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Slate: "You can cage the singer, but not the song." Harry Belafonte

Congressman John Lewis, Student movement leader: The first time I got arrested, I felt so free. I felt so liberated. I felt like I had crossed over. I had been told over and over again, "don't get in trouble." But I got in trouble, like so many of my colleagues and friends. And we felt like it was good trouble, it was necessary trouble.

Singing (archival)

Congressman John Lewis, Student movement leader: It was the music that gave us the courage, the will, the drive to go on in spite of it all.

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: Policeman can't stop you from singing. They can put you in jail but they can't stop you from singing...unless he puts a rag in your mouth or something, and then you can hum it.

Bernard Lafayette, Freedom rider: They could take away everything else except our songs, which meant we kept our souls.

Anthony Hamilton and the Blind Boys of Alabama (singing): And this may be my last time
May be my last time, children, I don't know.
This may be the last time we sing together
May be the last time.

This may be the last time we join together
It may be the last time for this
It may be, the very last time!
Oh, children, may be the last time
The last time, I don't know
I really don't know what tomorrow will bring.

Congressman John Lewis, Student movement leader: It was the music that created a sense of solidarity. And when there was some concern about the possibility of violence, of someone being beaten, of someone being arrested and jailed -- or even after we were thrown in jail -- someone would sing a song.

Singing (archival)

Lynda Lowery, Civil rights protestor: You can break my arm, you can break, you know, my bones, but you cannot break my spirit.

Rev. Harold Middlebrook, Student movement leader: Long before the movement you must remember that for negroes, colored as we were called then, in slavery, songs were our way of communicating. Singing was also our method of expressing inner emotions.

Harry Belafonte, Singer and activist: All of the songs were inspirational. All of the songs had one purpose, and that was to reach deep into our moments of the greatest anguish and to say "we have had worse than this, we can endure."

"The Message From Mississippi," Official Mississippi State Film, 1960 (archival): This is Mississippi, the central state, the heart of the south. Today, forty-five percent of the population of Mississippi is colored. This situation has brought problems, it has created challenges, but most important of all, it has inspired a social system to meet the challenge.

In Forest, as in every community in Mississippi, there is segregation of the races. Drinking fountains are segregated; restrooms are segregated; the local theater is segregated -- negroes sit in the balcony. There is only one swimming pool in Forest -- for white only.

Congressman John Lewis, Student movement leader: I would ask my mother, my father, my grandparents, my great-grandparents: "why segregation, why racial discrimination?" And they would say, "that's the way it is. Don't get in the way."

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: I never understood why graveyards had to be segregated, I still don't. Because dead people get along well -- they don't bother each other, they don't bother anybody else.

Hank Thomas, Freedom rider: You're walking down the sidewalk, and especially if it's a young white woman, you gave her wide berth.

Dorie Ladner, Civil rights protestor: They had a law called 'Reckless Eyeballing.'

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: You could be accused of looking at someone -- a black man looked at a white woman in a certain way -- could get you killed.

Lynda Lowery, Civil rights protestor: When I was seven years old my mother passed, and I remembered the grown people talking about if she hadn't been colored, she could have gone to the white hospital, and she would be alive.

Lula Joe Williams, Civil rights protester: I knew that we had to make some changes. I didn't know how changes were gonna be made, but I knew that whatever took place I had to be a part of it.

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: The buses in Montgomery were segregated, and Martin King had just come to Montgomery, and he really didn't want to be involved in politics or any kind of activity, but he said he wanted to go someplace that was a little more quiet and a little more sedate, where he could finish his dissertation. He finished his dissertation about two weeks before Rosa Parks sat down on the bus.

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: She became the torchbearer against bus segregation in Montgomery. The leadership in the community called a meeting. They decided to pick this newcomer in town, Martin Luther King, to head the boycott. I think in part because if it failed the established leadership wouldn't be blamed for this, and as the new guy he could take all the blame, nobody cared. And he turned out to be the absolutely perfect person.

Rev. Harold Middlebrook, Student movement leader: Dr. King starts talking about, "you don't need to wait for somebody else to bring you your blessing. You've got to get off of the shore of comfort, self-satisfaction and complacency, and you got to get out there. Wade on in the water, come on in the water, come. Come on, get in -- struggle with the rest of us."

Dorothy Cotton, Aide to Martin Luther King: God's gonna be there with you (singing)...

Angie Stone (singing): Wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water
God's gonna trouble the water

Well, some say Peter and some say Paul
But God's gonna trouble the water
There ain't but one God that made us all
God's gonna trouble the waters

Wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Oh, wade in the water
God's gonna trouble the waters
You can...

Lula Joe Williams, Civil rights protester: We had rallies almost nightly. We be singing and clapping and going up. We were excited!

Mary Williams, Civil rights protestor: It was time, we were ready.

Lula Joe Williams, Civil rights protester: These were people that were not afraid. They were standing up.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (archival): It is more honorable to walk in dignity than ride in humiliation...

Mary Williams, Civil rights protestor: We would actually stand out there and look at the buses in the morning and evenings to see if any black people were riding them, and when the bus would come through and the bus would be empty we would go "yeah, yeah, good!"

Jamila Jones, Civil rights protestor: We were determined that we weren't gonna go on the bus. That was just out. We never thought of getting on that bus.

Angie Stone (singing): ...God's gonna trouble the waters.

