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Barnes and... A Conversation with David Pryor

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STEVE BARNES: HELLO, EVERYONE, AND THANKS VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US WE INTEND OUR GUEST THE HONORABLE DAVID PRYOR ABSOLUTELY NO DISRESPECT WHATSOEVER IF WE MAKE JUST THE BRIEFEST INTRODUCTIONS SIMPLY BECAUSE WE HAVE A LIFETIME TO COVER, WHICH IS ENCOMPASSED IN THE SENATOR'S NEW AUTOBIOGRAPHY, A PRYOR COMMITMENT. THAT MAY ECHO TO SOME OF YOU. AND OF COURSE THIS IS AN UNCORRECTED ADVANCE PROOF WHICH I'M HOLDING BUT I THINK THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION --

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: THE 15TH OF SEPTEMBER.

STEVE BARNES: MID SEPTEMBER ANYWAY. STATE REPRESENTATIVE. WELL, FIRST OF ALL, UP FROM JOURNALISM. TO STATE REPRESENTATIVE. AND MEMBER OF THE BAR. AND UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS UNITED STATES SENATOR.

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: AS THEY SAY --

STEVE BARNES: OH, AND PRESIDENTIAL --

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: I'VE BEEN ON THE PUBLIC ROLL FOR A LONG TIME.

STEVE BARNES: I WAS GOING TO ASK WHEN YOU'RE GOING TO GET A GOOD JOB.

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: WHEN A GOOD JOB COMES AVAILABLE.

STEVE BARNES: IT WAS A FASCINATING LIFE.

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: I'VE HAD A GREAT TIME. AND BOY, PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SO GOOD TO ME AND GOOD TO MY FAMILY. AND I JUST DON'T KNOW MANY THINGS I WOULD HAVE CHANGED.

STEVE BARNES: YOU GREW UP IN A SMALL TOWN SOUTH ARKANSAS, KAMDEN ARKANSAS, WHICH WAS THE SMALL TOWNS OF ARKANSAS, MANY OF THEM HAVE A VIGOR THEN THAT MAY HAVE OWE IN SHIFTS OF POPULATION MAY NOT BE SO NOTICEABLE NOW NO OFFENSE TO KAMDEN BUT THE TEMPO WAS DIFFERENT.

.

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: THE TEMPO WAS DIFFERENT. THE CULTURE WAS DIFFERENT. MOST PEOPLE IN OUR SO-CALLED URBAN CITIES LIKE LITTLE ROCK OR FORT SMITH OR FAYETTEVILLE OR NOW ROGERS OR BENVILLE MOST OF THE PEOPLE IN OUR STATE I HAVE A FEELING -- I'VE NOT DONE A SCIENTIFIC SURVEY OR SEEN DATA ON THIS PROBABLY EITHER GREW UP IN A SMALL TOWN OR THEIR PARENTS GREW UP IN A SMALL TOWN. BUT THERE'S A KINSHIP OF SMALL TOWN ARKANSAS AND SMALL TOWN ARKANSAS THAT I THINK HELPS TO BIND US TOGETHER AS A PEOPLE, EVEN MORE SO THAN THE RAZOR BACKS. BUT IT HELPS TO BIND US TOGETHER AND I GUESS IT WOULD GIVE US I GUESS A COMMON INTEREST, A COMMONALTY OF CULTURE AND OF LOOKING AT THINGS, SIZING UP PEOPLE, IDENTIFYING THE CHARACTERS OF THE TOWN. I KNOW IN CAMDEN, WE WOULD WALK INTO A STORE, A SNOW HARDWARE OR MORGAN HARDWARE AND PICK OUT WHAT WE KNEW AND SAY CHARGE IT AND WALK OUT THE DOOR. WE DIDN'T HAVE CREDIT CARDS. AND THAT'S KIND OF THE WAY THE CULTURE OPERATED. AND THAT'S KIND OF THE WAY WE WORKED. AND IF -- I DON'T KNOW. IT WAS A VERY, VERY CLOSE NIT REALLY -- CLOSE KNIT REALLY KIND OF A NURTURING EXISTENCE THAT I GREW UP IN IN CAMDEN.

STEVE BARNES: AND YOUR MOM AND DAD BOTH POLITICAL FIGURES IN THEIR OWN RIGHT. NOT ALWAYS AS CANDIDATES. BUT THEY WERE ALWAYS CENTRAL FIGURES IN THAT COMMUNITY.

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: WELL --

STEVE BARNES: ALWAYS ENGAGED IN THE LIFE OF CAMDEN.

