Interviewer: Judy Richardson
Production Team: B
Interview Date: October 16, 1988
Camera Rolls: 2009-2012
Sound Rolls: 204-206
Produced by Blackside, Inc.
Housed at the Washington University Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.
Interview with Adrienne Manns-Israel, conducted by Blackside, Inc. on October 16, 1988, for Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965 to 1985. Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.
These transcripts contain material that did not appear in the final program. Only text appearing in bold italics was used in the final version of Eyes on the Prize.
OK. First of all, think back when you first got on to Howard campus and give me your first impression. What were you expected and what did you find when you got there?
I came to Howard because I wanted to go to a Black school and I had read about Howard and I think one of the, the only Black doctor in our town, both of them rather, had gone to Howard. And then I had read, is it, a book that Ulysses Lee and Sterling Brown and Arthur Davis had edited, "The Negro Caravan". So I went there expecting a Black environment. You know I thought that here I would have a chance to, to see Black people in a positive role as opposed to what I had seen in high school.
Excuse me, cut that just a second.
OK, give me, when you first got on campus, your first impressions and what you came expecting.
When I first came to Howard, I come there expecting a Black environment. I came out of a White high school and White town, we were in a minority. So I was coming to Howard because I wanted Black people, Black teachers, and positive role models and all of this. All right, so when I got there, well first of all, I knew I was out of place because my roommates had to have an extra closet brought into the dormitory room, right. People were going to class in high heels. It was just a totally bourgeois environment, unlike the one that I'd come from, and I, I really had never known any middle class Black people except for the doctor and teacher. OK, so I was, I felt out of place. I felt alone. I didn't have any good friends for about a year and I thought I had made a mistake. So I came there, Judy, really thinking I should leave. All right?
OK, cut just a second. Now--
And what kind of courses did you come expecting that you found, what did you find?
I came looking for Black history courses, Black literature, music, it was a kind of void in my life I wanted filled. And Black Studies is what it was called but it was at that time just Black History and literature. And Sterling Brown was there which was very exciting because he was a poet I had admired for a long time and Arthur Davis, so I was expecting to study Black literature with Sterling Brown, was my first expectation. And what I found was that he, he, first of all, told us that he could not teach Black literature that it didn't fit in the curriculum and was not offered. There was only one course and that was Negro history and you had to be a history major or an upper-classmen to take that. And you couldn't fit it in your schedule. You know after you got finished with all the humanities and the, the Western Civ type of courses, you couldn't fit that one course in. It was very hard to get in. There was no music. You know, you couldn't play jazz in the Fine Arts Building, all you heard when you passed the Fine Arts Building was opera, all day long, opera, opera, opera. And it was so-called classical music, National Symphony and this kind of thing. So I was, I was very disappointed and, ah, well, I think they said they were making it the Black Harvard or something like that. And, it was just not what I wanted.
Now what they would say, was well, but, um, "There is no color to knowledge." What would you say to that?
Certainly. That's, that's ridiculous.
To say that there's no, all right, to say that there's no color to knowledge is, is not true. It is so ridiculous. I really--
OK, give me a sense of what helped to politicize you, what helped to kind of move you forward?
