Interview with Ben Chavis
QUESTION 16
JUDY RICHARDSON:

And can you talk about it again, a little bit more in terms of that COINTELPRO. what you were thinking. again, give me that answer, but more into the COINTELPRO, what you thought--

BEN CHAVIS:

OK. I think the best way to say it is this--one of the things I had in my mind on the way up to Gary was that, you know, the government may not allow us to have this convention. I mean, here are representatives from every Black organization in the country, from all walks of life, elected officials, nationalists, pan-Africanists, the whole diaspora of the domestic African-American community in one place at one time in 1972. Hey, that's a threat to the powers that be. And I had in my mind, I said, "I know they're gonna try to do something to stop this convention." And so when I first saw Diggs at the opening of the convention trying to gavel down the sentiment of the, of the, of the body, against the will of the body, I said, "Uh-oh, here it comes." But it was clear that the body was not gonna be deterred. The will of the people was gonna be expressed at that convention. As nowhere else in America at that time, the will of the Black people was going to have this convention. And we were going to have an open convention, not a closed convention. And that's why Diggs had to step back. And Amiri Baraka came forward, Imamu Baraka came, and with his African consensus brought the body back to some order. So that we could proceed. But it was not law and order. It was an order to proceed so that we could engage in the struggle of the convention.

SAM POLLARD:

Excellent, excellent.