Interview with Rev. Frederick Reese
QUESTION 17
INTERVIEWER:

AFTER ALL THE UH, PANDEMONIUM, THE GAS AND PEOPLE WERE TURNING TO BROWN CHAPEL YOU SAID WHEN YOU GOT BACK TO THE CHAPEL AND SAW THE FACES OF THOSE PEOPLE THAT NON-VIOLENCE WAS ON TRIAL. HOW, WHY WAS THAT?

Rev. Frederick Reese:

There were many people who participated in the march and some who had relatives in the march who viewed the violence and there was a great question in the minds of many people whether or not the nonviolent method really was a method that should be uh, employed continually in the movement. There was some uh, indication that there were those who really wanted to take up uh, whatever arms they had and retaliate with violence. And of course, this had to be uh, subdued and also discouraged. And when looking in those faces of those people who had seen their, some children, some relatives injured, gassed and so forth, the question was, is it worth all of this and should we continue to take this? I think that uh, that human nature somehow aroused uh, the uh, the need to retaliate or try to, to get even somehow. But we had been uh, teaching and preaching nonviolence throughout the movement and just a question, and I remember vividly about 6 o'clock that evening Dr. King called me at Brown Chapel and uh, he called me Mr. President because I was the President of the Dallas County Voters League he said, Mr. President, I understand that uh, you had a little trouble. I said, Dr. King that's the understatement of the year. I said, we have encountered a lot of trouble down in Selma and of course uh, he was somewhat being facetious because he had heard really what had happened. But he told me that he had uh, sent out a call to people in America, those who want to come to Selma to share in and participate in the struggle that we were engaged in at the time. And about 10:30, 11 o'clock that night, we were still at the church, there was a group of people who came from New Jersey, they had chartered a plane and they walked into the church. That was one of the most exhilarating experiences that I think I've been a part of. The rejuvenation that took place on the part of people who had just before questioned whether non-violence would continue to be the method or not. Uh, then their hopes and dreams were somewhat renewed and enthusiasm, uh, arose in their minds and uh, there seem to have been a consensus of great determination now because they felt as if they were not fighting this fight alone, there were people who were willing to come and share in. And from that point on, uh, many groups came in, many people came in to Selma. Selma was a place of ecumenical gathering of all races, uh, creeds, uh, and religions. And people came in to share with us. And to me that saved non-violence