Well there were two things that got me involved politically and helped me move out of where I was to, ah, somewhat more consciousness. One of them was when one of the students was expelled from school because she had stayed out overnight, violated the curfew regulations. And for this she was not only put out of the dorm but they put her out of the college altogether. And Jay Green who was a law student, he started supporting her and taking up her case. And he would come out at lunch time in front of the Law School and there would be rallies. So I started coming to the rallies and I was working on the newspaper as a reporter, my freshman year and we were covering the story. And the Editor of the newspaper was interested in it. I think he was friends with Jay. So I started following this case and Jay was saying that we had no rights as students, that she should at least have a hearing, that it wasn't right for her to be put out of school with no hearing. And that was the first time that really I began to think that, well, maybe there were others who didn't like the situation and there were other people concerned and they were willing to do something. And the next thing that happened was second semester, I believe it was, when the Selma campaign took place, and we were in freshmen assembly which was a mandatory gathering, all freshmen had to go to on Tuesday's. I think it was like one o'clock. I had to sit there for an hour and listen to quote "culture". And this particular day they announced that if we wanted to go to the march, there was a march down at the White House, to protest Reverend Reeve's murder in Selma and if we wanted to go they had a bus, the student government had rented a bus and we could get out of freshmen assembly. Honestly, I just wanted to get out of freshmen assembly. I was tiring of sitting there and they said, "Well you could be excused, an excused absence," and some of the other students were going that I knew so I went along. And when we got down to the White House, first started out picketing and it was boring kind of talking. I didn't know much about what was happening but then across the street the Nazi counter-demonstrators, and the Klansman and other people started counter-demonstrations and the soldiers moved in, and it got very tense and a couple of my friends said they were going to sneak in the White House and stay there. They were later arrested, I think, and, ah, sent to prison. And they keep saying, "Well let's stay." I said, I said "My feet hurt. I want to go." And they kept saying, "Oh, no. We got to stay." And before I knew it, I was caught up. I was listening. I think I stayed there 'til about two in the morning. And it made sense to me. And for, for once the Civil Rights Movement never made any sense to me until then and then it really did. And I said, "Wow."
You had also mentioned hearing a speech by Stokely where he started saying things that you had thought and you didn't know anybody else thought that.
I heard Stokely Carmichael speak in 1966. I was at Harvard for summer school. And while I was there I had met some students from the South, one particular student from Mississippi, Tupelo, Mississippi. She and I became friends. And she said, "Oh, I hear Stokely Carmichael is speaking tonight." And I didn't, I knew who Stokely was but I didn't really think it was, ah, significant. But she said, "Let's go," so I went. When I got there he gave one of his early Black Power speeches. And I'll never forget it, how electrifying it was, because all the things I had been, stored up inside, I had been thinking about at Howard, at how disillusioned I was with Howard, how tired I was of, ah, of our position as people, feeling that we were all on welfare is the best way I can think of. When I was at Harvard for instance, there was a scholarship program for deprived, ah, minority students who otherwise could not meet the standards of Harvard and they were allowed to come for the summer, supposed to be a pre-law type program. Well, I had come on my own merits, or at least I thought I had and not in this program. But they were always, and the newspaper would come, anybody Black, all the White students assumed that that's how we got there. And I was angry about that. And when I heard Stokely talk about Black Power and we need to stop apologizing for who we are and we need to start pushing--
I'm sorry, we're going to have to cut, the camera just rolled out.
OK, if you can tell about hearing Stokely and what affect that had on you.
I heard Stokely Carmichael in the summer of 1966 when I was at Harvard University for the summer school and went into, with a friend whom I met from Mississippi, went into the auditorium and he started talking and it was as if I were talking, you know, he was speaking for me, things that I had been feeling and thinking about, he was articulating them so well, especially about the attitude that, that we should have as Black people toward ourselves and the country and how we shouldn't be begging and pleading for our rights, but we ought to get together and organize and take what we, what rightfully belonged to us. And I liked that. I, I didn't like the, ah, passive kind of beggar mentality that I thought we were, we were into in the Civil Rights Movement.
Did that change you in any way?
Yes, because I got zeal.
I'm sorry, if you could say the speech.
The speech changed me because when I, when I realized that what I had been feeling and thinking was not just personal, it wasn't just me, somebody else, in fact someone of, of prominence and stature felt the same way and could articulate it. I really felt encouraged. So I went back to Howard and I had a column that I started in the newspaper 'cause I stayed on the newspaper staff. At this point coming back, I was able to do a column, and I used my experience at Harvard and the ideas that Stokely had articulated in this column which I started called "The Coon's Corner". You know it was supposed, it was satire. And I started comparing how we were treated at Howard with the way students were treated at Harvard. That's how I started it off. And I think that I got some focus from then on.
When, when they--
When you're talking about Stokely and Black consciousness, can you give me a sense of when that whole kind of environment of Black consciousness began to affect the campus and students?