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: WELL, AT ONE TIME SOMEONE LABELED MY FATHER AND HE DIDN'T LIKE IT A BIT OUT ON THE RADIO STATION KMMD AND REFERRED TO MY FATHER IN ONE OF THE POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS AS BOSS PRYOR. AND HE DID NOT LIKE IT A BIT. AND MY MOTHER REALLY WAS PROBABLY IN A -- REALLY HE WAS SO GREGARIOUS AND SO GOOD WITH PEOPLE. BUT MY MOTHER WAS PROBABLY MORE COMFORTABLE IN POLITICS THAN MY DAD. BECAUSE MY MOTHER HAD WORKED IN THE COURTHOUSE. SHE HAD RUN FOR CIRCUIT CLERK. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN IN OUR STATE I THINK TO EVER HAVE HER NAME ON THE BALLOT. AND HER FATHER AND HER GRANDFATHER WERE SHERIFFS OF OUR COUNTY. MY FATHER IN 1938 PICKED UP THE LOCAL NEWSPAPER AND DISCOVERED THAT HE WAS A CANDIDATE FOR SHERIFF OF WACITA COUNTY BECAUSE THERE WAS A CLEAN SWEEP MOVEMENT TO KNOCK OUT EVERYONE WHO WAS IN PUBLIC OFFICE IN THE COURTHOUSE AND HE WAS A PART OF THAT AND THEY HAD LITTLE ROOMS FIXED UP. HE CAME IN FROM DALLAS COUNTY AND HOLLY SPRINGS ARKANSAS INTO CAMDEN AND MY MOTHER AND MY DAD MARRIED THREE OR FOUR YEARS LATER AFTER HE MOVED THERE. BUT SHE WAS PROBABLY IN HER OWN SKIN MORE COMFORTABLE WITH POLITICS THAN HE WAS AT FIRST. BUT HE REALLY GOT TO BE GOOD IN POLITICS. AND VERY GOOD IN BUSINESS.

STEVE BARNES: WAS THERE -- CAN YOU LOOK BACK AND SAY: THERE WAS A MOMENT AT A RALLY OR WHEREVER YOU WERE, MAYBE AT A DINNER TABLE CONVERSATION WHERE IT OCCURRED TO DAVID PRYOR, I KIND OF LIKE THIS. MAYBE I COULD BE -- MAYBE I COULD DO THIS?

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: WELL, MY DAD WAS A CHEVROLET DEEPER. HE FIRST STARTED WORKING AT THE FORD PLACE AND DR. WORD HE WORKED FOR BECAME ILL AND HE FIGURED OUT SOME WAY TO LET MY FATHER WHO DIDN'T HAVE TWO NICKELS TO RUB TOGETHER TO BUY THE FORD AGENCY. IT WAS DURING THE DEPRESSION. SO IT WAS -- THERE WEREN'T MANY PEOPLE TRYING TO BUY A CAR KHEERLSHIP AT THAT TIME. MY FATHER WAS VERY POOR AND HE BOUGHT THE COMPANY WITH A BANK ACROSS THE STREET. GOT IN TROUBLE. ALMOST FORFEITED HIS COMPANY. BUT OWNED UP THE FORD BUSINESS AND CHEVROLET BUSINESS THEY MADE HIM DISPOSE OF ONE SO HE KEPT CHEVROLET AND GAVE UP FORD. HE BECAME VERY GOOD. BUT THE CHEVROLET PLACE AS WE CALLED IT WAS RIGHT ACROSS FROM THE COURTHOUSE. AND IT BECAME THE CENTER OR HUB BUB OF POLITICAL ACTIVITY AND RIGHT IN THE -- IN THE SUMMERS ON ELECTION NIGHT THEY WOULD BRING THE ELECTION RETURNS IN FOR -- CADDY CORNER FROM THE COURTHOUSE. THEY ALWAYS STOPPED THERE AT THE CAMDEN NEWS AND COUNT OUT THE BALLOTS AND SOMETHING LIKE 31 TOWNSHIPS, YOU KNOW, RED HILL AND FRIO AND CHITESTER AND BEARDEN AND ALL THE TOWNSHIPS AROUND THE COUNTY AND ALL OF THOSE HOT STEAMY SULTRY NIGHTS JULY AND AUGUST IS WHEN WE HAD ELECTIONS THEN. PRIMARIES. WE DIDN'T HAVE ANY REPUBLICANS TO SPEAK OF TO SPEAK OF. SO WE DIDN'T WORRY ABOUT THE GENERAL ELECTION SO MUCH WE HAD ONE REPUBLICAN IN TOWN HE WAS SKID MORE WILLIS THAT WAS ANOTHER STORY. BUT I LOVED BEING AROUND THAT. I LOVED SEEING HALL MAN UP THERE AND ANNOUNCE THE WINNERS AND LOISERS AND AO HAD HIS GUITAR OR SOMETHING. AND WINNERS AND LOSERS HE WOULD TOOT HIS FOX HORN. IT WAS SORT OF A PARTY ATMOSPHERE. AND WHEN I WAS YOUNG I USED TO ALWAYS LOVE AND STAY AT THE CHEVROLET PLACE AND HEAR MY DAD AND ALL OF THE CANDIDATES TALK, GO ACROSS THE STREET, WATCH THE ELECTIONS RETURNS COME IN. AND WHATEVER OFFICES THEY MAY BE FOR ASSESSOR OR SHERIFF OR GOVERNOR OR US SENATOR. I REMEMBER BILL FULLBRIGHT THE FIRST TIME I EVER SAW HIM. HE DROVE HIS OWN CAR. MARKED IT THERE IN FRONT OF THE DRUGSTORE. WALKED OVER TO THE COURTHOUSE. MADE HIS SPEECH. HE WAS TEN YEARS OLD. BUT I COULD POINT TO THIS DAY EXACTLY WHERE HE PARKED HIS CAR. BECAUSE I WAS ALWAYS FASCINATED WITH HIM. AND WITH WHAT HE STOOD FOR, HIS GREAT ABILITY, HIS GREAT WORLD VISION. AND -- BUT I LOVED POLITICS. BEN LANEY THE GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS, HE BECAME GOVERNOR WE LIVED NEXT DOOR TO. VAR -- THERE IN CAMDEN. SO WE GREW UP IN A POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT. AND AS DR. JB JAIMSON SAID WHO BROUGHT ME INTO THIS WORLD I HATE TO SAY 74 YEARS AGO HE SAID DAVID CAME OUT OF THE MOTHER'S WOMB ASKING THE NURSE FOR HIS VOTE. I ALWAYS LOVED IT.

