While I was there [Alabama Center for Higher Education], around I think 1972, some Miles College [Fairfield, Alabama] students come. They want me to run for office--$$Okay.$$--political office. I had never thought about running in my life, politics, never thought about it. But I got three young men in my office right downtown. They asked me to run for mayor [of Birmingham, Alabama]. I said--1972--said, "No, I can't do that." "Well, if you won't run for mayor, would you run for the city council?" Well, we had one black on the city council that time. We all had to run at large. And we had only had one black, Arthur Shores, who outstanding civil rights attorney, home had been bombed three times here by the Klan [Ku Klux Klan, KKK]. He was the only black. He was courageous, lawyer, very quiet man. And so they--I said, "Well, I might run for the council." I had--really didn't intend to run. And I said to them, "I'll tell you what," just the three young, "I'll tell you what: come back tomorrow and see me; let me think about it." I was really thinking they won't come back. Sure enough, the next day, boom, they're right back in my office again. So I finally said to myself, "Here are these guys are concerned about the city, young black guys. I don't have the nerve to say no to them." I said, "Okay, I'll run for the council." Sure enough, I ran, and to everybody's surprise I won. And then we had to run at large in the city. And, and they had--we didn't have blacks. They had one black out of nine, so I became the second black to sit on Birmingham City Council. And the black community was fairly well excited about it, that we got--now we were getting two blacks out of nine on the council. None of them, particularly young folk, weren't particular excited about me. I didn't have a record in civil rights. In fact, they had always thought Arthur Shores, who I thought was one of the most courageous there was--as I said, his home had been bombed, and he had done all, used to be the--we got a lot of black attorneys now, but it used to be just a handful of them. And--'cause he was quiet at city council meetings, they didn't like him. They wanted him to be militant and raise sand. And so here I am, I get elected, and then I listened to the talk shows, and they, they weren't excited. And they just say, "Well, the white folk got them--this time they got them a, a black with a Ph.D. degree, and he never marched; he never done this; he never done anything." That's what they were, you know, saying. And I was hearing all that. But anyway, I got into politics, and I became sort of the voice for the black community. I raised all of the affirmative action programs, all the--I, I did all of that. And all of a sudden, the black community was politically in love with me (laughter). Here's a guy, you know, they thought this man has never done a thing to win his spurs; he never marched; he never demonstrated; he nev- and now here I am, and all of a sudden, oh, well I (gesture)--$There's some progress, because you just talked about the police brutality and trying to make a difference there. But in 1975--you want to talk to me about Bonita Carter, because that was something that, that happened during that time.$$Yeah, that's what triggered my running for full time as a, as the mayor (cough). I had--during my time on the council [Birmingham City Council], I had, as I said, focused on certain issues of racial discrimination in this city, which was very rampant (cough) not only calling attention to it but introducing bills to bring about affirmative action, doing investigations actually, not just talking about mistreatment of people but getting the details, researching the background on police officers, 'cause there were certain ones who had--after you get in the business, you see right away you're gonna find out--you know, like we had seven hundred officers, and you--we had ten or fifteen of them was all--every time there was a problem they were always involved in it. All you have to do was go and dig in and look at them, and you'd find out they'd beaten somebody up before. The city has paid out money 'cause they did this. Nobody took them on. And I did; I took them on; I took on the police union. And I was able to do it because the black vote was--you know, after the Selma [Alabama] thing and the black vote was growing, and so I was able to do it and had that strong support. We didn't have a majority of, of black--the majority of the votes wasn't black, but we--blacks had about 40 percent of the votes, and they voted solidly. And, and so for eight years on the city council I introduced every affirmative action law. I fought for contracts. I did all of that. I was the voice, which I guess surprised a lot of people 'cause, as I said, you know, I hadn't been--I wasn't militant. I never knocked on the desk and raised the sand. No, I didn't do that kind of thing. So, because I had fought against police brutality and police reform on the council, when one of the worst police officers we had, George Sands, ends up killing a young black woman through a, almost a terrible mistake case--he shoots her in the back several times in a car--and of course, they're rioting and all of that, and my good friend was mayor then, David Vann, and who I thought was the smartest guy I ever met in politics, and the black community insisted he had to fire the police officer, who had, had a terrible record, and now he's killed this girl. And Vann didn't want to do him. He's getting pressure for the police union and in the white community. And what he ends up doing is he's gonna--he just puts the police officer on desk duty, wouldn't fire him. So the black preachers here in the city got very angry with him and start protesting. And they called me to a meeting and decided that it was time to run a black. And they, they, they just told me, "You've got to run," you know, and about fifty of them. I met with them, and they say, "We're gonna have a press conference this week, and oh, we want you to announce you're gonna run. We've been supporting," and that's the story. I announced and a lot of folk were surprised, newspaper and all. And they didn't, really didn't think I was gonna win. The newspaper, Birmingham News [The Birmingham News] carried editorials and said, you know, "One day surely Birmingham [Alabama] shall have one of his black sons or daughters as mayor of this city, but we're at least ten years away from that." And two weeks later I was the mayor (laughter). That's, that's an interesting story, but it's a true story.$$(Laughter) Well--$$And so I was elected. I--we had a--we ran an election and with six or seven people running for mayor, and I got 47 percent of the vote. And it was pretty clear that in a runoff I was likely to win. I mean, the white business community got very busy, hired consultants. They turned out the white vote, bussed the kids in who were off at the different colleges back in here to vote and all that. They turned out 67 percent in the runoff; 67 percent of white vote turned out. But 70 percent--72 percent of the black votes turned out. I won by two thousand votes, largely because of the whites around the University of Alabama [University of Alabama at Birmingham] area worked, worked at the University of Alabama here in Birmingham, they vote- they, they crossed racial lines and voted. And so I--that's how I ended up winning, yeah--$$The, the popular vote--$$--for that.$$--because--$$Yeah.$$--it, it wasn't like you were unknown. People knew who you were.$$Oh, by that time, yeah, I, I--they knew who I was (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) They knew who you were.$$I mean, the black community was, of course, solidly behind me. And some, some--a few whites were, mainly, as I said, those around the university had been attracted--lived in that area, they would cross racial lines in their votes, and they had gotten to know me. And the difference in the race votes, it went almost along--the first mayoral race I was in--along racial lines. The white candidates that was in the runoff got most of the white votes, and the black--I mean we got the blacks. The turnouts were very, very high. But the fact that I was able to pull around two thousand some of the white votes, helped me to get a--to defeat them.