Bill Allison: . . . [Ruth Bryant] Her case is appealing. She sued a lot ofpeople over the Black Six case and I represented her on an appeal and I was just going through that.
Tracy K'Meyer: And you do have some of that stuff.
BA: Which you are willing to look at if you'd like to look at it.
TK: Is there any chance that you would allow me to borrow it and photocopy itand get it back to you?
BA: Sure, sure.
TK: Because that way I can get you back your originals right away and I can markup the copies and stuff like that.
BA: Yeah, certainly.
TK: That would be great!
BA: And I may have some other stuff here, too. I mean I certainly have . . . Ididn't know you wanted to talk about the [Black] Panthers also I thought it was just the Black Six case, but I have extensive records on the Panthers. But you know, they didn't come along until like '72. 1:00
TK: I know. That's one of the last things I'm going to cover.
BA: Their case is a little different.
TK: Well, I thought maybe, my sense is that those, like I said, that those arethe three things, the Black Six Case in Louisville, but I did just want to ask one sort of background thing just for clarification, when did you graduate from law school?
BA: Graduated in '68 and I passed the bar in '69. Do you have a card?
TK: Not with me. I can send you one.
BA: If you could do that, I'd appreciate it.
TK: Send him card. I just got brand new ones because I just got promoted toassociate, so they're still in a box on my desk. Send him a card, okay, I'll put that there. 1968, passed bar 1969, just so that I have that information. And are you from Louisville?
BA: I grew up in Louisville.
TK: Okay, grew up here. And went to law school here?2:00
BA: Went to law school at UK [University of Kentucky].
TK: Oh! Okay. Grew up and law school at UK. Okay, all right, I just wanted tomake sure that I have some, you know, basic dates. Okay, I'm not sure which comes first chronologically, the Black Six or the SCEF [Southern Conference Educational Fund].
BA: Well, for me SCEF comes first, because I had was asked to be SCEF'sattorney, kind of their house counsel, when I was in law school and when they were looking for lawyers. They had lawyers, Bill Kunstler, and Morts Davis (?) and Arthur Cunnoy (?), but they were up in New York City. And Bob Sedler helped them out on occasion with the Kentucky Civil Liberties Union when he was a professor at UK. He couldn't really give the full time that they needed, so they started talking to me. I was getting active in the anti-war and the anti-draft movement around Lexington, and through that we had a big conference. I think it 3:00was '67 or '68, a conference on the war and draft in Lexington, and it was a very controversial conference. Some legislator tried to prohibit it, and our president John Oswald at UK said, "Nope, we got to let these folks, young people, have their First Amendments rights." So the conference went on and it was in the process of organizing that conference that I met the Bradens. Of course, I knew who they were growing up in Louisville, I got to know them then and they invited me to come to SCEF meetings and so I did. And then when I, well, it was pretty well agreed upon when I would get out of law school, I'd 4:00come be SCEF's attorney. That's what I did.
TK: And what kinds of work did you do for them?
BA: Well it was mostly representing civil rights activists in the South,Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, just going around representing people. The backlash was happening. In the late sixties the Black Power movement was growing and a lot of disillusionment was setting in, the same time the state oppressive apparatus was gearing up and arresting people on very serious things. I just felt like I was a fish out of water really going into this. I didn't come up in a civil rights family or anything. My folks were 5:00blue-collar people from the South End of Louisville. So I just started representing people who were close to SCEF or who SCEF knew needed legal assistance, which was enormous at that point. So I just kind of went around for about five years.
TK: Was it mostly outside of Louisville then, that work?
BA: There were a few cases in Louisville, the Black Six case being one of themand the Louisville Panthers being one, and then there was another very interesting case, the Coffee House cases. I don't know if you've heard about those or not, but those were also quite interesting.
TK: Was this the . . .
BA: Anti-war coffee houses at Muldraugh.
TK: Yeah, I did George and Jean Edwards told me, yeah.
BA: And they arrested people, who were the incorporators of the corporationbecause they were all upset about the anti-war, the local people at Muldraugh, 6:00were all upset about the anti-war efforts made towards the GIs and this was '69, '70, right in that area. That was very heated also! Those were the big cases around here at that time in terms of political.
