COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) –– In 1960, a Columbus man attending seminary in Nashville, Tenn., found himself in the early days of the Civil Rights Movement.
That man was Rev. Rudy Allen.
Rev. Allen sat down for a podcast earlier this month.
One of the things in that podcast that jumped out was Rev. Allen’s recollection of the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins.
It’s literally a page ripped out of our nation’s history.
Allen grew up in a segregated Columbus in the 1940s and 1950s, graduating from Spencer High School in 1954. And segregation never sat well with him.He left Columbus, moved north, and became a brick mason.
In 1960, he moved back South to attend seminary – Nashville. And that’s when he decided to do something about segregation.
And he was in good company.
“I came back to Nashville and I ran into John Lewis, James Bevel, Bernard Lafayette,” Allen said. “We were all at the same school. They were already doing a little protesting when I got there.”
These were people who were Dr. King’s lieutenants?
“Yes, sir, every one of them,” Allen was quick to respond. “And another one was Paul Brooks.”
John Lewis was in the early days of his advocacy. They were making Good Trouble, which became the battle cry for Lewis’ decades of Civil Rights advocacy.
“John was very serious, very concerned about the plight of black folks, very concerned about the nation,” Allen said. “John. We used to call him Pius Pussycat. … And John would always be on the back of the line and John would always get beat. We said, ‘John, why do you always stay in the back of line?’ He would say, ‘I want to protect everybody. I don’t want anybody else to get hurt.’ And Brooks said, ‘Boy, you better learn how to duck.”
Allen began to move to the back of that line with Lewis.
“You get hit. You get pushed, you get spit on, all that,” Allen said. “That’s when I caught fire in Nashville about Civil Rights. I was always concerned about not being able to do some things white kids were able to do.”
Rev. Allen is now 85 and retired. He has five children in the ministry and still preaches from time to time.
Allen was arrested twice in Nashville and once more in Columbus a year later. He sat on the front seat of a city bus. The bus line was integrated.
But he doesn’t live in that past.
“I don’t even think about that too much anymore,” Allen said. “I don’t think about those events. I think about the state of our country. I think about some things that are still not right.”
Allen was asked what was not right.
“The biggest thing I think is not right … well, economics.”
He says there is not economic justice.
“No, it’s not. And it never has been. And I want to tell you something, everything that happens in America is about money, man. Everything is about money.”
You can see Chuck’s complete podcast interview with Rev. Allen by going to this link.