Interview with Ben Chavis
QUESTION 13
JUDY RICHARDSON:

I'm sorry. Back up and just mention again that there wasn't enough room. you know, that there were so many thousands of delegates.

BEN CHAVIS:

Oh, you want me to tell the whole scenario--

JUDY RICHARDSON:

Yeah that part, yes, please.

BEN CHAVIS:

All right, OK. Ah. For many of the delegations that came to Gary, there was not room to stay in some of the local hotels. There were thousands of people from around the country. So a lot of the delegates, including from the North Carolina delegation, stayed in a hotel in Chicago. I remember it was the Howard Johnson's in Chicago. And, ah, one--there was a real stark difference between, ah, the environment of Chicago and the environment of Gary. Number one, most of us remembered while we were in Chicago the days of Daley. Daley was still the mayor then. And we had, at least I, had a remembrance of the role that Daley played in the National Democratic Convention in 1968, when all those people got their heads beat just for, ah, protesting against racism and for protesting against the Vietnam War. So a lot of us were very kind of even nervous about being in a hotel in Chicago, going to a Black convention in Gary, Indiana. Also there was a stillness of the environment. When we got to Gary, it was alive. There was a lot of electricity in the air. I mean, ah, it was truly a time in Gary, Indiana, when African-Americans, ah, were self-determined. When there was no intimidation. In fact, there was affirmation all over the place. And I would say there was a sense of pride, just to be there. To know that we'd made it, ah, out of those local struggles around the country to come into this convention, ah, to express the aspirations of the people we left back home. 'Cause all of us were delegates. And I really felt I was going to represent Wilmington, North Carolina, and their struggle and their, and their, and their pains and aspirations of the people there. And the thing about it, that was welcomed. That was not resented. Because I heard the other sisters and brothers around the country who were also organizing, who were also struggling, around some of the same issues. But we all had that sense of self-determination. And Gary at least allowed a venue, a place, ah, for that to be expressed without the kind of Nixonian repression that had been going on around all around the rest of the country.

JUDY RICHARDSON:

Stop please. That's great.


BEN CHAVIS:

I talked about self determination.

JUDY RICHARDSON:

That's right, it's in that context, exactly.