thumbnail of American Experience; 1964; Interview with Dave Dennis, Civil Rights Activist, part 2 of 2
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What was the goal, the hope was to get on the floor or to, I think it was 11 and 8 with Joe Rouse, 11 votes on the Credentials Committee, got you on the floor and then 8 states voted yes and it had to go to a vote to the end time. Yes, you could bring it up to a debate if you did that is. So after fan Lou Hamer spoke is, you really had 17. Where were you when she spoke, remember, were you there? Bob said it was behind the cameras, which would have been kind of interesting to Bob. Yeah, you didn't need to see your face. No, I wasn't there. Let me see, I'm trying to think of where I was. I was at some place on the board wall, but I think it was. That's where I was. Did you watch it on TV? Yeah, I think it was on. No, I didn't. I didn't have another chance to watch it on TV, but I'm going to be right later. No, at that time, if I'm not mistaken, I was on the boardwalk, I did not witness it. I did not see it when it first happened, so I saw it later and I was told about what
had happened. I was taking care of something there. When the compromise is proposed, what does it do? Is it split in a way? Is it split the movement? Because they're offering a way out, Johnson's desperate, right? Right. Well, the two seats, I think, as well. Yeah, well, the first compromise position was supposed to have to seat both delegates and they would each have almost have vote as equal pieces in that. That was the first compromise pieces that was offered on the floor, which they turned out. I mean, Johnson's no way on this piece. And then finally, it came back as that they would have two votes on this. Dr. Aaron Henry and Ed King, I think it was, and the two seats they wanted, but Johnson at this time was a Humphrey route that made that Johnson's position was that he was not
going to allow this illiterate woman to be on that delegate, which he was referring to as Fandallu Hayman. And so when that word came into what she said, I mean, that was a lot of anger with his pieces. So now you got to, I don't think that was really a split. There were some people who wanted to go and take the two seats, but these were people outside more or less. You had the leadership of the various civil rights groups that felt that and some of the very so-called liberals, because what you had was when Fandallu Hayman spoke is we had enough votes on that evening as a call was an arc to take it to minority debate pieces. But then that's when the government put the hammer on people, the delegate out of California, he was one of them, the word was that a husband was up for a judgeship, and they said, you
want to go and get this, you know, if you do this, you know, I mean, people threatened with loans not being carried out. So I mean, all of a sudden is overnight is, yes, they played hard ball on this is and then Joe, I mean, Humphrey, and then also Walter Ruth and all those put it on Joe Rao, who was a representative of the union. You know, if you don't do this and you don't get them, you don't stop these people, you know. And how does Dr. King play it? Well, they've signed him with to cut off the funds, but Dr. King is. And so he still, he never did take a position one way or the other, but he didn't make one very significant statement as he said, as a leader of, as he put it almost quote of Negroes at the time is, I would have to urge you to, to take it, to compromise, but if I was a Mississippi leader, I would have to say no.
So that was a very significant piece that he put out there is, I mean, that he did, so you can't say that he was pushing that hard, he was, but he was satisfying both sides, right? He said, okay, you know, I'm not asking him to, not tell him not to. And I think that it's, that wasn't too much different to some extent than what we would took the position of, because here was our opportunity, and I was part of these discussions is that here's our opportunity is, look, it's time for us to step back here, the local people have to make this decision. But we knew at that particular time there was no way you're going to change our fellow Hamers, mine, or any deviance, mine, those people, and some of the other people that were out there to step toes and others, you were not going to move them at all. So, but, but it was important that this country saw that it wasn't Bob up there, it wasn't, you know, other people out there from outside saying, do this, do that is, so you got pictures
of them, you know, we were to, this point is time to just really everybody, all right, and move out of this piece. And I think that that's, and I think Bob would probably have taken that position earlier, but he was trapped in a situation is because they want him at the negotiation table. Right. But Bob was feeling very confident, I think, in those people, ability to make their own decisions, you know, and that the, that the, that the targeted population, the oppressed poor, were standing up, and they were there, solid as a rock. Let's cover a second. Meg, can we touch up? Yeah. Um, how did the Johnson forces win in the end? Well, I don't think they won.