STEVE BARNES: YOU AND A YOUNG LADY NAMED BARBARA WERE MARRIED AND YOU CREATED A NEWSPAPER THERE IN CAMDEN. BUT THERE CAME A MOMENT WHEN YOU SAID I HAVE TO DECIDE WHETHER I'M GOING TO RUN FOR SOMETHING AND THAT WAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE AND YOU DECIDED -- THAT'S WHEN YOU TOOK THE BIG PLUNGE I GUESS IS THAT FAIR TO SAY.

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: BARB AND I HAD BEEN MARRIED PROBABLY TWO YEARS. AND I WENT TO MY FRIEND WILLIAM S ANDREWS. AND I SAID: BILL, YOU'RE VOTING WITH ORVILLE ON EVERY PIECE OF LEGISLATION. AND YOU'RE 100 FOR FALBUS. NOW YOU OUGHT TO BREAK AWAY A LITTLE BIT. THIS HAS GOT TO BE A NEW DAY. WE HAVE TO REMOVE THOSE SHACKLES AND MOVE ON AS A STATE AND AS A PEOPLE. AND YOU NEED TO BE MORE PROGRESSIVE. AND HE SORT OF DISMISSED MY COMPLAINTS. AND MY SUGGESTIONS. AND HE SAID: WELL, I'VE GOT TO GET ALONG. AND I'VE GOT TO GO ALONG. I'VE GOT TO GO ALONG WITH THE POWERS THAT BE. AND I'M PROBABLY GOING TO START WITH FULVIS AND HELP HIM IN THE LEGISLATION WITH HIS STUFF. I SAID BILL I WANT TO SERVE NOTICE ON YOU IF YOU CONTINUE DOING THAT DURING THE NEXT LEGISLATIVE SESSION YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE AN OPPONENT AND THAT OPPONENT IS GOING TO BE ME. I GAVE HIM NOTICE. AND SURE ENOUGH HE CONTINUED TO VOTE FOR FALVIS ON EVERYTHING HE PROPOSED AND SURE ENOUGH ONE DAY I WALKED OVER TO THE COURTHOUSE AND PAID MY $25 AND RAN AN AD IN THE LOCAL NEWSPAPER AND I WAS OFF AND RUNNING. BARBARA HAD NEVER BEEN INVOLVED IN POLITICS AT THAT TIME. TO ANY EXTENT. BUT SHE GOT INVOLVED. NOT ONLY DID SHE GET INVOLVED. BUT MAN, SHE WAS REALLY, REALLY GOOD AT POLITICS. SHE COULD REMEMBER NAMES THAT I FORGOT ALL THE TIME. SHE COULD REMEMBER NAMES AND PLACES. SHE REMEMBERED THINGS THAT I HAD LONG SINCE FORGOTTEN. SHE REMEMBERED PEOPLE THAT WE KNEW IN COLLEGE THAT WE SHOULD CALL AND GET THEM TO COME TO CAMDEN TO GET THEM TO COME AND HELP US IN OUR CAMPAIGN. SHE WAS REALLY AMAZING. SHE MADE A REMARKABLE TRANSITION. INTO THE POLITICAL WORLD. FROM FAYETTEVILLE. OF COURSE SHE GREW UP IN FAYETTEVILLE. BUT ALL OF A SUDDEN SHE WAS CAST IN THAT POLITICAL WORLD IN SOUTH ARKANSAS. AND SOMETIMES IT WAS PRETTY CUT THROAT. IT WAS PRETTY ROUGH SOMETIMES. BUT SHE PERFORMED BEAUTIFULLY.

