Bully tactics used against civil rights activists in other southern cities backfired
Pritchett expresses his disdain for Bull Connor's and Jim Clark's antics toward Martin Luther King and blacks. He credits their tactics in helping black activists achieve their civil rights goals.
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
- LAURIE PRITCHETT:
You know, he wrote a thing that it was... All those others looked at
it and just shook their heads in amazement. Zinn, as far as I know, was
never in Albany, Georgia. It was all after it was over. And putting me
in the same category with a Bull Connor... After King left Albany,
Georgia he was at his lowest peak. He was defeated.
Moneywise, he had had to spend all that money in Albany for nothing. He
went back. He had to make a start. He went to Birmingham. All right.
Bull Connor, who was public safety director or something over there,
while all this was going on in Albany he had sent Moye, who was chief of
police in Birmingham, down. He stayed two or three weeks there observing
and staying with me. All right, when they started there, Connors sent
for me. He said, "I want you to come over here. We'll pay
you." It was an outrageous price they was paying me. The city
council said, "Go ahead and do it." So I went across.
I met with him. And Moye was a close personal friend of mine for years.
All right, I met with them. I told them things. The night they blew up
King's motel I was there. And that resulted into just a terrible
situation down there, you know. And I told them, I said, "You
ought to put a guard. Now the Klan has said they're going to use
violence on this man. They was meeting thirty miles over there in
Bessemer, saying what they were going to do. "I don't give a
damn if they blow him up; whatever happens, I'm not going to protect
him." So I said, "OK, Mr. Conners. Tomorrow I'll catch
the next plane out, because you're wasting my time." Well, they
blew him up that night, and they tore up every police car they had the
next day. And I left; I didn't have anything in common with Beau
Conners. Now I went to Montgomery to see Dr. King. And the rumor was
out, somebody had wrote (I think it was in the Atlanta
General Constitution) that King was going to return to Albany.
So I went to see Dr. King in Montgomery; went over to the FBI post, the
intelligence post where they'd send in all this stuff to Hoover, you
know. And I asked them where he was. They told me where he was, at some
oldhotel. And I went up there,
and I looked at the place. I told one of my men,
Superintendent Mannley, who was with me, I said, "Dr. King
wouldn't be caught in that place. Let's go over to the
college." So we went over and got over there, and I guess we
were about the only whites around. And I was trying to see somebody that
I knew, and about that time Andrew Young saw me. And he hollered, and
took me up to this house. And he said, "Dr. King is not here.
He's out in the country. I'll take you out to him." So I went
out and talked to Dr. King for about an hour and a half. He told me, he
said, "Don't you listen to nobody. I don't have anything to
come back to Albany for. I don't even like to hear of Albany. I'm not
coming back there. You go ahead and tend to your business. You won't
ever be bothered with me again." So I got in the car and went
back. And that night before I left they had a march. And that's when the
first deputies in Montgomery come out with those horses and whips and
stuff. And the Montgomery police were trying to do what was right, but
the sheriff come in with them mounted posse and went up on porches
bullwhipping people, and horses kicking people.
Now this Clark, I knew the chief of police in Selma; his name was
Mulligan. They had some other fellow over there, a great big fellow; I
forget his name. But Clark, there was nothing in common with me and
Clark. You know, Clark's in North Carolina now, down around or some
place selling real estate. But there was nothing in common with me and
him. --not Jamie Moore, Clark--did more to pass the
Public Accommodations bill than Martin Luther King or Roy Wilkins or any
others, because they are the ones that put national focus on violence
and mistreatment of blacks and got their sympathy. And that bill passed,
and they are responsible for it. It's a good bill.
I was glad to see it. But they're the ones that did it. There's no
comparison between me and Bull Connor Jimmy Clark.