Rev. Ed King, Civil rights organizer: The general opinion in the white community was shocked that black people were standing together and doing anything, because white people wanted to say black people are satisfied.

News interview with Alabama State Senator Engelhardt (archival): "Senator Engelhardt, just was is the Citizen's Council trying to do?" "We are trying to make every white man in Alabama stand up and be counted."

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: During the course of the boycott, Martin Luther King was presiding over a mass meeting and someone passed him a note that said your house had been bombed.

Coretta Scott King: I was in the house with my child, Yolanda. They had called us a few days earlier and warned us that they were gonna bomb the house. They told Martin that if he didn't leave town in three days they were gonna bomb the house and kill his wife and baby. Well now, you know...how much plainer could it be?

Rev. Farrell Duncombe, Civil rights protestor: I wanted to hit somebody, I mean -- lets go for it. You've done this, you know, enough of this peaceful protest. Lets hit somebody.

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: King rushed home, an angry mob gathered. He's standing on the porch with the mayor and the police comissioner, and he calms the crowd. He says, "go home, we're fine. We don't want to hate our enemies, we want to love them."

Rev. Farrell Duncombe: And when he said "none -- violence" we all dropped whatever, you know, sticks, brass knuckles, knives, or...I think I myself may have had a brick, but just doing that single act he changed the mind of the nay-sayers.

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: He diffused what could have been an explosive movement, and it's sort of a typical moment when he uses this new idea of non-violence to push forward the notion that "we can fight this evil in a different kind of way than we've fought in the past."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (archival): We the negro citizens of Montgomery, Alabama do now and will continue to carry on our mass protests. All in favor let it be known by standing on your feet...

Carlton Reese Memorial Unity Choir (singing): This little light of mine I'm gonna let it shine...

Congressman John Lewis, Student movement leader: Martin King comes to the scene at a time when not only black folk but the nation needed to hear that now is a time for change.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (archival): This is a non-violent protest. We are depending on moral and spiritual forces...

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted 365+ days. It almost bankrupted the bus company, but in the end it wasn't the boycott that integrated the buses...

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: The Supreme Court decided that bus segregation is unconstitutional. For us, it was a political miracle. It was something we could not have anticipated. But it gave us the faith and the courage to work with him to continue this non-violent process of social change.

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: And from Montgomery forward you saw in town after town a repetition of what he had done. The Montgomery lesson was learned in other towns and other cities, and so a whole movement grew up following the Montgomery example.

Singing (archival)

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: The sit-ins took the movement from the bus protest to the lunch counters, the place that's reserved for white people. The owner of the restaurant either gotta serve me, or arrest me; and if he arrests me somebody else is gonna take my place at that lunch counter, and if they arrest them, somebody's gonna take their place.

Congressman John Lewis, Student movement leader: We was prepared to sit-in. We just didn't wake up one morning and say, "we were gonna go and sit-in." We studied. We studied the philosophy and discipline of non-violence. We studied what Ghandi attempted to do in South Africa, what he accomplished in India.

Rev. C.T. Vivian, Civil rights leader: In Nashville, we were trained for non-violence. Jim Lawson was our main trainer...

Rev. Jim Lawson, Civil rights leader (archival): If someone is playing a segregationist's role, then by all odds you must try to feel as much as you can the emotional life of a segregationist for this particular moment...

Rev. Jim Lawson, Civil rights leader: We recruited students and clergy and laity who took these training workshops...

Rev. Ed King, Civil rights organizer: I was asked to role play a white policeman ordering some black people to leave a counter, and I said OK. And I went to the counter and I said, "please, sir, it's illegal for you to be here. Won't you move?" And everybody in Lawson's workshop collapsed in laughter and said, "the Southern white police are not gonna say 'please' and they're not gonna say 'sir' and 'maam.'"

Congressman John Lewis, Student movement leader: And when it came time for us to sit-in we went into the downtown area, and we occupied seats at a lunch counter of a Woolworth store. And we'd be sitting there in an orderly, peaceful non-violent fashion waiting to be served. Some of us would be doing our homework, reading a book, writing a paper; and some of us would look straight ahead, just waiting and waiting, but never served.

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: As in Montgomery, these things are typically accompanied by regular scheduled mass meeting where people speak and tell us how we've done from the last meeting till now, how things are going. And it's always accompanied by singing, which pulls the group together.

Lynda Lowery, Civil rights protestor: Singing got us involved. I remember this very hippy white couple named Guy and Candie, and they came and they taught us a lot of songs.

Candie Carawan, Sit-in protester: So Guy taught "I'm gonna sit at the welcome table," and it was during the sit-ins. You taught it to the sit-in students that first weekend, let...do a little bit of it now so we can hear how it sounds.

Guy Carawan, Movement song leader: I'll play it, you sing it (singing)...

Lula Joe Williams, Civil rights protester: If they had served us, then we probably would've went on to another store. But if you keep denying us, then we gonna keep going back, and that's what we did.

Young white segregationist (archival footage): Well, it's just not the same as we're used to down here. I mean, they come in and they sit down, and we're not used to them sitting down beside us, because I wasn't raised with em, I never have lived with em, and I'm not gonna start now.

Chuck McDew, Student movement leader: You see these white people are crazy...they're absolutely clinically insane.

News report (archival): In some places such as Memphis and here in Jacksonville, Florida, the sit-ins led to violence...