TK: Now I remember, I did a very long interview with George and Jean Edwards,about eighteen hours with them and they told me a lot about those, you know, George's involvement with them.
BA: They're great people.
TK: Just a question that came to mind as you just were talking, you mentionedthat the Black Power idea was spreading around. How did that show up in Louisville?
BA: See, I grew up in Louisville, but I left Louisville when I was a junior, in7:00my junior year. My dad was a military non-commissioned officer. He was transferred to Germany in 1959. So I left and went there and graduated from high school there and went to a year in college and then came back to the University of Kentucky and then went to law school. Then when I got out of law school in '68, I didn't actually move to Louisville. So I missed all of the sixties in Louisville, except coming in at the tail end to be a lawyer.
[Phone rings, tape stopped]
BA: I didn't actually move back to Louisville, my law office, until 1970. So Imissed a lot of the activism here because I was at law school, college, and a year or two practicing, opening my office in Lexington before I moved back.
TK: So you worked, all this work for SCEF you did was out at the . . .8:00
BA: No, not all of it, but well, I mean, I moved back to Louisville.
TK: During that time, right.
BA: See, SCEF was a regional southern organization so traveling you didn't have,you know, when I look back at my travel schedule for '69 to like '74, it's just unbelievable. But I was traveling most on these kind of cases, these civil rights cases, which was a marvelous experience, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I just don't think I was very adequately prepared for it.
TK: Being right out of law school.
BA: Yeah, yeah.
TK: Well, let's talk about the Black Six case a little. How did your involvementin that...
BA: Have you talked to Dan Taylor by any chance?
BA: Dan Taylor represented James Cortez and I believe Ben Shobe represented Ruth9:00Bryant in the Black Six case. Neville Tucker, I'm not sure who he represented. I came in . . . this case was very very, I think what happened was that Anne. . . . Cortez was kind of the central person in terms of why the case got as far as it did. The police alleged that he said certain things after they took him into custody. He denied saying those things. Then the police used that to then arrest people and charge this conspiracy, of which there was no evidence whatsoever other than what the police alleged Cortez told them! But the case happened way 10:00before I started practicing law. The case, unheard of, was moved on the motion of the Commonwealth Attorney to Hart County, which, in my recollection, the prosecutors didn't even have the legal authority to do that! Only the defense had the authority to ask for a change of venue!
TK: Oh, I didn't know that.
BA: But that happened. In the climate of what was going on, if you can imagine aprosecutor saying we can't get a fair trial. So the case was moved to Hart County. Now, Anne Braden I think was talking regularly to Cortez in jail, and somewhere along the line, Anne must have said, "We have this young attorney on our staff," and mentioned my name. And the case was coming to trial in Hart 11:00County like the next week, and on the Friday before I got this letter in the mail firing Dan as his attorney and hiring me and I had never met the guy! So we went . . . I talked to Dan, we all agreed this was pretty hilarious, and we went down there and I kind of said, "Well, I'll help any way that I can." So that's how I got into the case, really assisting other lawyers. They had been dragging, this case had gone from Louisville to Hart County and then eventually the case was moved back to Louisville! And so that's how, my involvement. And there was another spin-off case that I was involved in, I don't know if you've heard about, but the spin-off was also very exciting and that was Mike Honey and 12:00Martha Allen.
TK: I was going to ask if you were involved with that.
BA: The embracery case. They sent information down to people in the Hart Countytelephone book saying, "Do you all really want this case? Louisville's problems put off on Hart County." I don't know if you got a copy of that flyer or not?
TK: No, no.
BA: It's somewhere back in the SCEF file. Mike Honey is now a history professorat, up in Seattle, or the University of Washington at Tacoma, I believe. So, but they got arrested for embracery, attempting to influence a potential juror, jury and they spent some serious time in jail down there and refused to be bonded out. It turned out later on my wife's relatives were Hart County officials. [Laughter] 13:00
BA: Her uncle was the county judge.
TK: Were you married at the time?
BA: No, not to my present wife.
