Interview with Bernard Lafayette
QUESTION 4
JUDY RICHARDSON:

Now as somebody who was a southern organizer what was it like for you to come North. What kinds of differences did you see between the Northern and the Southern struggle?

BERNARD LAFAYETTE:

Well, I was asked to, ah, take on a project for the American Friends Service Committee, ah, for the summer, their urban affairs, proj--ah, urban affairs program to see how we began to experiment with non-violent organizing in, in the ghetto community. And I remember, ah, being asked by Jim Lawson, who had recommended me to go North and I'd worked with him in Chica- in Nashville and also, ah, in many other places. Ah, there was a little bit of fear on my part. I say, well, you know, Chicago, one of the first things we did.

JUDY RICHARDSON:

Could you say, ah, ?



JUDY RICHARDSON:

As a southern organizer, what was it like in the North? You mentioned the fear of ?

BERNARD LAFAYETTE:

When I came North as an organizer to Chicago I had a different kind of fear. In fact I took out an extra ins--life insurance policy because, ah, you know, in the movement we always had risk and we knew that we always felt that we would be, you know, like the song says, "We Shall Overcome". And, and in Chicago, the question was whether I would be able to survive, then we would overcome. Because in Chicago, you could gets[SIC] killed on the street, you know, for no cause. And of course, I, you know, if I was going to die, I wanted to die for a cause, something that was worthwhile. So, but, you know, this was part of the reality of being an organizer in Chicago. So it was different. It was cold. And cold not only in terms of the, the temperature and the, ah, climate but there was cold in terms of how people, you know, reacted. You know, which is quite different. Except when we found people, you know, from Mississippi in the South, they were just the same. I mean they cooked the same and they was very warm and friendly. So there was a kind of receptive attitude on the part of the people there. And they understood what we were about and they were ready, you know, to join in with us. And I think that's one of the reason why we were successful.