They kept us from getting the seats, um, and the Democratic Party at the convention there is. And what was the delegation's response finally in the end? Well, they were disappointed, and they were hurt, and they were angry, because the fact is their government had let them down, because they went there believing. This is, hey, this is America. And when Fandall and Hamer talked about this, she was expressing the views, and not only the people who were there, but the people at home who was watching this, is if this is the great battle, you know, this is Joe Lewis and Max Mellon, you know, this is it, you know. So, you know, so the, all their hopes were there is, I think they've really, everybody believed. There were a few people, of course, who said, no. And most people who really believed, all these volunteers, so they missed it both. So, not only did Johnson lose, but he lost the war for the country around democracy in
the world. When those kids left, they left here, disappointed, they left Mississippi, disappointed, they left Mississippi angry. They went back to their universities and colleges, and they began to question everything that this country was saying. They didn't trust the country anymore. Whatever they said about the war and stuff is, they were saying, no, we want more answers, and they began to demonstrate new things. That was an uprising of young people, and they were the uprising was among America's children. They were beginning to question their parents, you know, and the parents being the country itself is, and what it meant is, and when you've been pounding me about this, about democracy and why we end to war and world is bringing democracy to it, and I just left out them down there, you know. So many of your leaders in the peace movements have came out of Mississippi. They were part of their volunteer group, and so they began, it really was a snowball
and effect, it was interesting about this, you had to, of the first really mass movement across country around things was the freedom riders. And many of the freedom riders didn't stop. They went on, it came, because a lot of the people who, to Mississippi at the beginning, that group that was in in 1962, 63 leading up to 1964, were former freedom riders, probably the most of them, but the snake core, whatever it is, they had all been, at some point, freedom riders, most of them. Were you one? Yes, I was a freedom rider, I was on the first bus from Montgomery to Jackson, and we had been following that, the riders, where the new orders were supposed to be the, the host of the, for riders, is where they're going in the riders, and so that's that small of the New Orleans core group I was talking about, because they merged in terms of, they just caught fire. I mean, they moved out across the state of Louisiana and Mississippi and parts of Alabama is, they were all over the places, and now there's one of the most effective, small groups
of people that happened in this country, and so it was in the Nashville group. It was that, the Nashville group, a diet Nash is, and that was the, that small core group of the leadership over at the castle in the castle family. But, so in your mind, Atlantic City was this break, or this really was a moment, wasn't it? Yes, it was, it was the, yeah, I think that this is where the country lost it, this is where the movement began to change shape. I mean, we've, we went back to our places, we were saying is, you're not going to win this game, you know, playing by the rules, there's a lot of people beginning to feel that way, because the rules don't count, because the rules are not for us, you know, the rules are made to protect the people who are in power, and as far as we were concerned, they were all racist, they had really turned their backs on us and the people of this country, and what we're standing for is, I mean, here it is, and then really, the irony is it's you
were hungry for Christ's sake. Exactly right. These are the people who was out there walking through the other, the labor, the people who, I mean, he's, he's the point person, Johnson just said, do this so you don't get to be vice president. Exactly right, it's, and that was, he, when Fanlou Hamam confronted him, you know, with the famous statement about the fact is about her being, I'm prayed for you, I thought, I mean about you, pray about you all the last night, you can see in his eyes, you know, there's, if you say that, you know, that that was at turning point, you know, people. But he's, yeah, he was a symbol of liberalism in this country. It was. Humphrey was the symbol, and Joe Rao and Walter Ruth are those with people who, we felt, if you're going to trust, these people you could trust, so when they walked into the room, you know, we were like, we trust you, you know. And so when they began, early in the game, began to, things just didn't look right, sound
right to me, is that the, why are we having all these negotiations, are you supposed to be there with us, you know? And so that was another reason I just, you know, inside of me, I was just like, I'm on board, and what is all about is, you know, this is, something's not right here. And so he's like being a, you, it's like, it's like, it'd be almost like a, a, a, a barbena, you know, and all of a sudden I'm watching him change on me, you know what I mean? Right. I mean, I, it's like, I can't believe this, you know, you can't change on me, you know, like this, you know, but we watching people who have been there urging us to go forward, you know, in a lot of ways isn't. And you know, it's if, you know, we got your back, you know, we got all this support out here, you know, to help us with the movement, money is coming in from various different groups that these people are in, you know, they happen to find it's the right school, the vote education project, what do you have this that do it, possibly, and all of a sudden is, you know,
you've got the realities coming in to you. And we're just like, you know, I mean, it's, and I guess some, some, some extent, we're probably a little bit of some out of shock in the first beginning. So it took a while to go back and get, you know, digest this thing, you know, and how did it ripple through and change the movement, do you think? Well, I think that the way that this changed the movement is, is that the movement, the people in the movement trusted certain parts of the government, certain people out there is. So all of a sudden it was like this total distrust in the sense that, then the government, I mean, really, really made this thing really craze it to the largest in this, is that, with all what happened, you know, I mean, Johnson won, I mean, that was, wipe out, election won. And so he's like, you know, what did the country see, you know, you know, and then what happened was there was, which is, you say, did we really have to be sacrifice?