TK: Oh, okay.
BA: But it turned out to be quite interesting later on. But I got involved in itthat way and I was really just assisting Dan mostly and any of the other attorneys. Cortez had another charge on him, for the Rap Brown charge, of an ex-felon carrying a shotgun across state lines. I remember working on that during the Black Six case.
TK: I was a little, because I've seen, you know bits and pieces of this and Iwas confused. What happened to that charge?
BA: Well, I think that case he was convicted and went up, we appealed it and theconviction was upheld.
TK: Because my impression from the stuff I read is that he stayed in jail.
BA: Yeah, the whole time.
TK: The whole time. But others were out on bond, right?14:00
TK: Okay. So why did he stay in jail and not the others?
BA: I think . . . well he had the conspiracy charge, he had the shotgun, theex-felon carrying a shotgun. So he had some serious charges on him and at some point in there he was convicted and so he had the conviction. So he had a lot more on him.
TK: One of the interesting things about interviewing about this case is themixed reaction to Cortez, in terms of feelings about him. Could you talk about that a little bit?
BA: Yeah. I don't know. I didn't know him that well. He was very personable,Judge Nicholson went over to see him on a regular basis at the jail. Just a very 15:00personable guy. Judge Nicholson was really kind of one of the more interesting persons. You know it's very unusual for a judge to direct a verdict of acquittal in a criminal case and that's what Judge Nicholson did. This case was a political football for so long and finally when it did actually go to trial, I mean, I forget how many years, couple of years after it happened. Then for the judge to direct a verdict of acquittal was quite, quite interesting.
TK: Yeah, my impression is. . . . I know someone who is writing his dissertationon these kinds of cases, these conspiracy cases, and I don't think he ended up using the Black Six in his book, but he says that it's the first one where they're charged but the last one where they're actually tried, of the ones that he looked at because that's how long it went on. I guess what I was curious 16:00about is that there seemed to be some feeling in some of the black community that maybe he was an informant.
BA: I don't know. I mean, I think there was something in a book by the deputyFBI director [William] Sullivan that made some comment about that he had, Cortez had done some work for the FBI. But I never knew whether that was just, I think I may have seen that in the book at one point, but I never knew whether that meant he was a big time informant or whether he was just a low level street guy who the FBI paid, you know, fifty, a hundred dollars to get information on drug dealers on the corner. You know, I never knew that. There was so many rumors about people being informants, I mean that was such a common way, that was a big way in which the government and people against the civil rights movement divided people against each other. Then in the Panthers it was brought to an extremely 17:00high level of life and death! I just thought you had to be real careful about that, and I still do! I mean there were a lot of hustlers and sweet talkers and good talkers inside and outside the civil rights movement. Just because somebody was in the civil rights movement didn't mean they were always the straightest people in the world. I mean you had all kinds. I'll never forget one of the Panthers telling me one time, he said that he had been a dope dealer and a pimp and then when he became a member of the Panthers, he really changed his life 18:00around that it was really a big deal to him. It sounded to me like kind of a religious conversion that I had heard other young people talk about, but for him it was going from a dope dealer and a pimp to being a member of the Black Panther Party and I never forgot that.
TK: That's interesting. I have one other type of question about the Black Sixcase before we go on to the Panthers, and that is the support for them in the community. I mean what was the level of support like?
BA: It was marvelous at the beginning, as I understand it. That's why theprosecutor, the commonwealth attorney wanted to move the case out of Louisville. Have you interviewed Ed Schoering? He was the prosecutor.
BA: He might talk to you now.19:00
TK: First name again?
BA: Ed Schoering. He's a retired guy. He lives right over here and he . . .[laughter] he later became a defense attorney. One time I saw him in the elevator after he became a defense attorney, he said, "Gosh Bill, I never knew there was so many innocent people!" [laughter] He later became a judge. You know it's worth seeing what these perspectives are, particularly from those folks, I think it is, to see how, what they've learned and how they've changed, you know, what changes go through people who were doing that. There was a prosecutor who prosecuted Anne and Carl back in the fifties and later I remember seeing him and he and Anne talked very friendly and he just was saying how horrible a time it was and what a big mistake the whole thing . . .
