Interview with Leo Lillard


Leo Lillard:

Mmmm, uh, my father once told me a story when I was young uh, why he was so militant, why he was so angry, why there was so much fire in him. And his, the story goes that his grandfather, uh, was buried alive whe—when he was, uh, I mean he was a young man, thirty, thirty-four years old, as a slave, by the slave owners. What had happened apparently, according to the story that he was told by his grandmother, that the master tried to accost, or to assault uh my grandfather's wife. And my grandfather, of course, beat the master up, maimed him, um, practically killed him. And the way the story goes is they kept it quiet for two or three weeks, and one Sunday, one bright Sunday afternoon they gathered all the slaves from as many plantations as they could find, and they dug a hole, and they buried my grandfather alive. And from that day my grandmother always taught all, all the men on the plantation that you must tell this story to your kids so you will understand the nature of plantations, you will understand the nature of Caucasian thinking. And he told me that story at a very early age, he said, "This, this is what will happen to you if you dare to fight back, he said never, never doubt that it won't happen." I guess then from a child I've always known that that is definitely a real possibility. But the other possibility is living like a robot, other possibility is living and, and kneeling, and I refuse to kneel, I've always thought that people who kneel are just are not full human beings.