Congressman John Lewis, Student movement leader: Someone would come and spit on us. They'd put a lit up cigarette in our hair or down our backs. Pour hot water on us. Pull us off the lunch counter stools...or beat us. But we kept coming back, over and over again.

Rev. C.T. Vivian, Civil rights leader: We absorbed the pain in our own bodies rather than fight back.

Rev. Jim Lawson, Civil rights leader: No one ran, no one swung a fist back, no one balked at being arrested.

Rev. C.T. Vivian, Civil rights leader: We wanted to show ourselves that the non-violent approach was a winning approach.

Lula Joe Williams, Civil rights protestor: You know I haven't always been non-violent. We had to work hard on that. We knew things were gonna happen. You know the only thing you had to do was just pray you weren't killed in the process.

Hank Thomas, Freedom rider (singing)

Singing (archival)

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: The strategy of the Freedom Rides was to find a way to get the movement out of the cities and into the rural south, where the problem was far more serious and complex.

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: And the idea was to have integrated teams ride two buses from Washington D.C. to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Congressman John Lewis, Student movement leader: So when the call went out for the Freedom Ride I volunteered. For a group of white and black citizens of America to even discuss the possibility of boarding a Greyhound bus...it was very dangerous.

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: The Freedom Riders attacked a basic premise of White Supremacy, that is black and white cannot be physically together. And the only way they could think of stopping it was by beating the people within an inch of their life, and they did. It's in Alabama where they face what you can only consider as chaos.

Hank Thomas, Freedom rider: In Anniston, the bus pulls over at a little country store. They started breaking the windows and within seconds some incendiary device was shot aboard the back of the bus.

And I heard them holler, "lets burn them niggers alive, lets burn em alive." I'm hitting hard against the door -- they wouldn't let us off. At that instance the fuel tank of the bus blew up. When it exploded, the crowd scattered and that was the only way we were able to get out of the bus. I remember coming out of that bank of smoke, and a guy came up to me and said, "boy, you alright?" And I'm thinking, "okay... yes, yes, I'm okay," I'm thinking, almost "thank you for asking." And then he hit me with something.

John Patterson, Alabama Governor, 1961 (archival): And you can't just guarantee the safety of the fool, and that's what these folks are, just fools.

Bernard Lafayette, Freedom rider: Mississippi had a reputation that dwarfed Alabama. And when we got to the Mississippi line, we didn't know what to expect. But the first billboard we saw -- huge billboard -- "Welcome to the State of Mississippi." The next billboard right behind that said "Prepare to meet thy God."

Hank Thomas, Freedom rider: For whatever reason people thought that I should always lead the singing, and I usually did. We would constantly be singing and you'd start making up lyrics. (singing)...

We got into Jackson, and the Jackson police could not wait to get their hands on us. They had an assembly line arrest of the Freedom Riders. My case was one of the first ones, and a judge wanted to know how I'd plea. And before I could say anything the judge said, "You're guilty, don't waste my time. Six months."

Joss Stone (singing): Paul and Silas bound in jail
Had no money let 'em go on bail
Keep your eyes on the prize, and hold on
Hold on, why don't ya

Paul and Silas began to shout
The jail doors opened and they walked right out
Keep your eyes on the prize, and hold on
Hold on, why don't ya
Hold on, Hold on

Keep your eyes on the prize, and hold on
Hold on, why don't ya...

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: Other people joined the Freedom Ride and the end result was the government began to enforce the laws that said that these facilities have to be integrated. But hundreds of people were arrested over the course of all this.

Joss Stone (singing): ...Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, and hold why don't ya hold on
Hold on, hold on
Keep your eyes on the prize, and why don't ya hold right on...

Chuck Neblett, Movement song leader: Well, a lot these songs were negro spirituals, music that we had dismissed but when we revisited that music...it was some powerful stuff!

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: These are songs of protest, these are songs of rebellion.

Harry Belafonte, Singer and activist: The music coming out of the Civil Rights Movement was not created by us. It was throughout our entire stream of history. Oral tradition has been the only tradition that has been able to sustain black life in America, the only tradition through which we are able to know who we are.

Rev. Harold Middlebrook, Student movement leader: So when the movement comes, being that there is that spiritual quality, what do you do? You take that which is expressed your innermost feelings over the centuries and you use it as the vehicle to express where you are and the oppression and the suffering that you feel at this given time.

Chuck Neblett, Movement song leader: If you were in a mass meeting in the church, and they [white segregationists] were coming to those churches with dogs, they would come in those churches. And somebody would say -- and people would be frightened -- and somebody would say, "ain't scared of your dog cuz I want my freedom." And people started singing, "I ain't scared of your dog cuz I want my freedom" (singing)...

And somebody else would come up with another verse, "I ain't scared of your gun, I ain't scared a nobody, I ain't scared of no cops," and the whole congregation would start singing, "I ain't scared."

Lula Joe Williams, Civil rights protester: I remember all the times when we'd be out there in the streets and folks would be trying to tell us "those children need to go home," you know, "they don't need to be out there marching." We would be looking at 'em and am like "this little light of mine" (singing)...

And then we would go home because we weren't afraid of anybody, and we were gonna make sure that they knew we weren't afraid. And the more they would tell us to, you know, that they [child protestors] need to be at home, the louder we would get.

