tv Oral History with Selma Native Joyce Parrish O Neal CSPAN May 19, 2018 4:51pm-5:11pm EDT
government.humb on he believed the federal government could work well if it was well led. >> q and a, sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span. >> there is no constitutional issue here. the command of the constitution is plain. issue.s no moral it is wrong. any of your to deny fellow americans the right to vote in this country. [applause] >> on march 15, 1965, lyndon b. johnson addressed congress urging them to pass what would become the voting rights act of 1965. one womane her from as she describes life in selma before the act was passed.
remember when i became of age to vote. my mother said, let's go. it is time to register. i remember when i went to vote, and i cast that ballot, i had a sense of pride. first, it was no hassle. i just registered. a graveoted, it was feeling, and all of those days, and everything that had been done to get to that point, i was a part of. so it was really special to be able to cast that ballot. the historic round chapel african methodist need a simple church in alabama.
-- methodist church in alabama. we go way back to the start of start ofh, it was the social action and the need for african-americans to worship in peace, and worship in their own way. it was historic. also, in 1965, because of the church opening its door, went three more african-americans were for bit in from gathering together and meeting together. in one place. i'm originally from dallas county. my mother's side of the county is from dallas county, and the other side is from ohio. my father was reared in ohio. he did not experience the same thing that my mother did growing up.
there was racism where he lived but he went to an integrated high school, where he was one of the few african-americans in his high school. on the other hand, my mother, grew up in a segregated south, where everything was separate but unequal. the two sides of the family had different history. south,up in segregated where everything was separate, but unequal. i went to a segregated high ,chool, and grew up in a time where we went downtown and into a store, my mother was constantly telling us to keep our hands to our self, because if you touch something, and you are african-american, you can be accused of stealing, and the police would be called. when it was just curiosity of a little girl trying to see what something felt like. the jim crow south was a time
when african-americans could not do a lot of things. primarily the water fountains but, aarate restrooms, lot of times, you do not hear a lot about other everyday occurrences that happen, during jim crow. off of theetting sidewalk in meant a white female, or not being able to walk on the sidewalk. in front of a business. separate seating in movie theaters. but, in selma, at that time, selma had a self-contained community, and in that community, there was a movie theater in the black community. there were drugstores, we had , so we, we had dentists could get the things we needed without having to go downtown.
to live in the jim crow south as well, there were places where african-americans could not eat. downtown,a business that sold hamburgers, and blacks had to go to the back to a little window to order hamburgers. i never went because my mother made the hamburgers at home. goingid, before she was to subject her doctor to that kind of treatment, she would make hamburgers, whatever they we wanted, and not have to allow us to go downtown and experience that treatment. those are the kind of things that happened, but i don't remember --my memory from the not impacted, because i did not realize the want in what i was missing because it seemed
like i had everything. 1965, i was 15 years old and a junior in high school. my mother was a teacher at the high school, and could not vote. every time she went to the courthouse, to attempt to register, her application was a waste and denied, regardless of the questions she was given that they -- that day. so, we were all for the movement, the voting rights movement. it became known to us as simply, the movement. in my household, we never missed a mass meeting. my mother was working during the day at the high school, and my grandmother lived with us and she would sometimes come down to the church with us. when we came to the church, we would go to this church or first baptist on the corner. corner, a committee was
headed there and that is where we would go to be trained in how to protect ourselves in case we by debit is with billy clubs and that sort of thing. then, we would come to brown's chapel and leave this church in the courthouse with signs that said, let's my mother vote. we would make our own signs to take to the courthouse. that was practically an everyday occurrence. to go to the courthouse, there was walking into the courthouse, a lot of people were arrested. a lot of times people were beaten in the courthouse. you areever knew, when marching on a given day, whether you would be arrested, or whether you would be hit with a billy club.
