Interview with Harry McPherson

Continuing on the line about Stokely Carmichael, how, how did the White House see the rhetoric of people like Stokely Carmichael affecting their civil rights policy?


Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown were bad news. They were infuriating a lot of White moderates. The vast majority of the people of this country were not consumed with thoughts about civil rights. They were willing to go along. It was a good idea to rid the country of its oldest shame: preventing Blacks from voting, preventing Blacks from going to school, making Blacks sit on the back of buses. Get rid of that. And the people were for that. When Black, young radical leaders began talking about guns, ah, "Burn, baby, burn," ah, that kind of thing, ah, it infuriated people who had been willing to go along, the White moderates. And it left the Black older leadership feeling powerless. What could they do to respond to this? Not very much.