Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Arthur Shores, July 17, 1974. Interview A-0021. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Martin Luther King's direct action works where lawsuits do not

Martin Luther King did not contribute to the development of black politics in Alabama, Shores argues, but he did play a significant role in getting results for the civil rights movement through direct action after years of litigation was failing to earn dividends.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Arthur Shores, July 17, 1974. Interview A-0021. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK BASS:
What was King's role and influence in the development of black politics in Alabama?
ARTHUR SHORES:
Practically none. His greatest role was in his motivation of his direct action, nonviolence. Which was quite a role.
JACK BASS:
Sort of dramatized the whole struggle.
ARTHUR SHORES:
Yes, that's right. I've been associated for 20 years with Marshall, who's on the Supreme Court now, and unknown who's judge in the district court and others who . . . federal judgeships now. And over the years we went into the courts. But that was time consuming. You would win a case but it applied only . . . you got the precedent, but it applied only to the local situation. You would have to move from even city to city for integrating the schools or county to county or state to state. Like when blacks were denied the right to enter into the universities. I mean you get a decision to enter this state university here, but you still got to file a suit in an adjoining state. When they filed a suit in the University of Alabama there were riots. Had to close the school down. And didn't help the next, adjoining state. They had to do the same thing. Mississippi, Georgia. But when it came to direct action, finally saw the results of those civil rights legislation.