TK: Was that Scotty Hamilton?
BA: No that was Larry . . . Lawrence Higgins.
TK: Yeah, I've seen his name.20:00
BA: But it's interesting how they react to some of those things. And Ed mighttalk to you.
TK: Well, that would be interesting.
BA: Yeah it sure would.
TK: So you were saying that in the beginning it was . . .?
BA: Yeah and then when it went to Hart County, I mean they had demonstrationsdown there. That was a hard thing to get people to go to Hart County. I mean they were scared for their life, particularly when you go into town and you see a plaque on the last lynching in Kentucky happened in Munfordville in 1900, something or other, right around the courthouse.
BA: People did get inhibited about getting too many people down there. I thinkwhen it finally came back to Louisville there wasn't, certainly some of the heat had died down. I mean I just had the feeling they were trying to figure out a way to get rid of it and save face. Cases do have a way of doing that, particularly some of these that at the beginning of the case, the heat is on and 21:00officials have to do something, kind of like we are now about military action. So then the evidence, there just wasn't that much evidence, and it was just so weak. I think they were honestly trying to figure out a way out to save face. And Judge Nicholson certainly gave that away. He didn't have any trouble taking the bull by the horns. I like Judge Nicholson. I don't know what you've heard about him, but he always treated me very. . . . He was a rough, strong willed, he had his own sense of what justice was and I think he tried, kind of molded cases towards what he thought was fair and just. A lot of judges today don't do 22:00that because they want the system to work out however it's going to, but he was a little different.
TK: Well, I have interviewed on the open accommodations, Judge Triplett, Henry Triplett.
BA: Oh yeah!
TK: That was a great interview!
BA: Oh yeah, he is an old guy.
TK: I actually interviewed him twice. It was a very good interview. But it'ssort of how he decided to handle those cases and that kind of thing. What impact would you say that the case had on civil rights activity or interest in the movement here?
BA: I don't know. I mean I think all of these cases where the government camedown hard. The thing that was so stark about the Black Six case was that they arrested black leaders from all different segments of black society, so that they were sending a message to the entire black community, "You have to stop this stuff." Black leaders like Ruth Bryant, she was a prominent civic lady and 23:00her husband was a very well known doctor. Then there were [unintelligible] street activists, Bob "Kuyu" Sims and Sam Hawkins. Sam had been an anti-poverty worker. Pete Cosby was another activist. I'm trying to think of the other defendants.
TK: Manford Reid.
BA: Manford Reid was this man.
TK: Was Pete Cosby a minister at the time or was that . . .?
BA: I don't think he was at the time, but that Cosby family is very prominent inthe city. Are you from Louisville?
TK: No, no, but I've been here long enough to know.
BA: So you know. So that was the thing that always struck me was they reallytargeted, it seemed like they targeted the entire black community strata to send a message to.
TK: To chill things off a little bit.
BA: Yeah, chilling effect.24:00
TK: Can we talk about the Panthers a little bit?
TK: In general, what did you know about Panther movement here before you gotinvolved with them?
BA: Well, I represented Panthers in Louisville. I represented Panthers inMemphis as part of SCEF, being SCEF's attorney. I don't think I represented any other Panther groups. You know, they were just another civil rights group. That case really seemed to me to be kind of on par of the Black Six, there just was no evidence to link them to this crime.
TK: In this case I should say I know next to nothing about it, because I've seenone newspaper article. 25:00
BA: Really. Well, I would be glad to, now I have those files downstairs. I'mgoing to have to go through and take my notes out, but I don't have any problems turning over documents to you.
TK: Oh, that would be great because this one is much less documented than theBlack Six case.
