In a 90-minute Meet The Press Special, African-American Leaders from the SCLC, NAACP, National Urban League, SNCC and CORE discuss the progress of the civil rights movement.
Meet The Press: Civil Rights Special Featuring Black Leaders
EDWIN NEWMAN, host:
This is Edwin Newman inviting you to a special 90-minute edition of MEET THE PRESS. Today in this special hour and a half program, MEET THE PRESS focuses on the country's No.1 domestic problem: Civil Rights. Out guests are six of the nation's top Negro leaders in their first joint live broadcast. With us today in Chicago is the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., President and one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Dr. King, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a leading proponent of the principle of nonviolence. He is recognized throughout the world as the spiritual leader of the civil rights movement in the United States. Because of the march he is leading today in Chicago, Dr. King finds it necessary to leave the studio before the end of our program, for that reason we will direct more questions to him than to our other guests in the first part of our broadcast.
And in our Washington studio: Roy Wilkins, a former newspaperman and the Executive Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People since 1950. The NAACP, which he heads, is the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the country. Founded in 1909, it now claims a national membership of over 500,000. The first organization to use the picket line, it has been involved in many demonstrations and has played a major role in the fight for civil rights laws.
Whitney M. Young, Jr., Executive Director of the National Urban League since 1961. A former Dean of the Atlanta University School of Social Work, he heads one of the most important bi-racial service organizations. Its policy has been to lead Negroes into the American mainstream through job training programs and through housing, welfare and education projects.
Floyd B. McKissick, National Director of the Congress of Racial Equality. He is a lawyer who gave up his. practice early this year to become head of the 22-year old CORE. Mr. McKissick's official biography describes him as "a dynamic civil rights activist." He has played a leading role in picketing, sit-ins and other civil rights demonstrations. His organization, CORE, claims a membership of 80,000 and is considered one of the most militant of the civil rights groups.
Stokley Carmichael, Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. A graduate of Howard University and.; the youngest of the civil rights leaders, Mr. Carmichael heads the newest and most militant of the national organizations. His use of the slogan "Black Power" during the recent Mississippi march stirred up a storm in and out of the civil rights movement and brought him to front page prominence.
And James H. Meredith, who occupies a special position in the American Negro movement because of his leadership in desegregating the University of Mississippi and in the recent march through Mississippi. He is now a student at the Columbia University Law School.
Reporters on our panel of questioners today are Lawrence E. Spivak, Permanent Panel Member of MEET THE PRESS; Carl T. Rowan of the Chicago Daily News; James J. Kilpatrick of the Richmond News Leader; Rowland Evans of the Publishers Newspaper Syndicate; and Richard Valeriani of NBC News.
We will begin the questions now with Mr. Spivak.
LAWRENCE E. SPIVAK reporting:
Dr. King, despite all of your marches and demonstrations and despite major civil rights laws, the civil rights crisis is getting worse rather than better, or at least it seems so. Do you think it is growing worse and, if so, why?
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: I think at points it is growing worse. This does not mean that we have not made significant progress, but I think the real problem today is that there is still a tragic gulf between promise and fulfillment and that the rising expectations of freedom and equality and the rising expectations of improvement have met with little results. So, the problem today is that we have the laws on the books but they have not been thoroughly implemented, and there are still pockets of resistance that are seeking to hold the civil rights movement back. And our just and legal and moral aspirations for a democratic society are still being met with these forces of resistance.
SPIVAK: Mr. Wilkins, do you think the crisis is getting better or worse?
MR. ROY WILKINS: I think only outwardly worse. We are having some manifestations of abrasive resistance, but actually progress is being made and we are going forward, and this despite the fact that great masses of people cannot count the difference in today's living between that that they had, say a year ago, or two years ago. But the forces are in motion. I agree with Dr. King that they are not moving fast enough, nor on a broad enough scale.
SPIVAK: Mr. Young, for many years we had no civil rights laws of any importance. Very little was being done by the white community for the Negro population or with the Negro population, and yet we had relative quiet. What is your explanation for the riots that are taking place at the present time?
MR. WHITNEY M. YOUNG JR.: I think it reflects this high aspiration of the Negro. I have never felt that social progress could be a painless process. I don't think that good race relations is purely the absence of conflict. In fact, we probably have less disruption in South Africa today where we have the greatest segregation and discrimination. What we are really facing today, I think, is positive, and that is that the white community is now coming to find out that it takes more than the passage of laws which relieve their guilt, that it takes actual determination to live with and to work with and to cooperate with Negro citizens, and it is this final confrontation that people find most difficult to make.
SPIVAK: Mr. McKissick, what do you think? Do you think things are getting better or worse?
MR. FLOYD B. McKISSICK: I am of the opinion that things have not progressed tremendously for the masses of the people. I would not dispute the statement that some progress has been made, but I would say by and large the average black man in the ghetto has not profited within the last ten years. I think the last statistics showed, even last week at the hearing in Washington here, at the Ribicoff hearing, when he made the statement, we will find we have more discrimination in education, more segregated school systems, we are finding the unemployment rate is higher now than ever before. I think we could just go down the line and we could find that the situation has not improved as far as the masses are concerned. That is what the Congress of Racial Equality is concerned with.
SPIVAK: Mr. Carmichael, from your experience, are things getting better or worse?
MR. STOKELY CARMICHAEL: I don't know if you can make a comparison like that. I believe that what is happening is that black people across the country are becoming politically aware of their position, of their strength and of their ability to move, and so, based on that feeling, the masses of people are beginning to now move. The question is whether or not this country is going be able to meet their needs peacefully or whether they will have to move to disrupt this country in order to force the country speak to their needs.
SPIVAK: Mr. Meredith, may I hear from you on that? Do you think things are getting better or worse?
MR. JAMES H. MEREDITH: I think we have just reached a point in our history where we are really beginning to face the issue and the question. The question in this country is what is the basis or what is going to be the basis of our society. Up until now it is based on the theory of white superiority, and now this nation has to make a decision whether we will continue to use this base of white supremacy or whether we will live up to our ideals of equality and equal justice before the law.
SPIVAK: Dr. King, I’d like to come back to you now. The Superintendent of Police of Chicago, Mr. O.W. Wilson said the other day that your civil rights tactics have “aroused hatred among Chicago white residents and are hampering the Negroes’ progress.” What is your answer to that?
DR. KING: My answer is that this is totally erroneous. Our civil rights efforts have not aroused hatred. They have revealed hatred that already existed. There is no doubt about the fact that there are many latent hostilities existing within certain white groups in the North, and what has happened now is that these latent hostilities have come out in the open. I don’t think you can blame the civil rights movement for that.
Certainly no one would blame a physician for using his instruments and his skills and his know-how to reveal to a patient that he has cancer. Indeed one would praise the physician for having the wisdom and the judgment and the power to do that. We have only revealed in Chicago that there is a blatant, social, hate-filled cancer, and we haven’t said even that it is in its terminal state. We feel that it is curable, that it can be cured. But there is no doubt about the fact that the hate is here. We didn’t create it, we merely exposed it and brought it to the surface.
SPIVAK: Dr. King, I am sure you either heard or recall President Johnson's speech yesterday when he warned that violence and discord would destroy Negroes' hopes for racial progress. Isn't it time to stop demonstrations that create violence and discord?
DR. KING: I absolutely disagree with that, and I hope the President didn't mean to equate non-violent demonstrations with a riot, and I think it is time for this country to see the distinction between the two. There is a great distinction between individuals who are non-violently engaged in pursuit of basic constitutional rights and who in the process face violence and face hatred perpetrated against them, and individuals who aggressively throw Molotov cocktails and engage in riots, so that there can be no equation, or there can be no identity between riots and demonstrations.
I think demonstrations must continue, but I think riots must end, because I think they are socially disruptive. I think they self-defeating, and I think they can destroy the many creative steps that we have made in a forward sense over the last few years.
