Interview with Richard Hatcher

How did this notion that the nationalists had at Atlanta grow into the Gary convention? What were the steps that led people to come together?


I think several things were happening. Ah, the nationalists were very active, ah, around the country. And they were talking to people, and people were listening. And, they had this wonderful sense of history, and of Africa, what Africa really should mean to us. And, much more so I think than many of us who were elected officials. Ah, ah, the nationalists were thinking in terms of where we ought to go and where we ought to be in terms of power in this country. While I think many of us who were elected officials felt that we had already arrived. That, that after all, we'd become mayors, we'd become congr- members of Congress. And so we really were there. But the nationalists understood, ah, better than we did that there was still a very long ways to go and much that needed to be done. And so the idea of this national convention, ah, to really talk through these things and to plan a political strategy, ah, for our people, ah, evolved out of these meetings. Ah, the meeting in Atlanta, and, ah, some of the, ah, Black Power conferences that had taken place in the '60s, during the '60s. Ah, and, ah, there, there was this feeling that we must come together and, and somehow, ah, fashion, ah, our, ah, our destiny, fashion, fashion our future. As I said, much better understood, ah, but the nationalists, ah, than we. And the other side of it was that nationalists seemed to know a lot more about Africa, and, ah, understood African institutions, ah, better than many of us who had been, ah, ah, pretty much, ah, weaned on, on American institutions as such. And so, ah, they brought all of that to the table. And people, it was an exciting notion, and people responded to it. And, and, and in some sense, without being critical of elected officials, I was one, ah, myself, but in some sense, it was a matter of kind of catching up, because it was clear that the people were moving in that direction, were moving towards the idea of Black unity, of, of, relating to Africa and all of that. And so, ah, for many elected officials, it was a matter of saying, "There go my people, I must catch up and lead them." Ah, what eventually evolved in terms of the Gary convention, the National Black Political Convention, was that, ah, the elected officials, the civil rights leadership, ah, pretty much took over the planning of that Gary convention for 1972. And, ah, at one point there was even some question as to whether nationalists would be, ah, permitted to be a part of the planning, ah, which is ironic since it was probably more their idea than, ah, ours to begin with.


We just ran out of film, we got that answer, it's a quick switch and then I'm going to--