The people who were on the sidelines watching the marches in any of the streets of the nation tended towards hating we who were marching, yelling out obscenities...throwing all kinds of things at us, and in general really hating those of us who were white and involved in the movement. They considered all of us as traitors to their cause, and lashed out at us long after the demonstrations and marches were over. There were many restaurants and stores where I could not go, the managers or owners saw to it that none of us were allowed to enter their establishments. The hatred of us lingered long after the movement was over, and even today there are whites who resent our involvement.
So we must have finished that up about 11 o'clock, and we were going to go home. Sam, and I, and his girlfriend, and her sister, we were in the car together. Sam was having an asthma attack, and he wanted to go by the office and pick up his breathalyzer. His girlfriend said, "You've got one at my house, so come on." I had this bad feeling. I told Sam, "Don't go back." I did everything to keep Sam from going by the office, and I begged his girlfriend. I said, "Don't let him go by the office." But we stopped at the office. I rose up from the back seat, and I said, "Don't let him get out. Don't let him get out of the car." And she said, "Sam." As soon as she said that, we heard this thundering noise. Both of the front side windows went out. If she hadn't leaned over to say something to Sam, and he hadn't leaned back toward her, his head would've been blown off. She saved his life. If she had been sitting over there, sitting straight up, it would've gotten her too.
So their car drove off. It was a station wagon. There was about four people in it. They drove off very slowly, because they thought they had really done their work. And I was either crazy or angry. I jumped out and ran down the street throwing bricks at the car. They sped up, but that was a close call. Came close to death at that particular point. So yeah, it was directly at us personally.
And the second time, that was the spring of '64, when we were getting ready to go to Oxford, Ohio to do an orientation with the students that was going to come down for the Freedom Summer project. We stopped outside of Columbus, Mississippi. They took us to jail, took us out, beat us up, and the next day they had a trial. And miraculously, a telephone call came while they were getting ready to start trying us, because they were going to send us to the county farm so they could kill us. But our lawyer got us out. We had about $15 that they had taken, and that's what they charged us for the fine. Those are the main two times that we thought that it was over.
In the more common use of the word 'violence,' I was even luckier. Once was I roughed-up, presumably by KKKers, at the place in Demopolis that is still called "Confederate Square." Another time sheriff's deputies repeatedly slammed me against the frame of their patrol car as they put me inside, though I was submitting peacefully. Their rough-housing cracked my right wrist.
A few months later, after attending a meeting at the 16th Avenue Baptist Church with Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Martin Luther King, I crossed the street and went into a restaurant, taking a seat with an African-American journalist from Detroit. While having lunch (I was the only white person in the restaurant), I was approached by two Alabama State Troopers with German Shepherds, who proceeded to chase me out of the restaurant and through the alleys (but with their dogs restrained). I was not injured but certainly scared, hiding at the Trailways Bus Depot atop a toilet in the men's room until I was able to catch a bus back to Florence.