CARL T. ROWAN reporting:
Mr. Wilkins, despite the fact that you gentlemen sit here together, there is the feeling around the country that there is a crisis of leadership in the civil rights movement. Do you agree that the movement toward Negro equality is jeopardized by what now seems to be a host of warring civil rights groups, each pursuing its own special interest?
MR. WILKINS: No, I don't Mr. Rowan, I don't think it is quite that serious. We tend to feel that unity should be exhibited at all times, no matter what kind of organizations or what kind of personalities or what kind of tactics are involved. I think we have to grow up to the idea that there will be differences of opinion and that these will manifest themselves from time to time. I don't see as yet any great split in the civil rights movement.
ROWAN: I have noticed in The New York Times, Mr. Wilkins, a quotation from a so-called SNCC position paper saying, “We are now aware that the NAACP has grown reactionary, is controlled by the black power structure itself and stands as one of the main roadblocks to black freedom.” I note also that an NAACP official was referring to the Urban League as an "Uncle Tom" organization. This you don't think is serious division or anything to be worried about?
MR. WILKINS: No, no. I call your attention first of all to the fact that the SNCC person said that we were -- the NAACP was controlled by the "Black Power structure."
ROWAN: I wondered if that was a typo.
MR. WILKINS: No, it wasn't a typographical error, and for that we moved up on the scale, because there was a time when the spokesman would have said we were controlled by the white-power structure. But the NAACP official you referred to as calling the Urban League ''Uncle Tom" was only a local official, an extremely individualistic one at that, and in no sense can be said to represent the sentiments of the NAACP.
ROWAN: I noted, Mr. Wilkins, that your organization lost some 15,000 members between 1964 and 1965. You don’t think the NAACP and the country are in trouble today because the NAACP put its faith in the law and court decisions, but that when the crunch came, the decisions were not enforced and the law became just so much paper?
MR.WILKINS: No, I don't think we are in trouble because we lost 15,000 members out of a half million. I don't consider that serious or beyond accounting for in the normal course of events. Nor do I believe that the adherence to law and order is a penalty that we suffer. I think we all have to come back to law and order. I understand Dr. King out in Chicago has a lawyer now working on his injunction business, and I see where SNCC is engaging lawyers up in Philadelphia. So we all come to the courtroom and to the law eventually. We find we can't solve it with rhetoric.
JAMES J. KILPATRICK reporting:
Dr. King, you have been quoted as saying that you have encountered more hatred among white opponents in Chicago than you have encountered in the deep south. How do you account for this?
DR. KING: I think for years the hatred existed beneath the surface in Northern communities, and as I said earlier, it is coming out now. I think also we have to see that this is something of a dislike for the unlike. You see it as a great deal among the lower income ethnic enclaves who have basic fears about Negroes. They have grown up believing in certain stereotypes, whether it is the stereotype of, the Negroes are lazy, or inherently inferior or whether it is the myth that Negroes depreciate property values when they move into a community. There is another fear, the fear that the Negro is an economic threat. I think all of these things have contributed to and in a sense have conjoined to bring about this massive outpouring of hatred in Chicago and, I am sure, in other communities.
KILPATRICK: But why should these factors carry greater weight in Chicago or in some other northern city than they would in the deep south?
DR. KING: I am not saying and I haven't said they exist more than they do in the deep south because I must make one distinction and that is, in the south we have had the hatred, the violence, the vitriolic and vituperative words of the mobs on the one hand, but often these mobs have been aided and abetted by the law and by law enforcement agents. I think the difference is here that we have the violence of the mobs, but at least the law enforcement agents are trying to preserve a degree of law and order.
In the south we have had a double blow. We have had the mob against us as well as in some instances law enforcement agents actually and literally supporting the mob.
In the north it is often the mob and the support, on the hand, of the policemen trying to restrain the mob, but I don’t say that the hatred is worse. I think it is equal, and we have got to see now that the problem is a national problem and that we must work passionately and unrelentingly to remove these conditions and the kind of hatred that we see both north and south today.
KILPATRICK: Let me ask about your march today, Dr. King. You have decided, as I understand it, to obey the injunction that was laid down limiting the number of demonstrators.
DR. KING: Yes--
KILPATRICK: Even though you have described that twice yesterday, I believe, as an unjust order.
DR. KING: Yes, it is an injunction which I feel is unjust and totally unconstitutional, but, because we are engaged in negotiations now with the city, with the real estate agents and with labor and industry and other forces of power and goodwill in the community, we decided that we would abide by this injunction until we have our negotiating session next Friday and determine on the basis of that whether we would continue to comply with what we consider a blatantly unjust, unconstitutional and, I might say, amoral injunction.
ROWLAND EVANS reporting:
Mr. Young, you had to contend with a new sort of militancy at your national convention in Philadelphia. What exactly, do the younger Urban Leaguers want that is new? And let me ask you also, do they feel that the Urban League has become too identified today with the middle class?
MR. YOUNG: No, I think that that reflected more of an impatience with the pace. Urban League staff people are probably in the best position of any to recognize how slowly the gap is closing, if at all, in economics and education and housing, and in health and welfare. I think it recognizes also that we can do all we want to in terms of getting parents motivated into getting their children into school and keeping them there, but unless there are school boards that are so politically structured and politically sensitive enough to provide the resources, then our efforts to provide the motivation is of no value. What they are really saying is that we need these other activities, we need the other organizations who are doing the political activity.
The Urban Leaguers know that we are not middle class in the sense of our services. Last year, for example, over 50,000 Negroes were placed through the Urban League, and these were poor people who were placed, unemployed people.
EVANS: But didn't it shock you when at your convention you were picketed by another organization?
MR. YOUNG: No. I think, as Mr. Wilkins said, this was the act of an individual and not the act of an organization. Even there the Executive Committee of the Philadelphia NAACP totally discredited this and disowned it, and the individual himself apologized. He had made a mistake.
EVANS: But surely Cecil Moore represents the NAACP in Philadelphia and surely this represented a dissatisfaction with the work the Urban League is doing in Philadelphia. Is that not a fair statement?
MR. YOUNG: No, it is not a fair statement. This was a personal thing and the local board disowned the activity. Cecil Moore himself later apologized. I think what we are witnessing here -- and I think it is a healthy thing -- is that we do have the Urban League at a moment in time when there is great turmoil and when there is a great gulf, that we do have healthy dissent; we do have impatience; we do have people who want to push faster. But I think what we finally ended up with was saying the Urban League cannot do all of these things, that it is good to have other organizations who are supposed to do some things. What we need to do is to go back home and do all we can to help the other civil rights groups to do the job they are supposed to do, so that the Urban League can do what it is supposed to do and do it better.
RICHARD VALERIANI reporting:
Dr. King, to follow up Mr. Spivak’s question, recent polls suggest that in terms of national reaction, demonstrations are now counter-productive. By continuing them, don’t you runt he risk of doing more harm than good?
DR. KING: Again I contend that we are not doing more harm than good in demonstrations, because I think demonstrations serve the purpose of bringing the issues out in the open. I have never felt that demonstrations could actually solve the problem. They dramatize the existence of certain social ills that could very easily be ignored if you did not have demonstrations. I think the initial reaction to demonstrations is always negative. When we had them in the south initially there was a negative outpouring of disagreement. Now that they have started on a massive scale in the north, it is only natural that we will have this reaction, but in spite of the reaction, the demonstrations in Chicago, for instance – have not only brought the issues out, but they have brought us to the conference table, and I don’t believe that we would be in Chicago where we are today without demonstrations.
And let me say, secondly, that it is very important to see the difference between nonviolent demonstrations and riots. It may be true that in a demonstration people react with violence toward nonviolent demonstrators, but you don’t blame the demonstrators. This would be like blaming the robed man because his possession money precipitated the evil act of robbery.