Yeah. Exactly, I mean, he didn't, he didn't, he didn't get anything from the Southern Democrats, Dixacrest, you know, then they sold us out again. So it really has to ask the question is, is whether that was, that was all, it was about winning an election, or was it about the fact is that, that the leadership of this country had decided across the board, you know, we're just going to go so far with this stuff, is, all right? You still, we don't still see that you have a real place, all right, in the political system of this country, the leadership of this country. And where have you translated into what happened to the rise of black power? Well, I think that, because of that, is people begin to say that we've, it's self-reliance, we have to begin to depend more on ourselves, because see, one of the things that begin to happen also, at the same time is, and this is where I get into this thing about the Sixth World Civil Rights Act, and how Johnson was really able to get it through is, because
I think that was another set out that we don't still don't realize how impacted our communities. What happened to appease the black community, they came back on the 1966 civil rights act and tried to buy the black people back, pay off. We had the poverty program in others, where the whole thing was moving black people out of the community, and leadership out of the community, and also tearing away what economic base that we had in the black community. And the 1960 civil rights act was part of that deal. And the way that it occurred was, was that the, the poverty program, you had the money hand pieces, whereby you talked about family. So all of a sudden, the black community swamped with volunteers and workers coming in to talk about family, but family needed me. So the bottom line was that if you came from a single parent home, you know, that's part
of the problems in the black community, the kids. And that was the biggest lie of it, because what black people had been able to do is, when we first came into this country, it was broadly in their slaves, they separated us from the parents, from the children. And something happened is what it calls us to be able to survive that over the many years. And what it was is that developed what we call the extended family, you know, that the children of the communities were the, everybody's children. So when I grew up, I came out of single parent home, raised a lot by my grandparents. I was a sharecropper, part of a sharecropper's family, until I was nine years old, and they moved into three-poor. I lived on the plantation myself, single parent. But when I grew up, every black male in that community adult male, they were like my father, because they looked out as you walked down the streets and the streets as they protected. And the women were your mothers.
So if you did something wrong, that lady even made me a somebody that would chastise me, all right, and send me home to my mama where I get it again, my grandmother, okay? So the community looked out. Every community had its own little grocery stores. We had our own little bed and breakfast places, places to go and eat. And sometimes on Sundays, for people, a lot of people in the community would change their living room, family room, until a little dining room is, so you could stop and eat. And we would dress, you know, my mom would dress up and stuff and call out the churches and we would go there to eat. We didn't have the rest of them go. But the money was circulating in the community. It was a real vibrant community. Our community is, and you had, in a month ago, an urban community will come. So there are two things that psychologically you believe that you had fought. You believe about the fact is, and did a way to extend the family pieces. The urban renewal came in in the physical destruction of the black community, all the places, the expressways just moved down and killed their new Orleans, the Cleveland Avenue took it away.
