Interview with Elaine Brown

Could you talk about your alliances with SNCC, specifically what influences Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown may have had on you and what influences you may have had on him, and the Black Panther Party may have had on SNCC.


Well, the Black Panther party of course, we saw ourselves as the vanguard of struggle. The SNCC organization was a civil rights organization primarily dedicated voting rights and activity in the South. Um, Stokely, of course, took a position that White people had no real role to play, took a very hard line nationalist position. But the Black Panther party, um, was what we considered to be the vanguard of revolution. So we were, ah, to the left of SNCC in that, if you were to use a political scale, we would say that we were to the left of SNCC and, SNCC and therefore we were truly what we thought of as the vanguard. We recruited Stokely Carmichael, as my recollection, in the sense of, we said, look, he had popularity, we had this, and we were basically talking about the same things, although he had a different perspective as the head of SNCC. So we asked him, because he had some ties in Africa, and because he had an international and a national image, to participate in the Black Panther party, to be a kind of ambassador for the party when he went into, into Africa. And of course Rap Brown and others were part of that. The Free Huey movement, however, at the time, in 1968 particularly, was so profound, and it was so big, that everybody wanted to get on board. And so it wasn't difficult to see the coalitions forming. And it was more of a, more than a coalition, it was really a uniting and a melding of the various Black quote militant forces in America.