Rational Thinking Despite Fear

Ozell Sutton
CRS Mediator, Atlanta Office 

[Full Interview]

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Later on, the Klan surrounded the hotel room, but that's another story. The Klan surrounded the place, and we were in the room, and we moved in the room together. Fred said, "What do we do now, Ozell?" I said, "Well, I don't know Fred, we gotta do something." He said, "Well, we could call the police." I said, "Oh no, they're Klan too." You're just opening the door to the Klan by calling the police. He says, "We could call the F.B.I." I says, "They're Klan sympathizers down here, so they may not come and get us. The trouble is, anybody we call we got to go through switchboard, and that gives us another problem." I came up with an idea: I called the Department of Justice and I got our secretary. There were no high ranking blacks in the Department of Justice at that time. I said, "Lady, what I need to talk about, I'm not ready to talk about it to you. Furthermore, you can't help me. I want you to look outside the window somewhere, and find a black janitor or a handyman somewhere, preferably middle-aged. Don't ask me to explain all of this, just do it for me." And she did, she found a janitor, he was forty or fifty years old. When he came and said, "Hello," I said, "Ooday ooyay eekspay iglatinpay?" He answered me in pig-Latin! I told him in pig-Latin where I was. I said, "I want you to leave this phone and get on a private phone. I want you to call Roger Wilkins, and I want you to tell him what our situation is. Make sure that nobody hears you when you make the call and just leave it there. He'll take care of it." So he did. He went and he called Roger, and in about thirty minutes, U.S. Marshals came over and escorted us out of the hotel. So don't tell me I don't speak a foreign language, I speak the ghetto language. I want you to know I spoke some beautiful pig-Latin that day.