Lynda Lowery, Civil rights protestor (singing)

George Wallace, Alabama Governor, 1963 (archival footage): I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.

Lynda Lowery, Civil rights protestor (singing)

Harry Belafonte, Singer and activist: They were all great songs from the movement, but none spelled out our sense of future like "We Shall Overcome."

Rev. Harold Middlebrook, Student movement leader: I hear my friends saying that the movement song "We Shall Overcome" came out of the labor struggle and...but "We Shall Overcome" came out of the old black church when we used to sing "I'll overcome, I'll overcome." I can't sing but at least that was that feeling -- "I'll overcome, I'll overcome someday." So what did we do? "We shall overcome."

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: The first time I heard "We Shall Overcome" was at the organizing meeting of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in Raleigh, North Carolina on Easter weekend 1960. And Guy Carawan, who looked to me like a California surfer, sang this song, and within weeks it became the theme song of the Civil Rights Movement.

Guy Carawan, Movement song leader: (singing)...one, two, three, one, two, three. It had that triplet implied even if they're singing it accappella. (singing)...

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: But those songs helped to reinforce that we're gonna win, not in some arrogant way but we know we're gonna win because we're right. And if there is a God somewhere, and if his words are true, then we're gonna win.

Carlton Reese Memorial Unity Choir, Birmingham, Alabama (singing): Why don't you come on
I say, come on, I say
Why don't you come on
Oh, come on
Let freedom sing
It's gonna reign...

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: Martin Luther King picked Birmingham as the next target because Birmingham was thought to be the most rigidly segregated city in the whole of the United States.

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: Nobody wanted to go to Birmingham. There had been sixty unsolved bombings, nobody arrested. They stopped a young man on bicycle and then castrated him. It was just a violent, mean city.

Carlton Reese Memorial Unity Choir, Birmingham, Alabama (singing): ...When freedom sounds
Reign, reign, reign, freedom
Why don't you come on...

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: Evil is a fact of life in Birmingham. You had a brutal, brutal police commissioner, Eugene Theophilus, Bull Connor.

John Seigenthaler, Aide to Attorney General Robert Kennedy: Eugene Connor, in a real sense, ran Birmingham.

Bull Connor (archival): You've got to keep the white and black separate! Just like you gotta keep them in schools!

John Seigenthaler, Aide to Attorney General Robert Kennedy: I talked to him briefly in an effort to try to break the ice. I mean, he treated me as if I were a juvenile delinquent: "sonny-boy" this and "sonny-boy" that.

Bull Connor (archival): Those Kennedys, up there in Washington, that little old 'Bobbysocks' and his brother the president...they'd give anything in the world if we had some trouble here [Birmingham]! If we don't have any trouble, we can beat 'em at their own game!

John Seigenthaler, Aide to Attorney General Robert Kennedy: And he made no bones about the fact that he'd break bones. When you have someone in a leadership position like that it's contagious. It's like a virus that gets into the bloodstream of the society, of the community, and it spreads.

Mamie Brown-Mason, Birmingham song leader: You know once you've go through things and you've taken it all the way up to your neck, you have to do something then to put an end to it.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (archival): I think we've had more, I'm sure, more people to give their witness for freedom by going to jail in Birmingham than any other city in the United States.

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: The initial strategy that King put together was to select certain downtown restaurants and sit-in there. And that turned out not to have the effect that he thought it would. And he had begun to run out of participants, people who were willing to do this and go to jail, and had a great internal debate about whether or not to use children. And some people said, "yes, we will," but of course local Birmingham residents said, "not my kids, no, no, no." But kids just kept pushing and pushing, "we want to come, we want do it." And finally King agrees to use them, and they turn the tide. Their numbers are so great, they ran out of schools, jumping out of the windows. The teacher turns her back, bam; she turns around, they're all gone.

Rev. C.T. Vivian, Civil rights leader: Bull Connor was really blown away. He did not know what to do. He thought he had all the bases covered.

Dorothy Cotton, Aide to Martin Luther King: These children were not stupid! And for them to be involved in breaking that down was something they were so glad to be able to do. Yelling out to their friends: "you going to jail today? I went last week, too!" It was the thing to do, even for the children.

Carlton Reese Memorial Unity Choir, Birmingham, Alabama (singing): ...I'm on my way to the freedom land
I'm on my way to the freedom land
I'm on my way to the freedom land
Yes I'm on my way, oh Lord
to the freedom land

It’s an uphill journey, but I’m on my way
It’s an uphill journey, but I’m on my way
It’s an uphill journey, but I’m on my way...

Rev. C.T. Vivian, Civil rights leader: Boy, they were cruelly slamming those kids with those big fire hoses...

Rev. Harold Middlebrook, Student movement leader: ...that would knock you up against a tree. Fire houses that in fact could knock the bark off of the tree. How could anyone use this kind of violent act on anybody else, especially children?

Carlton Reese Memorial Unity Choir, Birmingham, Alabama (singing): ...There's nothing you can do to me turn around...

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: Thank heavens for television. This was on the evening news all across the country. President Kennedy saw and said it made him sick. In the end, in Birmingham, the city government agreed to eliminate the segregation laws, to wipe them off the books. It was a remarkable triumph of the Civil Rights Movement. The children made the difference.

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: We had been through the pressures and tensions and the victory of Birmingham, and so many of the people in the movement didn't even want to go to Washington because we didn't see it as a movement, we saw it as a picnic.