STEVE BARNES: BUT STILL IT WAS HOME. AND I THINK YOU HAVE AN EXCERPT OR TWO THAT YOU SHARED WITH US.

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: YEAH. WELL, HERE IS THE BOOK. AND STEVE, I COULDN'T HAVE DONE THIS BOOK WITHOUT DON HAROLD. DON AND I GREW UP IN CAMDEN JUST A FEW BLOCKS APART. MY MOTHER ANNA LEE AND DON'S FATHER WAS THE MAYOR AND MY FATHER WAS THE SHERIFF. AND DON WAS ON OUR STAFF WHEN I WAS IN THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE AND WHEN I WAS IN WASHINGTON. AND DON IS A FABULOUS WRITER. AND HE HAS KEPT A JOURNAL FOR 30 YEARS. WE RELIED ON HIS JOURNAL A GREAT DEAL. I'VE KEPT LITTLE PIECES OF JOURNALS AND SCRIBBLES OF NOTES. AND WE WENT TO THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS WHERE MY SO-CALLED QUOTE PAPERS UNQUOTE ARE. IN THE SPECIAL COLLECTIONS. THE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS -- 4,000 OR 5,000 PICTURES WE SIFTED THROUGH TO CHOSE ABOUT 50 FOR THE BOOK. AND -- BUT I COULD NOT HAVE I COULDN'T HAVE GOTTEN FIVE PAGES DONE. HE INSPIRED ME WE WORKED MOSTLY IN FAYETTEVILLE. HE LIVES IN NEW YORK. WE WOULD BE ON THE PHONE. EVERY WEEK TWO OR THREE TIMES A WEEK TALKING ABOUT PASSAGES AND TRYING TO REMEMBER THINGS. BUT MY -- WHEN MY DAD WAS THE SHERIFF, WE LIVED RIGHT ALMOST DOWNTOWN IN A LITTLE WHITE HOUSE. MY GRANDMOTHER LIVED WITH US. THERE WERE FOUR CHILDREN. MY MOTHER AND DAD AND MY GRANDMOTHER MS. AUNT NELLY AS TH CALLED HER. AND -- BUT MARY, OUR COOK, OUR WONDERFUL COOK, HER NAME WAS MARY ELIZABETH MCFADDEN COOPER WILL BURN AND SHE CAME EVERY DAY FOR THE -- FROM THE DAY I WAS BORN FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS TO HELP MY MOTHER. AND THEY BECAME FAST, FAST INSEPARABLE FRIENDS. BUT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I'LL ALWAYS REMEMBER IS HOW MARY WOULD GET TO THE -- OUR HOME SO EARLY. AND DO ALL THE COOKING FOR THE FAMILY. AND WHILE SHE WAS COOKING FOR THE FAMILY, SHE ALSO COOKED FOR THE PRISONERS IN THE JAIL. WHICH WERE ABOUT FOUR BLOCKS DOWN THE STREET. AND I'LL JUST KIND OF READ A PARAGRAPH.

STEVE BARNES: PLEASE.

