Selma Times Cover Pg no red marks copyAn excerpt  from J.L. Rainey’s Journal, Selma, Alabama, March 1965, from the novel, The Clock Of Life, by Nancy Klann-Moren.

My posts will include both J.L.’s journal entries, and actual articles from The Selma Times-Journal each day until he reaches Montgomery.

This was day three after he arrived in Selma to take part in the right-to-vote march to Montgomery.  One day after Bloody Sunday

 Mon, Mar 8, 4 pm ― Haven’t moved off Spam’s couch all day (it’s my bed, too). Still in shock about yesterday, playing it over and over in my head. Still sore as hell. Shoulder’s still throbbing like a mother, even with a double dose of codeine. Still proud, and still pissed. Nonviolence, my ass.

Wanted to tell Cassie about the biggest day of my life so far. Tell her how much I miss her and wish she was here too, but I’ll have to walk a couple blocks to a phone booth because Spam doesn’t have one. Maybe tomorrow.

Mon, Mar 8, 9 pm ― Found out Spam’s real name is Arnold Jefferson Monroe. How about that for a name—a traitor and two presidents. And I came to understand the reason for his nickname, and the extra 45 pounds. Spam and eggs for breakfast, a deviled Spam sandwich for lunch, then Spamburgers and Southern Comfort for dinner.

We ate in front of the TV and watched the lead story on the NATIONAL news. Our story! Right there on TV we watched the whole mess. Heard the screams. Saw the horses stampede, and the smoke so thick it looked like footage of a war. My lungs burned again, just watching. Then, lo-and-behold, I saw myself getting clubbed. I’d worried about the little girl, and just about cheered when I saw a man pick her up and run with her. We switched from ABC to NBC to CBS and back again.

Spam and I passed the whiskey between us and celebrated like the march was a success. Then it dawned on me that Cassie probably watched me being clobbered on TV. Signing off to find that pay phone.

P.S.

Cassie saw the news. Wants me to come back NOW, but that ain’t going to happen.

 

The next afternoon, March 9, 1965, the Selma-Times Journal ran this story :

Selma Times, March 9, 1965 Top strip

Johnson Urges Calmness For Situation HerePresident Johnson deplored police brutality against Negroes in Selma, Ala., and called on Negro and white leaders there “to approach this tense situation with calmness, reasonableness and respect for law and order.”

Johnson, in a statement, also announced he has directed the Justice Department to act as a “friend of the court” seeking a ruling that would permit Negroes to exercise that he themed their right “to walk from Selma to Montgomery in order to focus attention on their efforts to secure the right to register and vote.”

Press secretary George E. Reedy made it clear that Johnson wanted civil rights leaders to obey any court order banning such a march, however.  An order against the march was issued in Montgomery, Ala, today by U.S. Dist. Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr.

Johnson also disclosed that he will submit to Congress next week a special message designed to “make it possible for every citizen to vote.”  Johnson, in referring to Sunday’s violence in Selma said, “I am certain Americans everywhere join in deploring the brutality with which a number of Negro citizens of Alabama were treated when they sought to dramatize their deep and sincere interest in attaining the precious right to vote.”  Johnson said that, “ever since the events of Sunday afternoon, the administration has been in close touch with the situation and has made every effort to prevent a repetition.”

Reedy said the President’s plea for leaders to be calm, reasonable, and show respect for law and order had been conveyed both to Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace and to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., leader of the Selma demonstrations.  He did not say how the views had been conveyed.

Johnson phrased his appeal in these words:  “I urge all who are in positions of leadership and capable of influence the conduct of others to approach this tense situation with calmness, reasonableness and respect for law and order.”

Before issuing the statement, Johnson had talked over the Selma situation with Democratic congressional leaders.  House Speaker John W. McCormack of Massachusetts told reporters that “every effort is being made to” he stopped there and didn’t elaborate.  Then he added: “There is a profound appreciation of the acuteness of the situation.

Senate Democratic Leader Mike Mansfield of Montana was no more specific.  “The President,” he said, “is in touch with Mr. (atty. Gen. Nicolas) Katzenbach and others and is following developments on an hour by hour basis.  Katzenbach has said the federal government has “a limited authority and a limited capacity to act” in the situation.

Mc Cormack repeated what he had said previously about the violence in Selma Sunday when state troopers broke up a Negro march on the state capital, Montgomery.  He called it “a disgraceful exhibition of arbitrary power.”

Calls for federal action came from members of Congress and leaders.  Intervention also was demanded by a group of pro-civil-rights demonstrators who camped outside Katzenbach’s office at the Justice Department late Monday.  Police shoved and dragged a score of them from the building when they refused to leave 3 ½ hours after closing time.

Earlier Katzenbach had told the group of about 20 that he would not be influenced by their demonstration. “I have responsibilities to fulfill and decisions to make . . .that will not be influenced one way or another just because you’re going to sit here all night.”

Leave a Reply