Interview with Roger Wilkins

Could you give me a sense of what it was like in Resurrection City --


The night before the Resurrection City was to be dismantled, and the leaders were to lead the people out, we had to make an agreement inside as to what was going to happen inside Resurrection City. By that time, tension was very, very high. Um, the police who were around there, mainly the park police, and people in Resurrection City had clashed on a number of occasions, and it was very, very uncomfortable. Very tense. SCLC was not letting strangers in. Um, you had to have a pass to get in. So, and the hostility towards authorities was such that if an Assistant Attorney General of the United States was caught in there you had a sense that that person might be in a lot of trouble. So, I was given a pass by SCLC to be able to come in and attend the meeting that they were having in there that night. And I put on clothes that looked like protest workers' clothes. And went, met my man who was near the gate, a fellow named Ron Gault who is an investment banker now, and he walked me half way to the gate and then said, "Good-bye, my brother, good luck". And I went to the gate and I identified myself as somebody else, and went in. And it was eerie there. There were very few people allowed, and it was very dark, and there was just a tension in the air. And I went in hoping against hope that I would not be recognized. And finally I met one of the SCLC officials and was taken in to a place where the SCLC leaders and I sat down and mapped out a strategy for emptying out Resurrection City without anybody getting killed. And that's what we were afraid of, that somebody would get killed.