Ultimately society must condemn the robber and not the robbed. It must protect the robbed, and this is where we are in these demonstrations, and I am still convinced that there is nothing more powerful to dramatize a social evil than the tramp, tramp of marching feet.
VALERIANI: In regard to your present movement, in regard to housing, is it not conceivable to you that a majority of white Armenians does not want a Negro for a neighbor, and if that is so, as it was demonstrated in a vote in California, should the majority preference be respected?
DR. KING: It is quite true that there are many people who are against open housing and who are against having Negroes as their neighbor. This does not mean that we don't go all out to end housing discrimination. It may be true that in the south many white people did not want Negroes to eat at lunch counters, did not want Negroes to have access to motels and hotels and restaurants, but this did not stop the nation from having its conscience so aroused that it brought into being a civil rights law, as a result of our movement, to end this.
Now, I think the same thing must happen in housing. People have these fears, they have these prejudices, and we are only saying that through legislation and a vigorous enforcement of fair housing bills we will be able to change certain conditions. It doesn't mean that we will change the hearts of people, but we will change through laws the habits of people, and once the habits are changed, pretty soon people adjust to them, just as in the south they have adjusted to integrated public accommodations.
I think in the north and all over the country people will adjust to living next door to a Negro, once they know that it has to be done, once realtors stop all of the block busting, the panic peddling and all of that. When the law makes it clear, and it is vigorously enforced, we will see that people will not only adjust, but they will finally come to the point that even their attitudes are changed.
SPIVAK: Mr. McKissick, you have been quoted as saying and these are the words-that "the civil rights movement in 1966 has reached the moment of truth, and Negro leaders are not telling it to us like it is." Most of the Negro leaders are here today. Will you tell us how you see the moment of truth that we are not being told?
MR. McKISSICK: I don't know whether I am being quoted accurately, but in substance that is what I said, and I will certainly explain it. First of all, I believe that the moment of truth is here for the simple reason that, one, nonviolence is something of the past. I don't believe nonviolence can be taught the way nonviolence could be taught years ago.
At our recent convention in Baltimore, the question of self-defense came up, and the convention went on record favoring self-defense, not abolishing nonviolence, but certainly favoring self-defense. The attitude was that, one, we are an organization fighting for constitutional rights and, in fighting for constitutional rights, one of those rights is the right to defend the home and the person, and no longer could we advocate that a person give up the right of self-defense.
I think, two, the climate which prevailed in 1960 or in the earlier years has changed, and I think it is difficult now to harness and have the control over demonstrations at many points for the simple reason that most of the black people in the communities do not and will not agree to be nonviolent. They will agree to participate in demonstrations, but they will not agree to be hit and passively to stand there and not return blow for blow.
SPIVAK: In your literature as late as 1965, you said “Nonviolence is effective. It has worked in hundreds of cases. This method attacks the practice of discrimination but respects the person who discriminates." Do you still stand by that or have you changed your definition of nonviolence? Everybody believes in self-defense
MR. McKISSICK: Oh, no. Let me get one point very clear. If we make a mistake, we are going to be the first to say an error has been made. Now, we are saying right today, we have had CORE rules for action for a number of years in which. We advocated a policy of nonviolence and we still advocate nonviolence in a demonstration. We say that we can march down the street and if nobody hits us, okay, you have got nonviolence. But if somebody hits us, then you better have an ambulance on the side to pick up whoever hits somebody.
SPIVAK: Am I to understand then that you and Dr. Martin Luther King really are not in disagreement on the principle and the philosophy of nonviolence?
MR. McKISSICK: First of all, I'd like to answer that by saying this, that despite the fact that as already has been said that Dr. King believes in one thing, Mr. Wilkins believes in another and Stokely Carmichael believes in another—
SPIVAK: I am just talking about nonviolence.
MR. McKISSICK: The facts of injustice are so heaped and they weave so closely together that I dare say we will ever divorce ourselves from each other regardless of any point which may come up.
SPIVAK: You haven't answered my question on nonviolence. Are you in agreement or disagreement with Dr. King on the matter of nonviolence?
MR. McKISSICK: The answer cannot be a positive yes and no answer. The Congress of Racial Equality adopts its position and Dr. King adopts the position for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. As far as we are concerned, as I said before, we believe in nonviolence providing nobody hits us. When somebody hits us, we believe in self-defense.
SPIVAK: There is a difference between self-defense and nonviolence though.
MR. McKISSICK: Self-defense and nonviolence are not incompatible.
ROWAN: Dr. King, you have heard what Mr. McKissick said. Are you in disagreement or not?
DR. KING: I believe firmly in nonviolence. I still believe that it is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and human dignity. I think a turn to violence on the part of the Negro at this time would be both impractical and immoral. If Mr. McKissick believes in that, I certainly agree with him. On the question of defensive violence, I have made it clear that. I don't think we need programmatic action around defensive violence. People are going to defend themselves anyway. I think the minute you have programmatic action around defensive violence and pronouncements about it, the line of demarcation between defensive violence and aggressive violence becomes very thin. The minute the nomenclature of violence gets into the atmosphere, people begin to respond violently, and in their unsophisticated minds they cannot quite make the distinction between defensive and aggressive violence, I think that we must still stand on the premise of nonviolence, and I choose to do that not only because I think it is morally right, but I think it is practically sound.
KILPATRICK: Mr. Carmichael, in a recent speech in Cleveland you reportedly ridiculed as "Uncle Toms" those Negro spokesmen who counsel nonviolence and patience in the civil
rights struggle. Did you mean thus to label such spokesmen as Dr. King and Mr. Wilkins?
MR. CARMICHAEL: Let me say that the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee will never publicly denounce any black leader in this country, so I couldn't have possibly said that.
KILPATRICK: The quote was simply false quote; you never said anything of that sort?
MR. CARMICHAEL: No, I never critically publicly criticized any black leader in this country.
KILPATRICK: In the same story you were quoted by the United Press International as saying that when you talk of "Black Power", you talk of bringing this country to its knees. Were you correctly quoted on that?
MR. CARMICHAEL: The other half of it said that when you talk about Black Power, you talk about bringing this country to its knees any time it messes with a black man."
KILPATRICK: Any time it messes with a black man. By that do you mean violence against the Negro?
MR. CARMICHAEL: By that I mean messes with a black man.
KILPATRICK: You would just stop it right there?
EVANS: Dr. King, a couple of political questions. You said recently that the "extravagant promises" made a year ago in connection with the voting rights bill have now become a "shattered mockery." What, exactly, did you mean by that, Dr. King?
DR. KING: I mean that this voting rights bill came into being to end not only discrimination in its overt expressions of voter registration, but also to remove the atmosphere for intimidation, for economic reprisals and for the creation of fear that cause people not to vote. One of the things we have found is that when you have federal registrars in communities, many more Negroes go out to register because they see a different atmosphere and are not over-arched or under-girded with the fear of intimidation and economic reprisals as much as they have in dealing with some of the local registrars that they have dealt with so long,
The problem is that after that bill came into being very few registrars were sent into the south. I mean federal registrars. Even today all too few have been sent, and this is even true in some communities where we know that there are outright patterns of discrimination.
EVANS: That is what I wanted to get to next, Dr. King. Whom do you blame for the failure of, as you call it, enough federal registrars to have been sent south? Is that President Johnson's responsibility? Is it the Department of Justice?' Where do you lay the blame?
DR. KING: I think it is both. I think it is ultimately the responsibility of the President through the Attorney' General, and I would say that it is not either or. It is both and, here. The President and the Attorney General have the responsibility to implement and to enforce it. I know that the ultimate enforcement of the law is with tile President, but certainly he follows the advice of the Attorney General, so I'd say both ends.
