Interview with Rev. Frederick Reese


Rev. Frederick Reese:

Okay, in uh, January 1965 I was President of the Selma City Teachers Association and had developed the confidence of the teachers in my quest for the many advantages for teachers with the Selma City School Board and what have you. However, at the same time I was President of the Dallas County Voters League and that gave me an opportunity to uh, have influence uh with teachers as well as with the common laborer, or people you know, in the community in general. And I used that influence to try to get teachers registered, uh, and one of the things that uh brought about that commitment was the fact that many teachers had gone down and been denied the right to vote. I felt that that was a good uh, indication that there was some discrimination in their efforts because teachers who have degrees and who had masters degrees had been denied and so, working with teachers then would have been uh, more of a type of justifiable uh position to take requesting the right to vote. And on January the 22nd, uh, I had asked that teachers would uh meet at Carr Elementary School at 3 o'clock at which time we were going down to the County Courthouse to ask the Board of Registrars to have the Board Office open so teachers could get registered. We knew that on Friday that the Board is not open, in fact the Board only was open on the first and third Mondays of each month. But I had written a letter to the chairman of the Board of Registrars requesting the office to be open because I felt that if we could go to the Courthouse to pay our taxes any day of the week that we oughta be able to go and get registered any day of the week. And of course, when we got to the courthouse, and by the way, uh, there were many people who just didn't believe that teachers were going to march, the middle class professional group had uh, somewhat divorced themselves from participating in the movement at that point, and the common laborers and you know, people who were uh, workers were carrying the main load for uh demonstrations and marches at that time. But to say at a mass meeting prior to that march, I told the mass meeting, I said, On Friday, teachers would march to the County Courthouse. They said, we don't believe that. However, that Friday at 3 o'clock there were only one car on Carr school campus and then the [unintelligible] began to fill up with cars of teachers. 99% of the city teachers came and participated in the march. There were several teachers who were elderly, who came and sat in the meetings and said, now we, are not able to march to the courthouse, but we came here to give you moral support. And when we came out of Carr school which is in the area of the housing project, there were parents and people standing on the outside they couldn't believe that teachers were marching for the right to vote for the first time in the United States. I led the group down to the Courthouse and when we got to the Courthouse, we encountered Sheriff Jim Clark and his deputies who had in line across the door at the Courthouse. And we marched uh, in pairs went up to uh Jim Clark, uh and his deputies and we al, almost rubbed noses. And he informed me that I should get off of the steps


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