Interview with Stokley Carmichael
QUESTION 37
JUDY RICHARDSON:

Just say the meeting at the Loraine Motel.

STOKELY CARMICHAEL:

The meeting in the Lorraine Motel immediately after the shooting of ah, Meredith. We have to look at the scenery in the first place. I had just been elected Chairman of SNCC. In Mississippi the route of the march was a route in the 2nd Congressional District. I was Chairman of the 2nd Congressional District before going to Lowndes County. Every project in that area I had opened myself. I had spent time in jail in probably every area in there. I knew all the strong people on a personal basis. I had slept in their houses when they were shot into by terrorist groups in the south. All of that area was SNCC area so we knew this area properly and we knew this area was ready for Black power among the mass of the people. So here we were clear. The shift also of King from Selma, Alabama to, ah, Meredith march was clearly different. At Selma, Alabama SCLC walked through as they wanted, did what they wanted, exactly as they wanted. SNCC had little chance even though, as I said, SNCC factions were fighting against, ah, S, SCLC. But in the Meredith march, SNCC was in a stronger position. Politically it had more respect as an organization. It had the militant segment of the, of our community 100 percent, ah, behind it. So consequently here, you could see that there was really, really, really, SNCC had a different position and SNCC recognized it. When we came to the meeting of the Motel, ah, Lorraine Motel, after, ah, spending time with Meredith, there was Mr. Wilkins of the NAACP, Mr. Young of the National Urban League, Mr. McKissick of the Congress of Racial Equality, there was Dr. King representing SCLC, there was, if my memory serves me correctly, Miss Andy Devine of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, around with Mr. McKissick there were local organizers in CORE. If my memory serves me correctly, I think Dave Dennis and then there was SNCC staff. We had recognized, the SNCC staff, early in the meeting that anytime SNCC, CORE, SCLC, Urban League and NAACP do a joint project that King always walks down the middle. Because SNCC and CORE goes to the left. NAACP and Urban League goes to the right. And then King is allowed to walk down the middle. So we recognized from the beginning if we eliminate from this march, NAACP and Urban League and if you have SNCC and CORE and King, if SNCC and CORE is on the left, King cannot stay on the right. He will be forced to move closer to SNCC and CORE. So for SNCC's policy to become stronger, of course we needed King to come closer to it and the elimination of, ah, Wilkins and, ah, Young. Of course to eliminate them from the march would not be difficult. SNCC was really the only one that could say in the state of Mississippi. You had statewide projects. The only other organization having workers on a daily basis, serious workers, in the state of Mississippi, was the Congress of Racial Equality, but they were down south, in Canton area and, ah, just below the area of the march, but they did have workers there. And their workers next to SNCC were the second but in comparison to SNCC, they were few. The NAACP had no projects but they had strong individuals who commanded respect, such as Medgar Evers. In the house in Greeleigh, Mississippi where I slept every night, it was the house of Mr. Green, he was NAACP leader in Greenwood, Mississippi and many of our SNCC people. So, while we had respect, Amsey Moore, was an NAACP man. So the NAACP had strong individuals in the state who were respected but they had no projects. And these individuals themselves in order even to move themselves had to depend upon SNCC, such as Amsey Moore, came to depend more upon SNCC than he did upon the NAACP. Consequently we knew politically we had the area. Thus our first task was to eliminate Wilkins and Young from the meeting. So through some tactics, we eliminated them from the meeting.