Interview with Ivanhoe Donaldson
QUESTION 9
INTERVIEWER:

UM HUM. CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE UH, ORGANIZATIONAL CONFLICTS UH, BETWEEN SAY THE NAA AND SNCC AND SCLC ON, ON THAT LEVEL? AND, AND HOW IT SEEMED TO WORK UM, HOW IT SEEMED TO WORK ON A STREET LEVEL BUT NOT ON AN OFFICIAL LEVEL.

Ivanhoe Donaldson:

Well it's my position that ah the organizational conflicts, when you say that term people think of two people kind of at um turk with each other in terms of fighting and squabbling. I don't think that existed. You know, there were differences between SNCC and SCLC, philosophically, there were differences between SNCC and SCLC and the NAACP and CORE about how you organize. SCLC was principally an organization built around the personality of Martin Luther King. It was an organization because it was a personality and its public presence tended to mobilize people. SNCC was an organization which was built around its units, its projects, its organizers. There were personalities in SNCC but they weren't centers to the existence of the organization. So there were normal tensions about how you go about doing something; those tensions I think mounted into what the media and other people called conflicts; they were a different approach. SNCC believed in principally organizing, creating institutional bases for people to manipulate for their own self interest while SCLC believed in dramatizing, mobilizing, and not necessarily as concerned about what you left afterwards. Both of them had a public role and both of them served a public purpose. Ahm there were natural rivalries, natural ego games um they all however blended into a complementary struggle of what became what is, or was then the civil rights movement. Um I'm just maybe more sensitized about the issue of conflict because ah Martin King had one position and I think that in many ways ah activists in the social struggle of the sixties postured where they were politically in relationship to where King was. Ahm SNCC tended to be to the left as was CORE; NAACP tended to be to the right. But this was a complementary struggle not orchestrated by the leadership but it's the nature of struggle… [sound fades]

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

THIS IS SIXTEEN. THERE WAS A JAM ON FIFTEEN. SOUND ROLL TEN.

Ivanhoe Donaldson:

Well to put it another way, it seems to me that what you had were creative tensions, conflicts, ah not what I would consider traditional conflicts in the sense that SNCC was one place, SCLC was another, NAA and CORE. In fact in Mississippi these four organizations created a, ah coalition called the Council of Federated Organizations. Now there were politics involved in that. One was that SNCC was a kind of raw edged radical agency, couldn't get certain kinds of funds that the NAACP could get. But they all agreed for mutual benefit to create this umbrella organization which Bob Moore, who was the SNCC director of Mississippi, headed and David Dennis, who was the CORE director of Mississippi, was the co-director of or the associate director of. On the local level, however, um what's always interesting is that local people um they weren't caught up into the problems of the national organizations and their fundraising campaigns in New York and Chicago about what they were doing in the south. They were for the workers, the freedom riders. In fact ah when, during ‘61 and ‘‘62 whenever I went to a new community in Mississippi, people would say, why I just knew the freedom riders would finally get here. I mean you called yourself SNCC or CORE, they called you freedom fighters, freedom riders, everybody was the same to them—there were people who were there to help try and encourage change and I think that's really what was important.