Fifty-one years ago this month, Studs was in Montgomery, Alabama talking with people who had just marched from Selma to Montgomery, others who were joining the movement in Montgomery, and Montgomery natives both for and against the march.

Abernathy family with Dr. and Mrs. King leading the march from Selma to Montgomery.

Abernathy family with Dr. and Mrs. King leading the march from Selma to Montgomery.

Studs recorded nine programs’ worth of interviews in Montgomery, capturing the candid voices of a nation undergoing a great change.  Reminiscent of today’s campaign trail interviews, these Montgomery interviews include voices of hope and voices of hate.

Today we’re featuring the second program in the series.  Studs is at the home of his unnamed host (well, it slips out partway through, but we get the feeling it’s not supposed to), a bustling place that sounds full of people with even more calling every few minutes.  He first speaks to Rachel and Sarah, two college students who joined the march and were arrested and sent to jail for their trouble.  Next, he speaks with a middle aged woman who has returned to her home in Alabama after living many years in California.  She is familiar with the perspective of upper-middle class Montgomery citizens, and gives some insight into it.  In fact, she is so closely tied with that world that she decides not to attend the final rally: “I would alienate myself from my family… I would lose my job… and I would be criticized by my friends.”

Finally, he speaks with the host.  This man had a career in Washington, D.C., including time spent on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration.  He is a proud Southerner, and offers a thoughtful account of Southern identity as well as a broader view of the problems in the South.  What it all comes down to, he believes, is passivity and fear: “We got afraid to think anymore.  Not only to express our opinions, but soon we got so we can’t think.”

Photo credit: By Abernathy Family (Abernathy Family Photos) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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