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February 22, 1975 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1975-02-22

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Saturday, February 22, 1975


Page Three

Saturday, February 22, 1975 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Three

MEMBERS OF THE Black Caucus address the general conference Saturday evening prior to
staging their walk out. "This is supposed to be a teach-in. We came here under a misperception.
We need to deal with the issues here and now. A ny organization of this kind must understand its

Jonathon Kozol
"BUS WAS NEVER a scare word when it carried freckled kids through
the hills of New Hampshire. . . . I am weary of marching and
speaking but I will never give up this struggle."

On solving racism

PEOPLE FLEW in from California,
drove up from the south, hitch-
hiked down from the north and a few
rode across town.
Most participants in the National
Student Conference. Against Racism.
Feb. 14-16, came in pep rally moods,
ready to clench their fists and holler
"right on" at the catchy phrases from
flamboyant orators.

'They a r e trying to
recreate t h e nigger
b u t I say to all of
them today, the nig-
ger is dead and will
never be created
a g a in. Not a black
one, brown one, red
one, yellow one,
poor white one and
not a woman. There
will be no more Jim
Crow laws and there
w i ll be no backing
tiiay from school de-
segregation-not one
-Thomas Atkins
Boston NAACP

They also came with a genuine con-
cern about the resurgence of blatant
racism in this country, exemplified by
the violent conflict over school de-
segregation in Boston.
Boston was the ideal selection for
the conference site because it was in
that city where it was essential, and
possible to directly confront racism.
Yet there was a noticeable absence
of people from the Boston communi-
ties of Roxbury or South Boston,
where the racist situation is so, vola-
Despite the fiery speeches given at
the opening evening of the conference
by superstars such as James Meredith,
Jonathon Kozol and Dr. Spock, and
the atmosphere of solidarity they at-
tempted to inspire, the unity began
to waver during the second day.
THE CONFERENCE was soon suffer-
ing from factionalism - the
Young Socialist Alliance against the
Spartacus Youth League against the
Revolutionary S t u d e n t Brigade
against a myriad of other organiza-
tions. And those who came indepen-
dently were left standing in the cross-
A flurry of leaflets flew in anyone's
face who entered or left the confer-
ence-"Join us. We have the right so-
lution. We know the way, we've seen
the light. Don't listen to so and so."
A conference which could have eas-
ily dealt with one single issue, racism,
broke down into a political struggle
reaffirming the split that this country
suffers from on all sides.
The conflicts and confusion culmi-
nated in the formation of a separate
Black Caucus which eventually staged
a walkout from the conference Satur-
day evening, vowing to bring matters
down to brass tacks and confront the
issue--talk about Boston, talk to peo-
ple from the Roxbury community.
plan a demonstration for the next
day, and in short, do more than make
promises and listen to a lot of spirited
"'HIS IS SUPPOSED to be a teach-
in", declared Lawrence Elliot,
leader of the Caucus. ". . . we came
here under a misperception. It's ra-

cism and discrimination we're dealing
with-not just desegregation. We
need to deal with the issues here and
So they put in their effort to con-
front racism head-on by planning to
meet with people from Roxbury and
staging a demonstration in front of
the home of Massachusetts Governor,
Michael Dukakis.
Meanwhile, the general conference
continued with its proposals and
speeches and it refused to join the
Caucus in its meetings and demon-
strations, further widening the gap
between the two groups.
BUT AFTER THIS two day battle be-
tween the factions had petered
out, the conference came home again,
when the participants reaffirmed
their solidarity and called for a mas-
sive rally March 17 to continue this
opening effort to fight racism.
The factional disputes and short-
lived schism was not useless in that it
knocked a lot of people off their ide-
alistic clouds. Racism cannot be
fought with feverish speeches saying
"we do not like racism. We must get
rid of it." No one needs to travel all
the way to Boston to hear that. There
are more worthwhile things that scan
be done.
But the political struggle shed light
on something that all those attending
the conference needed clarified. The
solution to racism in America is not a
simple and swift one. The greater
battle to be fought must transcend
factional disputes, and ideological dif-
ferences, or nothing will ever be ac-

Thomas Atkins

"I AM A GREAT believer in con-
ferences of this kind because ev-
erything helps a little and in not
helping a problem you allow it to


MS. TONI PEABODY, wife of former Governor of Massachusetts Endi-
cott Peabody, listens intently to one of the speeches given during the
first evening of the National Student Conference Against Racism. Ms.
Peabody was a civil rights activist during the sixties.


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