BA: Well, this one was that I was really central to, so I have a lot ofinformation. I saved those things and oh, my wife always wondered why I saved those. They just were so important and I'm a history buff, amateur. But they were so important, the Black Six case was so important in Louisville. I mean when would the government do something like this, you know? It was like the climate of the whole, the tenor of the times, you know, right here in Louisville people were so afraid of the black movement fighting for civil rights that they had to frame these people and put them through all this horrendous turmoil for several years. It affected their lives, the rest of their life. The Panthers were, from what I can tell, the same way. There was no evidence really. I had 26:00thought, and I knew more about that I was so much intimately affected now. What I've heard and what I had heard, 'course, I haven't . . . sometime my memory is. . . . I'd be glad to talk to you more about this if you want to and I haven't gone back and reviewed anything, but I could certainly do that. See what actually happened, Laird's Tourist Home was . . .
TK: How do you spell that?
BA: L-A-I-R-D-S. Right by the railroad tracks on Fifteenth Street. Laird's wasknown as a place, a nightclub in the black community where drugs were readily 27:00available, prostitutes were readily available; and white and black mingled there. Then on Derby night, Derby Eve, it was known as the place to go among high rollers, you know, underworld type figures, shady type folks who would come into Louisville for that whole week and they would know they could have a good time at Laird's. That Derby Eve there were all the folks from all over the country there. And somewhere at two or three a.m. in the morning, some folks who had been at the party opened up their jackets, pulled out sawed off shotguns and said, "Okay, everybody take your clothes off and get down on the floor." They 28:00did and they proceeded to take rings and jewelry and cash, and left. The police immediately pinned it on the Panthers. That the Panthers, what I've heard, I mean this is all kind of hearsay, I don't know this first hand, but the Panthers had a war against drug dealers.
TK: Yeah, I've heard that.
BA: That was kind of going on nationwide and here in Louisville. That's whatI've heard. Have you talked to any Panthers?
TK: Actually I had one of the names Anne gave me is . . . one Ben Simmons is noAbdul [unintelligible] ?
BA: Yeah, he's in Cincinnati, I mean in Cleveland.
TK: And I'm supposed to call him this week.29:00
BA: Good! Well he was even down here. I mean there was a little forum here.
TK: That's why Anne had his number.
BA: That'd be good to talk to. So they arrested the Panthers, charged them withall of these robbery charges. At the same time there had been the similar type of MO of black guys dressed in superfly outfits going to big sporting events. There was a big fight in Atlanta, I don't know if it was [Muhammad] Ali and Jerry Quarry or some kind of big fight. Similar thing happened down there the night before the fight. There was something up in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia or something similar, type of thing happening. And the rumors, you know, that you hear was that the Dixie Mafia was behind this and that they hired the local Panthers to be the actual rip-off. Wild stories that I never, sounded exciting for a story but I certainly never, there certainly wasn't any evidence like that 30:00that was put out. But there were those similar type of MO's that had happened at other sporting venues. So the evidence against the Panthers was, you know, there just wasn't any evidence. I think one of the Laird's employees said, "I recognize one of the Panthers as being in the group that night." It was very vague. The Laird's people were very shaky. They all had criminal records. They all were under enormous pressure. When we got the list of witnesses who showed up for the indictments, they were all over the country, Detroit, L.A., New York. 31:00It's all these high rollers with big money, none of whom really wanted to come back and testify! I mean, because they all were questionable backgrounds and why do I want to get involved in this. And I don't know if any, maybe some did come back and testify but nobody picked out any of the Panthers, except there was this one employee at Laird's who did. Now the judge was Judge Nicholson again, see that was also . . .
END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A
START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B
BA: . . . He directed a verdict of acquittal for five of the seven Panthers.They had all been in jail for like six months, high bonds. But, again it was judge, I guess this is why I'm kind of favorable towards him because he had guts. Two of the Panthers went to a jury trial and Ben Simmons was acquitted and 32:00Darryl Blakemore was convicted by that one person who worked at Laird's and indicated that he was in the group. Darryl's around, too.
TK: Okay, so he was the one that was convicted.
BA: Yeah, he was convicted, Darryl was also convicted of possession of a sawedoff shotgun, a federal charge, so he did some time in jail. But it was extremely shaky, particularly in the climate. This is now 1972, when I think they were arrested in '72 and the trial was that fall. 33:00
TK: Oh, that one was relatively . . .
BA: Six months. Of course, they all were in jail. That's the other thing, theydidn't get bonded out.