You know, and you got Durham, North Carolina, right? You got a little black Wall Street used to call it, the North Carolina, and right down the middle of it, killing out of the place. So everybody, Atlanta George, you just name it. So you killed economic places, then you had the little grocery stores, the big grocery stores surrounding the black community, whatever you have. And then you got the part of the program of hiring, the head of poverty programs, with offices downtown is by hiring a leadership of the black community, is the mood across the track. So how did it end up, the net change was that SNCC and other organizations changed. Tell me just about that shift, because it's something you can see by the end of 64, can't you? Yeah, I think the organizations begin to struggle, I mean, the leadership, we were a lot of us retired. We have been in this thing is like Bob and others have been in there, non-stop from
60 to 61, always through to up, going to 65, 1965. Right now is people talk about this post trauma piece, we didn't know if the heck that was, then it's... Let's talk about that. Mag. Yeah. There's a radio downstairs? Man. Does anybody have a right to be tired? I said a right to be tired, but you were. Yeah, I think that, and a lot of us left. But I didn't leave the civil rights movement process, but what I did was I left Mississippi and went into New Orleans as the program director for core, Southern program director for core. Bob left. And Bob left and went to, and we just, all, I mean, people just moved out and trying to find their lives and trying to find some way to understand this is, you know, what was going on. You've been in Moore's zone for years. That's correct. I mean, really, it's serious war zone. And we didn't understand.
I mean, when I went through school, I mean, I floundered here and there, not understand. I mean, I went under Dr. Walter Sherbin. I went to the University of Michigan. I ran into this psychiatrist, Dr. Walter Sherfington, he's dead now, but, you know, and then I just had to go talk to somebody, trying to figure out what was going on in my head, you know. You can't sleep at night, you know, you can't, you, you wake up, you know, you can see Mickey and, you know, you can see Macker and those people, you know, I could see this little kid in Harlem, you know, and, you know, this is real. And so I still see him. I mean, it's not something that just goes away, you know, you have to, we have people in the movement. We talk about those who are beaten, we talk about those who are shot, kill, you know, who lost their lives in the movement. But there are people in the movement now walking, you know, with permanent damage because
they didn't come out of this, I mean, they're suffering. A lot of them don't have insurance, you know, they don't have health insurance and whatever you have is they're growing old, living in the sixties still, you know, not being able to come out of it. So a lot of this happened. I mean, some of the people who still in Mississippi never leave is doing well, Hollis and others, Hollis Markins and others. But the, but a lot of us left because then did other things, you know, trying to find. And with me person, it took me a while just to, you know, try to relocate my life, you know, what is it all about and moving through it and making some sense of it. And looking at what we did, like sometimes people always ask me, I always get the same question is and that is, if you had to do it again, would you do it in a different, you know? And the question, the answer is, it's all a big, you know, I would have liked to have been able to do it differently.
But I don't know if I would have been allowed to do it in a different, I mean, what options did you have at that time is, you know, you couldn't talk about, okay, get, oh, everybody can just go out there, I mean, there's no way you can match that, that's, that's synthesis. I mean, non-violence was some people of the way of life, you know, Jim Lawson, Jerome Smith and people like that is, I think it was, you know, a way of life for that. But for a lot of other people, it was a tactic, you know? You mentioned that some of the people in Mississippi moved out and started movements, other, else for Maria Savia, but what happened to him? Well I don't know what happened, I know he went out and he gave me a part of the piece move, but pieces out of Berkeley and stuff is, and free speech, yeah, free speech every. And so they would, you know, and there was a lot of people like him, or so that did the same thing. And you look at Berkeley, there was a person here just before you came who was part of that free speech movement.
