Interview with Rev. James Lawson
QUESTION 17
INTERVIEWER:

WHAT ABOUT, GOING BACK TO THE SPECIFIC INCIDENT, EVEN IF YOU DON'T CALL THAT ELEMENT MODERATE, WHATEVER, THAT, SORT OF AMORPHOUS GROUP OF PEOPLE IN THE WHITE COMMUNITY WHO WERE WATCHING, MAY HAVE DISAGREED ON ONE LEVEL OR ANOTHER WITH WHAT WAS GOING ON. WAS THERE ONE INCIDENT THAT BROUGHT MANY OF THEM AROUND? WAS THERE SOMETHING THAT TURNED THE TIDE?

Rev. James Lawson:

Oh, I think it was the white community. The tide was not turned until after desegregation of the restaurants took place in downtown Nashville and none of their fears were lived out. I think that's where the tide turned. I think that if you did a majority, if you had a vote to desegregate, the vote would have gone against us, all the way through. The, the merchants themselves were persuaded, in fact, that if they desegregated, then they would have to take retaliation from the white community. They were absolutely convinced of this; they were convinced that if they desegregated, there would be violence in their places, so that we basically had to show them how it could be done without violence and conflict and without affecting their business. And when they finally agreed to do it, and it worked, they themselves were astonished.