Interview with Leo Lillard
QUESTION 15
INTERVIEWER:

OK, THE BOYCOTT, TELL ME HOW EFFECTIVE THE BOYCOTT WAS AND WHAT DID IT DO FOR THE MOVEMENT IN NASHVILLE? OK, UM, TELL ME ABOUT THE BOYCOTT AND HOW EFFECTIVE THE BOYCOTT WAS.

Leo Lillard:

Let me just say that, that once the Movement started, a creativity came from everywhere. People began to look at what kind of tactics would work in specific uh, places. There was no, no, no models to use, you couldn't go to a handbook and say how do you demonstrate? How do you attack this, this problem? So I think people began to put in, input concepts, input strategies, input tactics, and someone developed the idea of let's stop spending money downtown. And basically it was sort of like the Montgomery uh, bus boycott. Uh, let's stop supporting the system we're trying to change. The bus, the, the boycott in Nashville primarily focused on the Nashville downtown stores, the Nashville retail merchants. We figured that if they would… feel the pinch of not having shoppers buy in the stores downtown Nashville then that would put pressure on the Mayor, on the political fabric of town, of Nashville to change the uh, the rules, the regulations.** So we decided we would look at Easter, Easter being a major time in Nashville, in any city, when folks go out and buy a lot of clothing, a lot of retail goods. We decided that would be an ideal time, since Nashville at this point was not totally involved, the adults, all the community. Uh, it wasn't, it was no longer students, we were on the vanguard but it was clear tha—that the town had declared war on racism and we had all the troops, every little nook and cranny in Nashville. The boycott was in perfect time to say, stay out of town. And Nashville as a whole, black and white, did stay out of town because the white folks didn't go downtown because of the potential violence, the riot, the riots as they saw it. The black folks, although there were some black folks who went to downtown to try and break the boycott, and we had to send some education committees downtown to convince them that that was not the thing to do. And we didn't hurt them, but uh, we did kind of snatch their bags and tear things away from them, from their arms and let them fall on the ground, and say stay out of town. And of course that, the word got around pretty quick you don't go downtown anymore.** What that then, then did is that that clearly sent a message that there was no longer just students, there was no longer just out-of-town uh