Interview with Mayor Joseph Smitherman


Mayor Joseph Smitherman:

[overlap] Oh yes, yes, I was you know, the way the press could do it and you know, I understand that now, but uh, one time we issued an edict that they could not march to the courthouse and so they started assembling in Martin Luther King's street, it's Sylvan Street now, in front of that and so they would keep, it was about 300 and they would keep inching forward and we'd put a little rope across it and said, don't come beyond this point peacefully. Then it, the crowd ended up one time over about three weeks end up 3 or 4 thousand in there and it looked like and they didn't know when the press would come. They'd pull shifts they'd go into a housing projects, the church and rest and when it rained they had stuff to But when the press showed up they would all come out and you'd see 3 or 4 thousand people in the street - looked like we had the Berlin Wall, they called it the Selma wall. Like we were denying the people the right to go into the Courthouse, well they had the right to go in 4 or 5 down the sidewalk, but not a body of 2 or 3 thousand down the middle of the street without a parade permit. And uh, so these are the ways the press did their job uh because naturally they were sympathetic with the, uh Martin Luther King and the black movement and the right to vote and of course, all Southerners I have to say all Southerners, practically all Southerners, recognized that the South was wrong that, everybody should have had the right to vote, but it's not just the South, you had it in other parts of the country.