Viewing page 1 of 19

Playback Speed: 100%

This transcription has been completed. Contact us with corrections.

Transcription: {SPEAKER name="John Lewis"}
Will let him come into her house. 'Cause it's a two way street!
Seems to me any woman that'll let him know that these cops arrestin' us around here then invite them in through the back door at night.
{SPEAKER name="John Lewis"}
It's a sin and a shame! And if you know em tell em I said they ought to be run out of town! [[applause]]
And here we are.
Here we are.
Well we uh pay 'em they can work for us, they don't have to be gettin' no dollar quarter we pay 'em two dollars a day! Work for freedom, they don't have to do that.
{SPEAKER name="John Lewis"}
So we come on down.
We come on down to the second World War, skip over the first World War.
Well we gotta under understand this, that after the first World War primarily a lotta people began leavin' the south land, goin' up north!
{SPEAKER name="John Lewis"}
'Cause the war had produced certain changes, and that's where my mama and papa went, away from the delta!
Left my grandmama and all the rest of the relatives down here, and they would write letters occasionally, and you know what I'm talking about 'cause you got brothers and sisters and sons and daughters and everybody else up there in Chicago too. And I know you know what I'm talking about!
And sometimes you wonder well don't they ever think about us down here. Don't they ever realize that we sweatin' and toil all these years to try to give em an education, we did our best! We know we's failed sometimes!
Now they sittin up there in the cities look like they would come on down and help us, a little bit. I know how it is!
{SPEAKER name="John Lewis"}
'Cause after all I'm from the soil too. And I know what you're going through, and I know what I'm going through.
But in the meantime we start flooding into the cities.
And we start getting a little political power.
And we start electing some Uncle Tom politicians, that's right! Up there in the north they got some Uncle Tom politicians!
And brother Jordan is absolutely right there's no point in everybody here coming out to these meetings being shot at, going through all this trouble to elect some Negro who's gon be an Uncle Tom to get all the money for himself! You see? [[NO!]]
{SPEAKER name="John Lewis"}
So we got to watch him! That's right.
We got to watch our black brothers.
Watch who leadin you!
You see when all the fire's over I know I got a cousin used to live up there I went up to him I said why don't you register to vote? Well I'm waitin' 'til the fire goes out the thing is too hot now. And I said well man we don't need you when it cools down!
{SPEAKER name="John Lewis"}
We need ya now!
So I would say to him and he's my cousin don't come runnin' with ya bucket after the fire's out, and you watch him!
They gon all come all these uneducated teachers, and all these [[??]] preachers gon be runnin' when you win this battle! They gon be tryin' to get in the front!
I'm tellin you you gotta watch em!
{SPEAKER name="John Lewis"}
They gon be the ones that wanna go down and sit in the city council.
They gon be the ones that are gonna wanna run for the city legislature, they gon say you uneducated, I got a degree from MVC!
You see? And I ought to represent you. But don't you let em fool you, if you can come out here night after night in these meetings, you've got enough sense to do anything that an 8th grader got like Bull O'Connor in Birmingham, Alabama, he ain't got no education.
[[No!]] See? It don't take a whole lotta stuff to run that city -

Transcription Notes:
Not sure how to document applause. At one point toward the end someone in the audience shouts "No!", wasn't sure how to transcribe that. The end also cuts off mid-word MVC - Mississippi Vocational College now Mississippi Valley State University Bull O'Connor - Bull Connor

Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact