Interview with Leo Lillard
QUESTION 21
INTERVIEWER:

YES, I WANT YOU TO GIVE ME NON-VIOLENCE, YOU GOTTA GIVE ME, I GOTTA KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THOUGH, OK?

Leo Lillard:

OK. The movement in Nashville as, as a movement throughout the South had adopted a, a non-violent stance that was a tactic, that was a, that was the logo, so to speak of, of, of the movement we would not fight back, we would not return violence of uh, hoodlums, we would not retaliate. And the concept in itself, was simply to me and to many folks like myself, simply no more than a tactic. Uh, non-violence was a way that the movement could take on a semblance of respectability, uh, it was it was it was a tactic so the media could not call us hoodlums. It was a tactic, so that the international community could not condemn us as, as, as, as evil doers. We were students; we were peaceful; we were saying things must change, and we were doing it in a way that would not jeopardize the safety of many of the people who might come down and, to a demonstration. If we were violent, it probably would have immediately eliminated many people who would not participate. So as a tactic, it was, it was, it was, it was successful. Uh, myself, personally, uh, I saw it only limited as a tactic. I was a part of ROTC at TSU. Uh, I was very much a scientist involved with uh, many military ideas, it was, it was clear that non-violence was a, was a way for us to express ourselves, it was a way to catapult, to project the movement. To Diane Nash and Jim Lawson it was, it was much deeper. They had spent many hours, many years probably into research as to why this particular way of doing things was, was germane to their everyday existence. It was not germane to my existence. It was simply a way for us to, to deal with an evil system and to correct it, and many times I would use my city friends, uh, to protect us from the hoodlums. Prior to the hoodlums getting to us, some of the city guys I grew up with in high school had already gotten to them. And that was very important sometimes because otherwise, we may have not have been able to sustain the movement, we may have not been able to sustain that particular action for that day, so, nonviolence had had a very limited concept in, in my way of thinking. It was, it worked but it had a very limited, uh, uh, set of, scope of application.