Interview with Gov. John Patterson
QUESTION 52
INTERVIEWER:

[unintelligible] 15. OKAY, JUST GIVE ME A GENERAL FEELING IN A FEW SENTENCES OF WHY ALABAMANS, I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT HE EXTREME ELEMENTS ON BOTH SIDES, WHY THE AVERAGE ALABAMAN IN 1961 GOT LIVID AT THE THOUGHT OF THE FREEDOM RIDERS COMING IN THIS STATE. BECAUSE I THINK IT WAS JUST THE AVERAGE PERSON, WHY DO YOU THINK THEY WERE…

Gov. John Patterson:

Well, again, I think the polarization of the races, due to what was going on in the civil rights movement at that time, beginning with the Montgomery bus boycott, had created a feeling in which the white community was incensed at people like the Freedom Riders who were coming into the state to intentionally violate our customs and in some cases violate local law. And they were just incensed at this, as far as getting out and getting in a riot or beating up Freedom Riders, the average Alabaman would not do that. The people who were actually doing this were very small group of people, some of them were known members of the Ku Klux Klan and then were not representative of the average Alabama person.