Interview with Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth
QUESTION 30
INTERVIEWER:

WHAT ABOUT THE WHITE LEADERSHIP IN BIRMINGHAM? WAS THERE ANY, AS THEY WERE NEGOTIATING WITH, WITH THE LEADERS OF THE BIRMINGHAM MOVEMENT, WERE THERE ANY DIVISIONS AMONG THE WHITE LEADERSHIP ABOUT HOW THEY SHOULD RESPOND TO YOUR REQUESTS, YOUR DEMANDS?

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth:

Well, I don't give credit, too much credit to the white leadership in Birmingham. Some people do, but I don't. First of all, I'd been working in Birmingham for seven years, as I said, before King got there. The only time I met the quote "power structure" in Birmingham was when they got Gaston and Dr. Pitzer of, of Miles College to, to get me to meet with them. So the leadership had never met the leadership. So we met and they made this compromised position. That was on the second meeting cause on the first meeting, they met and told me what they couldn't do. I said, "Well, you're all wasting my time. I'm not here to waste time. I'm out trying to fight for freedom. Come back when you can talk and have something to offer." And that, and we came back the second day and they, they said. "Well I, I can desegregate water." And I said, "No, we have to have toilets now." Said, "Toilets, not water alone." And Dr. Gaston, Pitz told them said, "Well you ought to been talking to me but you have to talk to Fred. Fred's the man with the soldiers. And he, they'll do what he tell thems. And you're all going to make an agreement," and they, their purpose for meeting me, talking about leadership, "We want to find out how we can keep Dr. King out of here." I said, "Well, at this time you got signs all over town. It's so nice to have you in Birmingham. We think King is nice and we'd like to have him in Birmingham. So you have to promise us something, to keep him out. Because we want him in," I said, "We've already invited him in fact. So you come up with something." That's how they made this temporary agreement. And we told them if you violate it, Atlanta's just one hour flight from Birmingham, a twenty-five minute flight from Birmingham. So I don't give the leadership of Birmingham credit. It's not to take anything from them. They just wasn't doing it. Bull Connor had cowed the leadership.

FILM PRODUCTION TEAM:

OK, Camera Roll 541 just ran out, we're going to 542.