Interview with Bernard Lafayette

Why were you pushing for SCLC to come to Chicago? What ki--what did you hope to get to succeed in moving here?


One of the reasons, ah, we were pushing for SCLC to come to Chicago is because there was this myth about the subtlety of the problems in Chicago and, people say "There are problems, but it's not the same as in the South, and it's easier to address the problems in the South, because they're so blatant and obvious, but things in Chicago are sort of beneath the surface, and they are sort of smoothed over, and the real issues are not there." Well, one of the things that Martin Luther King did in the movement was really dramatize the issues by his presence and being able to articulate them in such a way that everything became very obvious. So that was one of the reasons why we were interested in coming to Chicago. Also, because there were so many people who were affected by the problems in the North. And it was just simply, ah, ah, a symbol--Chicago was a symbol of things that were happening in places like Newark and Detroit, Philadelphia and New York and other large cities, metropolitan areas. So, while the South benefited from the support that was in the North for the Southern movement, many times, ah, we were not able as a movement to address the problems in the local urban Northern communities. So this was very important because a large number of people were affected by those problems.