Interview with John Conyers

What is your high points from the Gary Convention


Gary convention was something that has never been reproduced. It was the one and only convention of its kind in which, ah, the various different political forces in Black America came together, ah, not just to strategize, but to let each other know what their positions were. There was, there was, a lot of posturing, there was some incredibly fiery speeches: the rhetoric tore the ceiling off the place at least once or twice. Baraka of course, ah, was the lead radical intellectual, whose speech about the inevitable failure of capitalism, um, is really one of the great Black political statements of all time. But there were, there were others there: Jesse Jackson, ah, ah, put forward the case for an independent party. He was far less politically active then than anyone thought he would ultimately become. Ah,, there were representatives of the Labor movement that were present. Ah, there were probably intellectual conservative forces. So this created a dynamic of its own, a tension that couldn't be reproduced in other ordinary kinds of conferences. And this tension drove everyone to put forward their case in the most descriptive emotional, hair-raising, rhetorical style possible, so you had some of the, the real great speeches of our era that came forward--