Rev. Harold Middlebrook, Student movement leader: And so for us to go to Washington was an opportunity to take a blue break from the roughness.

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: Martin called and said, "you need to get here, come on up. You will regret it if you're not here."

Mary Mary (singing): We shall not
We shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the waters
We shall not be moved

On our way to victory
We shall not be moved
We’re on our way to victory
We shall not be moved

Just like a tree that’s planted by the waters
We shall not be moved...

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: People kept coming and they kept coming and they kept coming and they kept coming, until you could not see how many people were there. When you got up to the top, where the Lincoln statue is, and looked out, it was beyond the length of your vision. And there were all kinds of people: there were people in business suits and people in blue jeans. There were people who had never been outside of their hometown before and all of a sudden they're in their nation's capital. So, you're saying to yourself, "this is something people in America support, this is something people in America think is worthwhile."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (archival): Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring. And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Mary Mary (singing): I’m not going to move y’all
I want my freedom
And I’m gonna get my freedom
We’re on our way to victory

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: We could not have changed America without the march on Washington. It took a southern black movement and made it a national multiracial movement. There were almost as many white people as there were black people. The march on Washington was the thing that defined the movement for America at large, and defined it for the world.

Rev. Harold Middlebrook, Student movement leader: We can go back to [mumbles] because Martin has told us, "we're gonna walk together, children. We're gonna be free."

Wyclef Jean and Jerry Wonder (singing): Here's to the state of Mississippi,
For Underheath her borders, the devil draws no lines,
If you drag her muddy river, nameless bodies you will find.
Whoa the fat trees of the forest have hid a thousand crimes,
The calender is lyin' when it reads the present time.
Whoa here's to the land you've torn out the heart of,
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of!
Here's to the state of Mississippi,
Woah and here's to the state of Mississippi...

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: Mississippi in the middle 1960s was really the roughest state in the country for black people. It was the most repressive, it had the most stringent laws, it had the most egregious examples of brutality and death occurring there on a regular basis.

Chuck Neblett, Movement song leader: The dangers of Mississippi is getting shot on the road, getting blown up in your house. We found guys beaten half to death and tied to trees left out to die.

Bob Zellner, Student organizer: Mississippi and Alabama were police states. The state was run on a basis of racist philosophy, and racists encouraged other racists to kill people.

Chuck Neblett, Movement song leader: You had no protection. You're talking about the law? It was usually the law doing this.

Congressman John Lewis, Student movement leader: The state of Mississippi in 1964 had a black voting age population of more than 450,000. But only about 16 or 18,000 were registered to vote.

Chuck McDew, student movement leader: Mississippi is calling us. They have thrown the glove of challenge. Let us pick it up and slap them with it.

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: We put together what became known as Freedom Summer. [It] attracted almost a thousand, mostly white kids, who came from college campuses all over the country.

Chuck Neblett, Movement song leader: We were in Ohio and we were there to train a lot of these college students about really what they were getting into.

Addressing students (archival): Police are gonna harass you. They're gonna pick you up on the road, they're gonna put trumped up charges on you, and you're gonna wind up in jail -- there's no doubt about it.

Chuck Neblett, Movement song leader: A lot of them really wasn't taking it too seriously. It was like going on some sort of missionary journey, and I said, "you're going to Mississippi." I don't think they believed it could be as brutal as it was. So it was a problem there because I'm looking at 'em and saying, "you might get killed."

Bob Cohen, Freedom Summer volunteer: Some friend of mine had heard we were going down and he said,"oh, you're going to be cannon fodder for the Civil Rights Movement," sort of cynically. And, I kind of looked at him, I thought it was a strange thing, and [I said], "I hadn't thought of that."

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: One day Bob Moses, who was a leader of the Mississippi movement, called us all together and said that three of our people went to Philadelphia, Mississippi and they've not been heard from.

Congressman John Lewis, Student movement leader: I had met these two young men from New York and one from Mississippi on a mission to help get people registered to vote.

News report (archival): The three Civil Rights workers who disappeared in Mississippi last Sunday night still have not been heard from. A search thus far has produced only one clue: the burned out station wagon in which the three were last seen riding. The missing men are Andrew Goodman, a 20-year-old college student from New York, James Cheney, 21 years old from Meridian, Mississippi, and 24-year-old Michael Schwerner of Brooklyn, New York. There is little hope that they are still alive.

Chuck Neblett, Movement song leader: When they said they were missing we knew they were dead. We knew they were dead.

News report (archival): "Can you tell me what you think of this whole thing?"

"Well, I believe it's a big publicity hoax, but if they're dead I feel like they asked for it."

"I feel sorry if they were killed but I think they were asking for it."

Wyclef Jean and Jerry Wonder (singing): ...Here's to the people of Mississippi
Who say the folks up north, they just don't understand
And they tremble in their shadows at the thunder of the Klan
The sweating of their souls can't wash the blood from off their hands
They smile and shrug their shoulders at the murder of a man
Oh, here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of
Here's to the state of Mississippi,
Woah and here's to the state of Mississippi,
Here's to the state of Mississippi,
Woah and here's to the state of Mississippi...

Congressman John Lewis, Student movement leader: The sheriff saw these three young men riding together, two whites and one black, and stopped them, placed them under arrest, took them to jail, and later that same night these three young men were turned over to the Klan, where they were beaten, shot, and killed.

