Interview with Charles Butts

In 1967, we're talking about the Stokes primary election, what were the numbers? What did you expect? What kind of strategy did you need to put together to get Carl Stokes elected?


Well, when we're talking about 1967, this is two years after he had run the first time as an independent. In 1965, there was little belief that, that he could be elected. As a matter of fact, the political pundits ah, ah, would have all, were all predicting that he couldn't possibly win. He didn't win but he came close enough for a recount. One of the things that I--this is before we had ah, polls for every election and ah, at every point in an election. Um, but I did what others did of, of asking ah, Blacks that might be taxi drivers or, or people in the parking lot and all the, all the ones that one would run into downtown, just as the political pundits. And they said, no, they didn't think Carl Stokes would win. But I asked them the second question. Ah, I said, "Are you going to vote for him?" They said they're darned right. And there, and, and that's part of what began, well. It happened in 1965 that needed to be exploited and taken, taken to victory in 1967 ah, was that there was a belief ah, that it was the thing, the right thing to do. And by 1967 it was pretty well clear because he'd come so close that he could win.