Interview with Charles Sherrod


Charles Sherrod:

November 1st, in 61, ICC ruled that, uh interstate travel should be desegregated. Now we had been walking them dusty roads, and talking to the young people, and the old people. They had a very good feeling of our presence. We had become, in a sense, one with those that we had been talking with. And out of nothing came this ruling, and I said to myself, you know, wow, you know, this is it. Here we go. Um, I had anticipated moving into sit-ins or something else, you know, later on. But when this ruling came through, uh, we were ready. So we got some students from uh, Albany State College, although we got arrested in the process, yes from blacks, the university, uh got carried down to jail, before we could uh do what we wanted to do. But then after we got out, we still had time, and we had already mobilized the uh young people, and they were ready. And we picked out this nice little, innocent but big-mouthed girl, she could talk, and she could sing. Bertha Goldbar, I remember her very dis—uh, clearly. And another fellow by the name of Hall, I can't think of his first name right this minute. But we told them, that they would be the beginning, and we had people ready to go to the uh station right after they would be arrested, if they were to be arrested. Actually some of us uh, really didn't think they would get arrested, because this was a federal mandate. I mean, we had Constitutional rights. And uh, the federal government, you know, they mess with us now, they're going to get the uh, not just the GBI and the state people, but they're going to get the federal government on them, you know. Nobody is going to mess with the federal government, we thought.** But we walked in there, and we had five students. They each understood that we would be nonviolent, we'd been slapped around and kicked around and pushed around, so they — they were accustomed to what possibly might happen. And so they went in, and when they were accosted by the police, they really wanted us to leave. They tried to scare us, you know they tried to cajole us, they tried all kinds of ways of getting us out there, aside from arresting us. But we stayed. The young people stayed. I wasn't in there, this first arrest. So they took them out and they, Bertha, and the other, Hall, went limp. And so they had to drag them out. This made them mad. It all fitted together, because it enforced, uh, in the people who were observers, you know, what would happen to them. And so they had a good feeling for what would happen. This was all planned, of course, you know. This was intentionally planned.