Interview with C. T. Vivian
QUESTION 42
INTERVIEWER:

O.K., GREAT, CUT. I WANT TO GO BACK A LITTLE BIT, JUST S0, THAT SORT OF FIRST, FIRST WEEK OF ACTUALLY DOING THE SIT-INS, UM, ONE REPORTER OF THE [NASHVILLE] TENNESSEEN DESCRIBED THE SCENE AT WOOLWORTHS AS A SLOW, BUILDUP OF HATE BY THE CROWD AT HEADQUARTERS, CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE ATMOSPHERE OF THE OPPOSTTION?

C. T. Vivian:

Sure. Uh, the students were prepared in Nashville to go in and sit in the lunch counters. They came down uh, the street grouped together, they came in, they waited in line for their chance to sit at the counters. Uh, they began to sit on the counters, as they began to sit on the counters, people began to leave or stiffen. Occasionally, someone would smile because—they, you know, they really were shocked but, but thankful. Uh, you had all of this, but by-and-large it was a buildup of the opposition, a buildup of, of, of disdain, but not knowing what to do. And the normal southern thing was simply to attack. And it was to beat any black. Uh, and more and more blacks came in and sat down at the counters. The waiters, waitresses didn't know what to do, the management didn't know what to do, right? Uh, uh, they uh, uh, eventually closed the lunch counters at first, trying to avoid it. Uh, we came back day after day, but then the opposition began to get ready for us too. The young thuggis types in town, the Klan types in the city, all right, began to also come into the lunch counters where we would be uh, and uh, then that's when uh, our training proved to be most helpful, because they began to attack, put out cigarettes on people uh, uh, jerk people off of, off of, off of their stools and beat them and et cetera, pour things on people, right? Uh, our students were ready and they sat there and uh, they were prepared for it. Of course, that brought on the police when we were not defeated by it, then the police came in, naturally the police were on the other side.