Interview with Ben Chavis

So now why is it important to have a national Black political convention in the context of this national repression?


Well, first of all, ah, the whole idea, ah, of African-Americans and Black people coming together in nineteen sev, seventy-two, ah, was a, a, unique idea. It was an idea that was welcomed, ah, particularly by those of us at the local levels who were struggling against, ah, racism and repression. Ah, keep in mind there had not been a real national meeting of, ah, African-Americans since the sixties. And I'm gonna tell you the truth. It was good notion to go, ah, to Gary, Indiana, ah, when, when, when we all knew it wasn't, we're not going to a funeral. You know, for so many things, you know, I had gotten tired of going to funerals. And not that we should not go to funerals, but so much of the Movement had been tragic. You know. And I have to emphasize King's assassination was a tragic blow to the Movement. And so four years later, March of '72, for us to be gathering up our wherewithal to go to Gary, Indiana--hey, that was a good shot in the arm for the Movement. Because it meant that somehow the various forces, all these local struggles, survived that repression. Somehow we survived the grief that we all had from Dr. King's loss. And somehow we were making a statement that we were going to pick up that baton and run with it again in the 1970s. And Gary became a place for us to gather, ah, to talk about how we were gonna wage struggle in the 1970s. To talk about how we were gonna wage struggle against Nixon. We knew '72 was an election year. We knew that, ah, we had to mobilize our people. 'Cause there'd been a lot of disillusionment again when Nixon, ah, first got elected in 1968. And the whole, keep in mind the backdrop also of this was the Vietnam War. This was the height of the Vietnam War. A lot of my friends got killed in the Vietnam War. And, and so, people wanted a venue to express the struggle.


OK. Cut.