Interview with Leo Lillard
QUESTION 24
INTERVIEWER:

OK TALK TO ME ABOUT THAT, UM, UH THAT SENSE OF CHEMISTRY AND DESTINY AND BOLDNESS THAT WAS IN NASHVILLE.

Leo Lillard:

I guess, I guess when you when we, when I think back, at, at here we had a few people some from out of town, some in town, students who had come to Nashville for some different reasons, some had come to go to school, uh, some had come to teach, some had come to be ministers, and yet, they had all agreed that what they had come for was a secondary priority, and that their first priority at this point, had become you know, a cause celebre, we were, we were going to make this town, we were going to make this date, we were going to make this demonstration a monument to history. We were going to make uh, the annals of history. We were going to change abruptly 3 or 400 years of habit. We were going to make a statement that was going to be carved in granite immediately—once and for all. And yet, and yet, we knew that that we had no reason to believe that it would not succeed. And yet there were the odds against us were phenomenal odds. How could 25 individuals in a town they'd never been to before, never been part of an organization, never been elected any positions, come to a town and never been to before and change history? You know those meetings, those glances, those handshakes or smiles that we had and the, and the goof offing and then the serious kind of uh, kind of uh thinking were were all occurring in an environment of certainty and we don't know what that certainty was. We knew that there had to be a reason for, for us being here in Nashville. There was a destiny, there was a, there was this, formula that said we are here, we have to make a statement, we have to act today, we have to act right now, we have to, we have to use the the meager resources we have against a major evil, against a major enemy and to defeat him because that is your purpose. That's why you're here, uh, forget the school, you're here to change Nashville—forget your, uh, your lesson plan, you're here to change Nashville, and when you change Nashville, you'll change the world. And that's exactly what happened. From Nashville came SNCC, from Nashville came all of the basis for how you deal and confront and change things that are, are wrong in, in uh, eyes of, of our, humanity.