Interview with Unita Blackwell
QUESTION 4
JUDY RICHARDSON:

OK, so we're, it's 1984, and you're standing up at the podium at the Democratic National Convention. What did you feel like, having been and MFDP [Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party] delegate before, fighting all these people before, how did you feel?

UNITA BLACKWELL:

In 1964, I went to Atlantic City, New Jersey, challenging the regular Democratic Party. And we couldn't get in, it was a long process they have, trying to get people to know that we had been denied the democratic process within our state. By 1984, I was asked to speak in the National Democratic Convention in San Francisco. That was a feeling of, um, I felt, I don't know what I'm going to do, or what I'm going to say, ah, and I tried not to get emotional about it, um, but that was a feeling that it was worth all of it, that we had been through--That we made it thusly far. I can remember a woman told me one time when I was running for justice of the peace, and I say I lost by about 6 votes, which they, that wasn't true, they took it in '67. And, um, she said, "Well, the reason I won't vote for you is because they gonna kill you." The Whites had told her that they were going to kill me. And she thought she was saving my life. And when I stood in that podium, twenty years later, that I was still living, that feeling, that I was standing there for this woman to understand that she had a right to register, to vote, for whomever she wanted to, and that we as a people was going to live. Jesse Jackson spoke before me, prime time, of course, but CNN picked me up and several stations in our area people did see me, late at night, and some of them that know me knew that, and maybe I'm doing it now, I felt tears, because Fannie Lou Hamer should have been standing there. She was standing there, in us, in me, in Jesse, in all of us. Because in 1964, she testified. Chaney and Schwerner died in my state, Mississippi for the right for me to stand there at the podium. That's what I felt. That I was standing there for all who had died, all who would live, all for the generation to come.

JUDY RICHARDSON:

Cut.




UNITA BLACKWELL:

I've gotta do better. I knowed[SIC] I was too happy this morning.


UNITA BLACKWELL:

Y'all ask some of the tough questions.

JUDY RICHARDSON:

Yeah, but you did just what we needed.