EVANS: Dr. King, why do you think the President has not moved as forcibly on voting in the south as you think he should have? What reason do you give to his not having sent more registrars into the south?
DR. KING: There are probably many reasons, and I must confess that I don't know all of the reasons. I think on the one hand some sincere feelings that if you can get voluntary—I mean if you can move into certain areas forcefully with federal registrars, that other areas will follow through inevitably in the realm of voluntary compliance. I believe that that is a sincere analysis, although I think it is a wrong analysis of the situation. I think on the other hand there are certain political forces that have sought desperately to keep the Administration from sending federal registrars in their areas. For instance, in southwest Georgia we need federal registrars right now, and I am convinced that the political leaders of Georgia in the Senate have used pressure to keep the Federal Government from sending federal registrars into Georgia.
VALERIANI: Mr. Meredith, looking back, what do you think your march through Mississippi accomplished?
MR. MEREDITH: As you recall. I didn't march through Mississippi. I was shot the first day and, of course, all of these other gentlemen carried on the march in 1Iississippi. I only returned for the last two days, I think probably the biggest accomplishment was to place in focus the problem in this country, and again I say the question is whether or not white supremacy and the rest of the theory of white superiority is going to be the rule in this country, or if we are in fact going to follow the rule of equality and equal justice before the law, as our ideals say.
VALERIANI: How is the philosophy of white supremacy going to be changed in your opinion?
MR. MEREDITH: It can only be changed in two ways, and one more important than the other. That is the white in this country decides that-and I think he must make this decision for his own survival-that this country will he one of equality and equal justice before the law and of course the Negro must develop himself, make himself whole, so that he can assert his 2 million manpower strength toward making sure that this nation becomes what it should be.
NEWMAN: Gentlemen, I must interrupt briefly here. Our thanks to Dr. King, who will be leaving us now.
SPIVAK: Mr. Carmichael, you have said over and over again that the white press has distorted your use of the slogan "Black Power." Will you tell us here and now exactly what you mean by "Black Power," so that all of us can understand your meaning without misquoting you or distorting you?
MR. CARMICHAEL: I am sorry you asked that question now, because two days ago the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee decided we are not going to define the term “Black Power” any more.
SPIVAK: Granted that you won't define it, there has been a position paper of SNCC’s organization published in The New York Times, and in that position paper these words of the SNCC organization are quoted: “When we view the masses of white people, we view in reality 180 million racists.”
MR. CARMICHAEL: In the first place; that paper was written by some people in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. It was not a public paper. We don’t know how The New York Times got a hold of it. The paper is 75 pages long. I don’t see how it is possible for them to assume that in one page of their anti-black newspaper they could publish the thoughts of a 75-page paper, and they said-- they said not the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee-- that it was the basis for "Black Power." We didn't know that. We thought the work we have been doing for the past six years has been the basis for “Black Power" because that is all we have been working on in SNCC.
SPIVAK: Well, Mr. Carmichael, will you yourself answer? Do you believe there are 180 million racists in this country?
MR. CARMICHAEL: I would say that the system in this country that is set up, that affects all of us black and white allows for white supremacy to reign in this country and that it does not allow for any white person to view a black person as his equal but rather to view him as inferior because of the system. That has nothing to do with the white person himself. He or she might be a good guy or a bad guy, but that the system just allows for seeing black people as inferior and that the few black people who are allowed to escape are viewed as exceptions to the rule.
SPIVAK: Mr. Carmichael, you seem to be misquoted a great deal in the press of America. I'd like to try you on one more thing. Did you or did you not say that Negroes who fight in Vietnam are black mercenaries?
MR. CARMICHAEL: I most certainly did, yes.
SPIVAK: Will you tell us exactly what you mean by that?
MR. CARMICHAEL: I certainly do, A mercenary is a hired killer, and I think that when this country says to black youths in the ghetto and to black youths in the rural south that their only chance for a decent living is to join the Army-- and then they throw in all sorts of rationalizations about, you can get skills and there is a chance for them to advance, etcetera, etcetera- they are saying to that black man that his only chance for a decent life is to become a hired killer because that is the sole function of an Army.
SPIVAK: Is that all they are saying, or are they saying the same thing to him that they are saying to every American?
MR. CARMICHAEL: That is what they are saying to the black youth because unemployment for him is double what it is for everybody else, while he is only one tenth, as we are always reminded most recently, of the population.
SPIVAK: Do you then stand by the statement you made on a recent television program that “There is no reason why black people should be fighting for free elections in Vietnam, for some other people to get free elections when they don't have it in their own country?"
MR. CARMICHAEL: I most certainly think, Mr. Spivak, that when you take black people from Washington, D.C., where they don't vote and send them to Vietnam.
SPIVAK: But white people don't vote either, Mr. Carmichael.
MR. CARMICHAEL: Then white people should speak to that.
SPIVAK: That's all right.
MR. CARMICHAEL: I represent the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee an organization that works with black people so therefore I speak for the needs of black people. It seems to me that when you talk about taking a black man from Lowndes County, Alabama-Mississippi, Georgia-Chicago, where he doesn't have free elections and you send him to another country where he is to deliver free elections for somebody else, he is a black mercenary.
SPIVAK: What about you? Do you vote?
MR. CARMICHAEL: Do I vote? I haven't voted.
MR. SPIVAK: Have you the right to vote?
MR. CARMICHAEL: I have the right to vote.
MR. SPIVAK: Are you a citizen?
MR. CARMICHAEL: There is some question about that.
MR. SPWAK: Since you have the right-- you say you have the right to vote, since you have the right, would you yourself serve in Vietnam?
MR. CARMICHAEL: No, I would not fight in Vietnam, absolutely not, and I would urge every black man in this country not to fight in Vietnam.
ROWAN: Mr. Meredith, you have been described as a loner, as a man with no organization and no clear cut philosophy. There are some differences of viewpoint represented here. Is there any one of these groups with which you more closely associate yourself?
MR. MEREDITH: The group with which I most closely associate myself is the Negro. This is a misnomer, this "loner" business, because I know that no one, including-- well, we will take the largest group, which is half a million. We have 25 million Negroes. My position has been and probably will remain for some time that in order for the Negro to accomplish what he deserves and needs, we are going to have to find something that everyone can attach to, say like the Democratic Party. You have Senator Kennedy, you have Senator Eastland, you have Senator Wayne Morse -- all members of the same party, but men with different views. I think that the Negro is going to have to do the same thing. We are going to have to have something that a Dr. King or a Dr. Jackson or a Mr.
Wilkins or Stokley Carmichael and all of the other peoples in this country-- the store fronts, the hustlers and everybody else, can attach to and work toward.
ROWAN: Do you think a declaration that Negroes fighting in Vietnam are black mercenaries is something every Negro can attach to?
MR. MEREDITH: Of course everyone knows my position on Vietnam. I fully support the war effort. I haven't supported the conduct of the war by the Administration, but I am a soldier. I have spent most of my adult life in the military, and I personally think that one of the greatest things in America today is the war in Vietnam, because for the first time black men, the Negroes, are fighting in a war. What this means to me is that these soldiers are not going to come back over here and accept white supremacy any more. I think that if we lose in Vietnam, this nation will go down, I want to be a part of a great nation, and I think the Negro wants to be a part of it.
Consequently-- Stokely hasn't been in the military. I don't want to argue with these fellows. I mean they can believe anything they want, but I am a military man, and I support soldiers fighting. I think everybody should support soldiers fighting.
ROWAN: Mr. Meredith, the crux of the issue here today is how to go about wiping out white supremacy, which you have mentioned. Isn't the real issue whether the Negroes' objective is integration or isolation?