Black consciousness had a real impact on us at Howard in, ah, I think it was '66, '67 because that's the year when Carolyn Carter took over as Editor of the newspaper and we ran a, an editorial on Black Power and Stokely had either spoken at Howard or he was about to come to speak at Howard and we were, we were for once able to say that we weren't just, ah, isolated in our frustrations. And, ah, we began to identify, a lot of people with, not with Stokely but with the ideas. And another impact I think that year were the veterans, the Vietnam veterans who had come in from, just from the war, come on the GI Bill. They were talking it. There were the riots. And there were the people coming in from Philadelphia and Detroit who had been involved in the riots or at least they'd been in the neighborhoods, said they were involved. There was so much that year. I, I can't begin. There was, oh, Ron Karenga and there were, there were so many speakers, so many things happening.
When you talk about the Vietnam experience, how did you all link the Black consciousness with the Vietnam? Was there some kind of connection for you?
The link between Black consciousness and Vietnam started with the notion that Black soldiers were being sent to Vietnam to fight for a freedom that we didn't have in America. And that was the, the, ah, the first objection that I heard to the war. That and the fact that more Blacks were being sent to the front lines and they were being killed and, and, people felt that this was genocide. Then, the second thing, which I felt was that the war was an unjust war that was being fought against people of color who were, who were considered, ah, gooks or, or outside of humanity as we were considered, outside humanity. And the war itself to me was ob- objectionable. Now others had other, they said, "Well Blacks shouldn't be fighting until we get our freedom here." And I said we weren't fighting for freedom in Vietnam at all. So, for me, that was the, ah, see that's why I, I, I think it's hard to say that there was one point of view. There were many points of view. And that was mine.
Talk about the, related to that, talk about the Hershey demonstration. Do you remember that? Can you describe that?
When General Hershey came to, to Howard he came I, I think to support the war and the draft. I'm not quite certain because he never got to speak. There were a, a corp of, of young men from Philadelphia who had planned a demonstration. And they told me that they were going to do something. They didn't say what and that I should come. So I came. And I, I wouldn't have come otherwise. And, they stopped him from speaking. They got up chanting "America is the Black man's battleground." They had placards and Hershey stopped. I remember him looking at them like a grandfather. Like he understood. And he, he just, he didn't speak and Carl Anderson was Dean of Students, I think, at that time. He came over to escort him off stage, like he's protecting him. But there was nothing to protect him from. They were, they were chanting but they weren't trying to, ah, to harm him. They just were trying to stop the program, which they did and we, and we left. That was all there was to it. But a big thing was made out of it. I remember that Robin Gregory was there because she and I had been talking afterward and she and a number of other students, I think Tony Gittens was involved in that, they were called before the judiciary to be expelled from school for disrupting this, ah, program. All right, so when they went to their judiciary hearing that's when, ah, some more students came to disrupt the hearing. I remember Dean Snowden. I was, funny, I was always outside it seemed like on all these, these early demonstrations, and, ah, watching. And they disrupted the hearing, kept the hearing from being, from, from taking place. Because we knew that, as in past, if you went to a hearing automatically that meant you were going to be expelled. I'd never known anybody to make it through the hearing, called them kangaroo court I think, something like that. So that, that's the Hershey incident.
Talk also about going to hearing.
Oh, excuse me. There's, I forgot. After, after Hershey, right, after the Hershey demonstration there was a polarization. I remember in, among students. One side of the, the student government leaders and fraternity leaders called a press conference to apologize for the demonstration. And they angered me so, I was so angry. I was the Managing Editor of the newspaper. And I said that they, how dare they speak for the student body. They said they were speaking for the responsible students. Now, Gloster Current was there and, and some others who were, who were leaders in student government. And that polari- that really polarized, polarized us, those who supported the demonstration or at least their right to have it, those who said it was a disgrace and an embarrassment to the, to the university and so forth. And, ah, I just made a vow after that. I said, well, I'll have to get serious about this thing because the other side is serious.
OK, if you can talk about when you found out that Tony had been expelled, and the walk, as you talked to him about that.
