Interview with Albert Turner


Albert Turner:

Well, at that time uh, the movement was going on everywhere. Uh, this was in '65. I came home from college, myself a, a college graduate, and at that time we had a few black people coming out of college. And uh, we went to town to try to register. We had uh, uh, I had received information from people like the NAACP and so forth, encouraging folks to register to vote. So we organized our local chapter, our local group of people here, and we started trying to teach people how to become registered voters and how to pass this massive test that they had at this time. They had a test that um, had to interpret the constitution and all kind of jive, and about 3 or 400 tests and they'd just draw one. There was no way to learn it. But it became our job or my job or some of the others, who supposed to have been educated to try to teach people how to pass the test, even though we couldn't pass ourselves. And uh, I'd insisted and I had tried and always thought I was a pretty good student myself, and uh it was a kind of an affront to me that these dummies who was the registrars uh, were saying to me that I couldn't pass a test that they was giving, and they couldn't hardly write their names. And as a result it just become a thing that built up and built up and people became angry and uh, and I did myself. And I think it was about '62 when we became a formal organization here called the Perry County Civic League, which was about you know, in '62. And at that point we went all out to try to become registered voters. We had several lawsuits uh, 4 or 500 hundred of us wrote letters to the federal judges and everything. Uh, uh, telling about conditions here. But we had, really had a struggle before at that time, it was a quiet struggle, it was not, uh, you know, not necessarily a quiet struggle, but we did what we thought we could do at that point. And we had received several legal opinions, uh, federal district court and uh, in Mobile. And uh, about '65, I guess we had registered maybe 75 people. In fact, I was registered myself at that point. And they had picked several people like myself and they registered us then. And about January, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference had agreed that they were coming into Alabama, and going to a massive uh, drive here, particularly in Selma, Alabama, they had just come out of Birmingham, uh, dealing with the lunch counter situation, and uh, so they was going to come and try to do what we called a massive drive to deal with the right to vote. Uh, before hand we had a few people like uh, Ivanhoe Donaldson, and uh, some SNCC workers like Preach Preter uh, had come here already, and uh, started talking to us. And actually what happened


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