He said, we learned how to do everything from the civil rights movement. We learned how to organize, we learned how to protest, do you ever think about that legacy? Yes, I think that the, that's what you see out there for this pattern out to what we did. But what we did was pattern after, we learned a lot from the elders before us is who really understood about organized, we didn't understand, I didn't understand about, understood the people because I came out of that, those communities. But in terms of how to get people to the table, the stuff is, how to deal with the kind of stress and the problems that you have. The Ames and Moors, the Dr. Seal Simpkins, out of the street port, the Reverend Harry Blake and C.C. Brian and others, and Mrs. Hamer and Mrs. Devine and others, taught us a lot. And we used those skills to, in the movement, the level of that is, and we passed it on,
you know. And we still trying to pass it on. I mean, Bob and, as my self is, with the, he worked, he heads up the Algebra project and I heads up the Southern Institute of Algebra project. And we work with kids all the time is, and the idea is how do you begin to transfer this, even in this day and age, is whereby the whole thinking patterns around what's going on is a little bit different because most of the people have a big disconnect. But there's a similarity is, or today is, because young people have a disconnect because they don't understand sit-ins and stuff of what was going on. Well, we didn't understand what went on before us, when we came into the movement pieces, you know, and we had to be taught, and that information was transferred to us. There's a new kind of internet protest. It's a source of protest that couldn't have been imagined by you guys. Exactly. This next generation is kind of figuring it out, occupy Wall Street. Yeah. You know, looking back, this 64 feels like a watershed moment for you in your life, for sure. Yes, I mean, now, but I would, yeah, the question is, well, that, I'm curious,
looking back at that year, what you think. And also, what you think about what was going on in the country during that incredible 12 months, which just felt like some major fundamental lines got crossed, you know. Yeah, and it's very difficult to isolate this 64 from 6263. And the things that led up to that is because it was all part of it, you know, and it's all got boxed in here. And to all of a sudden is, we, all of that stuff we've been involved in, now we have this little opportunity, this little people here, to make this thing happen, make sense, you know, to the countries, and whether or not it's going to blow up in our faces and go off this way. I think it was worth the risk that we took. I think that the hate is, the sacrifice that had to be made by some people is, but it's
worth it because the, it's not our fault that the country did not take advantage of it. We set the stage for this to be the greatest country ever. We set the stage whereby we could be a showcase for democracy, a showcase for kids having access to quality education and what we have is, we had that opportunity, you know. We just couldn't make it happen, but we, at least what we would be able to do, which is really what we, or the purpose of this whole effort was, was to bring it to the table and put it in the floor and open it up. Here it is America, here's the bad, let's make it good. That's what we about, we Americans, all right, and America said power to be is not yet. They shut that door. But that has an impact not only here in this country domestically, but internationally and we are still suffering from those decisions in 1964 that's made by this country.
Why do you think it's important for us to be doing this, to be looking back and trying to remember that year? Well, I think it's not too late. A lot of these issues are still here, we're having a different type of problem issues. I mean, it's no longer just about color, but it's a whole class issue, but it's also something else going on here is in terms of the same type of hatred and animosity that occurred then with our confrontation with the citizen council and the Ku Klux Klan others is. This country is coming in confrontation now with a different aspect of that same type violence pieces, on the domestic side is, where people are arming themselves and saying that the answer to the question is to kill those who oppose what we're trying to do. So those who are trying to stand up for right now in this country, at this point is having
to go through the same thing with the same type of dangers as we did in the 1960s. It's back as if they had ever left. I mean, the elastic country act positive around this is, we could be in some serious trouble long haul. The first real terrorist act on this soil was Magvei. He was homegrown, all right? And this stuff has begun to emerge more and more in this country as well. We didn't go through with a whole lot of investigations around Magvei, just as we didn't do around the Klan in the 60s. Well, as a result of that is this whole underground piece that the Magvei's and others represent is beginning to grow, all right? And so we allow that to grow just as we did. So we're going to have to, a country has this window again, I guess, is, in terms of one to do what is right.
I think we'll get all the way back for a sec to the beginning of 64 before all this justifiable cynicism and sense of betrayal sets in. Five days after the assassination, Johnson gives a speech and he says, let us continue. He calls Martin Luther King and January invites all the civil rights leaders to the White House. And this the President of the United States, it was something new. Whether in the end it played out or whether Johnson was able to separate his overwhelming political ambition from his civil rights interest is an interesting question. But it is new, I think, did that feel that way?
Can you put yourself back that far? It must be hard to separate all of the sense of what happened later in that year and go back and wonder whether you actually ever trusted or believed that Johnson was an ally. Yeah, I always had difficulty in terms of believing whether or not Johnson as an ally is. And the same time is that what we were feeling in Mississippi is that the people he calls to the table to have these discussions was the President, which he continued to do throughout this deciding who was going to speak for the poor people and the people in the Mississippi and other places. So that was our objection to that is because no one was talking to the people who lived during this struggle and that was talking about the demand side. So he didn't ask for any little hammer.