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: You had the feeling these deaths would not be punished, and that's pretty much what's happened. In the search for Schwerner, Goodman, and Cheney they found at least two other bodies, one of them cut in half, thrown away, discarded in the river with almost no notice and no punishment. Just gives you an idea of what it was like.

Wyclef Jean and Jerry Wonder (singing):...to the state of Mississippi.

Congressman John Lewis, Student movement leader: We didn't give up. We didn't give in. We didn't become bitter. We didn't become hostile. We kept our faith and we kept pushing.

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: Most of us I would think did not sit down and say, "Oh my god, I might get killed." We knew [inaudible] and that possibility was always there. But we didn't dwell on it; we did not dwell on it.

Medgar Evers, Mississippi civil rights leader (archival): I remember distinctly one individual calling with a pistol on the other end, and he hit the cylinder of course and you could hear that it was a revolver. And he said, "this is for you."
I said,"well, whenever my time comes, I'm ready."

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: We got the call that Medgar Evers had been gunned down in his carport at home. We went out there and I saw all of this blood in the carport. To shoot a man down like he's a dog like that...the ultimate price that you could pay would be willing to die for what you believe.

Richie Havens (singing): I was standing by my window
On a cold and cloudy day
When I saw the hearse comin'
Just to take my mother away.

So I told the undertaker:
“undertaker please drive slow
For this body you are hauling
Lord, I hate, I hate to see her go”

Will the circle be unbroken?
By and by lord, by and by,
There's a better home a-waitin'
In the sky lord, in the sky.

Well I followed close behind her,
Tried to hold up and be brave,
But I could not hide my sorrow
When they laid her in the grave...

Slate: Emmett Till: beaten, shot
Virgil Ware: shot
James Reeb: bludgeoned
Mack Parker: lynched
Vernon Dahmer: burned
Oneal Moore: shot
Willie Brewster: shot
Louis Allen: shot
Henry Dee: drowned
Jimmie Lee Jackson: beaten, shot
Viola Liuzzo: shot
Willie Edwards Jr.: drowned
Rev. George Lee: shot
Cpl. Roman Ducksworth Jr.: beaten, shot
Herbert Lee: shot
Wharlest Jackson: bombed
Jonathan Daniels: shot
Samuel Younge Jr.: shot
Lt. Col. Lemuel Penn: shot
William Moore: shot
Cynthia Wesley, Addie Collins, Carole Robertson, Denise McNair: bombed

Richie Havens (singing):...In the sky, lord, in the sky.

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: Selma was a place where Dr. King and the rest of the Civil Rights Movement said "we're drawing a line in the sand." It was a marking point where the issue was joined as to whether or not Americans are going to extend the right to vote to everyone.

Lynda Lowery, Civil rights protestor: Selma, Alabama had this sheriff by the name of Jim Clark. Jim Clark was this big, mean white man. Like everybody was scared of this big, mean white man...

Sheriff Jim Clark (archival): I'm a segregationist and I say this: if my ancestors had not been segregationists, I might be a mulatto, and I'm proud to be a white man.

Rev. C.T. Vivian, Civil rights leader: He walked around with guns on his side. He thought he was Patton.

Rev. Harold Middlebrook, Student movement leader: I was staying with a couple of fellas who had come up to Birmingham while we were marching there. Jim Clark broke into the house that night with his deputies, and they were beating these two young men with tire irons. And they raised their hand to hit me with the tire iron and Jim Clark said, "don't hit that nigger with the tire iron -- that's Martin Luther Coon's nigger." And they went out and they got a rubber hose and started beating me around the stomach and the chest. You couldn't, you know, when you said to the media and anybody else, "they beat me," there are no bruises and no scars because the rubber hose left you sore on the inside but it didn't break the skin anywhere.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (archival): We will dramatize this whole situation and seek to arouse the conscious of the federal government by marching by the thousands on places of registration all over this state...

Rev. C.T. Vivian, Civil rights leader: The idea was to register to vote. So, go on up, stand at the door then. "We'll stand at the door as long as you can."

Joanne Bland, Selma protestor: As we climbed the steps of the courthouse, a woman ran to the door, and she had a piece of paper in her hand and she put it on the door. And as I got closer I could read it; it said "out to lunch." I remember thinking how "white people sure eat early." It was 9:30 in the morning.

"Bloody Sunday," Andrew Young and John Lewis address the crowd (archival): The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee has a statement...We the negro citizen of Dallas county and other Alabama Black Belt counties are marching today from Selma to Montgomery and to petition Governor George Wallace and the Alabama Legislature for redress of our grievance...

Lynda Lowery, Civil rights protestor: The day of the march we left the church singing "Ain't Nobody Gonna Turn Me Around."

Congressman John Lewis, Student movement leader: We were saying, "there'll be no turning back." We couldn't turn around.

Carlton Reese Memorial Unity Choir featuring Eloise Gaffney (singing): Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round,
Turn me round, turn me 'round.
Ain't gonna let nobody, turn me ‘round.
I'm gonna keep on a-walkin', keep on a-talkin',
Marchin' up to freedom land.

Ain't gonna let segregation turn me 'round,
Turn me 'round, turn me 'round.
Ain't gonna let segregation turn me 'round,
I'm gonna keep on a-walkin', keep on a-talkin'.
Marchin' up to freedom land...

