Interview with John Conyers

Why was 1969 the right time to starting organizing the Congressional Black Caucus?


Well the, the Nixon administration had to, ah, give us some impetus because, ah, not only were they whacking back at the, ah, social programs, ah, housing, ah, education, job training, but they were, they were also--we, we have to remember that they had, ah, Attorney General John Mitchell plus J. Edgar Hoover in the FBI and they were looking upon civil disobedience not only in the, the Vietnamese, ah, anti-war protests against Vietnam but also the rising activity of the Civil Rights Movement. I mean King was under active surveillance, ah, up until his death. They, they, ah, it was very clear that they saw all of this as, as, ah, inimitable to, ah, law and order as they saw it. And so this additional harassment, ah, the, ah, the, ah, the, ah, COINTELPRO, the, ah, the, ah, the blatant discrimination that existed, ah, in terms of federal law enforcement, ah, the non-enforcement of, ah, civil rights laws, all of this, ah, created a circumstance that I think augmented the necessity for us to pull together and finally create a, a caucus where we could more efficiently carry on the business of trying to represent, ah, all, all the Black people who were so grossly under-represented in the Congress to begin with.