Interview with Ben Chavis

Give me a sense of that energy at the convention. That people were writing all the time.


Yes, well again, it was a very serious convention. I mean, it wasn't a convention where, where it was just a spectator event, where all the delegates were just spectators watching the speeches. No. All the delegates were engaged into every item that went on. Everybody had out writing pads, some people had stacks of pads taking copious notes on everything that happened. And I remember the last day in particular, ah, it, the convention ended on a very serious, ah, note, because we were drafting, literally, in convention, the committee of the whole, ah, the National Black Agenda. And ah, ah, the leadership had said, "Well, you're gonna get this agenda, agenda several weeks after the convention," but a lot of the state delegates wanted to take the agenda home with them. And so a lot of us were making sure we had our notes. I was double-checking my notes with John Mendes, who was a student leader, president of the student body at Shaw University at that time, making sure that my copy matched his, and we, ah, making sure that we had all the resolutions. 'Cause some of the resolutions were about North Carolina. Part of the National Black Agenda, ah, convention resolution was a resolution on Wilmington. And you know I wanted to go back home and hurry up and tell the people. So I decided not to drive, but to fly. I couldn't wait. I wanted to fly home. And so I went to the airport, O'Hare, and flew home, ah, so that I could give the word to Wilmington right away. But it was a great day. And so the convention in Gary ended on a, just as serious note as it began. It ended, ah, on the theme of unity. It ended on a theme of the necessity to work together on a common agenda. And it ended on a sense of spirit that we must have renewed spirit as we go back to our local struggles.