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: EVERY MORNING AT 7:00 O'CLOCK JUST ABOUT OR QUARTER TO 7, A MAN FROM THE JAIL, HIS NAME -- HE'S A TRUSTEE NAMED BIGGY, BIGGY YOUNG. BIGGY SEEMED STRAIGHT OUT OF A REALTOR MOVIE HE WAS A LARGE BLACK MAN WAS A LARGE CROWN FRONT TOOTH. THE RESULT WE WERE TOLD OF A KNIFE FIGHT SEVERAL YEARS BEFORE WAS A SCAR. I HAD NEVER SEEN MUSCLES BULGE LIKE HIS. HE COULD HOLD HIS ARM PARALLEL TO THE GROUND LETTING ME SWING FROM IT. YET THOUGH HE ALWAYS ARRIVED IN A CRISP KHAKI SHIRT AND PANTS THAT SEEMED TOTALLY PRESSED, HE WAS ALWAYS OUTWARDLY JOVIAL. AND YET I COULD SEE A SADNESS IN THE EYES OF BIGGY YOUNG. WE BECAME VERY GOOD FRIENDS. AND HE TOOK THE PATH FROM OUR KITCHEN BACK TO THE HOUSE DOWN WASHINGTON STREET. THEN HE TURNED LEFT WALKING THREE BLOCKS TO THE COUNTY JAIL AND MANY MORNINGS I WOULD WALK WITH HIM. SEPARATED FROM THE COURTHOUSE BY AN ALLEY. SOMETIMES BIGGY, WHEN HE LET ME WALK WITH HIM, HE WOULD TAKE ME TO HELP -- TO LET ME HELP HIM FEED THE PRISONERS IN THE JAIL. THAT HAD BEEN PREPARED. THE FOOD PREPARED AT OUR HOME. THE JAIL WAS DARK AND DANK. IT SMELLED OF AN AWFUL STINK. AND BIGGY'S BELT HELD A RING WITH ENORMOUS IRON KEYS. THE ONLY WAY TO OPEN THE HUGE STEEL DOORS OF THE WACHITA COUNTY JAIL. SO THOSE WERE WONDERFUL MEMORIES THAT I HAD OF THAT PARTICULAR TIME ON WEST WASHINGTON STREET GROWING UP. BIGGY COMING BY TO PICK UP THE BREAKFAST FOR THE PRISONERS. AND LATER THEN OUR FAMILY WOULD GATHER. AND EAT THE SAME FOOD.

STEVE BARNES: THAT'S ONE ANECDOTE FROM A SERIES -- FROM A PATTERN OF LIFE THAT I THINK YOU ACKNOWLEDGE IN THE BOOK SHAPED YOU. THAT THERE WERE POWERFUL INTERRACIAL FRIENDSHIP DEEP AND ABIDING INTERRACIAL FRIENDSHIPS IN THOSE DAYS BUT THEY WOULD END AT SUNDOWN. THE WHITE FOLKS WOULD GO ONE WAY. AND THE BLACKS WOULD GO ANOTHER WAY. MAYBE THAT'S CHANGED A LITTLE BUT IT WAS --

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: THIS IS SAD BUT IT WAS SO TRUE. WE HAD SEGREGATED SCHOOLS. THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN POPULATION BASICALLY WENT TO LINCOLN. WE WENT TO CAMDEN HIGH SCHOOL IN CENTER STREET IN CLEVELAND AVENUE SCHOOLS. AND THERE WAS A SEPARATION. HOWEVER, AND THIS -- I WANT TO BE VERY CAREFUL HOW I SAY ALL OF THIS. BUT I GO BACK TO THAT FABULOUS MOVIE: DRIVING MS. DAISY. AND THAT'S THE SORT OF RELATIONSHIP MY MOTHER AND MARY PROBABLY HAD. A VERY, VERY DEEP AND ABIDING RESPECT FOR ONE ANOTHER. ALSO, A RESPECT AND A LOVE FOR EACH OTHER'S CULTURES. MARY APPRECIATING AND HONORING MY MOTHER'S CULTURE. AND HER ENVIRONMENT. AND MOTHER HONORING MARY'S CULTURE AND HER ENVIRONMENT. EVEN BY GOING TO MARY'S CHURCH MANY, MANY TIMES AND TEACHING SUNDAY SCHOOL TO MARY'S FRIENDS. AND WHAT WE MIGHT CALL -- I HATE TO CALL IT THAT THE BLACK PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. BUT THERE WAS A WONDERFUL RELATIONSHIP WE HAD. BUT THAT WAS NOT TRUE THROUGHOUT. THAT WAS A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP THAT WAS HELD TOGETHER BY YEARS OF BONDING AND UNDERSTANDING AND SICKNESS AND DEATHS AND BIRTHS AND EVERYTHING THAT BONDED OUR PEOPLE TOGETHER. SAD TO SAY, IT WAS NOT TRUE UNIVERSALLY.

