Interview with Rev. Orloff Miller
QUESTION 18
INTERVIEWER:

[unintelligible] . . . WHAT I'D LIKE YOU TO DO FOR ME NOW IS BEGIN TO TELL ME WHAT YOU, YOU WERE FEELING THEN AND CONSEQUENTLY HOW IT MADE YOU BEGIN FEEL ABOUT UM, THE UH, THE PEOPLE AND THE THINGS THAT YOU WERE ENCOUNTERING THERE. IF YOU COULD GET ME IN TOUCH WITH THAT.

Rev. Orloff Miller:

One of the next things I remember at the hospital was the FBI. They wanted to interview us right away. And I didn't know what we were getting into; I knew that the FBI was not to be trusted. I didn't know whose side they were on. I still had my little Minox camera and the first thing I did was to whip out that camera and I took their picture. And they were really thunderstruck. You don't take FBI agents' pictures. I said do you want the film? Well, I guess not. But they questioned us, course, as they needed to as to what had happened and they were fine, I think they were OK as it turned out. But, I wasn't about to trust them I must say. And the hospital staff, I didn't know what really to expect, but as it turned out, the hospital staff, was like most people, very mixed in their reactions about these civil rights demonstrations. The person in charge at this time happened to be a Unitarian, a member of the congregation in Birmingham. He was not in sympathy with the demonstrations but he couldn't have done more to help us than he did, he was wonderful. And the hospital made available space for us, we were not patients Clark and I, Clark Olsen and myself. And we felt that while Jim's life was hanging in the balance the thing that we best could do was to get the word out as to what had happened and why we were there and to make Jim's life count for something if it was going to be lost and we were pretty certain he was not going to survive. So I remember endless interviews, radio and television and photographers and newspaper people and we pretty well exhausted ourselves in that process but I'm glad we did it. As I look back on it now, we got the word out. There were a lot of accounts I found out later by the mail that I got, the phone calls, expressions of concern. It was a very frustrating time too because we didn't know what was happening with Jim, we were not part of the family and so while we were kept posted from time to time we weren't really at his bedside. But Marie finally arrived, Marie Reeb, Jim's wife. And once she was there and Duncan Howlett, the minister of All Souls Church in Washington, where he had most recently been associate minister came also and that brought some change. And uh, I'll never forget Marie's asking us to come and tell her about what had happened and so we sat down with Marie and with Duncan Howlett and step by step tried to explain what had happened at the restaurant and the attack, and, and the march. And I remember saying to Marie as we finished: Marie, thank you for sharing Jim with us, he was the right man at the right place at the right time. Marie wasn't ready for that, it was a harsh thing to say to her and I regretted it later, but now I know that I did say the right thing, cause he was the right man at the right place at the right time.