Interview with Courtland Cox


Courtland Cox:

I think it was, there was a meeting after the Atlantic City convention with a number of people, ah the church people were there, labor people were there, SNCC people was there and so forth. And we went to the meeting—NAACP was there and we were there to, we were there taking notes basically, because we didn't want to actively participate but there was some things that came up that we had to, felt forced to comment on. And the discussion was, now that you had the ‘64 summer project, now that you had the Atlantic City, where would you be going, what kinds of people would you want to involve, and so forth. And the Gloster Current who was then I think director of branches for, for the NAACP, said that he wanted to, to take this to another level. He, he was tired of listening to the moans and wails of these people from Mississippi. He had to, you, had, one had to begin to cut away the underbrush, ah and that then the man that, I mean the way he talked about the people from Mississippi and the people from Alabama, this is is ‘63 and ‘64; people who, who were the heart and soul of the movement, it it gave one you know the sense that these people were much more trouble than, than they were worth. They that, that, that they were not viewed as people; they were viewed as things—disruptive and the kind of relationship that he wanted to establish with, the, the, those who were in power. And I think that meeting gave you a sense, I mean, gave us a sense because there was not much disagreement with him that there was, that those who were in the leadership of the civil rights movement in many respects wanted to cut out the heart and soul, to, to as, as Gloster Current said, cut away the underbrush, to, to make it a, a, a much more respectable, a much more ah a, a much more, a movement that could fit much more into the situation. Now I think that ah that movement, that, that meeting, and many others like it, and the, the need to cut away the underbrush probably was the beginning of us finding ourselves in the situation we are in today because it took away the motion, the thrust, the most dynamic elements in order to try to accommodate to those forces that they said were oppressive. They, I mean, that in fact the leadership of the civil rights movement probably showed itself to, to be the full—the most accommodating force in the civil rights movement to the forces that were antithetical to its own interests.