Summer of 1967, um, Tony Gittens called me. I was home for a while, I had planned to come back, but he called me and told me that he'd gotten a letter from the school that he was being expelled from the school and he was very upset about it. He said not only him, but there were 18 others. And when I heard I said, "Well, I, I'm coming anyway to work this summer." And I came back to Washington and they said, "We're having a meeting." And went to his house, and it was pretty tense time, because to me, to be expelled from school, if you're a senior, was an ul- the ultimate kind of punishment. And no hearing had been held or anything, and there were 18 of them and I knew, I knew several of them. And after the meeting was over, we talked about lawyers and all that, how to deal with it. And, and he lived near Dupont Circle so we went for a walk, and we were coming down 16th Street, walking around, just talking about, about what this meant, and I felt this, I felt, ah, an anger that I felt Tony was a kind person, very non-violent, he always supported non-violence and peace and harmony, love. And I was more abrasive, and here he was being expelled. I felt that it was as if an innocent person, who I, whom I felt was innocent in motive, and whom I cared about, deeply, was just being drummed out of school. What would happen to him? And I decided, I said, "Well, Tony, we're not going to let that happen." I said, "They," you know, "they can't put all of us out of the school," you know, "the students make the school." And I decided to do something about it.
Thank you. Yes.
Yes, he got it.
OK, if you can talk about Charter Day and be as descriptive as you can as if we had no footage and you're just describing it.
Well right before Charter Day, Tony and I had gone up to see Dr. Nabrit and ask him to respond to the sixteen demands that we had drawn up, a coalition of students had drawn up sixteen demands. And we asked him to respond to it by Charter Day. Said, either at Charter Day exercises or before. So we left his office. I wasn't very optimistic because he talked all the time about Amsterdam, his latest trip. So I wasn't very optimistic that he would do it. But anyway, we had met the night before, UJAMAA which was a, a coalition of protest organizations, non-official groups. We had met, oh, about two days before Charter Day and decided that if Dr. Nabrit did not respond to those sixteen demands, during Charter Day exercises that we were going to disrupt the exercises and, so we went there with that in mind. There were about fifteen of us who said we would go up on the stage and ask him to respond to our demands and the rest would hand out leaflets to the audience to tell them why we were doing this and what this was about. So we got there, well we each sat in different places in the auditorium. I think I sat with Tony. And the guards were there, security guards were there and they had just killed somebody, ah, not too long ago who was robbing the Punch Out, which was a student hangout, canteen. And one of the security men had, had shot the man. So all I could see was this guard. I remember this big, tall security guard. He was over six feet and he had a gun. And they, they were all, all over the auditorium, looked like. There might have been five or six of them but, anyway, when, ah, Dr. Nabrit had finished the preliminaries and got into the program and Dean Gandy got up to give the address. And he gave the address. Didn't say one thing about our demands. He sat down and then Dr. Nabrit got up to give the Distinguished Alumni their awards. So I said, "Tony, I don't think he's going to say anything and the program is going to be over so we better do something." And he said, "Well, OK, let's get up." So I said, "All right." So I got up. I was, you know, we walked toward the stage and all of the security guards came to the front and stood in front of us and we were standing there and, well, I said, I, I said, "Tony, what are we going to do now?" You know, he said "Well, let's sit up on the stage." So we sat on the stage. And finally I said, "I can't get up." I said, "I just, I'm, I'm just afraid. I, I can't get up." So he said, "I'll get up." So when Tony got up and I said, "Oh, I can't leave Tony stand there by himself." I think Q.T. Jackson got up and some more, and so the rest of us got up there. And we stood on the stage and Nabrit turned and Tony went over to him and he said, something about, "Dr. Nabrit we've asked you to respond to our demands and since you obviously are not going to respond, we feel you should relinquish the, um, the ceremonies and let us explain." So, it was a tense moment and I remember Nabrit said, "Why are you doing this to me?" or something like that. He looked at Tony and me like, as if we had betrayed him. And then he walked off the stage and we tried to hold our counter Charter Day exercises and explain to the alumni. And the faculty jumped up, you know, they were all in their robes. They fled the auditorium. Only about three of them stayed. I think one of the alumni stayed and, ah, we tried to, they turned the systems off. We tried to talk. We had like a rally, Q.T. Jackson, but I was, I was afraid really. I really was for the first time I think, ah, through the whole thing I was afraid.
OK, cut just a second.
OK, if you could talk about takeover and going from that rally and the wonder of seeing all those people behind you.
