Interview with Ben Chavis
QUESTION 17
JUDY RICHARDSON:

OK, Give me a sense of your reaction as you're watching Jesse's speech.

BEN CHAVIS:

Well, first of all, you know, the convention was a lively convention. It was not a dull convention. I mean, there were very seldom moments where there was silence in the convention. And I remember when, ah, Jesse Jackson was introduced, Reverend Jesse Jackson was introduced, ah, he received, of course, a long round of applause. And people were very interested to hear what Jesse was going to say. Ah, but I think the most surprising thing about, ah, Jesse's speech was the end. No one would imagine that Reverend Jesse Jackson would, ah, affirm, ah, the nationalist call. And that was, "It's Nation-time. It's Nation-time." And I remember everybody raised their fists and, ah, stood up, literally, and repeated over and over again, "It's Nation-time. It's Nation-time." And in, as you looked around that auditorium, it felt like it was Nation-time. At least it sounded like it was Nation-time. And, ah, everybody expected, ah, Baraka to lead that chant. But keep in mind Baraka was playing the role of a facilitator, with African consensus. And so Jesse Jackson, ah, became the keynoter in terms of lifting the emotional level, ah, of the, ah, crowd to an all-time high, ah, with the call for Nation-time. But it was just not a hollow call. It was just not a rhetorical call. When people were repeating after Jesse, "It's Nation-time. It's Nation-time. It's Nation-time. Let the Black nation rise." I mean, you could hear it in the, reverberating Marcus Garvey. You could hear it reverberating all those prize struggles from the forties, and the thirties, and the fifties and the sixties. I mean, it came to be fulfilled in that moment, of crying that it's Nation-time, now[4][4] Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965 - 1985; Episode 201-03, not next year, not next century, but now. In 1972. In Gary, Indiana.**