Interview with John Seigenthaler
QUESTION 8
INTERVIEWER:

AS A SOUTHERNER, DID YOU THINK THIS ATTEMPT TO –UM- PREVENT VIOLENCE WAS GOING TO DO ANY GOOD? I MEAN, YOU KNEW BETTER THAN THE KENNEDYS AS FAR AS WHAT THE OPPOSITION WAS LIKE DOWN THERE.

John Seigenthaler:

Yeah, I knew that -uh- I knew that we were playing with—with -uh- with fire. I mean, the prospect of violence was real -uh- every minute of every day. -uh- What had happened at Aniston - at Aniston was –uh- was typical of what—what could have happened. And, and those people, when I got on the plane that night going with that first wave, taking them from Birmingham to New Orleans, -uh – when that plane took off, the level of relief among them was enormous. uh- I think if you… Simeon Booker said it best. He said, "Brother, I never thought we were gonna get outa there. I never thought we were gonna get outa there." And, uh, and my sense of it was that this second wave of dedicated young people just walking right into the jaws of, of violence. And, uh, I don't think the Attorney General -uh- knew or sensed the absolute determination on the part of - of- uh – of the Freedom Riders. Maybe he did, but at any rate, he felt and I felt that it was worthwhile to at least try to alert them to the problems that existed. But their position was quite clear. That Ride had been interrupted, it was going to take up where it left off, and it was going to be completed. And as George said, "Nobody gonna turn them around."