Interview with C. T. Vivian
QUESTION 25
INTERVIEWER:

O.K., NOW MOVE ON TO WORKSHOPS NOW, REMEMBER WE'RE IN ‘59, '60, WE'RE RIGHT TN NASHVILLE, JUST NASHVILLE NOW, UH, YOU SAID OVER THE PHONE IN THE INTERVIEW A WHILE BACK THAT SORT 0F NOTHING REALLY, REALLY MOVED IN A BIG WAY ‘TIL REVEREND LAWSON CAME TO TOWN, CAN YOU JUST START WITH THAT, AND EXPLAIN IT JUST BRIEFLY.

C. T. Vivian:

Sure. Uh, uh, in Nashville, or naturally to the person[s] that it held, about five or six of us together that understood nonviolence, uh, was Reverend Kelly Miller Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church. But it was just holding us together. I had had demonstrations in 1945, but couldn't move anything to Nashville, nor was I trying that hard, I was just trying to hold onto my job as editor. Kelly Miller Smith was the natural leader with people and yet, and all he could do is hold us together. What to do, how to do something was the problem, how to get it under way. When Jim Lawson came to the city, he began to organize students, all right? And most important to that, for both students and who were ministers, was that we had workshops, and the workshops on nonviolence made the difference. We began to, first, understand the theory, understand the philosophy behind it, the great religious imperatives that were important in terms of understanding people. Then finally, the tactics, then finally the techniques, how to in fact uh, uh, begin to take the blows—cigarettes put out on you, uh, the fact that you were being spit on—and still, still respond with some sense of dignity** and with a loving concept of what you were about, uh, to be hit and to be knocked down, and uh, to understand that in terms of struggle, and in terms of reaching conscience, in terms of, of gaining the greater goals for which are sought. Now we actually done that, I mean we actually beat people to the ground, we actually poured coffee on people, we actually uh, uh, uh, uh did the various things to people, kicked chairs out from under them, all right? Uh, came on them in a crowded situation, so they could begin to get used to it: how did they respond? So they could begin to understand- respond, not in terms of verbiage but in terms of actuality. You see, it's in the action that [ ethics ] is tested. And this is one of the great learnings of nonviolent movement.