MR. MEREDITH: I don't think so, because here 99 percent of the Negroes are going to be isolated anyway. Certainly for many years to come. I am now concerned-and this is what I am devoting most of my effort to-With the Negro himself. Particularly right now in voter registration efforts throughout this country, the Negro in this country feels left out. I meet them every day. They tell me "Why register, because it is going to be fixed anyway?" I don't blame them for feeling this because in the past it has been fixed. If they have not been sold out, they have not been represented by the people who are up there and supposed to represent them.
KILPATRICK: Mr. Wilkins, a few questions dealing with the desegregation of the schools. Here in Washington you are of course familiar with the process of desegregation that has resulted over the past ten or 12 years. In what way would you combat this tendency toward re-segregation that is brought on by the flight of white parents to the suburbs?
MR. WILKINS: I think Washington gave a little of that answer itself in the early days. The answer of course lies in the strengthening of the whole system of public education, irrespective of whether it is in the city or in the suburbs or whether they are white children or black children. I would say that the sentiment of the Negro community is for integration and quality education with emphasis on the latter.
KILPATRICK: I had in mind the specific tools that have been proposed by the various persons such as Mr. Howe, the Commissioner of Education, the use of federal funds in such a way as to coerce or to compel the more complete integration of schools in suburbs and in cities. Have you thought of that?
MR. WILKINS: Yes, I have thought of it. I approve what Mr. Howe has in mind and I go farther than he does. I feel that the education of 'the Negro minority in this country is something that has too long been neglected by the local school boards, by the cities, by the states, and that it is time that the federal government impose not only the restrictions that Mr. Howe talks about-and I applaud him for what he has done but additional ones. In this case, Mr. Kilpatrick, just as in the case of lynching, the local communities have proved themselves unable to deal effectively with the situation, and yet they say, "We mustn't have federal interference." I can't buy that. I am sorry.
KILPATRICK: If I understand correctly the implications of some of the speeches Mr. Howe has been making lately, he is proposing to say to a city and its surrounding suburban county which may be and ordinarily is under an entirely different government: "Neither one of your jurisdictions will receive federal aid unless your school systems are melded together and your children exchanged or bussed in or brought into more integrated situations." Is this what you favor and would like to see?
MR. WILKINS: I would like to see as much – first, I put quality education; second, integration. I don't think a child can have in this country a complete education, either a white or black child, if he goes to a segregated school all his life. He is going to have to live in a multi-racial community, he will have to function as an adult in a multi-racial community, and very shortly he is going to have to function in a multi-racial world, and he can't sell refrigerators in Nigeria with the kind of nomenclature that he uses in rural Georgia.
MR. EVANS: Mr. McKissick, I would like to ask you if you would try to explain for me the comment about CORE made recently by Lillian Smith, who, as you know, has just removed herself from the Board of CORE and is one of its oldest and most valued supporters. She says, “CORE has been infiltrated by adventurers, and nihilists, black nationalists and plain old-fashioned haters who have finally taken over.” Why do you think Lillian Smith has been affected this way by the developments in CORE over the last six months?
MR. McKISSICK: I can't understand, I really don't understand how Miss Smith has got such an impression. I think it is possibly because she has not been attending the meetings of the organization and has not met its Board of Directors and its chapter members. But I assure you that we regret the loss of Miss Smith, for she has made notable contributions to the organization, but I don't think that her interpretations, or the way she defines people in CORE would be a correct one in any sense.
EVANS: Do you think, Mr. McKissick, beyond Lillian Smith there has been an alienation between white liberals and CORE in the last few months, and if so, does this disturb you as a Negro leader?
MR. McKISSICK: Of course we would like to have everyone love us if at all possible, and of course we hate to lose friends. There is no question about that. But because people get disturbed by a change in policy, simply means that we will have to move the organization alone without those people, if those people decide not to go with us.
EVANS: Mr. McKissick, a last question: Since black power is one of the basic reasens behind Lillian Smith's move and some of this other alienation I talked about, could you define very quickly for us your concept of "black power"?
MR. McKISSICK: Yes, I will be quite happy to define it. That is CORE's philosophy of black power: One, we have stated that black people must decide for themselves. They must have self-determination to determine the direction and the pace in which they will become total citizens in this society. And in doing so, six basic ingredients are needed: One, political power. Two, economic power. Three, an improved self-image of the black man himself. As you well know that is not in the history books, what we have done and the contributions we have made. Four, the development of young militant leadership. Five, the enforcement of federal laws, abolishment of police brutality. And six, the development of a black consumer block. That is basically what we describe as black power.
VALERIANI: Mr. Young, to follow up that question, don't most of the civil rights leaders go along with the concept of black power, but rather deplore the idea that the term is being used, that it has a bad psychological effect?
MR. YOUNG: I can speak for the Urban League. We took a position, number one, that we should be very cautious about trying to interpret the slogans of other organizations. Secondly, we deplored the country's obsession and preoccupation with a debate about a slogan which we felt deterred the country from concentrating on the problems of poverty and discrimination. The Urban League takes a position that power is something that one acquires through having sufficient economic means, educational resources and political know-how. We do not feel that one gets pride or dignity or power simply by being white or being black, but by mobilizing into various groups who have similar ideas and working toward those ends. I think I must admit that any slogan, any motto that is left open to so many interpretations always runs a risk.
VALERIANI: You talk about developing pride, and Mr. Meredith has talked about making the Negro whole; and Mr. McKissick has also talked about pride. Yet the civil rights leadership seems extremely reluctant to face up to the implications of the Moynihan Report, which documents the disintegration of the Negro family. Why is this?
MR. YOUNG: I think the opposition or the reservation; that many of us had about the Moynihan Report was, one that it was entitled “The Negro Family,” which tended to indict 75 percent of the Negro families that are stable and not disorganized. I think the fact that it pointed up the social pathologies of the Negro and highlighted those and did not point up the social pathologies of the white society that had caused them was unfortunate. I think also we resented the fact that these various social disorganizations, such as illegitimacy and crime and various other things seemed rather high as far as the Negro is concerned. He did not point out that these are related to socio-economic conditions, and while the illegitimacy rate might be much higher among Negroes – say, as 60 percent of the illegitimacy happens to be Negro – actually 90 percent of the abortion rate happens to be white, and I am assuming the initial activity was the same, so there is no question of morality. But the report really presented not anything too new to Negroes. We had talked about it in our presentation of the “Marshall Plan,” Franklin Fraser talked about it years before. It was an in-house report. I have great respect for Mr. Moynihan. I think he is a genuine liberal in this cause, but it was an in-house document; it wasn't expected to be a published report. But since it became one, I feel free to make what I think is a valid criticism.
NEWMAN: Mr. Carmichael, I think you were disturbed by something that was said by Mr. Young.
MR. CARMICHAEL: No, I was disturbed by the Moynihan Report. Never by what any fellow black man says. At least publicly. I was disturbed by the Moynihan Report because what he was trying to do was put the blame on the –
NEWMAN: May I just interrupt to make it clear we are talking about a report drawn up by Daniel P. Moynihan when he was Assistant Secretary of Labor.
MR. CARMICHAEL: He put the blame on the black family. It is the same old trick of the oppressor switching the blame to the oppressed and saying to the oppressed. It is your fault why you are the way you are, without admitting that the oppressors are the ones who put the people where they were.
SPIVAK: Mr. Carmichael, may I ask in fairness, ask you this question, in fairness to Mr. Moynihan. Did he put the blame, or was he just reporting the facts? I have talked to Mr. Moynihan, and I don't believe he was placing blame. He was simply stating some facts.
MR. CARMICHAEL: No, he tended to place the blame. He tended to say, now, if all black men and black women got married and had two kids, all the problems would be over. That is what it led to. That was the conclusion and gist of the report, without stating in fact that in the black ghettoes of this country black employment runs rampant and that is not the fault of black people that black mothers have to work as maids away from their children while everybody else has a right to be home helping to bring their children up. That is not the fault of black mothers.
