Interview with Rev. Andrew Young
QUESTION 3
INTERVIEWER:

WHEN YOU WENT INTO SELMA, THIS WAS A SOPHISTICATED MOVEMENT. YOU'D BEEN THROUGH THE ALBANYS, THE BIRMINGHAMS, YOU HAD THE HIGH OF THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON. AND NOW HERE YOU ARE AND YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT TO DO. CAN YOU DESCRIBE A LITTLE BIT OF WHAT—WHAT THE THINKING WAS OF THE ORGANIZATION AS YOU GO IN, WITH LESSONS LEARNED.

Rev. Andrew Young:

I think our thinking, going into Selma, was that we had a lot of experience in Albany, and in Birmingham, that we would apply in Selma. But I think we knew enough about people and we knew enough about the political situation, to know that you couldn't prepackage a movement. That a movement had a life of its own, the people had a dynamic of its own, and you had to get in and work with those people. We had never done anything like a march from Selma to Montgomery. That came out in Jimmy Lee Jackson's funeral, and it was a spontaneous thing that came from discussions along the funeral march. And most of our tactics, we had never met the kind of sophisticated opposition in Selma, I mean, in Birmingham, or Albany. Well, Albany in some ways was about as sophisticated, but Wilson Baker was a very skilled person at managing conflict. And if it had not been for Jim Clark and the excesses of the Alabama State Troopers at the march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, I think Selma would have gone the way we planned it, which was a longer, slower, economic withdrawal campaign, that would have changed the local politics and then changed the national politics. As it was, they escalated it to a national issue, and the Congress responded to the death of Reverend James Reeb, and to the killing of Mrs. Viola Liuzzo. I think shortly after that, Stokely Carmichael was shot in Lowndes County, and the Reverend Jonathan Daniels was killed. It was a bloody period, and none of this was planned, and none of this was expected on our part. It just—in fact, none of these incidents occurred in demonstrations that we planned. They occurred on the fringe of demonstrations. Ms. Liuzzo was killed after a demonstration. Jimmy Lee Jackson was killed in a restaurant after demonstrations were over, by the state troopers. The—Stokely went to get Reverend Jonathan Daniels, no, I think Jonathan Daniels went to get Stokely out of jail, and they were both shot.