Interview with David J. Vann
QUESTION 13
INTERVIEWER:

O.K. I'VE HEARD THAT THESE MEETINGS WENT ON, SOMETIMES, ALL NIGHT, THAT THEY WERE VERY INTENSE MEETINGS AND I WOULD IMAGINE THINGS GOT KIND OF EMOTIONAL AT TIMES, BECAUSE YOU GOT VERY TIRED, AND YOU HAD THESE DEMONSTRATIONS GOING ON. NOW, WHAT — WHAT WAS THE FEELING LIKE WHEN YOU GOT TOGETHER AND YOU HAD ANDREW YOUNG THERE AND YOU WERE THERE AND YOU WERE TRYING TO RESOLVE THIS.

David J. Vann:

Well, I have to say that, contrary to what the public impression may have been, that while there were tensions in the meetings, uh, in the discussion patterns, that basically we were made up primarily of people from both the black and white community trying to find a solution for our city. And I would say we worked out the basic format, probably, within the first three or four meetings. Uh, After that, though, we still had the problem that by this time, the schoolchildren had entered the demonstrations. And, with the peer pressure you have among schoolchildren, if you hadn't been arrested marching with Martin Luther King, you just didn't have much standing with your friends, in your high school. And they had filled the Birmingham jail with kids, they had filled the county jail with kids. They had taken over the YMCA camp, YW— I mean, the 4-H Club camp, at the fairgrounds. The 4-H Camp at the fairgrounds had been filled with children. Uh, And by the time we got to a meeting with the senior citizens' committee, to review where we were and where things stood, uh, the sheriff was — was — just plain told the businessmen, that, if we don't do something, I'm going to have to put a barbed wire around Legion Field, and we'll just have to incarcerate these people in an open field, and that's not going to look very good on the — national television. Uh, also, where King had very complete control of his demonstrators, he had a training program of how to do, and how to go limp, it you got arrested, and how not to strike back, and how to be completely uh, non-militant, and the youngsters weren't that well trained. And, A group of them broke out of the march one day, and ran through downtown Birmingham, it was the only time the demonstrations actually got out of that small little place over by Callihingram Park. Uh, And that was pretty frightening to some of the businessmen. They thought if that kind of thing started happening, that uh, we're going to have a lot of trouble. But King wouldn't agree to uh, the — any of the demonstrations, while he had the — all these people in jail. And by this time he had people from all over the country had come in here to get arrested with him.

FILM PRODUCTION TEAM:

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