TK: Was there the same kind of reaction to this case as there was to the Black Six?
BA: No. I didn't think that the community, there wasn't the kind of filling upthe courtroom, although there were demonstrations around the courthouse. As a matter of fact, one of the vivid things I remember is that my wife and daughter were demonstrating with supporters around the courthouse and as I got up to make my closing argument the prosecutor threw a picture on the defense table and it was of my wife and daughter demonstrating. I'm sure that was to intimidate me and throw me off and that kind of stuff. I wish I had kept that picture. I don't know where it is now. I guess it's someplace in the prosecution's files, but I'd love to have it. I just don't remember there being the kind of filling up the 34:00courthouse and a lot of demonstrations outside the way there were in the late sixties and early, in '70, '71. By this time the repression had set in, the war had divided people, the economy was turning down, and people were blaming each other for lack of jobs and that sort of thing.
TK: What kind of effect did working on these kinds of cases have on your career?
BA: Well, I don't know. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I don't know what tosay to that.
TK: Some of the lawyers who did some of the earlier stuff like the open housingstuff for example, they got phone calls to their home, you know, that sort of thing. 35:00
BA: Oh I had all of that, but I don't remember it being any more so for thiscase than any of the others. There were always the mysterious calls and all that kind of stuff.
TK: Were there any other lawyers involved with you on that particular case?
BA: Ellen Mosen was involved in it.
TK: Spell the last name.
BA: M-O-S-E-N. Ellen Mosen James, J-A-M-E-S. She now lives up in New York, NewPalz, New York. Teaches at, I think, Brooklyn Law School, Cordoza Law School.
TK: She was like an assistant to you?
BA: She was my, let's see, was she my partner at that point? I guess she was mypartner at that point.
TK: Were you still working out of the SCEF office at this time?
BA: No, no, I . . . well, let's see what happened. I had an office downtown and36:00then at some point Anne owned that building there at west Broadway and she said, "Would you like to put your law office in here?" So I moved my law office down there. Had it there for about ten years.
TK: Wow! Even after SCEF broke up, right?
TK: Yeah, because she told me the story about SCEF breaking up. Were youinvolved in that at all?
TK: How were you involved in that?
BA: Well, I was SCEF's lawyer. I went through all the board meetings and all thetrauma of it all. You know, it was a big deal, I mean it was. SCEF was kind of, SCEF had everybody in it from Christian, I don't, what you call them, Christian 37:00radicals to Communists, you know. Then all of the groups, the New Left groups. Nationally, the New Left groups had, you know, big cities, there were lots of people. Then in the South there were New Left groups but they just didn't have lots of people! And so you'd have a little bitty group in New Orleans, a little group in Birmingham, a bigger group in Atlanta, but they all kind of mixed with the old progressives from the thirties and forties and fifties, because there wasn't anything else in the South to speak of that was really an activist group. 38:00In SCEF you had black activists, young white radicals, and young whites that had gone through, had come from the North down to the South participating the civil rights movement. And some of them had been kicked out of SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee], or had left SNCC and needed a place to go. SCEF was a, boy, it was amalgamation of different, many people. I guess my point is that it was kind of a miracle that maybe SCEF stayed together as long as it did. Because in addition to that, I know Anne has said this, the government infiltration of SCEF because all the groups were very open. I think that then the problem with the Panthers at the SCEF office, well, it was just one of the worst things I ever went through and sad that we weren't able to keep the 39:00organization together. SCEF was just in favor of civil rights and there wasn't hard and fast rules as to what SCEF was. It was just a Southern group in favor of civil rights. So when serious problems hit the organization, it exposed the fact that the organization had been led by Carl and Anne, two very strong personalities for so long and they just couldn't. . . . And see, also, all these 40:00other groups had gotten somewhat strong in SCEF and there were a lot of political rivalries going on. And was, because I had traveled around the South on all these different cases, I knew and was friends with all of these people. I just thought it was horrible that this was happening, although there were serious political issues. I mean the organization, had assisted in taking out a mental inquest on Ben Simmons! And there were serious things happening. His wife Judy at the time was hired by SCEF and they were having personal problems and those personal problems then kind of lapped over into the organization and then 41:00the organization felt like they had to do something, at least the SCEF office. But the way it was gone about was not the proper way to do it, and I was involved in a lot of that and felt very bad about that decision.
