Interview with John Conyers

The traditional relationship between federal government and civil rights leadership, how did that change when Richard Nixon comes, in specific to the civil rights leadership?


Well President Nixon never held himself out as a friend of the Civil Rights Movement so that was part of what the, ah, campaign about his, ah, election was about, whether we were going to move it forward. It was narrowly won but it's winner take all. And so, ah, the Civil Rights Movement, ah, public affairs, ah, ah, organizations, ah, urban constituencies that had, ah, that were beginning to look at housing and delivery systems for food and jobs, education program--all of these things now were subject to being turned down, ah, remodified. The, the Nixon people were then put in charge of these agencies and frequently it, it was, ah, foxes watching hen houses sort of a thing, so that the civil rights leadership had no doubt about the nature of their problem. Martin King was planning a Poor People's March to Washington, ah, which was to deal with this insensitivity that was being clearly manifested by the administration.