Interview with Albert Turner
QUESTION 11
INTERVIEWER:

THAT FIRST DAY… UM AT, WHEN THE… UH, BEATINGS UH, AT THE PETTIS BRIDGE IN SELMA… UH, WHAT HAPPENED THAT DAY?

Albert Turner:

Well… at the Pettis Bridge uh, we had decided that this would be the Sunday that we would uh, attempt to walk from Selma to Montgomery. Of course our… I guess I could say our intelligence, uh, our informers, had informed us that if that happened, that most of us probably would have been thrown off the bridge. Uh, I mean the state trooper was prepared for that Sunday as, as they were, here at Marion with the Jimmy Jackson thing. So uh, I… would have to say the officials of the Selma Christian Leadership Conference had decided that that wasn't the thing to do that day. But the people here in Marion didn't know that. I mean we didn't know, we didn't nothing about the inside, what were going on. So I had carried maybe two or three hundred people from here to Selma to go to Montgomery that day. We had… our little packs on our backs and everything and uh, folks were left you know with the intention of marching that Sunday. And when we got down and found out the police was going to be there and George was giving the kids the word to stop us at all costs. It didn't make no difference— stop us. And we knew that. I mean when I say, "we" I'm talking about the people who was in charge at that time. The marchers didn't really know this. So we stayed there all day calling backwards and forward to… Atlanta trying to find out what should we do and trying to… we was in a dilemma where we had a lot of people there who was determined to walk and of course you know, uh, you couldn't just uh tell people in the Civil Rights Movement like that at that time, "You go back home, we can't march today because everything will be over". So we had to make a rough decision. It was a terrible decision to make uh… it was agonizing… but uh, to keep the movement going, we had to do something. So we finally decided that we would, we would leave the church and go down and uh, and confront the troopers. And uh, turn around and come back. After having to show a prayer. That was the strategy really. So we walked all the way from Brown Chapel that day knowing that we probably wouldn't get back. Uh, we expected that. And uh, we did go down in a large line, all of us walked in twos that day and that made the line very large. We was halted as usual by the state troopers and they told us we was un… unlawfully assembling or whatever they would… they used at that time, and told us that we had to disband and go back. At that time uh, Hosea asked to speak to the man in charge. And of course they started immediately then to getting together their, their stuff to move us. And uh, they told them they didn't have nothin' to talk about. And we had three minutes to get out of the streets. Somebody attempted to pray, I don't remember who. And by that time they got the billy clubs and uh, they formed this line, they had this uh, system where they took the billy clubs and put them in front of them like that and started walking. And of course they formed the line and they canned us over you know, we stood there and they just walked right into you, push you over. I think that's what happened to me that Sunday, I didn't get hit either that Sunday. But uh, in the initial thrust of the thing, I was canned over then. I got knocked down and kind of trampled a little bit. Uh, some more people got beat up instead, but uh, at least at that time all of them knocked me down and in the rush of things. When I kind of came back together…