Interview with Roger Wilkins

Great, thank you, Stop. OK--




Near the end of our trip we were successful in reaching Walker Cisler whom everyone had told us was the key to getting the business community to work on problems that Blacks were having. Um, I had come back from a day trip to a prison to interview people who had been arrested for rioting and I was at our headquarters when I got a call from John Doar who said we were not going to go through our normal ritual of having drinks in Mr. Vance's suite and then going to dinner together. That, instead, they had made a date with Walker Cisler and everybody else was going to have dinner with Mr. Cisler and that John said, "I want you to know that the dinner is at the Detroit Yacht Club." Well it hit me like a thunderclap because they knew, and I knew, that the Detroit Yacht Club was segregated and didn't serve Blacks. We were not in Detroit because the, the garbage trucks didn't work and we were not there to repair the phone system. We were there, sent by the President of the United States, because oppressed Black people had been rioting against the way they had been treated by people in, powerful people in Detroit, among them, Walker Cisler. And here was Cyrus Vance, Warren Christopher deciding that it was more important to have Walker Cisler be comfortable in his spirit than to be decent to a Black member of their team.