Studs Terkel called me and asked me to escort Alvin Albright, Clinton King and some other Chicago artists down to Selma. “These guys need somebody to take care of them,” Studs told me. Chad and the group were already there; they had come down on the bus with Belafonte. So we all flew together and got a hotel and went to Selma and marched.
It was a big, impressive march, but it was the wrong type of performance altogether. You had a crowd of mostly rural southern blacks, trying to listen to Peter, Paul & Mary and the Mitchell Trio. (At least there was Sammy Davis.) It all had an air of incongruity to it. But that didn’t take away from the value of their presence. What was important was that all these people showed up, and these southerners who had just taken their battle to a new level could feel that, at least for a moment, they weren’t alone.
After the march, Clinton King, Chad and I drove to Atlanta together. Everybody had dispersed. That was scary. Suddenly, released from the solidity of the mass, we realized we were in enemy country. Later on we found out about what had happened to Viola Lucey.
Those kids went through all the problems related to developing a movement in the 60s: feminism, racism, and whether they solved them or not, they were the early soldiers in the civil rights movement, and most of them were casualties. If anybody should get pensions, they should. In the beginning they played totally by the rules, did everything the way they were supposed to, and white society, instead of acknowledging the justice of their demands, all they did was terrorize and kill people.
The types they developed were the ones you see when a movement is at its high point. It makes people better than they are. Even I could see that in SNCC, even though I was a spectator and a voyeur.