Interview with Rev. Frederick Reese
QUESTION 8
INTERVIEWER:

OKAY, UM KING HAS COME TO TOWN AND IT'S JANUARY 2nd 1965, CAN YOU TELL ME SOMETHING OF THE SPIRIT OF THAT FIRST MEETING, THAT COMING TOGETHER OF KICKING OFF THE CAMPAIGN OF '65, WHAT WAS IT LIKE?

Rev. Frederick Reese:

When, uh, Dr. King was invited, to come to Selma in December '64, it was first, uh, thought that he should come on January the 1st which was the day that Selma Dallas County celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation uh, signing. However due to the fact that we had already planned a program for the first of January, we asked that he would come on January the 2nd. At that time we were under an injunction. We had been on an injunction since 1964 by the Circuit Court here in Dallas County which prohibited uh, the members of the Dallas County Voters League from holding mass meetings in the churches or for congregating on the streets of Selma in groups of five or more, if so you'll be arrested. That uh, injunction kept us from meeting and it somewhat slowed uh, the momentum of the movement. However, there were those of us who were officers of the Dallas County voters League met uh, in groups at homes and so forth to keep the fire burning so to speak. And we were at Mrs. Boynton's house in December of 64 when I as President of the Dallas County Voters League, um made the request and signed officially the request for Dr. King to come to Selma and because of the commitment for January the 1st, we decided we would uh meet at Brown Chapel Church January 2nd, uh, and at that time to break the injunction, to keep a piece of paper, so to speak from uh, from allowing people to congregate for mass meetings and so forth. We were ready to go to jail, or whatever it took, we were ready to break that injunction at all costs. And we felt that Dr. King would be a most appropriate person to come and uh, to speak at that meeting that we had chosen to uh, break that injunction. And so, January the 2nd, I vividly remember it snowed and there were those who felt that many people who not show up at that meeting because of the fright, the fear of being jailed, or whatever the case might have been. However, at 3 o'clock, January the 2nd at Brown Chapel Church uh, that church began to fill up, it was packed people was sitting in the windows and the law enforcement agencies instead of arresting us for meeting, they only directed the traffic around the church to make sure that everybody had a parking uh, space. And from that point on due to the fact that there were so many people there and having to arrest that number of people, then it would have caused uh, would have been a liability on the uh city to feed all those people in jail and to house them and so forth. So therefore, we said nothing else about an injunction, we kept meeting from that point on, and of course the momentum of the movement uh, was renewed and that it moved toward March the 7th.