Interview with John Conyers

So we're going start slow and build up. As a Detroit resident how did you view the Civil Rights Movement in the South?


Well, I was always drawn to the struggle because my dad was a labor organizer for the UAW. Well, he had been in the labor movement at Chrysler, in the auto plants, even before the UAW, ah, where it was illegal to be in unions, and you had to wear your button on your underwear under your shirt, where you would get beat up, and thrown out, you'd get beat up before you got fired, ah, for trying to form a union, so I came up in that kind of environment with these kinds of friends of my father's, ah, who spent, ah, he retired as an international representative for UAW. So I always had a political view, and the Civil Rights Movement, of course, was electrifying. The first thing I remember about it was, ah, the forays that, ah, Martin, Abernathy, ah, Andy Young, ah, and others, used to make to raise money for the South. I think that was probably the first contact I had with him, Detroit outside of Los Angeles was the main, ah, supportive financial fund-raising unit in which the churches were used, and the labor movement. The UAW was always very sympathetic to that. The Ruether brothers were always, ah, ah, pro-civil rights, and so it was out of that feeling that, ah, and that contact that I began to, ah, follow this thing with, ah, deep fascination. And then why I, ah, ended up going to the, ah, I joined the National Guard unit that was activated, an, ah, Engineer Combat Unit, then I went to officer candidate school in Fort Belvoir, right out of Washington. And I used to come, and sit in the gallery and watch the, the members of Congress, and--