Interview with Mayor Joseph Smitherman
QUESTION 15
INTERVIEWER:

WELL IT SOUNDS TO ME WHAT YOU'RE SAYING IS THAT… OK IT SOUNDS TO ME WHAT YOU'RE SAYING IS THAT ULTIMATELY IT WASN'T CLARK IN CHARGE, IT WASN'T BAKER IN CHARGE, IT WASN'T WALLACE IN CHARGE. IT WASN'T JOE SMITHERMAN IN CHARGE, IT WAS THE WHITE CITIZENS' COUNCIL IN CHARGE.

Mayor Joseph Smitherman:

Well, when you say the White Citizens' Council, yes, you know uh, it was a climate or an atmosphere, not just here but people come in don't give up, stand your ground, you're fighting for the white man's rights and all of this stuff and uh, so, really you just roll with the situation, I mean, nobody was really totally in charge. Uh, because uh, we felt Baker had a idea that we oughta go ahead and register some but we couldn't convince the appointed registrars to do that, I wouldn't have publicly done it anyway but, we even talked, I went and visited Katzenbach, quietly and he said if you people don't register put out card tables and register give everybody the right to register down there, uh, the government's going to come in and register everybody that can breath. And uh, obviously we didn't do it and I even had a Republican Congressman come in and tell us that and but, the climate wouldn't allow you to do those things

FILM PRODUCTION TEAM:

[Smitherman. Ok reference tone.]