Interview with Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth
QUESTION 53
INTERVIEWER:

THIS IS, WE'RE GOING TO SELMA NOW, WHY WAS SELMA CHOSEN AS THE SITE FOR A VOTING RIGHTS CAMPAIGN?

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth:

In 1940, 1948, '50, I went to school in Selma. I pastored the First Baptist Church, two other, three of the rural churches, two of the rural churches. And in that time, we had, I believe it was seventy-two black voters. We went back in '65, it had progressed downward. I believe we were forty-four at that time and I was counting the black belt counties had none since the grandfather clause era. And after Birmingham we thought that, that voting would be the key. So we moved into Selma. And here I should make a footnote in history because I think it should be there, it was my feeling that we should have gone into Selma right because without the vote, there is no hope. But I also thought that at that time, SCLC had the ability, the courage, the stature and everything to really desegregate the schools in the South. And I said to Ralph, if we must go to Selma, Aber—Ralph and King, Martin, if we must go to Selma and then come back to Birmingham, and that's literally, people will sign anything we send, all you had to do then was to sign for to send your child to a school, a white school [unintelligible]. In the absence of the Supreme Court not appointing a special master to do it. But I think that if I, you didn't ask me this, but if I had anything that I would have done differently it would've been school desegregation so in fact, the masses of children would've been together.