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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 >>

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.