Interview with Mayor Joseph Smitherman


Mayor Joseph Smitherman:

He had, he had gotten involved in states rights, that was a big issue, you know we still believe that the state had the right to govern itself and set its standards, if we wanted a poll tax, if we wanted to set standards for qualified people to vote, we felt we had that states rights. That a state had that, when it joined the union, you know, we still believed that. People today will say they didn't but they did then. States rights was a big champion, but the states rights almost segregated public facilities and all those things, and uh, that part we didn't look at, big part we looked at it was our right, it's hard for people away from here to understand a battle was fought right in this particular city in the war between the states and you know, uh obviously the South lost, but you grew up uh, respecting that battle between the states, our right to secede and all of these things. And you know, you had very little, see, everybody thinks that everybody in the South lives in a big mansion home with columns and magnolia trees and horses running around, that's less than one half of 1% of the people, if that much that has that. Most of your south was moderate and low income people that rural people that grew up very hard, but uh, you grew up I guess it might be with pride in your uh, southern part of the country and all of these things, and uh, uh, you would read in your history books about how gallant the south was and the war between the states and that we were used and misused that, so all those things. But states' rights was a big political issue and we really believed that and to some extent sti11 believe it today, leaving out the racial thing.