Interview with Richard Valeriani
QUESTION 16
INTERVIEWER:

DID YOU HEAR STRANDS OF THAT IN SELMA THOUGH, THAT'S WHAT WE READ, THAT'S WHAT I'M TRYIN GET AT, IF YOU WERE HEARING THAT uh, WITH THE TENSIONS WITH, BETWEEN SNCC AND SCLC, IF YOU HEARD OR SAW THAT UNTIL THEN.

Richard Valeriani:

There were tensions throughout Selma, between SNCC and UH, SCLC over the tactics, whether or not you should turn back, and allow yourself to be turned back, whether you should work out the deals with the justice department behind the scenes. But I think that also happened in Birmingham to a degree, whether or not to use the kids in the marches. There were always tensions with a movement like that because there was no single leader, I mean this was a coalition after all, so um, I guess looking back you could have seen hints of black power in Selma, but at the time it was not evident. You just knew that SNCC was a lot more militant and you let it go at that. And that was true throughout, but I knew Stokely Carmichael when he was in Haneyville, Alabama and places like that and he certainly was not the same Stokely Carmichael that he was on the Meredith march._

FILM PRODUCTION TEAM:

[Ok on Camera Roll 588, 60 feet left at this point.]

Richard Valeriani:

The march in Marion Alabama was a nighttime march and a nighttime march was always dangerous and there was always discussion watching the movement whether or not to have nighttime marches, because they knew they were dangerous. We went up there this night and we knew there was going to be trouble right away, because local folks came up to us and threatened us, sprayed our cameras with black paint so we couldn't shoot, ordered us to put the cameras down, and harassed us. And it was a very tense situation.** When the march started the cops went in and broke it up, it was very violent, they killed Jimmy Lee Jackson that night, and during the passions, or the passions were aroused there led somebody to walk up behind me and hit me in the back of the head with an ax handle. Now luckily for me he hit me with a roundhouse swing instead of coming overhead and not hitting me on the top of the skull. I staggered and was stunned and a state trooper came up to this guy who hit me, took the ax handle away, threw it up on the steps of city hall and said I guess you've done enough damage with that tonight, but did not arrest him. My cameraman was holding me up and then another white man walked up to me and he said are you hurt, do you need a doctor? And I put my hand to the back of my head and then looked at it and it was full of blood and I said in my stunned was, yeah, I think I do, I'm bleeding. And then he thrust his face right up against mine and he said, well, we don't have doctors for people like you. But then my crew got me off to the hospital and the next day the mayor came around to visit me at the hospital bed and apologized and the guy eventually was arrested.

[overlap]