Interview with Rev. Orloff Miller
QUESTION 21
INTERVIEWER:

TELL ME WHY YOU WANTED TO GO BACK FOR THE MEMORIAL SERVICE. WHY YOU THOUGHT IT WAS IMPORTANT TO BE THERE. WHY YOU, WHY YOU… YOU WERE NOT THERE, YOU HAD TO INSIST TO GO BACK TO …

Rev. Orloff Miller:

Monday the 15th of March, there was a memorial service for Jim at Brown's Chapel in Selma. And I very much wanted to be there. The Board of our Unitarian Universalist Association had adjourned its session in Boston, it was in meetings at the time of Jim's death and they reconvened in Selma on Sunday night before the Memorial Service. A Catholic, um, not a church not exactly a monastery, but a Catholic group there um, gave them a meeting place in Selma and I was part of the denominational staff. I thought it was my place to be there and further more I wanted to go back to Selma. I thought it was important to be there to let people in Selma know that just because we had been attacked, we weren't going to run away, the job wasn't finished. There was more to be done, the march had to go on. And I wanted to be there. And while there was apparently some concern for my safety, uh, there'd been threats, and of course obviously I was a witness to the attack and what turned out to be the murder of James Reeb. Uh, there was concern that I not be identified by people who had been part of the attack. So I was sort of sheltered in a sense, uh, but nevertheless, I uh, went back, I was there for the memorial service, I sat in the balcony the whole time. It was a marvelous service, it lasted about 3 hours, there were representatives there from many, many denominations there was a rabbi I recall, there was a Catholic priest, there was a Russian orthodox, uh, prelate, uh, primate uh, there uh, there was, uh, Walter Ruther from the United Auto Workers was there, uh a number of union representatives and of course our own representatives, Dana Greeley, the president of our Association was there as our main spokesperson. And there were many many speeches, but of course, Dr. King's was the highlight. And one of the things he did that I will never forget and always have been very happy that he did, it wasn't a memorial service just for James Reeb, it was also a memorial service for another Jimmy, Jimmy Lee Jackson, a black man who had been killed just two weeks before involved in some of the same demonstrations there in Dallas County and so he linked the two together: black and white together; the two Jims and that was appropriate. And then we, after the memorial service was over, wonderful news, the court had granted us permission to march down to the courthouse, up to that time we'd been forbidden. Nobody had gotten out of the compound since Tuesday as far as marches and demonstrations were concerned. But we got permission to march down to the courthouse and lay a wreath in Jim's honor and to have a prayer. And that's when people really said, Orloff, you can't do that, you mustn't go, you must stay here at the chapel. I said, nothing doin', I'm going. And we marched five abreast, they made sure that I was in the middle and well-protected, and uh, so I marched down to the courthouse too. And then we came back to Brown's chapel. Then I was back down in Alabama…