Interview with E.D. Nixon


E.D. Nixon:

Ah, back at that time—memberships was a dollar back in that time—the press had told them that we's on our way down to the Alabama National Bank to match the Governor's warrant for the $250 and if you send…definitely. You just can't get something right in the streets everyday and said that we going to organize then with this thing. You going to have to have something to appeal to the people. Now, when I started talking about the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the NAACP right here at home, peoples thought I was crazy. And do you know that I've seen times that I be going down streets downtown, and some of your professionals go to college round there be meeting me, and two or three white people behind me. I don't have to look back to know that some white people right behind me, 'cause when I see him cut cross the street I know that's some white people behind me. And he don't want…he don't want to meet me and let the white people know that he know this radical. That's what they called me then, a radical, see. And so, but it wasn't easy. It wasn't an easy thing. You'd have to start from an incident to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. I ran against a man for President of the NAACP one year, and I didn't know nothing about the thing, right like I knew the next year. And I think he done me just like the white folks did, counted me out of that election. So what I let them [unintelligible] I told, the man who was elected, I said, "Mr. Matthews?" He said, "Yes." I said, "Next year when you come, bring all the NAACP paraphernalia with you, 'cause I'm going to carry them home next year." I said, "You've got one year now to make up your mind what you going to do." Well, I—he didn't hear anymore from me. And so I, I got out and started about three months ahead of the election time, and I'd go downtown every Saturday. And I'd tell all the people I—I'd meet people on the streets down there, and down on the back street there, and I told them, I said, "You know, these insurance people going to try to take over the NAACP." I said, "I need your help." I said, "The only way you can help me—you're going to have to spend a dollar, you're going to have membership." All right, we fool around there and we built up to many membership. And I asked them, I said, "Now you going to have to come to meeting. You can't get me elected in the street. You're going to have to come to meeting." So they—when they come at the meeting that day, that, this particular day, the Church was filled up with peoples. The pastor of the church got up and he says, "I found one person can put more people in Holt Street than I can." Of course, the insurance peoples, they were together, and all them made an effort to discredit, tear down what we was trying to do. So finally had a man who got up and made a motion, "Mr. Chairman, I had appoint the man to hold the election of men now. We're getting up to the point to hold the election. I appoint the man to hold election." He said, "Mr. Chairman, I'd like to make a motion." He says, "That depends on what your motion is." He says, "I want to make a motion that we elect somebody to hold the election." He says, "It's my understanding that the President appointed me to hold the election." He said, "We have no president now." He said, "All offices are vacant." Then I rose, and I said, "Mr. Chairman," I said, "May I make an observation please?" He said, "Yeah." I said this: "I'm going to make this observation for those who don't know Robert's Rule. I said, "Of course, the gentleman who went to make, that wanted to make this motion, he knows it, but he think we don't know it." I said, "Now Robert Rule tell me that if you once elected, you shall serve till your successor has been elected and installed." I said, "Even though that I may lose the election today." Somebody hollered, "You ain't going to lose it." And I said, "I'm still President till two weeks from now when the installation will begin." I said, "Therefore, with the power invested in me as President, I rule that we proceeded with the election," and so on, and everybody screamed, because I, I won seven to one, but I done my homework. I got out there and worked with the people, and I encouraged them to pay the membership and encouraged them to come to the meeting. And every time that the tally sheet—we got one for him, I had seven. But I, I done my homework. And you don't just do it sitting down. You—it takes long hours and you spend a lot of time, and I—you take—I bet I've been to conventions and things where like NAACP the Brotherhood more than any one man in this town. I spent a lot of time, a lot of money, too. And yet that—I enjoyed all that, and I've been able to help peoples. I'm living, enjoying some of it myself. You see, when I first started fighting, I was fighting to keep so that the children who came behind me wouldn't suffer the same thing I suffered. Then the night of the Bus Boycott on December the 5th, I told the people that I'd had been fighting like that for all these years. I said, tonight I changed my mind. I said, "Hell, I want to enjoy some of this stuff myself." And you ought to have heard people hollering. ** So I started fighting so Nixon could enjoy some of it. And I've been enjoying some of it. When you take—right now that I, I served on most all the important organizations in the town. And I know a whole lot of them [unintelligible] that they put me on. They don't put me on because they'd like to have me on. I know that. And a whole lot of them is disappointed after you find out I don't take all the things that would keep my mouth shut. A lot of them are disappointed in it. But I sat on a whole lot of these boards and, and it all, it come about because of my technique and I—what I know about the organization, dealing with people, and you…