fortunately, i was never hit. i was not arrested. my sister was arrested along with my best friend. i did not go to jail, but i did march. and i participated in some of the other -- what we call significant marches. ♪ >> the role of the churches was to open their doors, but more importantly, a lot of people saw the voting movement as a political movement, and it was not. it was a spiritual movement with social and political consequences. it was grounded in the religion
because of the meetings held in church, they were very spiritual, lots of singing, praying, script reading, -- scripture reading. they were old negro spirituals. they were freedom songs. they were grounded in negro spirituals. the movement was largely spiritual. sd churche played a role -- the churches played a role in giving a place for the mass meeting. the pastors were involved in the movement. the movement was largely made up of the pastors in the churches in this area. heme running through most of the speeches, that african-americans were important
people, and that we deserved real freedom and, the freedom to do all the things that had been denied us down through the years. that theme ran throughout. a theme that ran throughout dr. king's teachings when he spoke or preached was the nonviolence, and to turn the other cheek. , although not easily accepted by many, was easily accepted by most of us, because we knew that violence would not bring peace. it would only bring more violence. more specific training for young people on how to protect yourself if you were margin and -- you were marching and
accosted by those with billy clubs, how to get down and cover your head. they taught us it was important to cover your head so your head did not receive those blows from the billy club, and how to react if you were stuck with a cattle prod. walking into the church, we would have to walk through what was called a white citizens council. they would be on horseback. they people who had been deputized to intimidate. they would be on horseback on the corners. we had to walk through them, that group, in order to get to the church. we were taught not to engage them, not to make eye contact, but to keep walking and keep focus on reaching the church safely. that was the group in selma call ed the courageous eight. sixas 6 million and -- was men and two women.
foster marched the entire distance from selma to montgomery, and she was fully an adult at that time. church,re women in this one of them was our youth director, margaret jones moore. you don't hear a lot about her. you hear about phillips robinson on the bridge down on bloody sunday. margaret jones moore was on that ground too. moore had on a white coat as well. both had fallen and beaten down on that bridge. market jones moore was a stalwart of the movement.
she taught me english in 11th grade. even at that time when we were not at the church in other schools, she would talk about the freedoms that we needed to enjoy. she would talk to her students about what special people they were, and never to let anybody diminish you. that you were a strong person, you were a great person, and just because you were african-american did not mean you are any less than anyone else in this world. we really understood what the purpose was. we understand intimately what our mission was, and what the outcome was we were working towards. knew, especially after bloody sunday, that we were making history. it is unfortunate that bloody sunday had to happen. we did know prior to bloody
sunday when we were marching and afterwards that this was a history making movement. after the successful march from selma to montgomery, there was a great feeling of accomplishment. that was my personal feeling. permeatedat feeling the city, that we had accomplished something. and not just the city, because people came from everywhere to assist with the voting rights movement at bloody sunday. lots of people came into selma to assist. i think for everybody that was involved, and even for those who were on the sidelines, there was a great sense of accomplishment. we had been told that we could not do it, that it would not be done. there was a lot of pushback from the governor, and also from lyndon johnson, who did not want that march to happen. but it occurred.
it was successful. i think about 25,000 people marched that day to the capital. it was a great sense we had done what we set out to do in that respect. we knew the flight was not over, because the voting rights bill had not been passed at that time. we knew the eyes of the world were on selma. we were hoping and praying the voting rights bill was passed. that would be the final fruition of what we had done in the march to montgomery. i think we can learn from the movement that when people come together for a common cause and change can be effected and people believe strongly in a cause, they can work together to change things. that is what the movement taught us. i don't think change can be
affected in the same way today. i think change has to come from the ballot box. if you want change, you have to elect people who are willing to enact laws that will protect everybody, and that will be for everybody, and not just a faction of the nation. we've got to have people in office who are willing to stand for what is right and not stand for party, but to stand for what is right and what is in the best interest of the majority of the citizens of these great united states.
>> her cities tour staff recently traveled to soma, alabama to -- our cities tour staff recently traveled to selma alabama. find more on c-span.org/citiestour. you're watching american history tv, on c-span3. >> sunday night on afterwards barbara ehrenreich with her book "natural causes." is one of the jobs of being old, is passing the torch, taking what you know and have accomplished or want done and passing it on to younger hands. host: watch afterwards sunday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2's book tv.
c-span3's american history tv we are also taking your questions and comments, your vote i should say c-span history. the question is, which party changed the most since 1968? >> thanks to everyone who voted in america in turmoil. votes ranged from the vietnam war to the presidential election to women's rights and race relations. you can tweet us, see videos of upcoming programs, or look back to what happened on the state in american history. history.er @cspan host: henry kissinger was
secretary of state under ford.ent's nixon and american history tv was at the organization of american historians annual meeting in sacramento, california, where we spoke with professor daniel sargent about kissinger's influence on u.s. foreign-policy. this is about 15 minutes. daniel sargent, professor of history at uc berkeley. the book is titled "a superpower transformed: the remaking of american foreign relations in the 1970's." a key player, secretary of state henry kissinger. what new have you learned about his role, his influence, and his tenure under two republican administrations? daniel: a great deal. during the research that ultimately resulted in this book -- i was able to read thousands of new documents, memoranda of telephone conversations -- i think there is an enormous amouis