Well after Charter Day, we got letters. I got one and Tony got one and everybody involved just about and some more people who weren't involved, got letters from the administration that we were called to a judiciary hearing. And I said, well, this, this was it. I had foreseen that of course. And we were going to be expelled. So we decided to hold a coalition meeting of student government leaders and, and all, all students really who had been involved. And we met and decided that we were going to have a sit-in, in the Administration Building to protest these, these letters because there was no student judiciary. And we, we'd have a rally, we said, we'd have a rally in front of Douglas Hall. And then, after the, during the rally at lunch time, we would announce the sit-in and we'd go into the Administration Building. Well, I had estimated, I said, "Well, maybe five hundred people will come, we can count on." We didn't want to be embarrassed, that, there, a, fifty or a hundred of us go in the Administration Building. So we thought five hundred, the most. We went to the rally. And Hubert Brown was the speaker. I didn't hear anything he said because all I could think of was, "When he's finished, I've got to walk over to this Administration Building." I promised to go up into Nabrit's office, right? And sit down on the, tell the man to leave. So, I said, "All right." I didn't hear anything. All I heard he would say, "Now we're going, now, something." And I stood back to see how many people were going. Then I said, "Well I can't do this. I've got to go regardless." So I just walked, I just walked over there. I didn't look back. I said, "Well however many come, come and I've made a commitment." And it was overwhelming, the whole building was full of students. I went up to Nabrit's office, the third floor was full, the second floor and his secretary, all the workers, they didn't say anything, you know, they just looked at us and we sat on the floor, and, ah, I kept thinking, "Where did all these people come from?" I just never realized that that many people would support us. But I was afraid, I was afraid all the way over there until I saw the people come, and, ah, well I was afraid then because I said, "What will we do now, with all these people. Now that we're over here, what will we do now?" So I just sat there waiting. Finally, a couple of hours, they closed up offices and they started leaving, the workers some of them says, "About time, you all did this." I was surprised. They said, "We were wondering how long it was going to take you to do this. It's about time." And they all went home. And evening started to fall and we said, "Well we've got to do something." So we formed a, a steering committee that came out of the student leadership and broke down into different areas; communications, food, housing, sleeping quarters for everyone. I've forgotten all of the sub committees but we had about eight to take care of things--
OK, If you could, um, give me a sense again of the day of the takeover and the rally and if you could say the expulsion, the part that you had earlier--
After, after Charter Day we got letters from the administration that those of us who participated were called before the judiciary for hearings. And we knew that that was the same thing as being expelled. So I had expected this. And we met, that is the student leaders, the protest leaders, we met and decided to have a sit-in, in the administration building. And we were going to sit there until they agreed to set up a student judiciary. Well, the plan was, that Hubert Brown was going to speak. He was President of the Student Government Association. He would speak. And no long speeches. We said, "No speeches. Just tell people what happened, the reason we're having a sit-in, and we're all going to go over there." And we estimated that maybe five hundred would, would joint us. Well the day came, I remember it was a very bright day, beautiful day, and I went out after lunch and I told one of our teachers that I liked, what was going to happen. I told him to stay, I didn't tell him everything. I said, "Stay away from that administration building." And I went over to the rally and, ah, when Hu- I didn't hear, I couldn't hear what Hubert was saying. I was afraid really. I said, "What are we going to do? We've got to really do this. Once you say, you're going to do this thing, you've got to do it." So, I remember Hubert said, "Let's go". And I turned and I was staring at the building and I said, "I've got to do this." And I, I walked, started walking toward it. I was, I wasn't sure how many were coming. I said, "It doesn't matter. You know, I've got to do it. I've got to go ahead with it." And, I thought, "Just a few will come." I was so afraid that we were going to be embarrassed. And I went on in anyway. And I looked behind me and there were all these students coming. The, the place was filling up, first floor, second floor. I got in the elevator and went on up to the third floor. And went into Dr. Nabrit's office. Right behind me there were enough students to fill the whole floor, the third floor, which is a big area. And there were about ten of us that went into his office. He wasn't there. And we sat down and decided to wait, see what they did next.
OK, cut. Good. Excellent.
