Interview with Floyd McKissick

Explain to me why this was the march of the common people?


The Meredith march differed from all of the other marches for the following reasons. One, most of the other marches had been in, in urban settings. This march was in a rural setting. This march differed because you had, it was not as organized as the other marches. Ah, it was not the logistics of the marches was came into play on the basis of the common people. There were many who joined the march who did not believe in non-violence. There were those that believed in, in non-violence. But, ah, there were far more people that believed in, in violence than non-violence on the march. And it became a policy statement, a policy issue as to what kind of statement we would issue. And of course our statement was that we believed in non-violence. But the people that were now joining the marches were people of all phase of life, little people, big people, not just organized clergymen, not just organized racial groups, not just organized pacifists. But here people were coming in from all over the, all over the area to join the march. Therefore it was my position that all of the people should march. All of the people had fears and these people would have to march and let people know they would no longer be afraid. That was a central point of the march and at the same time that we would build up, ah, a political base by getting these people to register and vote. Now you remember when the march got to Batesville. When the march got to Batesville, here we had created a number of people, ah, had created, ah, an influence among the people. We had no food. We had the organizations that had not given us the monies before. But somehow or another we got food. When we got to the churches food was there. People knew we were coming and it was sort of like the, sort of like Christ leading the multitude on this march. The reality of it was that we sent word out of the direction that we were coming and somehow or other when we got there, we had what we needed. Even though we had not the money that the other people had. It was a really rinky-dink march that was organized by the common people and not basically the civil rights leaders. Because most, I was the only leader who was on the march every single day. And most of the other leaders moved in and moved out. But CORE and its logistics, was handled by Herb Calender, SCLC had other representatives there, but we were the ones who really had to move through Mississippi with the will and the heart of the people. And they came out, ah, and brought us food, clothing, and everything else that was needed to make the trip possible.