Interview with Willie Felder
QUESTION 03
SAM POLLARD:

Tell me a little bit about your com- your delegation. What did the Michigan delegation represent, I mean, and why was that constituency so important when you got to Gary?

WILLIE FELDER:

OK, ah, the Michigan delegation represented, ah, a multitude of, of, of persons, such as Black historians, Ed Vaughn, of Michigan, was a Black historian and still is there, ah, national and international labor figures, such as Coleman Young, who was a state senator but who came form labor, ah, Nelson Jack Edwards, who was vice-president of an international union, United Auto Workers, and the highest ranking, at that time, Black labor principal in this country, ah, we had lawyers and teachers and housewives and, ah, wha- you know, just persons who, ah, related from day-to-day, ah, factory wives, to job wives in terms of, in factories, and on streets.

SAM POLLARD:

Stop for a second. What I'm, what I'm trying to get at is, when we spoke on the phone a couple weeks ago you said, "Well 65 percent of delegates--"



SAM POLLARD:

So my question is, what did the Michigan delegation represent in terms of the kind of input they could have at Gary, and why were you upset at how the Michigan delegation had been treated when they got to Gary?

WILLIE FELDER:

Why we were upset, over--

SAM POLLARD:

No, the Michigan delegation--

WILLIE FELDER:

The Michigan delegation. Why the Michigan delegation were upset over the way it had been treated after its arrival to the Gary convention, the Michigan delegation, I believe, ah, was upset before departing from Michigan because we were aware that there had been a total exclusion of the Michigan Black leadership in the framing of the agenda. You must remember that 65 percent or better of the delegate body from Michigan were from labor. Auto-workers, steel-workers, ah, municipal workers, and so forth. And, you had some of the most renowned labor personalities folded into that delegation who were international figures**, and, ah, the conveners, or the facilitators, of that assembly, ah, knew full well that they were, they were there, because we'd worked toget- we had worked together over the years in other struggles. And, we just felt that, ah, it was a very, very bad mistake for any organization to pull together a national Black assembly and exclude the expertise and the, the, the influence of those Black labor leaders out of Michigan who participated in negotiating economic contracts all over this country and Canada and Mexico and Puerto Rico, and yet, to come into an assembly of your own, and be denied an opportunity for input, ah, was a bit hard to swallow. And that kind of engendered the, the so-called confrontation, which, later, as you know, ah, led to something else.