Interview with Roger Wilkins

So it's as you're going into--


By the time I went into Detroit in '60, in, by the time I went to Chicago in '66, I had already seen the riots in New York in '64 which occurred right after the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And I'd been to Watts in '65, and I understood that these riots were the result of Black people in northern cities having seen all kinds of civil rights activities and civil rights progress in the South, and seeing no changes in their own lives. They still faced police brutality, they still faced lousy schools, they still faced joblessness, they still lived in lousy houses. And while the country was full of self-righteous rhetoric about the South, nothing was happening in the North for these people who all of a sudden said, "Well we're Black people, and something has to happen for us!" And these eruptions really were kind of a belief, an expression of a belief that the political system would be responsive if it were reminded of the misery in which these people lived. Now some of them were thugs obviously, the loot--some of the looters, but a lot of it was demands that the political system respond to their needs. The system was responding in small ways, the poverty program was in place and great society programs were being put in place but they weren't large enough, and greater and greater parts of our, our national treasury was being shuttled off into Vietnam. And the longer that went on and the, the more resources that were shuttled off into Vietnam, the less was available for our cities and our people. And then the President's unresponsiveness at the time of the Kerner Commission report just enraged me because you had--