It did help that Mary was white, well-spoken, and of an amicable disposition. Wouldn't have mattered what she'd had on if her skin had been brown, and we know it.
But Mary did get lucky, if engaging a police officer is what you'd want to call fortunate. She talked for nearly an hour to an officer at the police department in Jackson during one of her multiple arrests.
Captain Ray sincerely wanted to understand what Mary was doing there, why she came to Jackson, why stick her neck out to integrate with black folks. Sincere is the operative word here.
It was when Mary went back to Jackson and found herself in the police department a subsequent time that she saw people, reportedly including fellow activists, engaging this same officer and being quite friendly to him. And she'd heard that he recused himself from some part of his police work.
Her understanding? Mary reported, "I think it just got to him, and he knew that it was wrong what was happening,"
That one-on-one encounter with another human being, when in sincereengagement...the time with a stranger with whom you discover more in common than you have that sets you apart...from Frederick Douglass's mouth to Abraham Lincoln's ear, and Whitney Young's or Martin Luther King, Jr.'s to Lyndon Johnson's...this is the doorway to reason. And in the nonviolent resistance toolkit, it remains a powerful game changer.
Follow the links below to hear what some of these riders have had to say.