NEWMAN: I think I had better cut off the discussion of the Moynihan Report since Mr. Moynihan is not here to defend himself. I think – and I know him quite well – that you have mistaken what he said, but still – Mr. Spivak.
SPIVAK: Mr. Meredith, in your Saturday Evening Post article recently, you wrote, “There is much feeling that Dr. King's philosophy of nonviolence is no longer tenable.” Do you believe that or were you simply reporting on something?
MR. MEREDITH: Of course I believe it. In the first place, nonviolence is incompatible with American ideas. This is a military-minded nation, and it always has been. I am very afraid that if 25 million people start to go a different direction from what the mainstream is going-and let me say what I think that mainstream is: I think this country is one that basically is a tough country. It is a frontier-type of mentality, and everyone has the philosophy that you do right, but you make sure everyone else does right as well. Now, my father never shot anybody, but he always had a gun above his bed and shells within reach, and I am sure that if someone had broke in his house to disturb his family he would have shot someone. I see great dangers in nonviolence, although there are many
advantages to the country.
SPIVAK; But, Mr. Meredith, don't you think we ought to get straight on the difference between nonviolence and self-defense?
MR. MEREDITH: I think we should, yes.
SPIVAK: Just a minute, may I say, I think that when Dr. King and others speak about nonviolence they say that groups of Negroes shouldn't take arms and shouldn't take, as some have advocated.
MR. MEREDITH: That is the trick in the whole thing. Nonviolence is not the opposite of violence, and this is where the whole trick is in this whole business of nonviolence, and I think we should clear that up.
SPIVAK: I know, but there is a difference between, self-defense – I don't think that there are many of us who don’t believe in the right of self-defense of any Negro against anyone who attacks him.
MR. MEREDITH: Nonviolence is not the opposite of violence, and this is where this country has been trying to lead the Negro down a wrong road. They have been trying to say to him, “If you are not nonviolent, if you don't turn the other cheek, you are
Violent. The Negro has never been violent.
SPIVAK: May I ask you a specific question? When we talk about nonviolence, we are saying that the Negro ought not in groups or alone take up a gun or do anything else –neither should a white man – in order to take what he believes belongs to him. That is the difference between nonviolence – self-defense is when somebody attacks him.
MR. MEREDITH: The Negro has never in his history engaged in the type of violence that people are talking about. The whites have always engaged in this type of violence.
What really happened with nonviolence, they took the Negro as he was in 1960 or whenever it was, and they attached this name "nonviolence''' to him and thereby gave a legitimacy to a particular movement. This changed nothing. It just gave a name
to what already existed and gave the implication that if this were not the case, there would be violence. The Negro has never entertained the idea of taking up· arms against the whites and they can not. But now I think the Negro must become a part of this
mainstream, and if the whites – now you take Mississippi, for instance – I know the people that shot in my home years ago. They know the people that killed all of the Negroes that have been killed. The community knows them; the whites know them, and the Negroes know them, and I am here to say that these people have to be removed from our society. White supremacy will not allow itself to remove these people from its society. If they don't find a way, the Negro has no choice but to remove these men, and they have to be removed. You can't have killers running around in the society killing people themselves.
SPIVAK: Are you suggesting then that if several Negroes are killed or any white men are killed and the law does not punish them, as happens very often; in the case of white men too, that people ought to organize as vigilantes and go out and take the law
into their own hands and commit violence? You are not saying that, are you, Mr. Meredith?
MR. MEREDITH: That is exactly what I am saying. Exactly.
MR. CARMICHAEL: If you don't want us to do it, who is going to do it?
MR. MEREDITH: I know personally the man who tried to kill my family when I was at the University of Mississippi and everybody in the community knows him. I know that in all of the other communities in Mississippi – and you have read about all these killings –during the march they killed this 65-year old man, shot him 16 times, shot his head off.
SPIVAK: But you didn't pick up a gun and go out and try to kill that man because the law hadn't taken care of him; you don't believe in that, do you?
MR. MEREDITH: This is what we .are going to have to move to. If the law doesn't take these men, then we've got to stop this. We cannot continue to tolerate this. Now I know why –
SPIVAK: Mr. Meredith, do you mean to tell me that you believe the Negroes in this country ought to organize, take up guns, and if the law doesn't take care of the wrongs that the white man or other Negroes commit against him, they ought to take the law into their own hands?
MR. MEREDITH: This is precisely, and I will tell you why because the white supremacy is a system—
SPIVAK: Mr. Meredith, this doesn't even make sense against 180 million people. If you do it, they are going to do it.
MR. MEREDITH: Let me explain it. If you let me explain it, then you will understand. You see in Mississippi, I know it to be a fact that most of the whites in Mississippi are good whites. They don't like this, but they condone it. They tell me – they dislike it, they tell me this, but they are powerless to do anything about it. They are just like a father who is incestuous and wants to stop his – he sleeps with his daughter, but he wants to stop his son from sleeping with his mother. This is what white supremacy does. The whites in Mississippi don't like for whites to go around killing Negroes, but they have tolerated it so long until the law-they cannot bring themselves to enforce it. And we've got to stop this.
ROWAN: Mr. Carmichael, do I detect that you agree with Mr. Meredith that the Negro may have to take arms?
MR. CARMICHAEL: I am here to answer Mr. Spivak directly that if in fact the law – and let it remain crystal clear that in this country we are the only people who have to protect ourselves against our protection. We have to protect ourselves against state
troopers, against police in Mississippi, against Jim Clark against Bova in California, against policeman Rizzo in Philadelphia and we have to protect ourselves against these, and if we do not protect ourselves, since the police forces of this country and the federal government and the law officials are not protecting us, then who IS going to protect us? And I agree 150 percent that black people have to move to the position where they organize themselves and they are in fact a protection for each other and in fact of that 180 million people, because I am a little bit tired of that 90 percentage theory. I want to talk about that just for two minutes if I may. While we may be ten percent inside the continental borders of the United States, we want to make It crystal clear that we are well located in cities across this country and that if in fact 180 million people just think they are going to turn on us and we are going to sit there, like the Nazis did to the Jews, they are wrong. We are going to go down together, all of us.
And the second thing is that we want this country to be crvstal clear to understand that its Army is integrated and in Vietnam 40 percent of your fighting forces are black people. And if you think those black people are going to fight a war while 180 million people turn on its fellow black brothers inside this country and continue fighting that war, you are mistaken. And thirdly, while we may be ten percent inside the continental borders of the United States, outside the 180 are 10 percent. Understand that.
ROWAN: Mr. Carmichael, let me ask how many Negroes do you think agree with what you have just said?
MR. CARMICHAEL: It will be left to be seen. The Harris polls tell me only 19 percent.
ROWAN: I notice that Newsweek Magazine said 19 percent of the rank and file Negroes approved of you as a leader, that 33 percent of what Newsweek called the Negro leadership approved of you and your activities. Do you believe your following is really this low among Negroes?
MR. CARMICHAEL: I don't know. I was just wondering when I looked at that poll that had several other “Negro leaders” – quote-quote – above me, I wondered why they weren't invited to MEET THE PRESS. And I wonder why the country is then so obsessed with SNCC since only 19 percent of the rank and file are listening to us. It seems to me there would be no worry – we're a minority, forget about it.
ROWAN: It could be that the press delights in misquoting you, Mr. Carmichael.
MR. CARMICHAEL: It could be the press speaks from a white power base.
ROWAN: Let me ask you this, since we are back to black power again, is it that your organization decided not to define it again because it concluded that it was a public relations blunder to toss out a phrase whose meaning was so obscure and whose
emotional impact was so great that it divided Negroes, alienated whites and confused everybody?
