Interview with Richard Hatcher

In the end, the media had really focused only on two agenda issues in Gary. What were they, and how did that come about?


Well, I, I think the two agenda issues that the media spent a lot of time on was the issue of busing for the purpose of integration, and the issue, ah, the so-called Israeli, ah, issue, ah, the Middle East question. And, ah, the interesting thing is that, ah, the agenda was not dominated by those two questions. In fact, the first several days of the convention involved the kinds of things I've talked about. Political parity, ah, economic parity, ah, the need, ah, to, ah, promote Black pride. Ah, all of those things were very, ah, ah, important in terms of, of that convention. One of the things I must say about the meeting, and the reason, one of the reasons so many people were able to be there was at that time there certainly were a large number of federal programs. And those programs made it possible, ah, for people to come on expense accounts. That is, they, they were able to come to a meeting like this as a part of their work in terms of community organizing and so forth, and so a lot of the people that were there were there based upon that ability to, ah, ah, work on their program. It was a part of the program that they were working for. Ah, it also meant, however, that they could only, ah, they had to get back home on Sunday so that they could be at work on, on Monday morning. So, The last day of the convention was Sunday. We were slated to wrap up at noon. And the purpose of that last day was the adoption of the resolutions, ah, that had been agreed to by the body**. Ah, these, many people, I would say, ah, better than half the people who had attended the convention had left by the time these two resolutions on busing for the purpose of integration, and the issue of the Middle East came up. And both of them, as I said, were very, very controversial issues. And so it was the rather limited number of people who remained, ah, who debated and voted on those, ah, those two issues. Ah, the vote on those issues won against busing for the purpose of integration, which, which was a position directly contradictory to the NAACP's position, and many other national, ah, Black organizations, and then certainly the, ah, calling, ah, for a homeland for a Palestinian people, which at that time was a very radical position to take. It's interesting that today almost everyone agrees, ah, on that. But at that time it was very radical. Ah, those were the two resolutions that were adopted, and those were the two resolutions that the news media, which frankly up to that point, with the exception of, of very brief mention on the evening news on the day, several days prior, had pretty much ignored the convention because they were very angry about being locked out and not being permitted to come in. And so they pretty much ignored it. But when those two resolutions passed, they picked it up and ran with it, and that was the story, ah, that was told in the national media of the Gary convention. Ah, interestingly, as I said, only a small part of the discussion acted on, ah, by less then half of the delegates to the convention, and yet that became the dominating, ah, story. Ah, one of the reasons, ah, today, if such a meeting were to be held that I don't think that would happen is that today there are more Blacks involved in the media itself. At that time there were very few Blacks involved in the media, with the exception of the small weekly Black newspapers and a few radio stations around the country. You did not have Blacks, ah, at NBC and ABC and so forth, ah, in any significant numbers. Ah, so it was a very, ah, hostile press, ah, that looked at, ah, what was going on in Gary, and selectively decided what it would emphasize and, ah, did so in an extremely negative way.