Interview with Bernie Schweid


Bernie Schweid:

I don't know if there was one event that made it sink in. What made it sink in for the retailers - those the ones that I knew best being a retailer myself, and I was on Church Street then in the main part of downtown Nashville When it hits — starts to hit your pocketbook, then you realize "Hey, this is serious." And, -uh- you know all of a sudden there was a pretty effective boycott that the –uh- black people were having and that didn't mean you didn't have any blacks come into the store, but there weren't many. And, -uh- then there was some violence, -uh- blacks and some sympathetic Whites were hit over the head by these blond-headed hoods that seemed to come out of the sewer for such occasions. And -uh- those who were standing in line in a movie or trying to get into a restaurant or cafeteria, -uh- they were -uh– very hurt and –uh- this created a fear so that then white people started to be afraid to come to shop too. And, so, the merchants were getting it from both sides. And there was very, very little traffic. One merchant who wasn't sympathetic with the -uh- boycott said to me, "You can roll a bowling ball down Church Street and not hit anybody these days." And this was on a Saturday which used to be the big day for shopping for everybody. So there's a lot of –uh- fear in the air. And that was the main feeling I remember about those times. I… fear.** Some of the older blacks were afraid of some of the younger blacks, what they were doing, they thought they were trying to go too fast. Some of the young ones afraid they're gonna be put in jail. And then the whites afraid, and the businessmen afraid their business were going bankrupt.