Interview with Willie Felder

Let's take it another step further now. We have Jesse doing the opening speech where he says, "We are pregnant, we are ready for change, the blood is spilled, a new Black baby is born." I mean, this was a rousing speech that called for a sense of unity, it called for unity. It called for "nation time" as he said at the delegation, at the assembly. What was the reaction of the Michigan delegation to Jesse's speech, I mean, knowing the fact that you hadn't had any input, in terms of in the framing of the agenda?


As I recall, ah, the unity emphasis that Jesse put into his speech, ah, really, i- as I read the reaction of the Michigan delegation while we enjoyed the oratory of, of Jesse, ah, we were fully aware that we came, or the delegate body was fully aware that it came to Gary with the spirit and intent of unification, but based on inclusion as well. And so, the appeal of Jackson, ah, didn't necessarily, ah, ah, interject any new adrenaline because it was already there. It was just angry, pent-up adrenaline. You know, housed within about 68-65 percent of that delegate body. And our appeals, ah, for, you know, the right to participate and be included in, in resolutions committees and election committees and platform committees, et cetera, and to offer, ah, some, some recommendations that would have given credit to other organizations that has helped Blacks along in the struggle, such as the UAW and AFSCME and others, was denied, and, ah, that, you know, that was, for a delegate body that comes out of a strong industrially-surrounded community, whose, whose, whose economic and job tentacles reach out throughout the country and other countries, ah, it was just unthinkable that we would do that to one another.


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