Interview with Richard Hatcher
QUESTION 26
SHEILA C. BERNARD:

Can you start that again, if one looks at where we were.

RICHARD HATCHER:

If one looks at where we were in 1965, with the passage of the Voting Rights Act and the, ah, Civil Rights Act of '64 and '65, and then one looks at the end of that period, ah, with a Jessie Jackson running for president of the United States, coming in second in the, ah, nomination, for the nom- Democratic nomination for President, you can see that, ah, tremendous progress was made over that period of time. Ah, 1965 you're just talking about the right to vote, 1984, '88, you're talking about the actual right to sit in the White House and run the most powerful country in the world. Ah, that all came about over that period of time because I think there were people who had vision and courage and who were willing to strike out and, and open new, ah, ah, new avenues of possibilities. Ah, a Shirley Chisholm running for president. Ah, you saw members of the Congressional Black Caucus, ah, which was formed I believe in 1970, ah, taking, asserting themselves in the Congress and also being our kind of national political leaders, ah, during that, ah, during that period of time. Ah, you saw this quiet revolution at the local level of, of people running for and being elected to the City Council and mayors and we grew from only about two mayors in 1968, to over 300 mayors of, and, and mayors of some of the largest cities in the United States today. So it was, it was a period where we were moving into the system, we were really carving out ah, our piece of the action, ah, within the American political system. And if one looks at, ah, looks back at that, it set the stage. We had just come from the period from about 1865 to 1965 of struggling for civil rights, for legal rights in the courts and so forth. But this period from 1965 up to now has seen us, ah, become participants. Ah, we still have a ways to go, we have not ah, achieved all that we should, but we, we are now real players, ah, we cannot be ignor--ignored. And I believe that our next stage, as I look out to the year 2000, will be, the challenge will be, "Can we take the political progress that we've made over the last 15, 20 years or so, and can we turn that into economic progress?" which, in the final analysis in the United States of America, ah, seems to be the bottom line.