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Rev. John Rutland

Rev. John Rutland

BCRI Oral History Collection
Transcript
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00:00:25 - Interview Begins: Community Response to Civil Rights Movement Activism

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Partial Transcript: Rev. Rutland, you described the time leading up to some of the racial confrontation in the City of Birmingham as a lonely time prior to that. A time when you had to say things that were on your conscious. Why did you call it a lonely time?

Segment Synopsis: Rev. Rutland describes why he felt he had to take an active role during the Civil Rights Movement.

Keywords: African Americans--Segregation; Birmingham (Ala.)

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights--Southern States; Pentecostal churches--United States--Clergy--Biography; Race relations--Religious aspects--Christianity

GPS: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Map Coordinates: 33.516200, -86.813870
Hyperlink: BCRI Homepage
00:02:44 - Church Response to Civil Rights Activism

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Partial Transcript: Why were you not told to be quiet or else leave the church?

Segment Synopsis: Rev. Rutland describes Methodist leadership's response to his activism, and his congregation's response to his social justice work.

Keywords: Hughes, L. Robert; Race relations--Religious aspects--Christianity

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights--Southern States; United Methodist Church (U.S.)

00:05:50 - Threats of Violence and Police Protection

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Partial Transcript: How did you respond to that? Was your life ever threatened?

Segment Synopsis: Rev. Rutland discusses threats against his family (due to his vocal support of the Civil Rights Movement), and shares a story about a time when the Birmingham Police offered protection.

Keywords: Birmingham (Ala.). Department of Public Safety; Connor, Theophilus E. "Bull"; Ku Klux Klan (1915- ); Lindberg, Robert

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.). Police Department; Race relations in the United States

00:08:24 - Freedom Rides: Mother's Day 1961

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Partial Transcript: Let's look a little bit at what happened in 1961, because that turned the tide. By this time Lindberg is out. Bull Conner is in. He is coming to your church every Sunday and where was he that famous Mother's Day when all of the busses...

Segment Synopsis: Rev. Rutland describes the Freedom Ride busses that arrived at his church on Mother's Day 1961, and his subsequent interaction with Bull Connor.

Keywords: African Americans--Civil rights--Southern States; Birmingham (Ala.). Police Department; Connor, Theophilus E. "Bull"; Cross Burnings; Methodist Church (U.S.). North Alabama Conference; Race relations--Religious aspects--Christianity; United Methodist Church (U.S.); United States--Race relations--Political aspects

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights; Freedom Rides, 1961

00:12:39 - Reflections on Bull Connor and Alabama Politics

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Partial Transcript: I have to admit, I was surprised. I didn't think Mr. Connor would, and I doubt if he meant for it to turn out as bad as it did. I think it's just like letting a snowball start down a hill and just picking up people who were involved, just getting worse than he thought they would.

Segment Synopsis: Rev. Rutland reflects on politics and race in Alabama during the 1960s and afterward.

Keywords: Republican Party (Ala.); White supremacy movements--United States

Subjects: Connor, Theophilus E. "Bull"; United States--Race relations--Political aspects

00:16:25 - Civil Rights, the Church, and Birmingham

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Partial Transcript: So what do you see happened? There came a time of almost peace in Birmingham if you could say that.

Segment Synopsis: Rev. Rutland discusses the interconnectedness of race, politics and the church.

Keywords: Alabama Council on Human Relations; Hughes, L. Robert; Shores, Arthur D. (Arthur Davis), 1904-1996

Subjects: Race relations--Religious aspects--Christianity; United Methodist Church (U.S.)

00:20:32 - Family History, Upbringing, and Education

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Partial Transcript: Let's go back again to your upbringing if we can, pastor.

Segment Synopsis: Rev. Rutland describes growing up in segregated Haleyville, Alabama.

Keywords: Birmingham-Southern College; Education--Southern States; Families--United States--History--20th century; Haleyville (Ala.)

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Southern States; Methodist Church--United States--Clergy--Biography

00:21:57 - Early Preaching and Activism in the Church

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Partial Transcript: What about when you got your first church? Where was your first church?

Segment Synopsis: Rev. Rutland discusses his early days as a minister, when he first began speaking and preaching against racial injustice.

Keywords: African Americans--Employment--Law and legislation; African Americans--Segregation; Labor unions--United States--History--20th century; United Mine Workers of America

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights--Southern States; United Methodist Church (U.S.)

00:25:34 - Living with Threats of Violence

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Partial Transcript: Did you ever fear for your life, for your wife's life, enough to keep you from taking a stand?

Segment Synopsis: Rev. Rutland describes the threats of violence that he and his family received as a result of his work supporting desegregation.

Keywords: Ku Klux Klan (1915- ); Threats of violence; White Citizens councils; White nationalism

Subjects: Civil rights movements--United States

00:27:31 - Deciding to Leave the Woodlawn Methodist Church

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Partial Transcript: But, (indecipherable name) says in the book -- and the name is something that escapes me now -- that they ran you out of the Woodlawn church, which you're saying is not true. Let's correct it for the record.

Segment Synopsis: Rev. Rutland discusses his decision to leave the Woodlawn Church.

Keywords: African Americans--Civil rights--Southern States; African Americans--Segregation; White Citizens councils

Subjects: Race relations--Religious aspects--Christianity; Southern States--Religion; United Methodist Church (U.S.)

00:33:18 - Reflections on Christian Churches and Race Relations

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Partial Transcript: So do you think that the Methodist Church or Christian churches are coming around in any way?

Segment Synopsis: Rev. Rutland reflects on the impact of Christian religious organizations on racial justice.

Keywords: American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.; United Methodist Church (U.S.)

Subjects: Race relations--Religious aspects; Southern States--Religion

00:34:38 - Reflections on Life's Work

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Partial Transcript: Looking back on this, I don't look at myself as being anything courageous or more wise or better than other people who were not doing anything.

Segment Synopsis: Rev. Rutland reflects on his work and shares a concluding story.

Keywords: African Americans--Civil rights; Birmingham (Ala.). Police Department; Ku Klux Klan (1915- )

Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.)

00:36:56 - Interview Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Thank you for letting me do this.

Segment Synopsis: The interview is concluded.

Subjects: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Ala.)