Interview with Sonia Sanchez
QUESTION 1
INTERVIEWER:

Back then, what was your impression of the Southern Civil Rights Movement and the impact it did or did not have, was not having on the, uh, on Black folks in the North?

SONIA SANCHEZ:

It was interesting observing the Civil Rights Movement. I observed it from New York Core. I was in an organization called New York Core. I and some other people had made that trek down to Washington, um, to listen to Martin talk about the dream. We came back very much involved with that dream and also very much involved with being the people who were going to do some real work in this country. Um, and I continued to be involved, um, ah, with that whole movement of New York Core but we always, at least I did, I'm not sure about everyone, I always viewed what was happening there as necessary for the South. I always viewed it, not necessarily necessary for us, in the North, because we could sit, or we could go on subway trains and sit any place, uh, we could go on buses and sit any place. We could actually eat many places if we had the money. I do know there was a subtle, very subtle, segregation that existed in New York City. Um, still, but so it was like something you observed and were very proud of, and knew people who were doing some of that work also in the South and who came back and talked about it. But it was not necessarily talking about some of the things that we had, were talking about in the North. And I think that's probably how Malcolm, um, talked about what we felt. Um, ah, it was not, just give me a seat on the bus. Let me go to a pool. Let me wade in, and pray in, and sit in, but let me also go downtown and get some jobs, ah, that most certainly we needed. Let me live, ah, on Riverside Drive when we're living in the Harlems. And if you were walking over to Broadway and Riverside Drive, you got looks, you couldn't get apartments in New York City. So there were other things. And when he began to talk about our oppression, um, we looked up. Because we knew there was a freedom we had. But we knew also that there was a non-freedom that we had. So when he articulated that kind of oppression and what we needed to do to feel good about ourselves and to make for some kind of movement, um, when he said it in a voice like we had never heard before, when he said it for even the brothers on our block who didn't go to church, so couldn't involve themselves in the Civil Rights Movement, okay? Um, who, um were hanging out on corners. Ah, what he told people like me, in a sense, um, who had come out of Hunter College, was, who had gone to grad school, had really thought that she had most things that she really needed at some point. I mean I was exceptional blood is what I'm saying. Ah, they called us the exceptional niggas, in quotes. I'd ah, really didn't, really didn't think that there was much that I needed at all. And really thought that was a movement there in the South, okay? Because we up in New York City, and we in Chicago, and we in Philadelphia, we were like okay. I mean we were doing okay, although a part of us knew that we were not doing okay. There was some part that knew something was wrong. Every time we experienced that peculiar, ah, subtle prejudice, ah, segregation that New York was about.