Congressman John Lewis, Student movement leader: We had to march. Selma was a place where people could not register to vote. People had stood in unmovable lines. There was a tremendous amount of fear...

I remember when we arrived at the top of the bridge down below we saw a sea of blue. Alabama state troopers. You saw these men putting on their gas masks, and they came toward us. I was hit in the head by state trooper with a nightstick. I had a concussion at the bridge. I thought it was my last demonstration...thought I was going to die.

Lynda Lowery, Civil rights protestor: I was down on my knees and I felt something grab me on the back of my collar, and they had a hand on my lapel and they were pulling me backwards. I bit the hand that was on my lapel and I heard "nigger," and I was hit twice over my eye. I remember trying to get up, and I was running and I was running into the tear gas, and I was hit again...this person was hitting me as I was running. And when I got across the bridge I saw my sister Joanne. Joanne was nine years old at the time. I saw people putting her in the back of a white car, and I thought she was dead. I ran to that car and they said she had just fainted, so I was hitting her on her face and she opened her eyes and she looked at me...

Joanne Bland, Selma protestor: My head was in her lap and she was crying. And when I became fully awake I realized it wasn't her tears falling on my face, it was her blood.

Lynda Lowery, Civil rights protestor: ...I had seven stitches over my right eye, and I still have that scar. And I had to have 28 stitches in the back of my head, and I still have that knot in the back of my head. I was 14 years old and I wasn't doing anything to anybody.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (archival): We come down here this afternoon saying that we are tired of police brutality. So our mission is clear today: if they want to try to beat us, we are gonna leave them fluttered with their own barbarity, and we're gonna say to this nation and this world, "we ain't gonna let nobody turn us around." And today we march onto courthouse, but in the next few days we look forward to marching on to state house in larger numbers.

Newsreel, "Selma: President and the Nation Show Concern," March 15, 1965 (archival): Only once before has this president of the United States come at night to a joint session of Congress. But unlike the State of the Union occasion in January, Mr. Johnson now requests prompt passage of a strong bill that would strike down restrictions to voting in all elections...

Rev. C.T. Vivian, Civil rights leader: We were watching Johnson, and there was Martin of course and he was sitting in a chair right in front...

President Lyndon B. Johnson, March 15, 1965 (archival): Their cause must be our cause, too. Because it's not just negroes, but really it's all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.

Rev. C.T. Vivian, Civil rights leader: ...And when he said, "we shall overcome," he took on our song. Man, that was like lightning. And there was a silent tear going down Martin's cheek; that's what he'd waited for, that's what he'd hoped for, that's what he'd been fighting for, to make the government affirm us.

Newsreel, "The Selma March: Troops Guard Rights Marchers" (archival): The long anticipated freedom march from Selma to Alabama's capital of Montgomery finally gets under way. Now, they march under a federal court order and with the protection of federalized National Guard units and regular troops.

Chuck Neblett, Movement song leader: George Wallace said he had enough jails in Alabama to put everybody in jail. And you got on that bridge and you looked back and just people, people, people, and he couldn't put all those people in jail! Governor Wallace (singing)...

Lula Joe Williams, Civil rights protestor: Oh yeah we were singing, "pick 'em up and put 'em down" (singing)...

Lynda Lowery, Civil rights protestor: I ended up walking from Selma to Montgomery, and I was the youngest person to do so. I was determined to let Wallace see what he had done to me.

Harry Belafonte, Singer and activist: A lot of people spat on us. A lot of white Klanners were there, lot of white supremacists.

Archival: And further ahead still segregationists have been at work too, putting up posters on the roadside accusing Dr. Luther King of being Communist trained. Other propaganda too, this time from the air. Light planes are dropping leaflets calling on employers to sack their negro workers.

The Roots (singing): Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round,
Turn me round, turn me 'round.
Ain't gonna let nobody, turn me ‘round.
I'm gonna keep on a-walkin', keep on a-talkin',
Marchin' on to freedom land

Ain't gonna let no jailhouse turn me 'round,
Turn me round, turn me 'round.
Ain't gonna let no jailhouse, turn me 'round.
I’m gonna keep on a-walkin', keep on a-talkin',
Marchin' on to freedom land

Ain't can't let segregation turn me 'round,
Turn me 'round, turn me 'round.
Ain't gonna let segregation turn me 'round,
I'm gonna keep on a-walkin', keep on a-talkin'.
Marchin' on to freedom land

Lula Joe Williams, Civil rights protestor: It was nothing but jubilation!

Lynda Lowery, Civil rights protestor: When we were at the capital, and Wallace is up in the window, peeping behind the blinds, and he didn't come out to see my bandage on my head that covered the seven stitches.

Lula Joe Williams, Civil rights protestor: We had marched that 50 miles that they had told us we weren't gonna march.

Harry Belafonte, Singer and activist: They had to surrender the steps of the capital...it was a very triumphant moment.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (archival): They told us we wouldn't get here. There were those who said that we would get here only over their dead bodies. All the world today knows that we are here and we are standing before the forces of power in the state of Alabama saying, "we ain't gonna let nobody turn us around."

Harry Belafonte, Singer and activist: There was a doctor... nothing did for us what that did.

The Roots (singing): ...I'm gonna keep on a-walkin', keep on a-talkin', marchin' on to freedom land.

