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Andrew Young Interviewee: Atlanta, Georgia, 1980 August 20 [Box 138, Item 21, Side 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Topics include: Continuation of comments regarding the Meredith March, FDP (Freedom Democratic Party) 1964 Compromise, and the King Assassination.
00:00 – Young continues to talk about the conclusion of the Meredith March. They were joined by Bob Green who, when they got to the town square, climbed to the top of a statue of Jefferson Davis and put an American flag in his hand. Young talks about psychological statements, such as this, as a Northern phenomenon that he saw as unnecessary. 02:26 – Dent talks about the psychological attack as necessary to many involved in the march in Mississippi, whether from the North or South. Young connects it with problems with the gangs in Chicago. They recruited these gangs [Black Stone Gangs and others] to help in Mississippi. They were afraid, but brought a new found courage back to Chicago with them. 06:35 – They made the most out of the Mississippi march and registered voters. Young dealt with human relations problems and logistical negotiations. 08:30 – Ivanhoe Donaldson, John Lewis, and Lafayette Surney of SNCC were in tuned “culturally” with SCLC, seeing the Civil Rights Movement as religious and Southern more than Black Nationalist or Leftist. SNCC was “taken over” by whites and it was no longer a black movement. 10:00 – Upper-middle class whites from the Northeast were coming down to the South to help, and nearly all of the Southern black people felt threatened by this. They knew that they knew their own communities best, but they were not able to take charge. SCLC always structured their leadership with a student from outside, a local leader, and a SCLC staff leader. The SCLC staff person was in charge, but the community leader had veto power. The volunteers were there for support, not leadership. 13:50 – SCLC did not have any whites on their board. Les Dunbar did not have much influence on strategy. Jack Greenberg from the Legal Defense Fund would call up, but was always very careful. Al Lowenstein and Chuck Morgan were the first whites asked to join the board after the discussion about Black Power began. 17:30 – Young talks about bi-products of the march, including a national focus on Mississippi. [STAR?] And [MACE?] The march became a rallying point for existing things, and politics have moved along since. Dent talks about individuals who stayed in the state to be part of its development. Young talks about Mississippi’s influence on Jimmy Carter’s election. 20:45 – Dent asks about Young’s involvement at the 1964 Democratic Convention over the FDP [Freedom Democratic Party] compromise. Young says he was involved to some extent. FDP challenged the existing authority of the Mississippi Delegation and wanted to be the Democratic Party in Mississippi. Johnson was trying to avoid confrontation and asked Hubert Humphrey and Walter Reuther to try to compromise with King. They wanted to symbolically seat one person from the FDP and pledge to work to desegregate the party as a whole. They then began to raise the question of voting rights in the South. They were coming off the victory of the signing of the Civil Rights Bill on July 2, and the convention was in August. King felt they had their best chance for change working with Johnson. They viewed the party fights as a separate problem. SNCC resented it, but adult Mississippi leadership and SCLC accepted it. 26:30 – Dent says that it was put to a vote and they declined to accept it. Young says they ultimately accepted it. Aaron Henry and the NAACP leadership took the seats. Dent says that according to Mrs. Devine, there was then a split in FDP leadership. The compromise undercut the power of the FDP. They were forced to make the compromise work. FDP evolved into the Reform Democrats of Mississippi. Dent says Ed King was involved, along with Henry. Young outlines the factions: Charles Evers, SNCC grassroots, and Henry’s Black Establishment faction. King was aligned with SNCC. The whites were with the more radical faction. [Claude] Ramsey from the AFL-CIO. Dent considers it a tension between getting something out of a situation vs. dramatizing an idea. [Side 1 ends 31:50, continues on Side 2.]
Young, Andrew, 1932-
Tulane University Digital Library
Amistad Research Center
Audiocassette, mono. 16-bit
Box 138, Item 21, Side 1, Tom Dent collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Physical rights are retained by the Amistad Research Center. Copyright is retained in accordance with U.S. copyright laws.