Interview with Ruby Sales

Ruby, the night before that demonstration happened, you just described, I think there was also some discussion at that meeting about the role or using, ah, including White people in that demonstration. Could you talk to us about that a little bit and what the issues were and how you felt about it?


Well, I think the issue was a very complex issue. One of the things that we were very conscious of is that sometimes in that kind of situation, White presence would incite local White people to violence. So there was some concern about what that meant to jeopardize the local Black people by having a White presence there and whether or not we would be best creating a situation where there was the least chance of violence. So that there was some real concern about not wanting to put people in proximity to, to violence. And the other question, ah, was, ah, who should be, in some real sense, I think the other question was, who should be in the forefront of the movement. And it was our sense, and when I say our sense, I think people like myself who really thought it should be the local people themselves in Lowndes County, the local Black people who really should be in the forefront of the movement. And I had some real serious concerns about what it meant to allow White people to come into the county and what kind of relationship that set up in an area where Black people had historically deferred to White people and whether or not that was in some real ways, ah, creating the very situation that we were struggling very hard to change. So I had some deep reservations about that. But I think more fundamentally, I was very afraid of, of unleashing uncontrolled violence because of Lowndes County's history and the fact that since I had been in the county I had encountered, ah, more than one violent incident. I mean there was, a, a day that we were just driving along in the county, ah, Willie Vaughn, Mary Nell Mosely and myself and suddenly out of nowhere there were a carload of White men who began to chase us and we were going down this dirt road and suddenly out of nowhere came this school bus and we were going so fast trying to get away from them until we hit the school bus and literally the wheels came from on the car and people's heads sort of, some people went out the front door, and some people, you know, my head got banged in. I kind of like went up, went against the ceiling. So always I was very aware of, of, of the possibility of real violence. And so that played a great, important part in why I was very reluctant to have White people in the county. And oftentimes I've felt that people were not sensitive to the kind of emotions that they were setting off, just, and, and, that one needed to in some real ways, um, tailor how one responded in a public situation with Black people that you were working with. So that's pretty much how the discussion went. But ultimately what was decided is that the movement was an open place and was an opportunity to, and should provide an opportunity for anyone who wanted to come and struggle against racism, to be a part of that struggle. And that's ultimately, um, what happened and, and that's how come Jonathan Daniels and Father, Father Morrisroe came into the county.