Interview with Wyatt Tee Walker


Wyatt Tee Walker:

That was a…that's a, a very ugly night in my memory when I think about the night that the Gaston Motel was bombed. The agreement had been formally agreed upon early Friday morning and Dr. King and Shuttlesworth and Abernathy had issued a statement. This was the Friday before Mother's Day. The task then before me was dismantle Birmingham. I had put it together. I had not been home to see my family in eleven or twelve weeks, and Martin, almost as an afterthought said, "Wyatt," said, "Everybody's leaving, and somebody from the National Staff needs to be here," and he asked me would I stay. I said, "Well, you know I haven't seen Ann and the children in eleven weeks." He said, "Well, I'll tell you what, SCLC will pay for them to come to Birmingham." So my wife and four children were in Birmingham. My wife and two of the, the two eldest children - the two youngest children were in the Motel - and two were staying out in the city with friends. And the Motel was bombed Saturday night. Well, I went first because I heard this explosion, and someone called and said it was A.D.'s [King's] house and I went out there. While we there we heard another explosion, and I feared the worst. It was the Motel. In the midst of that, I am told that the State Troopers, who Al Lingo had brought in, told the people to go to where they lived, and my wife turned to go to her motel room, and this state trooper hit her with a carbine, split her head open, sent her to the hospital. And of course, they had been in the Motel when it was bombed. A UPI reporter from Mississippi - I never shall forget it - Bob Gordon, who was a segregationist up to this time, saved my life probably, because I asked which state trooper had hit my wife. I was there within a matter of minutes. I'd been out fighting fires, and he pointed him out and I started for him. And this white reporter from Mississippi, Bob Gordon, tackled me and threw me to the floor and held me until I, you know, it occurred to me that I…that you know, they'd, this guy would take this automatic rifle and shoot me as quickly as he had brained my wife.