Interview with Stokley Carmichael



I'll continue. We—the administration had then been praised by the Washington Post after approving the project. Our first debate was Malcolm X versus Bayard Rustin. Of course it was important. Once the administration saw Malcolm X, I mean they didn't know what to do. They didn't want him there, but they just been praised for being liberal so they were already finished. There was nothing they could do. And Bayard Rustin was brought. The debate was important for us in NAG, the nonviolent action group, at that time around SNCC, because there were great divisions and Bayard Rustin and Malcolm X posed these divisions, the approaches towards the solution. Of course, Bayard Rustin's approach was one of total commitment to nonviolence as a philosophy with the aim of integrating into the American capitalist system, almost, well questioning the capitalist system but not to a profound degree. Malcolm, of course, was the total opposite, not seeing nonviolence as a philosophy, almost denouncing it as a tactic, if you will, calling for violent clash of arms against the American capitalist system and not for integration. Into it, but separation from it, while seeking its destruction, either through our hands or the hands of Allah, as he himself would say it. So, the Malcolm X debate and the Bayard Rustin debate had a profound effect upon the nonviolent action group and consequently SNCC because of the role that nonviolent action played and of course consequently the country because of the role that SNCC played in the country.