J.L. Chestnut, Civil Rights activist, on the stand at the schoolhouse door
Q:What about the stand in the schoolhouse door? Where were you?
On that day I was in my office watching carefully, trying to see how Robert Kennedy's Department of Justice would handle that situation. But I knew that Wallace was a great actor. I also knew that the Kennedy boys were trying to work out something with him. I also knew that if they went too far with Wallace, he would only take that and go even further. So I was hoping that they would not give the store away. I had no thoughts that they were going to let Wallace prevail. They couldn't afford to do that. So the question in my mind was how far are they going to go with it? What has Wallace worked out with them? And then, after watching it for about 30 seconds, I knew it was all a charade. There was Wallace with his little lecturn, made his little speech. There was Nicholas Katzenbach to make his little speech and all of that. So I was uplifted by that because I knew that these people would go on into the University. What I didn't anticipate, though, was what did happen. And I blame Wallace for that. And had that been handled differently, we could have avoided all of that bloodshed, whatever else went on negative down there at the University. All that was done to give him a platform that he could appeal to the rest of the country, remain governor as long as he wanted, even try to be president. That's all that was about. And it's a tragedy.