Interview with Roger Wilkins
QUESTION 4
INTERVIEWER:



INTERVIEWER:

So, I want to ask you--

INTERVIEWER:

--about your response as you watched Johnson announce the--

ROGER WILKINS:

The night we got to Detroit we were told by the White House that the President was going to have a major announcement about the riots. And we were told what time so we watched this Black and White set in the headquarters that we established at the police headquarters in Detroit. And the first thing we saw was President with J. Edgar Hoover next to him, and I was enraged. I was enraged for a variety of reasons. Hoover was a bigot, Hoover ran the FBI in a bigoted way, Hoover was an avowed enemy of Dr. King, and Hoover thought that, that, the riots were a conspiracy, a Communist conspiracy. And a lot of us believe that he had sold the President on that view. So that when we were looking at this and the President is saying that he's going to do something about these riots, and then he sets up an establishment commission. Ah, ah, first of all, I was just annoyed. I mean, we knew what was wrong: these people were oppressed, these people were not getting services, they were hungry, didn't have jobs. Um, he didn't need a commission, even though my uncle was on the commission, even though some good guys, John Lindsay was on the commission, Fred Harris. Ah, you didn't need a commission to tell you what was wrong. Ah, but then to have Hoover there gave credence to the suspicion that the President also thought it was a Communist conspiracy rather than an expression by American citizens of, of their deprivation and their oppression. So I was enraged.