Interview with John Conyers

What had happened in the country?


Well, in 1972, ah, we were faced with probably the results of ah, four years of Nixon that had shown us that law and order was here to stay, J. Edgar Hoover was riding high, ah, ah, the, the themes of Richard Nixon had been really stamped on the federal government. The Fred Hampton incident in Chicago, the assassination in his sleep, by FBI agents, of a very highly thought of young Black activist. And the whole era of repression of, Nixon had finally come into his own, and we were sort of at the bottom. We were at the, at our wits end. I think that fueled the desire of, ah, Black leadership of, that were not just radical, but progressives, political people, labor people, street people, intellectuals. Ah, there was a felt need that we come together and, ah, Mayor Hatcher's city was seen as a central spot, not only by it being mid-west, but it reflected a place where we could all come together and express ourselves.