Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Tells His Story in a Modest Way”
City of publication: Baltimore, Maryland
Date of publication: 28 September 1901
Volume number: 10
Issue number: 8
|“Tells His Story in a Modest Way.” Afro-American-Ledger 28 Sept. 1901 v10n8: p. .|
|James B. Parker (public addresses); McKinley assassination (James B. Parker account).|
|Leon Czolgosz; James A. Garfield; William McKinley; James B. Parker.|
|The Harrison that Parker mistakenly refers to below is probably Benjamin Harrison.|
Tells His Story in a Modest Way
“I Only Did What Was My Duty,” Says James B. Parker—
“I Leave It All to the Fair Minds of the People.”
Rochester, Sept. 23.—“Big Jim” Parker, the colored
man who was near President McKinley at the time of the shooting and who is credit[ed]
by some with striking Czolgosz and preventing the third shot, and by others
robbed of the credit for the act, made a speech in Fitzhugh Hall yesterday.
It was a McKinley memorial meeting and everybody wanted to hear “Big Jim.” He
wore a broad band of black on his left sleeve. He was introduced as “James B.
Parker, of Atlanta, Ga.”
Parker spoke rather modestly and in a low tone. He could not be heard readily at first, but regained his composure after he had said a few sentences. The big fellow had on black trousers and a check sack coat and vest. The top button of his vest was missing. This, the man who introduced him said, had been sold for $5.00. Besides the proceeds from the sale of this button, it was said that the only money Parker had received was $2 from a Democrat in St. Louis. Parker said:
“Not being a speech-maker, I hardly know how to begin. If I make any bad breaks, forget them. I have been told that what a colored man does is not appreciated, but I believe that is not so. I only did what was my duty. I don’t care for the credit of knocking down the man who killed the President. I leave it all to the fair minds of the public. If I had not been there, somebody else would.
“There was such a terrible crowd about him that it was hard for him to see that there was anybody there to do him harm. I was jostled along with the rest. While I was in line the thought came to me that suppose somebody did try to kill him. I was thinking of Garfield and Harrison (this was a slip on Parker’s part that he did not rectify), who had been killed. I was more than anxious to get back to my work, but at the same time I was crazy to shake his hand. I noticed the man who was to be his murderer in front of me and tried to get ahead of him, but guards shoved me back. He knew the President would stop to speak to the little girl in front of him, and that this opportunity would come. The President patted the little girl on the head, and the murderer stepped up. The President saw that the man’s right hand was bandaged, and he reached for the man’s left hand. Then came two shots just about like one.
“I jumped forward and struck the man a terrible lick with my right fist on the nose. He went down. Then I grabbed for the gun, but missed, and got him by the neck. He tried to fire again, but a Secret-Service man seized the pistol. I bore the murderer to the ground. An Exposition guard tore the gun from the Secret-Service man. I heard somebody shout: ‘I’m not the man; there’s the man over there.’ That meant that the Exposition guard had the gun.
“Two Exposition policemen seized the murderer. He raised himself and a special officer struck him with his fist in the face and knocked him down again. That is all I remember.”