Interview with Ben Chavis
QUESTION 1
JUDY RICHARDSON:

OK. Give me a sense of what you had been doing locally, in the Wilmington, North Carolina community, in terms of grounding you before you come into Gary.

BEN CHAVIS:

Well, in early 1972, ah, I was a community organizer for the Commission for Racial Justice of the United Church of Christ. And basically I went around throughout North Carolina, Wilmington--I spent more time in Wilmington than other cities--challenging racism. Racism in the school system, ah, racism in employment--ah, you know, racism in the South in the early seventies was very similar to the racism in the South in the sixties. The only difference is that, ah, in the wake of King's assassination, it was more repressive to go out and try to do grassroots organizing, to go out and try to do mobilizing around local issues. But that's where the struggle, ah, was in the early seventies--at many local levels, around issues that, ah, were very crucial to the survival, ah, of the Black community, of the African-American community. And school desegregation, racism in the schools, was a primary issue at, at that time. So I went to Wilmington, in fact the church sent me to Wilmington, to respond to the racial crisis in Wilmington resolving around the school desegregation. Ah, as you know--