Interview with Ben Chavis
QUESTION 4
JUDY RICHARDSON:

So you're an SCLC organizer and you're now in the United Church of Christ. Can you give a sense of that and going into the Wilmington community and what you're organizing around?

BEN CHAVIS:

Yes. It was in early 1972 that I was first sent to Wilmington, North Carolina, by the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice. I was a grassroots field organizer for the Church, having formerly been an organizer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. King's organization, up to 1968. Then I joined the Church staff. And the reason why I was sent to Wilmington by the Church was to respond to racial violence that had been perpetrated on Black students attempting to go to school in a desegregated situation. As a result of that violence being perpetrated on the schoolchildren, ah, ah, a little race riot, ah, occurred. And of course, the National Guard was sent in, two people were killed, millions of dollars in property was lost. But one of the things we decided to do, ah, in Wilmington, ah, in 1971, ah, when the incident first happened--I just, I better stop, 'cause I just thought of something.

JUDY RICHARDSON:

OK.

BEN CHAVIS:

The incident happened in '71 Judy, and the arrest was in '72. And so the backdrop to the situation actually, when I was sent to Wilmington, ah, in 1971, to respond to the racial crisis of high school students in Wilmington, ah, I arrived--

JUDY RICHARDSON:

let's cut.


JUDY RICHARDSON:

How much of the--

SAM POLLARD:

Maybe you want to take a deep breath, Reverend Chavis, before we do this one.

BEN CHAVIS:

All right.