Not All the Leaders Were Nonviolent
James Forman and much of the SNCC staff from Selma, who distrusted King more than ever after the turnaround, were eager to find a separate course. During SNCC protests near the capitol complex in Montgomery, some protesters threw bricks and bottles at police who beat them from mounted horses. At a mass meeting, Forman angrily demanded that President Johnson act to protect demonstrators, and warned that “If we can’t sit at the table of democracy, we’ll knock the f*cking legs off.” King wasn’t pleased by Forman’s rejection of nonviolence—but he did join Forman at a march to the county courthouse with 2,000 people.
Activists Actually Staged a Protest Inside the White House, Pissing Off President Johnson
On March 11, seven Selma solidarity activists staged a sit-in the East Wing of the White House until they were arrested. In addition, dozens of other protesters also attempted to occupy the White House that weekend but were stopped by guards—so they blocked Pennsylvania Avenue instead. When President Johnson met the next day with a group of civil rights leaders—including Bishop Paul Moore, Reverend Robert Spike, and SNCC representative H. Rap Brown—he actually complained to them about the White House protests by saying they were disturbing his family. Unmoved, the activists demanded to know why he hadn’t delivered the voting rights bill to Congress yet, or sent federal troops to Alabama. President Johnson told the press that he refused to be “blackjacked” into action by unruly “pressure groups.” But he did meet with Gov. Wallace face-to-face and started working on a voting rights bill.