STEVE BARNES: MID '60S SPECIAL ELECTION FOR CONGRESS THE HONORABLE LAUREN HARRIS STEPS ASIDE AND TAKES A FEDERAL JUDGESHIP. YOU RUN AND YOU WIN. YOU ARRIVE IN WASHINGTON AT A TIME OF TUMULT THAT RARELY WE HAVE SEEN IN THIS COUNTRY. I MEAN, YOU HAD CIVIL RIGHTS THAT WERE -- THERE WERE CIVIL RIGHTS. THERE WAS THE WAR IN VIETNAM. THERE WAS THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT WAS GETTING ITS LEGS UNDER IT. THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT WAS STARTING TO GAIN TRACTION. THESE WERE THE DAYS OF ROLLING THUNDER AS I RECALL IN VIETNAM AND LINDEN JOHNSON BESIEGED ON THE ONE SIDE BY HIS GENERALS AND ON THE OTHER HAND BY HIS OWN PARTY. SOME OF HIS OWN PARTY. INITIATION BY FIRE. FOR A YOUNG GOVERNOR.

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: THIS WAS A HARD TIME NOT ONLY FOR THIS YOUNG CONGRESSMAN. THIS WAS A HARD TIME FOR OUR COUNTRY. IT WAS A HARD TIME FOR OUR STATE. REMEMBER OUR STATE IN 1968 LEFT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY FOR THE FIRST TIME AND VOTED FOR GEORGE WALLACE ALSO FOR WINTHROP ROCKEFELLER AND FULLBRIGHT ON THE SAME DAY WHICH BAFFLED POLITICAL FUN DITS FOR MANY YEARS AFTER THAT. BUT IT WAS A HARD TIME. AND THE RACIAL RIGHTS IN '68 AND '69 AFTER MARTIN LUTHER KING AND ROBERT KENNEDY WERE KILLED, HONESTLY IT WAS ABOUT AS TOUGH A TIME AS I'VE KNOWN OUR COUNTRY TO GO THROUGH. I LOOK BACK AT THAT TIME WITH SOMETIMES A SENSE OF PRIDE AND SOMETIMES A SENSE OF FRUSTRATION. THAT I DID NOT SENSE THE REALITY OF THE MOMENT SIGNIFICANTLY. TO COME FORWARD AND SHOW GREATER LEADERSHIP. I WISH I HAD. I WISH I HAD SEEN THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS' MOVEMENT MORE SO THAN I HAD SEEN. I ALSO -- AND I BUILT UP A LOT OF WHAT YOU MIGHT CALL GOOD POLITICAL CAPITAL. AND WHAT'S THE USE OF HAVING GOOD POLITICAL CAPITAL IF YOU DON'T USE IT. AND I COULD HAVE USED SOME OF THAT POLITICAL CAPITAL. AND I COULD HAVE BEEN A LEADER TO SOME GREATER EXTENT IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS' MOVEMENT. AND I PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE AGGRESSIVE. NOW, IN 1968 I DID MAKE RECEIPT IT WAS VERY CONTROVERSIAL I VOTED TO SEAT THE INTEGRATED MISSISSIPPI DELEGATION AT THE COMMITTEE I WAS ON THE CREDENTIAL COMMITTEE AND THAT WAS A TOUGH, TOUGH HARD VOTE TO SIT THERE AND MY DISTRICT BORDERED THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI. I GOT BACK TO US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SHORTLY AFTER THAT A FEW WEEKS LATER OFFER THE CONVENTION. AND IN THE FALL. AND NONE OF THE MISSISSIPPI DELEGATION IN THE CONGRESS WOULD EVEN SPEAK TO THIS TRAITOR THAT THEY VIEW AS DAVID PRYOR.

STEVE BARNES: THEY HAD A LOT OF POWER.

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: THEY HAD A LOT OF POWER. BILL CARMEN WAS CHAIRMAN OF THE RULES COMMITTEE. JAMIE WHITMAN WAS INCOMING OR ON THE WAY OF BECOMING CHAIRMAN OF THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE. BUT I KIND OF MADE UP OVER THE YEARS WITH MOST OF THOSE INDIVIDUALS. SUNNY MONTGOMERY AND SOME OF THE REST. KIND OF MADE UP WITH THEM. AND AFTER YEARS OF HEALING I GOT TO BE PRETTY GOOD FRIENDS. BILL CALMER, CONGRESS CALMER NEVER DID CARE FOR ME AFTER THAT, THOUGH. AND ULTIMATELY HE WOULD GET ME BACK. I TELL ABOUT THAT IN THE BOOK. BUT JAMIE WITEN CAME AROUND. SUNNY MONTGOMERY WAS A FRIEND. AND -- BUT I GOT ALONG A LITTLE BETTER WITH THEM BUT IT TOOK A LOT OF WORK AND A LOT OF SOOTHING AND HEALING I GUESS TO GET BACK THERE.

