Interview with George Clements

What was that challenge that was so vital to the Black community, for the Black community?


It was extremely important that the Black community learn the, how to really take control of our own communities. Ah, we had learned to accept the fact that we lived in segregated areas. But what we were saying, and what the Panthers and Afro-American Patrolman's League and other groups, what they were saying was, "At least let us control ourselves." And, of course, that was not taking place because we had, ah, everywhere you looked, anybody who had any position of authority was White. The, ah, the principal of the school, the post- local postmaster, the fire chief, the police chief, everybody who had any kind of authority. And we said that had to be changed. And of course the, ah, also the important thing about that era is that it exposed the hypocrisy of so-called integration. Because, ah, integration was specious, it was fallacious. It had absolutely really no meaning at all when you came down to Black people really taking control. Integration always meant that there were large numbers of White people, at least seventy, eighty, eighty-five percent. And then you had a number of Blacks that were marching together with these Whites. But the Whites of course were in control. And in the 60s, when we started talking about, ah, integration wherein there was a White minority, then that was termed inundation. And that meant, of course, that we just can't deal, because now they're in charge. And so, ah, if they- there's just no way that we can function. And of course, that gets back to, um, a just absolute concrete, fundamental fact of American life, and that is that most White Americans, when they are born, they are imbued with the theory that this is their nation. They are to run it. They are in charge. And that's just kind of an accepted fact. And on the other hand, most Blacks, when we come in here, we come in with the knowledge that there's always going to be some White man somewhere who's going to be telling us what to do.