Excerpt from Interview of Wiley Austin Branton by James Mosby, January 16, 1969. The Civil Rights Documentation Project, MSRC.

 

MOSBY:      You said a few moments ago, Mr. Branton, that the then Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked you to come by his office when you were in Washington to discuss with you the possibility of accepting the post as director of the Voter Education Project. In light of that, why was the Attorney General, to your knowledge, so much concerned with the project.

BRANTON:      I think he had come to recognize from his position as Attorney General that discrimination in registration in voting was one of the major problems confronting this country; and that if you could get large numbers of Negroes in the South registered and voting, that through political power a lot of these problems of civil rights would be settled in the South. Because if your sheriffs, school boards, everybody else had to come through all the voters, including black voters, their whole attitude would change. And he felt then that it was a very worthwhile project and he had given it his personal endorsement, and I think even participated in some of the early discussions abut the need for such a project. Now he didn't know me, personally, and I was not recruited by him. It's just that when the people in Atlanta found out that I was in Washington and they let him know that I was being considered for this other job, I think they asked him to try and intercede since I was in Washington, to see if he could somehow or other persuade me to become more interested in taking the job in Atlanta.

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November 1999