TK: Anne told me a little bit about that particular event.
BA: Yeah, that was very tough.
TK: So SCEF was sort of breaking up kind of a little bit later, you know, aroundthis time.
BA: No, that came after the Panthers, like a year after that, that's whentroubles happened.
TK: What happened to the Panthers after this point?
BA: I don't know, I think they just broke up, like was happening all over the country.
TK: A couple of things, because I think that what I would like to do is, likeyou said, is maybe look at some of the records. I'm going to put this on pause.
BA: This isn't personal or anything. See, in 1963 I was at the University of42:00Kentucky in undergraduate school and involved in a religious organization. The folks who were the leaders of the Mississippi Freedom Movement came to U of K and they kind of convened the religious folks and they said, "We are going to, there's going to be this big voter registration effort in Mississippi this summer and we're recruiting people to go to it." And I had, I think, been in one demonstration in Frankfort and that was for open housing. Never been in a demonstration before and it was the first time, thousands of people. Martin Luther King came. Peter, Paul and Mary came.
TK: Oh yeah, I've heard about that part.
BA: And that was a big deal, you know, to me, but I, but I didn't respond tothat call about joining the Mississippi freedom effort. I just wasn't there, just was still trying to figure things out. But then, that was '63, then in '65 43:00my father was sent to Vietnam and I was going in myself to the military ready to kill Communists, but I flunked the physical right at the end and went to law school. And just on a lark, went to, me and some other guys just drove to D.C. to the '66 march on the Pentagon. And came back and we were just kind of like imbued with righteousness and all of that, and started an anti-war group. But it was kind of then when I got back into, when I got into SCEF I saw what had happened to those young people who had gone to the Mississippi freedom effort and then were in SCEF in '68, '68 mostly, '67. They had gone through this whole 44:00war and I guess I was just, it looked like they had been through a war. There were a lot of, there was a lot of alcoholism. There were divorces. You know, now we don't think much of divorce, but in the sixties.
TK: At the time, yeah.
BA: You know, you do think about it. There were eventually some suicides and alot of these young white people, they were white Southerners that I ran into. They were the ones that, see, you had blacks who were moving into the Black Power. They were separating out and it was basically, you know, we're going to build our own organizations and if you want to help, just contribute money or just help us, but we don't need you. It was clearly a separatism. That's when SCOC was formed and then that was why SCEF, so many of the white folks who had 45:00been active in SNCC, been active in the civil rights movement, moved into to SCEF. I mean it was a whole history type thing. It was just, to me the civil rights movement, was really the biggest deal going on in the whole world. You know, we all should have been in it fighting for equal rights for black people. And here SCEF was right in the middle of it all where it was all happening and boy were they getting the shit kicked out of them because all of these cases around that I saw was just very heavy repression. Murder charges, arson charges, 46:00draft charges also coming in at this point, but just people were battered and bruised.
TK: It would be an interesting story to tell, I think, because it's somethingthat, it just shocks me that it really hasn't been written about that much!
BA: Oh and then the people just, to think what happened to the most, many of itwas black people who were taking the brunt of this thing. I mean it was one thing to be just kind of a neighborhood activist willing to vote, it was another thing to actually begin to develop a political consciousness and maybe to become a progressive and to have a world view that you would put the segregation into the context, and that's what a lot of folks were doing. Young people were saying, "Well, here's our government involved in the segregation of the black people and then also here's our government now pursuing this war against Vietnam!" You know, what are the systemic reasons for this. So you were seeing, you know, that's why so many young people were reading, you know, about . . . 47:00[tape stopped] So much was happening in the South then and still kept happening, just the national media wasn't excited about it the way they were with Martin Luther King and the violent demonstrations in the early sixties, but stuff was still going on.
TK: Well, it'd be interesting. I think I asked all my questions for today.
END OF INTERVIEW