Interview with C. T. Vivian


C. T. Vivian:

O.K. Now I was, I was in Marion. Uh, here's, let me give it to you so that you can begin to think about it, right? You see, when they called me, I was in Selma. They called me to come over to Marion to give the speech for the mass meeting before they march, because they didn't have anybody who could do that really, they felt, to pull the people out of the church, right? So, but I was the only person there in [Selma], ‘cause everybody had gone home for the week and it was my uh, time, whatever, not week, but for the weekend or whatever, it was my time at least whatever, ‘cause I never remember days and stuff like that, for me to be there to, so I could handle whatever came up. We'd change off like that, Sometimes it'd [be] Hosea [Williams], and sometimes be- that's how the march [unintelligible], right? And uh, uh, the uh, uh, and uh, uh, so when they called me I told them, "Hey, look now, I will come over and give the speech, but I've got to get right back here because this is really my thing." In fact, we went back and forth on it 15, 20 minutes before I even agreed because I knew if something happened there and you're not there, anything can happen at that time, you can blow a whole movement that way, right? So I said, "O.K., I'm going to come over and do the speech, but I've got to go right, I've got to come right back to Selma, and I cannot lead the demonstration, O.K.?" And I wasn't too worried about it anyway, I mean I knew it was right across the street, I didn't worry about it really, and uh, had no idea the state police was going to come in in great numbers or anything of that sort. So uh, I came on over and gave the speech. When I finished, I went out the back door, all right? See, it's just a little church and the back door right there, and [I] walked down little steps there, 3 or 4 steps and got in the car in the back, in the back, all right, to get on back to Selma, all right? Now, when they walked out the door, they got less than a half block, I mean and it's a small block, right? And everybody singing, they hadn't even gotten out of the church yet, and the State police were waiting and started beating people, well, what they did when they saw they were confronted with the force, police, fell down on their knees and began to pray, ‘cause that was [unintelligible]. They just beat people unmercifully.