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: The day before we got to Montgomery, the Justice Department came to me and said, "we understand that there is an assassination plot against Dr. King." Preachers in those days for the most part, wore blue suits white shirts and ties. So I rounded up all of the preachers I could find, and I said, "we need you all to come and march on the front row with Dr. King." And I figured that if there was a sniper -- and they say all black folk look alike -- they might get the wrong one if they were shooting at anybody.

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: You can't imagine the number of threats against his life. I mean, you just can't believe. He said, "don't tell me about 'em, I don't want to hear 'em anymore."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (archival): The only way we can really achieve freedom is to somehow conquer the fear of death. For if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live.

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: His home had been bombed, he'd been stabbed...

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: He was autographing in New York, in Harlem. A demented black woman came up to him. She reached over the table and plunged this letter opener into his chest.

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: ...He would laugh and joke about being stabbed, and it was funny. He would say, "if you're gonna get stabbed, get stabbed in Harlem." They knew how to go in and remove a knife, and when they removed the knife the scar in his chest was shaped like a cross. He'd say, "every morning when I brush my teeth I have to look at the cross and realize that any day could be my last."

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: Who would have thought that in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee that garbage workers would have stood up against the man and said that "we are not working"?

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: Martin King wasn't supposed to go to Memphis. He decided at the last minute that he would go to Memphis and make a speech and then leave.

Harry Belafonte, Singer and activist: Dr. King saw it as poetic: "if I start with the most under-served, the most rejected, the most castaway of all -- garbage workers -- I've made my statement."

Rev. Harold Middlebrook, Student movement leader: And so on the day of the march we could feel the tenseness and the agitation even in the crowd.

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: Violence broke out. Some young fellas started taking the wood handles off the placards and breaking in windows.

Rev. Harold Middlebrook, Student movement leader: It was later that we found out that these young men had actually been planted to do this by the local authorities to discredit Dr. King.

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: Martin had been really sick. He had a very bad cold, he had a fever. Well, he was also depressed and he had been as low as I had ever seen him, simply because we had never had violence before.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 3, 1968 (archival): We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody I would like to live a long life. Longevity has it's place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over and I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight, that we as a people, will get to the promised land! So I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything! I'm not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: And we had to help him to his seat. He had just given all, given all, he had given out, and we helped him to his seat.

Slate: April 4, 1968

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: Martin was standing on the balcony and we were talking about whether or not he needed a coat...

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: ...And the shot rang out: KAPOW. I looked back and saw that he had been knocked back from the railing onto the floor.

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: I ran up the steps to the balcony and there he was laying there in his own blood.

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: There was a gaping hole in the right side of his face.

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: The bullet had nicked the tip of his chin and tore the whole half of his neck off. And you could see, you know, his vertebrae and spinal column.

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: You couldn't use the phone without the operator. I was beating on the wall saying, "answer the phone! Answer the phone!" And she never answered. When she heard the shot she left the switchboard, came out into the courtyard, looked up and saw Martin lying on the balcony, and she had a heart attack on the spot.

I took a spread from one the beds and covered him from his neck down. He never spoke a word.

Lula Joe Williams, Civil rights protestor: On the television there was a picture of Dr. King that came up, and then it just said, "The King is Dead."

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: We put his body on a mule train. We were walking along beside and we sang all of the songs of the movement.

John Legend (singing): Woke up this morning with my mind
Stayed on freedom
Woke up this morning with my mind
Stayed on freedom
Woke up this morning with my mind
Stayed on freedom
Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah.

I'm walking and talking with my mind
stayed on freedom
I'm walking and talking with my mind
stayed on freedom
I'm walking and talking with my mind
stayed on freedom
Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah.

Ain't nothing wrong with my mind stayed on freedom
Oh, there ain't nothing wrong with keeping my mind
Stayed on freedom
There ain't no harm with keeping your mind
Stayed on freedom
Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah.

I'm singing and praying with my mind
Stayed on freedom
Yeah, I'm singing and praying with my mind
Stayed on freedom
Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah.

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: They said, "we will shoot this dreamer, and see what happens to his dream."

John Seigenthaler, Aide to Attorney General Robert Kennedy: Oh, I remember Martin King saying last time he was at Vanderbilt University: "for those of you who are white -- and because of family considerations or business considerations or political considerations -- would like to help us but can't, let me tell you, we will liberate you." I know he gave his life not just to get equity for black people but to free the mind of white people who were punishing them.

Julian Bond, Student movement leader: Here are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They took a system of segregation that had been hundreds of years in place, and wiped it out. They wiped it out by using peaceful, non-violent means. They changed the character of the United States. We're not perfect, but we're in a very different place than we were before this movement came along.

Ambassador Andrew Young, Aide to Martin Luther King: It was one of America's finest hours. But it's not the end; it is still going on.

Lynda Lowery, Civil rights protestor: We need to keep fighting and we need to keep singing and putting in our spirit. We shall overcome.

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, Civil rights leader: You can kill the dreamer, but you absolutely cannot kill the dream.

Anthony Hamilton, Joss Stone, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Mary Mary, and John Legend (singing):
Deep in my heart I do believe
We shall overcome some day

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome
Some day

We'll walk hand in hand
Some day

We shall live in peace
Some day

We are not afraid
Today

The whole wide world around
Some day

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