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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Laurie Pritchett, April 23, 1976. Interview B-0027. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Pritchett contends that the press often misquoted his views on civil rights

Pritchett attempts to clarify his mischaracterization by the national press. He argues that he advocated for blacks' social rights through the legal system rather than through public appeals.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Laurie Pritchett, April 23, 1976. Interview B-0027. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JAMES RESTON, Jr.: And you say to the press, or are quoted as saying you can't tolerate the NAACP or SNCC or any other Negro organization to take over this town with mass demonstrations.
LAURIE PRITCHETT:
Now that's what they said. They quoted me as saying that "We would not tolerate the NAACP or SNCC or any other nigger organization." And it was misquoted; I did not say "nigger," and I didn't say anything about the NAACP. I said that they should take the right of the NAACP and go to court and not the street. And as a result of not going to the courts we would not tolerate them taking over the city of Albany by force or any other intimidation. We would not tolerate it: this is what I said, but they took it out of context. That was not the national media; that was the Atlanta General Constitution with McGill, you know. You know he never did write us up right. The New York Herald Tribune, the New York Times, Newsweek and all this, they was right down the middle. But that's the only one that quoted me as saying that we would not let this town be taken over by a bunch of niggers. JAMES RESTON, Jr.: Were you conscious at that time of press relations?
LAURIE PRITCHETT:
Oh yes. JAMES RESTON, Jr.: Were you very careful about your language?
LAURIE PRITCHETT:
Sure. You know, the press had been to other places and been intimidated (cameras broken, they were not able to walk the streets), and so we had set up that every day, twice a day we'd have news conferences. They'd come to my room at the hotel. You know, we were living in the two downtown hotels in Albany; we had commandeered them. All my police officers were living in the hotels. We lived in the hotels for months at a time. They'd come to my room at night and we'd sit down and talk. But they could go anywhere they wanted to. We kept them alerted as to what was going to happen, because we had sources of information. We knew when they were going to march, where they were going to march, what they were going to do. Some of the news reporters, Fred Miller from the New York Herald Tribune, and one other one (he's down in Raleigh now with the Raleigh Observer) . . .