Interview with Richard Hatcher

Was there a divis- or divisions within the Black community that you saw a chance of bringing together and repairing or healing, by going to Atlanta?


There, there was a tremendous amount of distress between, ah, the nationalists, ah, people considered themselves nationalists, and, ah, the elected officials, Black officials, and people who operated in the electoral politic, ah, arena, and, ah, in the civil rights, ah, civil rights arena. The leadership of the civil rights, ah, community, ah, for the most part saw many of these, ah, nationalists almost as anarchists, and as people who, ah, were more interested in "Burn, baby, burn", then "Build, baby, build". And so, um, there was this kind of division, this schism, ah, within the Black community. And, ah, one of the reasons that, that I found myself in many instances, ah, ah, in meetings with nationalists and with others was that I, I saw the damage, ah, that this, and other people saw it too, the kind of damage that this division was doing, ah, to the whole movement, to the whole effort to improve the lot of Black people in this country. And because, ah, my base in Gary was a fairly secure base. That is, by that time, by 1970, the majority of, ah, people in the city of Gary were Black. Ah, certainly it was clear, ah, that I was in fairly good shape, ah, at home, and I also would like to believe because I believed, ah, that it was critically important that these two factions come together. Ah, there were times when I found myself, ah, being the kind of middle, middle person, ah, who sort of met with this group, and met with the others, and was able, ah, to, ah, speak with some legitimacy, ah, to the concerns of both groups. And, ah, ah, there were other people who played that kind of role also. Ah, I think particularly in the civil rights arena, ah, I think of a Carl Holman, an M. Carl Holman, who certainly was almost like the glue. Who was, you know, sort of in touch with everyone. He was in touch with, ah, with people on the far left, and he was in touch with people on the right. And he, he, he kept all of us kind of talking to each other, sometimes through him. He served as a kind of conduit, ah, for many of us. And then, ah, much credit has to be given, ah, to people like Amiri Baraka, and, ah, Haywood, Hayward Joiner[SIC], ah, Haywar- Haywood Henry, who were nationalists themselves, but understood the need, very much the need for Black people to come together.


I just want to interrupt you and have you take us through the steps--

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