Interview with Arlie Schardt
QUESTION 7
INTERVIEWER:

Okay, so King is making his speech.

ARLIE SCHARDT:

Well, he had, King had made a speech, we're facing the courthouse and, ah, facing a lineup of Cecil Price and a lot of Deputies and, ah, King, ah, at one point said that he had a feeling that the, ah, murderers were nearby and then this voice from back behind us where the, ah, where the White locals were lined up on the, on this elevated sidewalk, a guy yells out and says "They're right behind you." And the whole crowds cracked up, ah, laughing and, and then Dr. King started to, ah, ah, deliver a prayer and I, I'm standing right next to him at the time about, about, just maybe six inches away from him, we were essentially side by side, suddenly this great big cherry bomb landed right between our shoes and exploded and both of us and all the people around us naturally leaped back. We were startled. And the crowd started roaring even more and that in turn generated, ah, it just turned, it was like a signal, ah, to, in effect attack, the, ah, the, ah, people taking part in the demonstration. Ah, more cherry bombs began raining down from all sides, other things, sticks and stones and stuff like that, bottles, started being thrown at the marchers and, and, ah, King and the other leaders realized that we had to get out of there right away. So he and the parade marshals and, and, ah, other leaders of the march began trying to move everybody, ah, to the right, to our right down the main street, I think it was called Beacon Street to start this long walk back to the church, back to the Baptist, Baptist Church that been the, ah, starting point of the march. And, and, ah, as we began going back, the crowd literally began plunging in, ah, on the, on the marchers, ah, and attacking them. A number of people were, were slugged with baseball bats and sticks and stuff like that, ah, there was a, a one man, ah, ah, ah, took a, had an epileptic fit, one of the marchers. And, ah, a nurse named Dorothy Williams, I remember noting at the time that she was 28 years-old. She was with the Medical Committee for Human Rights from New York City. She was a White woman and she started helping this, it was a Black man, who was on the, on the street and, ah, a crowd began gathering around and insulting her and, and, saying, "Leave him alone," and "Leave him there," and everything. Finally a pickup truck backed up to them and they were helped up by some of the other marchers. And this man was put into the truck and he was coughing and shaking and everything and the crowd began throwing cherry bombs right into the, ah, into the pickup truck, and, ah, and they were exploding all around this helpless guy who was, who was, in a, in a desperate condition, and, ah, Dorothy Williams of course was, was terrified. And somehow the truck managed to plow through the crowd and so on and as the marchers proceeded down the, down the street and out of town, a number of times, ah, cars driven by Whites would make a pass at the, ah, at the march and reach out with a stick or a baseball bat and swing at the marchers and so on, and--