NPS African American Oral History Project: General Larry Platt


Hi General Platt. What was it like to march on Selma?

Well it was, it was ok for me, because I wasn’t scared to go anywhere. It was fine. When we knew Dr. King didn’t want us to go on the first march like that. He was waiting for another day. He was waiting for the 9th, something, like the 9th to come to cross the Edmund Pettis Bridge (1) But Dr. King was here, somewhere in Atlanta. Starting on the first march (2) and it was Hosea Williams and John Lewis, we marched from Brown Chapel Church (3) because of what Hosea was saying to John Lewis. We got together, all of us got together, we planned this. The movement, and so what we did. John Lewis and everybody did, Hosea, John Lewis and all these older people older than me.

I was young. I was a young person I wasn’t a man then. I was just listening to them. So what, I would go anywhere with John Lewis and Hosea, I called him Uncle Hosea.

And so what we did, we marched from Brown Chapel Church in Alabama, went cross the Edmund Pettis Bridge, when we got further on down the Edmund Pettis Bridge, there wasn’t nothing but I say, I said, 200, 200, 200 or 2000, about 2000 marchers. And, we marched across the Edmund Pettis Bridge, there weren’t many of us you know, it wasn’t full up to the whole street. After we got down there Jim Clark, was waiting on us, state trooper was waiting on us, and had tear gas. Had tear gas masks on. They didn’t put them on until Hosea and John Lewis, but especially Hosea was saying something to them. John Lewis had a bookbag on his back and had on a brown looking trench coat. They were talking, Jim Clark, the main state trooper told us to go back where we came from, to Brown Chapel Church go back to Atlanta where we came from because we weren’t going no farther.

We dint pay that any attention. So told us to just keep on walking. We kept on walking that when Jim Clark put tear gas masks on. We got so far from the bridge out there, where the state troopers with horses, stuff came at us, dogs and stuff. They started beating us and spraying tear gas and we took off running to Brown Chapel Church. Some of us got caught and some of us got beat before we got back to the other side of the bridge. The state troopers were ready to get us, they started beating us down. Some of us got picked up and thrown into the river and died, before by the impact of the water.(4) Which the media hasn’t told anyone about. A whole bunch of people were killed. Some of us got all bloodied up going back to the church, because state troopers where already at Brown Chapel Church with horses waiting for us. We didn’t make it back to the church the right way, because they were waiting for us. They started to beat us some more.

It wasn’t just black folk, white folk to, a whole bunch of us, white folk black folk, all us getting beat. It wasn’t the color of the skin, it was the personality of the person who didn’t care who it was, just felt like we were breaking laws. State trooper, Jim Clark (5), wasn’t from Selma, he was from, he came from, he came from, he didn’t come from Selma, he didn’t come from Selma, he came from, um, Dallas. He came from Dallas, he wasn’t from Selma. They called him there because they knew we were coming. The state troopers were called by George Wallace (6), he was the Governor of Alabama. He didn’t like black folk period. He was from Piccadilly.

But then we came back to Atlanta, we were protesting a whole lot of stuff, black folk used to be unable to go to certain restaurants. There was Lucky Street and Auburn Avenue, but black folk couldn’t go to the Lucky Street, because black folk couldn’t go in from the Forsyth side.


What memories do you have of your parents?

Ok, memories I have of my parents. My daddy, lived in Athens, Georgia, the bulldog town, my mom was here in Atlanta. But first, my parents had to move from Sumter County which was called over there by Plains, Georgia, Jimmy Carter’s town. Plains, Georgia, Sumter County, there in the same town. And so I tried to get to President Jimmy Carter, tried to get to him, but the center won’t let me see him. My momma she came from Sumter County, Jimmy Carter came from Plains, Georgia, daddy came from Athens Georgia.

I remember my momma, how she raised six kids by I was the older boy, I have to be a coal boy, wood boy, ice boy, for my momma on McDaniel Street. I worked real hard to, I used to work at the chicken company. And I was coal boy, ice boy, wood boy; I worked real real real real hard. My momma, she was a tough little lady, my momma was like Harriet Tubman. She didn’t play. My momma was, she kinda was like a dangerous lady. She was born in 1919. That’s when my mom was born, my momma had three siblings. So, I had changed kids, to keep the Ku Klux Klan from knowing who is who. That’s have things began at work for my momma. And so, my momma was a little short lady, but she was dangerous, my momma didn’t play. My momma knew how to put your head between your legs. That lady, she was tough, she was tough working by herself, raised her six kids by herself.

