Interview with James Peck
QUESTION 13
INTERVIEWER:

WHAT HAPPENED….THE…YOU CAN'T GET IT, YOU KNOW, PUT TEN PEOPLE ON A BUS AT A TIME, SO ONE OF TWO GUYS MUST HAVE COME UP, DID THEY WALK RIGHT UP TO YOU? DID THEY WALK RIGHT UP TO THE BLACK RIDERS?

James Peck:

Yeah. And and they seized them physically and threw them into the back seat. So… to, to carry on the story these Klansmen boarded the bus and told the driver to drive on. Now we thought that maybe they were going to have him go up some side road and have a little party. But apparently that didn't happen. He went on into Birmingham. When we arrived in… Birmingham, uh… we saw along the sidewalk uh… about… twenty men with pipes, uh… we saw no uh, cop in sight. And now I'll tell you what, how I remember the date. The next day, Bull Connor, the notorious police chief was asked why there were no police on hand. He said, he replied, it was Mother's Day and they were all visiting their mothers. Uh, well we got out of the bus and Charles Person, the black student from Atlanta and I, had been designated to try to enter the lunch counter. So we… of course we didn't there. This mob seized us and uh… well part of it seized me and the other seized uh… Person, and uh… I was unconscious, I'd say, within a minute. Uh… I woke up, I came to in an alley way. Nobody was there. A big pool of blood. I looked at that pool of blood, I said, I wonder whether I'm going to live or die. But I was too tired to care. I lay down again. Finally I uh, came too again, and uh, I looked and uh, a white G.I. who had come up and said, you look in a bad way. Do you need help? And I looked the other way and Bergman was coming so I said, no my friend is coming, he'll help me out. So, uh, Bergman took me in a cab to Shuttesworth's home, and when Shuttlesworth saw me, he said, man you need to go to a hospital. And so he called the ambulance and they took me to the hospital and uh… they took me to the hospital and put fifty-three stitches into my head.

[wild sounds]