STEVE BARNES: 1972 APPROACHES YOU CALL IT THE BIGGEST POLITICAL MISCALCULATION OF YOUR LIFE.

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: IT WAS A MISCALCULATION. BUT LOOKING BACK I PASSED TO APPROPRIATIONS PEOPLE. I SAID OKAY I'M ON THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE. I WENT IN. I MOVED ABOUT TWO NOTCHES IN SENIORITY UP AND PROBABLY 45 PEOPLE ON THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE. WHEN WILL I LIKELY BE CHAIRMAN OF THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE SO THEY DID ALL KINDS OF FACTS AND FIGURES AND LOOKED AT CHARTS AND DEATH RATES AND WHO WAS WHAT AGE. AND THEY SAID WELL AROUND 2000. YOU KNOW, SOMETHING -- WELL, THIS WAS 1972. SO I CAME HOME AND BARBARA AND I STARTED THINKING ABOUT IT. AND I SAID: LOOK, WE'VE BEEN DOING THIS FOR SIX YEARS. I'M RUNNING BACK AND FORTH. I'M ABSENT FROM THE BOYS AND YOU SO MUCH. I'M GOING BACK AND FORTH ALMOST EVERY WEEKEND FROM WASHINGTON TO SOUTH ARKANSAS. I HIT THE LITTLE ROCK AIRPORT. I TAKE OFF FOR PINE BLUFF AND WHEREVER I'M GOING IN THE DISTRICT. AND I SAID: IF WE'RE GOING TO DO THIS AND IF WE'RE GOING TO DEDICATE OUR LIVES TO POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT, LET'S DO IT IN A WAY THAT IS MORE MEANINGFUL. AND SHE SAID WHAT DO YOU MEAN. I SAID WELL I'M THINKING ABOUT RUNNING FOR THE US SENATE. AND SHE SAID WELL I DON'T KNOW WHEN WE STARTED THINKING ABOUT THIS THE MORE WE THOUGHT ABOUT IT AND THE MORE THE RUMORS SPREAD THAT I WAS GOING TO CONSIDER THIS RACE, THE MORE PEOPLE CAME AND DISCOURAGED ME FROM DOING IT. ODD THINGS HAPPEN TO YOUNG PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY STUBBORN YOUNG PEOPLE I GUESS -- MAYBE A FALSE SENSE OF PRIDE. I'M NOT SURE WHICH. BUT THE MORE DISCOURAGEMENT I GOT THE MORE I WANTED THE JOB. THE MORE I SAID I CAN CLIMB THAT MOUNTAIN. IT MAY BE THE HIGHEST AROUND BUT I THINK I CAN CLIMB IT AND I HAD BARBARA'S BLESSING AND HER HELP. SHE WAS AT MY SIDE AND WE TRIED IT AND FEBRUARY 19TH, 1972 WE WENT TO CAMDEN AND ANNOUNCED AT THE WHITESIDE HIGH SCHOOL -- JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL DINING ROOM PACKED WITH PEOPLE PROBABLY NEAR A THOUSAND PEOPLE THERE. AND I WAS OFF AND RUNNING. AND RUNNING AGAINST JOHN L CHICOT COUNTY CULLEN IN THE PRIMARY. AND I'LL TELL YOU WHAT HE WAS A TOUGH, TOUGH GUY TO RUN AGAINST. HE WAS GOING TO BE CHAIRMAN OF THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE. ALLEN ELLENDER DIED JUST ABOUT AT THE END OF THAT CAMPAIGN AND HE WAS THE INCOMING CHAIRMAN PEOPLE FELT OF THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE. HE HAD A LOT OF CLOUT. BUT IN ADDITION TO HIS CLOUT, HE HAD SOMETHING ELSE. A LOT OF POLITICS HAVE CLOUT. BUT THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO USE IT. MCCLULLEN KNEW HOW TO USE IT AND HE KNEW HOW TO PRESS THOSE BUTTONS AND LEVERS OF POWER AND BOY HE WAS EFFECTIVE. AND I KNOW I GOT WORRIED ONE TIME WHEN I HEARD DURING THE CAMPAIGN HE WAS GOING UP TO BRANCHARD SPRINGS HE BOUGHT A NEW SET OF TENNIS SHOES. I SAID UH-OH HE'S GETTING YOUNGER. HE WAS IN HIS MID 70 I GUESS AT THAT TIME --

STEVE BARNES: 76 AS I RECALL.

