Interview with Roger Wilkins
QUESTION 14
INTERVIEWER:

If you could start with, "By the time the Poor People's Campaign reached Washington--"

ROGER WILKINS:

By the time the Poor People's Campaign reached Washington, it was two months after Dr. King died. Um, he was in, he was Ralph Abernathy's best friend. He was the mentor of everybody else, and they were still devastated. Um, he, they, Abernathy was, was trying to assume the mantle, but, but he was hurt, he was, he was, he was, he just couldn't, he didn't have his friend to talk to. Ah, the others didn't have their mentor. Andy Young was, like, walking around in circles. Ah, the only one who was, who seemed to be functioning in a, in an effective way was Jesse, who became the informal mayor of Resurrection City. And Jesse would figure out things to do every day, figure out activities. Ah, but the rest seemed to be in a, in a grief-stricken fog.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, stop. It's fine, I need to ask you to be more concise--



INTERVIEWER:

When the Poor People's Campaign reached Washington, what was the state of the people?

ROGER WILKINS:

When the Poor People's Campaign got to Washington two months after Dr. King's funeral, they were still all wandering around in a grief-stricken fog. Um, Abernathy didn't have his best friend around anymore. And while he was trying to assume the mantle of leadership, you could just tell that he was hurt, bewildered, the rest were his younger brothers, his mentees. Um, Andy was just walking around in circles. Ah, C. T. Vivian, they just weren't functioning very well. The only one who I recall functioning at anything near capacity was Jesse, who was leading marches, who was figuring out that the demand ought to be, ah, center on hunger, and who was keeping people's spirits up because of all that energy of his.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, can we stop please? Um--