Interview with Mayor Joseph Smitherman
QUESTION 3
INTERVIEWER:

LET ME JUST MOVE YOU UP TO THE KING CAMPAIGN, DID YOU FIND THAT THREATENING? WHEN YOU FINALLY CAME IN?

Mayor Joseph Smitherman:

Well I came into office, I took office after being elected October 1 of 1964 and somehow I blocked out, I was on a cloud having run on these progressive steps, I thought we could handle the racial situation. Uh, I offered a thing that was very big then, anybody could come to my office which was unheard of, I got a lot of rack for it, but I even called three prominent black leaders down I won't call their name now, and I tried to make a deal with them. I said, just little things, I've got some state money if you three will come out publicly and demand I pave a road, which back then, practically all the streets in predominantly black area were dirt now there all paved and I said, you'll get credit for this and I'll respond. And we don't need this Martin Luther King in here he was announcing from Atlanta he was coming to the most segregated, biased city in the South as representative of the South as a whole to promote voter rights and he would make these announcements and while we did what we thought was a good job trying to defuse it and keep him out of here and work with local leaders and it was impossible and then his very announcements brought in radical whites uh, that would come in from other parts of Alabama and Georgia and uh,