My dad was in Athens, Georgia, at 1738 East Sprale Street, that’s where my daddy was living. My momma was living in Atlanta, and so a whole lot happened to us when we were kids. Mrs. Martha took care of us when my momma was at work. And Martha was going to buy some food for us, while my mom was at work. And some kinda way, my older sister, over there taking care of us, while Mrs. Martha went to the store over there on Carter Street. But we moved from Carter Street to eagle home on Hilltop Circle that’s when uh the sofa caught on fire.

My older sister, my next to older sister, was cooking, and I know they didn’t know nothing about cooking. Fire people came, put out the fire, but the house was fine except for the sofa, and I burnt myself trying to put things out of the fire because I was the older boy. That happened and we got taken away from momma. My Aunt kept my baby sister. It was my other aunt, aunt Liv and uncle Jimmy took care of my sister. We were six kids and we had to go to different places.

Hancock beat me with a pair of rogran boot, because I couldn’t talk of my eye, because I got shot by the Ku Klux Klan in my eye that did something to me. Hancock took a pair of boots and knocked me out of the chair. Made my brother next to me. Mr. Hancock was bad to me, he used to do things to me. When I came back at the age of ten years old, I remember he used to do to me, but I came back I seen my picture on a rocking horse on the mantel piece. It was set up on the mantelpiece Mrs. Hancock asked me if I wanted it. I said yes. I got my picture, I had to go to a special school because I couldn’t talk, because of what happened to my eye. I couldn’t speak. So Mrs. Hancock told me to spell college, told me to spell college, so I can learn to speak. I can already speak, it took my nerve away, and did something to my nerve, caused me not to speak that good. I was good person, still was a good person, even though Mr. Hancock used to beat me because I couldn’t say my prayer, I couldn’t pray. He said he don’t have nobody sitting at his table eating food without praying. I didn’t know how to pray, I didn’t know how to talk, then because I had a speech impediment. He hit me out the chair; he tried to put an opossum, raccoon in my mouth, a dead raccoon in my mouth. It wasn’t alive, it was dead, he killed it with a shotgun. He hit me in the face with a pair of rogan boots, and used to beat me with a shotgun, knock me out the chair with a shotgun. Mrs. Hancock told him don’t do that boy like that.

I stayed there for a long time. They used to call it Athens Street. He did a whole lot to me. He had Billy Brown throw me off the house, onto the ground, hit me on the top of my hand. He did things to me that God doesn’t like to do to me. He had me get some water on a nest, a honey bee nest; they came at me and stung me on my head. I tried to get back in the house, they locked the screen door, so I couldn’t get in. They were dirty. They treat me dirty. I remember it felt like yesterday, I remember a whole lot of stuff that happened to me. But I didn’t tell my momma, I didn’t tell my momma about a whole lot about what happened to me.

I worked in Buckhead, worked at Shoney Big Boy, called Shoney Big Boy, now it’s called Shoney (7) in Buckhead, Shoney. They worked me for free. I worked for three weeks and they didn’t pay me anything. Told me to get off the job, it was for white folks. They worked me for free. I was making money for my momma. My momma didn’t get us back until she got married again. She had to marry somebody to get her kids back. So I came back to my momma she was able to get all her kids back, except her baby sister which aunt liv and uncle jimmy kept. She kept her. They were telling my baby sisters, that that wasn’t my sister, that we were just plain people coming by the house, that she would give food to. That wasn’t true that was my baby sister. I was the older boy, my baby sister she dead now.

It’s just so much sadness about what’s happened to me when I came up, but I kept on doing wonderful things for people I love people so much. I don’t go by the color of the skin like Dr. King, I loved people so much. As the years passed by, we went, my stepdad was named Hancock, I mean not Hancock, but Washington. Clair Washington? was my stepdaddy. And so that’s how we came home. We went to the fairgrounds, see things at the fairground, ride on the trolley, run by the electrician. My momma was a hard-working lady, stepdad was a hardworking man, he made people buckets, he would go get food, he would go to a place where we can get food, we had to get food from the oven and stuff like that. We got cheese and canned goods and all kinda stuff. I know how poor people live, so I worked hard for my momma.


Last updated: May 26, 2021

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