OK, give me a sense of a lot of your fears at that time.
Well a lot of the students who were inside the administration building were talking about the fact that it was no problem, that we had nothing to worry about, that they wouldn't do anything to us, there was nothing to fear from the police, from the Army. And it, it frightened me. Because they seemed so naive, you know, and they didn't really understand how serious the authorities were. I, I had been in October '67 at the Pentagon for the big peace march. I had gone to that and I'd seen how they had beat those people at the Pentagon. You know, young, White people and I says, "If they'll do that to them, I'll know what they'll do to us."** And Orangeburg had taken place. But it seemed like our students thought, and they said they thought, "That we're Howard and we're different, that Howard is different and they won't treat us the way they treated other students" and it did. It scared me. OK.
That's just it. OK.
OK, if you can give me a sense of the negotiations and that sense of non-stop back and forth.
Well, there were four of us that were chosen, a the negotiating team, and the first problem that we had was that to be chosen, had to be done by consensus, and there were maybe one thousand students, whose opinions had to be--we had to agree. And there was a steering committee of about 11 who made the nominations to the students, they agreed, but they said whatever we did, we couldn't do anything without bringing it back to them. So whatever points that the administration would agree to, or at this point the board of trustee's would agree to, we had to then tell them, "We'll had to take this back to campus." So we were going back and forth, back and forth on a lot of issues. And we came down to two that were a problem: first was Nabrit's resignation, and the trustees told us that he planed to retire the next year, so that they felt there was no need to, to ask him to resign. And secondly was on the matter of "Black," the word Black. We wanted Howard to make a statement about it's commitment to the Black community, to the welfare of the Black community. And, the trustee's said, "No," they couldn't do that**, I think it was Clark, yeah, Kenneth Clark who explained to us, that because Howard got so much money from the federal government that they couldn't afford to make an overt commitment to one group, because that would put them in violation of Civil Rights laws, or fairness or whatever, but they could make a statement that they were committed to general welfare of humanity and so forth. So we got everything except those two. It took us maybe two days, I guess of talking, going back and forth, from the hotel back to the administration building. Now those two points is where we, where we stopped.
So what happened when you went back, I mean at the point you realized that you couldn't go any further. When you brought it back to the, to the student body. How did you try and deal with that, to, to get it over with?
Well the student body told us, their, their sense was that, we, we were threatening to betray them. I had, I remember one night, the night before we left they were very angry because they said, we, it was the first time they'd seen us vacillating, we weren't united. Some of the steering committee was in favor of accepting the trustee's offer, some said, "No." The students finally told us to work it out among ourselves: the eleven of us. It ended up an all night marathon, and it got down to the word, "Black", because Tony said, "We should have mercy on Dr. Nabrit, that we should give him some respect," because I said, "No we should make the man resign." Tony kept saying, "No we shouldn't do that," so I said, "All right." But then when it got down to the Black issue, then I said, "Well maybe we can trust them, we can accept this argument," but others said, "no," and we stayed up--there was a core of people that really felt this was a central issue, and that it broke us, it broke the coalition down, that issue.
If you can give me a sense what was the Black issue?
Well, Specifically the Black issue was that Howard should exist for the benefit of the Black community. That it ought to be involved in economic change, and political change that it had a mission, say, or a purpose, a goal, that didn't, didn't allow it to just be a place where came and got a liberal education and became a member of the middle class and went on with no consciousness**. I think we called it relevance, all right, relevant to the Black community, and that was the point that we could not win, we did not win. Some felt that we could have won it, I felt that we couldn't
So what was it like, now, you're going back in, you've decided that you have to end the take-over, what is your feeling at this point.
I felt, I felt let down--
I'm sorry if you could say--
At the end of the takeover, I felt left down because--
If you could say--
At the end of the take over I felt a let down--
I'm sorry just wait till I finish, OK.