MR. CARMICHAEL: On the contrary. The protection of the term "black power" came from the white press, never from black people in this country. The debate about that was arranged among white people and the white press, and it is in fact an attempt to smear and distort SNCC, and it is crystal clear in my mind that any white man in this country knows about power. He knows what white power is, and he ought to know what black power is. For the newspapers, which have analyzed the power structure of Vietnam and the power play in the cold war, not to understand what black power is in this country is certainly ludicrous.
KILPATRICK: Mr. Young, let me pursue a somewhat different theme for a moment. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission has now been in operation for a little bit more than a full year. Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the record it set over this past year?
MR. YOUNG: I am dissatisfied. I feel that the Commission was slow getting organized, that it initially was not aggressive enough in carrying out what its basic mission was—and that was to implement the law. I felt that initially they were too much concerned about trying to get people to do something voluntarily which they were supposed to see that they did as a matter of law. I don’t think the Commission has been aggressive enough. I don’t think it has pushed enough the whole matter of training as a responsibility of industry. I think that it has been poorly organized and at this point is in need of a major reorganization.
KILPATRICK: Do you have in mind such a reorganization as that contemplated in the bill passed by the House in April that would give to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission in general the same powers that the NLRB has to issue its own cease and desist orders?
MR. YOUNG: I think this would greatly strengthen the Commission's work providing it had the light administrative leadership.
KILPATRICK: Is the "civil rights lobby," if you will forgive the phrase, pushing that House bill?
MR. YOUNG: Oh, yes, we are supporting this. Mr. Wilkins, who actually heads the civil rights lobby, might be able to speak to this more in detail.
KILPATRICK: In the field of employment opportunities the statement often is made on the part of many employers that they are perfectly willing to hire more Negro workers but that none apply; or that so few who are qualified apply. How do you respond to that defense on their part?
MR. YOUNG: I think this is very feeble. We have in this I country in the corporate circles the most creative minds, the most imaginative people. Anything they really want to do, any type of worker they really want to employ or to train, they can do it.
I think what has been happening is that many have assumed their responsibilities were met once they opened their doors. I think many have been looking for the exceptional Negro. They have been expecting a Negro to be superior to a white person when he had no opportunity to be. They have been looking for Lena Homes for secretaries, and Ralph Bunches for accountant jobs. They have not been willing to say, "We will hire the whole range of Negroes as we hire the whole range of white people." They have not been willing to set aside the jobs that they have for mediocre white people or dumb white people and set those aside for the mediocre or the not-too-bright Negroes. I don't think industry has yet gone all out. It has certainly changed in its policies, its pronouncements. It certainly has opened its doors to the more talented, but I think it can do much more than what has been done up to now. It only convinces me of what more they could do if they really tried, because there has not been major disturbance in any of these areas where they have given new opportunities to Negroes.
EVANS: Mr. Wilkins, I want to ask you, without trying to join in a fight between you and Mr. Carmichael about his last statement, do you think it serves the Negro or the white man, his purpose in any way, to threaten that the ten per cent of the Negro population can, if it has to, drag down this whole country?
MR. WILKINS: I didn't interpret Mr. Carmichael's remarks that way.
EVANS: He said, ''We are going to go down together, all of us," if certain things don't happen.
MR. WILKINS: .J think Mr. Carmichael-if he weren't where he is, he ought to be on Madison Avenue. He is a public relations man par excellence. He abounds in the provocative phrase. Of course, no one believes that the Negro minority in this country is going to take up arms and try to rectify every wrong that has been done the Negro race if somebody doesn't rectify it through the regular channels.
MR. EVANS: Mr. Wilkins, may I just ask Mr. Carmichael if he would agree with that, that nobody in this country believes, as Mr. Wilkins has just stated?
MR. WILKINS: I think that Mr. Carmichael is on record
MR.CARMICHAEL: What Mr. Wilkins is saying and you ought to be clear in your mind, Mr. Evans, since you are a. newspaper reporter, that we have been forced by statements 111 this country, which remind us of the 90 per cent and what they can do and the 180 million and what they can do-as if they say to us, "Now, if you don't do exactly as we want you to do, if you don't follow what we prescribe for you, then we have the- power to wipe you out." That threat is not going to stand in my mind as a black man, and I am going to move to get the things that I have to get in this country to be able to function as an equal.
EVANS: Mr. Wilkins, to go back, don't you -think it is precisely this kind of approach to the civil rights problem, correct or incorrect, that has aroused so much basic concern, fear, perhaps hostility, over the whole ''Black Power" concept? Isn't this precisely what is worrying so many white people today?
MR. WILKINS: I go back to-- without a yes or no on that, I go back to the statement of Dr. King some moments ago in the difference between southern hatred and northern hatred, he went on to say that he was simply arousing-- not arousing it, but exposing it.
The thing that I think he omitted or gave too little emphasis to was the direct job competition in the north, whereas you didn't have that sort of competition in the south. The people m. north who feel that the Negro is a competitor for the job will be more fierce in their reaction than-those down southwhoonlYb1MJ to defend a psychological superiority. They already had the physical superiority.
EVANS: Mr. Carmichael has said in Chicago recently that there is a tendency for the middle class Negro, who has exited from the ghetto, who has managed to get out of the ghetto to forget the plight of the Negro in the ghetto once he has been emancipated.
Do you agree with that and, if so, is this endemic or is this peculiar to the Negro? Was this true of the Jew in this country, of the Italian and the other minorities?
MR. WILKINS: In the first place, I don't agree with it and, in the second place, 1feel that it isn't peculiar to the Negro at all. Everyone is trying to better his condition in life. Everyone is trying to get ahead. If you can move away from a warehouse or on a street that has no paving to a street with paving and far from warehouses, you will do it. That is if you are normal. Whether you are an American or whether you are a Lebanese, it doesn't make any difference. There is too much evidence that the Negro middle class in this country, while not having done all it should have done, has nevertheless financed -and supported and spearheaded the civil rights fight in the days when there were no people arguing philosophically about whether we should go this way or that way or the other way. There was only one way to go and that was to jam your head right into the wall and fight the man right on the firing line. That is what the Negro middle class did. Now, because they have two suits and wear a white collar and can speak English reasonably well, they have to take a lot of vituperation from those who are still in bad and say they have been forgotten. They haven't been forgotten. They have been pretty well taken care of, but the Negro middle class can do more than it has done.
VALERIANI: Mr. McKissick, what do you consider to be the No.1 priority ,of the civil rights movement today?
MR. McKISSICK: I think that we have got two basic priorities that are facing us as a nation. I think one is racism, and the 'second is peace. I think they both are interwoven within our pattern of thinking. When we talk about "Black Power," for instance, and everybody gets excited-two little bitty words in the English language. One, "black" everybody who has gone through the sixth grade knows what "black" means. ''Power'' everybody who has gone through the sixth grade knows what that means, and I get a letter from a professor at Harvard saying, "Explain black power."
That means putting black power in black people's hands. We don't have any and we want some. That simply is what that means.
The answer the two basic questions you are talking about. I think we have really got to change some values in this country, I think the war is indicative of black men going over to, Vietnam and dying for something that they don't have a right for here. I think that not only do we have the war, we've got racist thought. It is a racist thought to oppose black people having power, if I can put it like that. That is a racist thought-s-because what you are saying is, "I am opposed to black people having power."
Then, you join issue, and as a lawyer when you join issue, you start preparing and I start preparing, because the issues are joined. So when we say changing what are the most important issues today, I think you've got two. You got peace and you got racism. Racist thoughts.
MR. CARMICHAEL: Can I add to that? It seems to me that is very indicative in terms of the foreign policy of this country and its racistic attitude outside of the country, its exploitation of other non-white countries and the way it draws their resources and brings it back here to be industrialized. One of the reasons why I think that black people now across the country who have become politically conscious of what is being done in Africa and Asia and Latin America by this country are saying they must join up with these emerging countries in the Third World [is] because they have in fact a common need-that they must stop this system that has exploited and oppressed them because of their color.
