of the United States told me that uh, he thought that I should leave Mississippi and persuade others to leave Mississippi. I know that uh, as Attorney General, Robert Kennedy uh, hoped that the Freedom Rides uh, wouldn't happen. That's, that's uh, uh, the perspective, but if you look back uh, through time, uh, and not just how it appeared in the perspective of 1960 to '63, if you look back through time, uh, given how conservative this country was, uh, and how uh, unimportant the black vote or the youth vote had been uh, to past administrations, the Kennedy's really were uh, advancing a cause and legitimizing a cause far more fundamentally than we who were on the front lines thought at the time.