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: 76. OKAY. AND AS I SAY HE GOT YOUNGER DURING THE CAMPAIGN AND I GOT OLDER. BUT I LOST THE RACE. AND IT'S THE FUNNY THING AGAIN ABOUT POLITICS. PEOPLE REALLY -- THEY WATCH HOW I THINK. THEY WATCH HOW YOU LOSE. NOT NECESSARILY HOW YOU WIN. BUT THEY WATCH HOW YOU LOSE. AND THE NIGHT THAT I LOST, JUNE 13TH, 1972, AT THE HOTEL WHEN I MADE MY CON CESSION SPEECH TO A COUPLE OF THOUSAND PEOPLE WHO WERE DISAPPOINTED AND CRYING AND CARRYING ON AND WEEPING AND WORKED HARD. GIVEN EVERYTHING THEY HAD. SOMEHOW OR ANOTHER THAT CONCESSION SPEECH THEY CONSIDERED TO BE MAGNANIMOUS. AND PEOPLE WOULD SAY OH, IF YOU WOULD HAVE MADE THAT SPEECH THE WHOLE TIME YOU WOULD HAVE WON THAT RACE. BUT ANYWAY, THAT'S THE WAY IT GOES. THE BUT I HAD -- THAT SPEECH AND THAT EVENING WHEN I GOT LICKED SO TO SPEAK AS PEOPLE IN ARKANSAS WILL DO TO THEIR YOUNG POLITICIANS FROM TIME TO TIME, DALE BUMPERS WAS DEFEATED FOR THE SCHOOL BOARD THE FIRST RUN BILL CLINTON DEFEATED FOR CONGRESS HIS FIRST RUN WHEN HE RAN FOR SECOND TERM AS GOVERNOR I WAS SPANKED BY THE PEOPLE AND SAID IT'S NOT QUITE YOUR TIME YET SO I NURSED MY WOUNDS AND PAID OFF MY DEBTS. AND HOPEFULLY WOULD FIND A SPACE SOME WAY TO COME BACK INTO POLITICS. NOT KNOWING THAT I WOULD EVER HAVE THAT OPPORTUNITY. BECAUSE I TRULY FEEL THAT THIS WAS ONE OF THOSE TIMES WHEN I HAD LOST A RACE THAT I SHOULD HAVE WON. IT WAS IN MY GRASP TO WIN. I HAD CON CENTED TO A DEBATE WHICH WAS UNWISE. I MISJUDGED HIM DURING THAT DEBATE. I WAS PROBABLY OVERLY KIND. PEOPLE JUST LIKE WATCHING A BOXING MATCH. THEY WANT TO SEE SOME BLOOD ON THE FLOOR. AND I WAS PROBABLY OVERKIND.

STEVE BARNES: ALL OF IT WAS YOURS IN THIS CASE.

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: I'LL NEVER FORGET HE WORE A WHITE SUIT AND WHITE PATENT LEATHER BOOTS AND A RED TIE AND HE CAME CHARGING OUT AT THIS YOUNG 37 YEAR OLD CHALLENGER AND HE FINISHED ME OFF I GUESS YOU WOULD SAY IT WAS A 51-49 RACE. IT WAS ONE OF THE CLASSIC POLITICAL RAISES OF ARKANSAS. I CAN LOOK BACK NOW AND SAY IT WAS CLASSIC. I DIDN'T FEEL LIKE IT WAS CLASSIC THAT NIGHT WHEN I ACCEPTED DEFEAT. BUT TWO YEARS LATER I WAS BACK IN THE FRAY. AND AS WILLY NELSON SAID: BACK ON THE ROAD AGAIN.

STEVE BARNES: IN FACT TWO TERMS AT GOVERNOR FOUR YEARS AND YOU MADE IT TO THE SENATE FOR 18 YEARS. AND TO OUR AUDIENCE, FASCINATING 22 YEARS EXTRA IN YOUR POLITICAL CAREER AND EVEN SOME SERVICE AFTER THAT AND THE BOOK IS PRYOR COMMITMENT. YOU CAN READ ALL ABOUT IT IN THERE. DAVID PRYOR THANKS VERY MUCH FOR THAT.

SENATOR DAVID PRYOR: THANK YOU, STEVE. [MUSIC]

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