SPIVAK: May I ask Mr. Carmichael a question first? A short while ago, when I was questioning you, you said you weren't sure that you were a citizen of this country. Was that correct?
MR. CARMICHAEL: Yes, I meant that in the sense that many people question that right, not me.
SPIVAK: I am only questioning you. Are you a citizen of this country?
MR. CARMICHAEL: Do you mean in terms of a paper?
SPIVAK: In terms of actual rights.
MR. CARMICHAEL: Obviously not. My dear black brother, Dr. King, can't even march in Chicago without getting a rock.' thrown on his head.
SPIVAK: I am talking about you. Do you have a right to vote "here? Are you a citizen, or are you still a citizen of Trinidad?
MR. CARMICHAEL: I am a citizen of the United States, if that is what you mean.
SPIVAK: That was the question. .
MR. CARMICHAEL: In that sense, in the paper citizen~. is that what you are talking about?
SPIVAK: That is right.
MR. CARMICHAEL: A· paper citizenship.
SPIVAK: You just don't identify yourself with the United States as it is today, and therefore you have virtually your citizenship out the window, is that correct?
MR. CARMICHAEL: On the contrary. It seems to me that what we are saying is that we see that there are some changes that have to be brought about in this country for people to live on the humanistic level that other people always talk about, and it seems that-that is where we say that we are going to move, to try to bring about those changes since people in this country do not live on the humanistic level everyone talks about.
SPIVAK: Mr. Wilkins, the SNCC position paper which was recently published by The New York Times quoted SNCC as saying--and these are the words: "We are now aware that the NAACP has grown reactionary, is controlled by the ''Black Power" structure itself, and stands as one on the main roadblock to black freedom. Many of us have long believed that your organization is one of the oldest, has made one of the great contributions in getting civil rights laws through the country and in many, many other ways. What is your answer to this rather serious criticism made by the younger, more militant groups?
MR. CARMICHAEL: That was a private paper and was not for publication. I don't know how The New York Times got hold of that.
SPIVAK: Do you repudiate that?
MR. CARMICHAEL: No, I am just saying that it was not a public statement. Privately, we have a right to analyze other civil rights groups, but we never do it publicly.
MR. WILKINS: Of course, we don't agree with it, and we feel it is a little uninformed. This is nothing unusual in these times. There are thousands of young Negro people in this country who believe that the civil rights movement started in 1960" when they became active in it, and so, anything before 1960 has to be aged and reactionary. This is not true. We feel that the NAACP is one of the most radical organizations because it addresses itself that is, if the objective now, Mr. Spivak--
SPIVAK: What is your goal? Does it differ in any way from theirs?
MR. WILKINS: If the objective is to reform America so that the Negro can live here in equality, if you can achieve his citizenship equality here--that is the goal, and that is our goal in the NAACP-then we have the radical approach, not the reactionary approach, because we want that equality with all the weapons we can muster.
SPIVAK: Both SNCC and CORE seem to feel that interpretation is irrelevant in the civil rights fight. As far as I know, most of the older and those who are called more responsible leaders, have always felt that this is the fight, that this is the battle, to integrate the Negro into America society. Have you changed your position on that?
MR. WILKINS: We haven't changed it at all.
SPIVAK: Do you think it is irrelevant?
MR. WILKINS: The SNCC private paper-- Mr. Carmichael says it was a private paper-uses a very significant phrase: "SNCC has become" it says "a closed society." We can't agree with this in any respect. No man is an island, to quote a familiar thing. You can't be a closed society and function in this world.
ROWAN: Mr. Young, we all know that the Negro in the civil rights movement labors under a great many burdens. Do you think it wise to add to it this extra burden of the great debate over Vietnam?
MR. YOUNG: No, I find myself terribly distressed by a great deal of this conversation here today, that, instead of focusing on the basic gap, the situation where the Negro today has 55 per cent of the average family income of the white, that two and a half times to three times as many Negroes are unemployed, that 40 percent of all Negro families live in substandard housing.
As long as we have this situation, we will always have these problems that seem to upset people, and people forget that when they were in the same situation-the labor movement, the women, the Irish group-they demonstrated, they marched in the streets, they fought for all these things.
As far as Vietnam is concerned, the Urban League takes no position on Vietnam. We know this, that we had a race problem in this country before Vietnam; we will have a race problem after it is gone. We know well that the resistance, savage resistance we are running into in Chicago, has nothing to do with Vietnam. We know that the unemployment-certainly the lack of employment on the part of some industries, is not related to Vietnam. We think that as an individual, one has a right to take a position. Our concern is that there be no money diverted into Vietnam that ought to go into the poverty program, and we also are concerned about the 60,000·Negro fellows who are in Vietnam whether we like it or not, and we want to see when they come back that these men, their rights, are respected, because one man throwing a rock seems to upset more people in Watts than the hundreds of Negro boys who are dying in Vietnam.
NEWMAN: Excuse me, gentlemen. We have just two minutes more.
KILPATRICK: I wanted to ask a question of Mr. McKissick, if I could, relative to CORE and polities. In the book that he published back in February, James Farmer spoke quite candidly of the major change in CORE's policies that will take you into more direct political involvement. He called it "open political action, partisan and direct." Can you tell us how widely CORE will be engaged this fall in congressional campaigns?
MR. McKISSICK: We will-when we talk about going into politics we can talk on one level about parties, we can talk on another level about personalities, and then we can talk on another level about issues.
KILPATRICK: Mr. Farmer talked on every level.
MR. McKISSICK: ·Yes.
KILPATRICK: He talked even of CORE's running its own candidates for public office and supporting particular candidates and particular parties. On that score, let me ask a question just for information. Are contributions to CORE tax deductible, or are they not?
MR. McKISSICK: Contributions are not tax deductible.
KILPATRICK: So then you can involve yourself in politics?
MR. McKISSICK: That is correct.
EVANS: Mr. Carmichael, were you invited by Bertrand Russell to that to that so-called “War Crimes Trials” in Europe?
MR. CARMICHAEL: It is not so-called. It is a war tribunal.
EVANS: Are you going?
MR. CARMICHAEL: Yes, we of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee have certainly accepted
EVANS: You personal1y? .
MR. CARMICHAEL: --the invitation.
NEWMAN: Invitation to what, Mr. Carmichael? Let's make it clear.
MR. CARMICHAEL: To attend the war tribunal that is being convened by Mr. Russell and--
EVANS: Bertrand Russell. Are you going yourself, Mr. Carmichael?
MR. CARMICHAEL: I am not sure, but I'd like to very much.
EVANS: You think President Johnson is guilty. Is that fair?
MR. CARMICHAEL: I didn't say I did. That is why I am going to the war tribunal, to see the evidence.
EVANS: You think he may be?
MR CARMICHAEL: I certainly don't agree with the War in Vietnam. I think it is an immoral war, yes. I think it is an immoral war.
NEWMAN: I am sorry, gentlemen. I must interrupt. Our time is up. Thank you, all of you, for being with us today on this special edition of MEET THE PRESS.
The American civil rights movement was a mass protest movement against racial segregation and discrimination in the southern United States that came to national prominence during the mid-1950s. This movement had its roots in the centuries-long efforts of African slaves and their descendants to resist racial oppression and abolish the institution of slavery.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Roy Wilkins, Whitney M. Young, Floyd B. McKissick, Stokley Carmichael, James H. Meredith, Non Violence, Civil Rights Movement, Nobel Peace Prize, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, SCLC, NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, CORE, Congress of Racial Equality , SNCC, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, National Urban League, Segregation, Desegregation, Legislation, African Americans, Black Power, Self Defense, Constitutional Rights, Discrimination, Vietnam War
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