Peter Kellman

SNCC 1965-66, Alabama
449 Maple St
North Berwick, ME 03906
Email: kellman3333@gmail.com
Phone: 207-676-3356

Freedom Movement Memories

I have written several books on the Labor Movement but as yet nothing on my time in the Civil Rights Movement. Maybe this year.

The New England Committee for Non-violent Action sent me down after Rev Reeb was murdered. I took a bus down by myself and walked from the bus station in Selma over to Browns Chapel. I was sent over to Mary Kings house at 1416 St Philips to board for the duration, I stayed there on and off for part of two years. After I moved in Mary married James Stallworth. Mary died many years ago and Mr James two years ago.

I was put in charge of 50 seminarians and the actor Gary Merrill to clean up the campsites and put up the tents for the marchers to sleep in. Your description of the mud and the straw in your book brought back to me the conditions people endured during the March. The crew I worked with went back to Selma every night and then were brought to the new campsite the next morning. As you described it was a very wet time. Several days after the March all the callouses on my feet came off from being constantly wet.

When we returned from Montgomery my job was to stand guard at the entrance to the room in the church basement up the street from Browns Chapel.

I some point I noticed a young black man in the street. He seemed to be in shock and so I went over to him and saw that he had dried blood on his clothes. I brought him downstairs to the people in the room cordinating rides and went back outside. Shortly thereafter a white man came up to me and identified himself as a Selma police detective. He asked me if I had seen Leroy Moton. I said no and he pushed me aside and went downstairs where Leroy was being interviewed by the people in the office.

I followed him down the stairs. Someone asked the detective why he was looking for Leroy Moton and I will never forget the answer, "The FBI asked us to look for him." The question in my mind then was how did the FBI already know what happened? Of course we know the answer now.

I have no memory of what happened next. [The website says] that Leroy was arrested when he returned to Selma. It may be that the detective took him when he left. I have no memory of what happened after I heard the deceives response.

After the march, I spent some time with Chuck Fager and others with some students at Selma University and then went on to build a Freedom Library on First St. with Dennis Coleman, Donna Smith and others. (I'm still in touch with Dennis but have not been able to locate Donna).

I then went on to work with SNCC trying to organize a Black Panther Party in Sumter County. As you know, Leroy went on to work for SCLC and I saw him once again in York, Alabama (he did remember me from "That Night") where SCLC was working on getting people to register to vote and join the Democratic Party and I was working to get people to register to vote and join the Black Panther Party.


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