At the end of the takeover I felt let down because, first of all our unity had been broken. How ill, ill, ill-will surfaced, conflicts surfaced. People began to accuse others of selling out. The students, I think some of them, felt we had sold them out because we wouldn't stay on and on about this one point. And I told them that, the police and the army, the 81st, 82nd Airborne, whomever were coming out of the Pentagon and people that we had stationed downtown had called us and said that they're bringing up the army and the police are on 14th street or George Avenue, or whatever. See we're in this building, they can't see what's going on out there, and they've surrounded the area. And when they, you know, when, when the cameramen and all this pull out they're going to come and take the building. I knew to me that those students were not prepared to, to die. They were saying they were prepared, but they weren't, I didn't believe it. And I said, "Well, if you all are prepared to stay here and die," I remember I said, "I'll stay and, and die," but in my heart I really, type of person I was, I couldn't lie about something like that. I said, "OK, I'll stay here and die, I don't think we ought to but I'll do it." And the rest of them were saying, "Well we're saying this but we don't really think they're going to come," and so at that point, I felt, oh, I felt um, that maybe I had gone a little too far, maybe I had pushed things further than people really should have gone, because they, they really didn't understand. And they went out with this "We're a Winner" music, The Impressions. I didn't feel that way about it at all, I felt to win something you, you, you needed to have a sense about what you had done and what you had not done and we had not done two thirds of what we had said we were going to do, because the consciousness of the students, to me, had not been raised significantly from where they were when they came in to where they were when they left.
I'm going to ask you to talk about--
--you had a sense that, at one point, that you thought, you didn't know how long it was going to take to really accomplish what you wanted. And, can you give me a sense that as a student, you said as a 21 year old student, "I didn't realized how much time it would take, to do that." And that was the sense that you left the A building with. I'm going to ask you, um, when you left the A building, what did you personally feel?
When we left the A building, I, I felt that we had not done things the way we should have done them, that at some point we should have cut off, left the building, and just said we'll not have classes for a while until we could get ourselves together. Ah, I also felt that Tony had been right when he told me, he said, "Revolution takes a long time, and we can't expect to accomplish everything with a sit-it, or with one demonstration." I think he was a, more of a student of revolution than I was, and I realize that he was right. At night I stayed up all night, and people were calling me, and I just didn't want to talk to anybody because he was right, and, um I felt that opportunism was about to take over, I could see people coming, making friends with this trustee, and that trustee. And that, I felt that, was, was not going to be what I had wanted it to be. I was tired from lack of sleep, and I just wanted to withdraw.
OK, if you can talk about the Charter Day demonstration up until the time that you go up on stage?
Well, when it became clear during the Charter Day serv- cer- ceremonies, that Dr. Nabrit was not going to respond to our demands, it was about the end of the program, he was about to give out the awards, I, I remember turning to Tony, I said, "I think we need to go up now because he's not going to say anything." And so he said, "All right, well you get up." I was sitting in the isle. So I got up, that was the cue for everybody to get up. So we got up, and we started toward the stage, and the security guards moved quickly and got in front of us. They were standing there, all of them were armed, and I, I remember the fear because I said, "If we step past them maybe they'll hurt us." I didn't know what they'd do. So I said, "Tony what do we do now?" And he said, "Well, lets sit on the stage, we'll just sit on the stage, so that way we won't have to push past them." So we sat up on the stage, and well, Tony said, "I think we're going to have to get up." You know, this wasn't working, they were going on like we weren't there. So Tony got up, and I thought, "Well if he got up, I'll have to get up with him, I promised that I'd do this." So I stood up, and, and we stood there, and I kind of inched my way toward the podium, behind Tony, and Q.T. Jackson was on the other side, and they told Dr. Nabrit that here were our demands again, and we're asking you to respond to them, "Will you respond to them this time, at this time?" And he s--he just turned away from us and walked away. He looked at us, he s- like "How could you do this to me?" and he just walked away.
Given Howard's Civil Rights history, what was missing in that?
Well, Howard was to me, at least a, a place that--
Well to me Howard was living on, on past reputation, that had really cut off in the 50s they were not addressing current issues, or current problems, it just wasn't there. And in fact the things they had addressed only affected a small minority of Black people, but for concern for the masses it wasn't there. Concern for, for, for real change wasn't there: that they were concerned with getting something for a few Black people, the talented tenth of DuBois, so they could become rich and wealthy and powerful. But they were not concerned with the rest of us.