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Andrew Young Interviewee: Atlanta, Georgia, 1980 July 8 [Box 138, Item 13, Side 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Topics include: St. Augustine Movement, SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) staff, and comments on Hosea Williams, James Bevel, Ralph Abernathy, and Wyatt Walker. Mississippi Freedom Summer.
00:00 – Young discusses the St. Augustine Movement. He went to St. Augustine, Florida the summer of 1964. It was Hosea Williams’s project. The rest of them had not wanted to be bothered with it. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was already up before Congress. Williams and Golden Frinks led a school integration protest in St. Augustine and expanded its scope. Williams had joined [SCLC] after the Birmingham Movement, and was in jail for much of the Savannah Movement. 02:10 – Williams and Frinks got the Boston chapter of SCLC to recruit whites, including the mother of the governor of Massachusetts, Mrs. Peabody. This put the issue on the front pages. She was unprepared to be arrested, but she and Williams were both arrested. The rest of them thought they should focus on the details of the Congressional process. Williams felt that they needed the reminder of the racism that still existed. He thought St. Augustine would cave easily because it depended on its image and tourism. 04:45 – Young was not ready to get involved in another movement. He was working on voter registration. There was a tension between Williams and James Bevel, who competed for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s attention. SCLC was trying to do fundraising and administrative work. King got too much mail for an organization of their size. 07:30 – Young did not think St. Augustine would be easy. Shortly after he arrived, it was announced at church that he would be leading a march around the old slave market. He led the march but they were stopped by the sheriff’s mob a block from the market. The sheriff was L.O. Davis. Others who were resistant to their presence included “thug” [Holstead] Hoss Manucy, [J.P. Stoner?], and a reverend. The sheriff did not have police there. 10:50 – Young tried to talk to them and explain what they were doing. They did not answer. A man hit him on the jaw and another hit him in the head with a blackjack. He was knocked unconscious. He saw it on film later. He was kicked and stomped until a policeman waved them back. Young felt Williams tried to get him to lead the rough marches. 13:10 – Young got back up with the help of Willie Bolden from Savannah. He said they could not turn around, they had to go on. They went up to the next corner by the market, and Young started talking to the people who hit him. He let them know the movement was not anti-white. The South was poor because of the conflict between them. They were taken aback that he was still talking to them. There was a young guy who pushed through the crowd and kicked him on the inside of the thigh and groin. It did not hurt him, but he resented that blow more than the previous ones. The police pushed the crowd aside and the group continued to the slave market where they knelt and prayed. 17:25 – They were prepared to die. Young felt that he could not leave St. Augustine after that. A couple nights later he led the march again. They had told the police they were going to march. They mob was so large, the police would not be able protect them and told them they should not march. The mob was shooting firecrackers and had bricks, bottles, and chains. They could not stop them with intimidation and they marched anyway. It was the basis of the Civil Rights Movement that they would not be intimidated. 22:00 – Young gathered the group and explained that they would not have police protection and they could be hurt. He said that if anyone did not want to go, they could quietly drop out now, but some of them would have to go on. A woman began singing “God Will Take Care of You,” and they sang it all the way down the street. When they got to the slave market they got very quiet and walked right through the middle of the crowd. 24:00 – The crowd started picking on reporters that night. They were about to get Nelson Benton from CBS, and they grabbed him and pulled him in the line. King had not come down yet and Young did not want him to come because he thought they would kill him. He came anyway. The mob decided to try to stop them. If it was just women and children, they would through bricks and run through the march. If there were men too, they did not do anything. Men often did not join because they said they could not be nonviolent, but many joined now, which cut down on the violence. 28:40 – The City of St. Augustine went into court to try to shut down the march. The Legal Defense Fund came in. Connie Motley and Leroy Clark came down and they pled the case in Judge Simpson’s court in Jacksonville. The group was under a restraining order for about two weeks. They judge found in favor of the marchers. Young vs. Davis became a famous case of the Civil Rights Movement. 30:00 – There were no hotels and motels, so they were all staying in homes. Dr. Hayling was president of the movement and Mrs. Lucille Plummer was secretary. Young and others went everywhere throughout the city comfortably in the daytime. Young’s impression was that it was a comfortable little liberal tourist town. Though the sheriff was there, his impression that the Klansmen had come from elsewhere. [Recording ends 31:55, continues on Side 2.]
Young, Andrew, 1932-Civil rights
Tulane University Digital Library
Amistad Research Center
Audiocassette, mono. 16-bit
Box 138, Item 13, Side 1, Tom Dent collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Physical rights are retained by the Amistad Research Center. Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. Copyright laws.