Exactly right. And he didn't want to talk to family with him. He called it a literate ignorant woman, right? He didn't want to talk to her. He didn't want to talk to any divine of those people or ams and more than the others. Those are the people he did not want to talk to. So that puts some pressure on within the movement too because you look at Wilkins and Dr. King and Farmer and other people and they're always the ones in effect becoming a leadership counsel within the movement. Right. And it's a disconnect. But not only that is but showed you what that disconnect is all about and how power works. And seeing the challenge of Democratic Party, MFDP, expose that. So Walter Ruth of them could say to King is, okay, you know where your money is coming from, you know? And they could say the same thing in terms of the other leadership there is, you know, Royal Wilkins and others could say, well, you know where this is and all your legends here, they deal here, you promise this, you know, you know, and so we're going to give
up this, you know, bargain. But they're bargaining with the wrong people at this time. So it doesn't, in fact, us of what work we've got to do is because we're still, and though people we're representing out there is they're not at the table. This has to be one of the table six and three, one of the table six and two is, you know, and the same people being talked to while they sort of try to cover murders of people like Lewis Allen and Lee and you got, and Megger and others, you know, so we have our feelings on a local level about this. So the idea with us is that if you, if you ever get the right people to the table and the demand size stand up and be hurt, that's the force we would talk about need to be hurt, then his country would not turn his back on those people if they got there. But the idea is you got to get them to the table because the country was not allowing them to the table. So our job is the MFDP and with the call for and the work that we were doing at that time was was trying to open up the door to get these people to the table so they could
be hurt because it wasn't until they be hurt that we're going to get the conscience of the country America and they become America's children like the other people. So that was the whole move there. So the brain, they were all the leadership, that leadership was always being brought to the table, you know. So that was what we were our struggle in the development of MFDP and others and the delegates that we represented in FDP were saying is that these are the people and we can say we the people, here are the people and they're demanding to be hurt and they were standing up to be hurt and it was important at that particular time is that they were not represented by this so-called leadership so Bob and others step back. So here they are, you know, you don't talk to me, you talk to them. Was there any shred of a silver lining that came out of Atlantic City, they do extract
a commitment by the Democratic Party never to seek the segregated delegation again? Which some would argue set a precedent of inclusion with that had a chance to grow. Did you give any sort of sense that that's a step forward? So the big step forward is the fact is that people not only Mississippi but Louisiana and other places begin to stand up and say look I'm going down and register vote, I'm running for offices, I'm going to organize to get some of our people elected in these particular positions. That's the silver lining. And the silver lining is that in Mississippi we might not agree with all the things they're doing is because they still have issues around the fact is that the bottom of the total poor economic and also the education that you have is the basics. But they still have more black elected officials in other state in the country. And black elected officials being elected now the question is how do you get the elected
officials where they black or white to do what is right for all the people. So that's how it's struck an hour. At least what we have now is that we enter the political scene in the arena and a lot more of us are at the table than what's there before. So that's the silver lining is that I think is in that area there on the political side. Is there a legacy that you can think of as the 50th anniversary you're getting to see old friends we've been through so much with? Is there a legacy today of what you went through 50 years ago that you can point to? Well, I think that one of the things is that openness door for me personally is that you have a black president which is sort of something with symbolic, you know, I don't agree with
everything he's done but he's there. And with me it's sort of like when he was born I was in jail in Shreveport. So I've got a connection here with you, all right. But that connection needs to be the fact is that for me to say to him if I ever get a job never met him before my life is is that his legacy should be about the fact is that you were here because of what people did in the 60s and before that time. You wrote in on their shoulders so you owe something back to the communities, you know, that made this happen people. So we can't be satisfied to talk about democracy in other places until we get it at home for everybody. And right now is that the what we hope in its fifth anniversary be about is is that at the time in the 60s our attention was primarily around the political structure of this country and being part of it.
Now the issue happens to be is how is that power used or how it can become a power to be used to make changes for good whether you're black or white. And the second issue is where we missed a boat is where we missed but we started. We didn't finish it. We're trying to do it now is but right now we think that the next hurdle from the civil rights movement pieces is education. So we hope and take this fiftieth to, you know, segue from this political issues. I'll use that as basis to move another gender for young people which is just as serious as the right to vote for us then and that is around that every child in this country should be given access to quality education. And this country has to begin to address that issue. What does it mean to be in the 60s to be to have political power? The question now is what does it mean to have quality education? What is that? You can't talk about equal education is our standards of what have you
have is because the fact is that we know 26 in the world. So that means is we're no matter where you go. You can come out of the best schools ever in this country is you're all be saying you're coming from a country that's number 26. So everybody this country has to address the issue of quality education and what that really is. So we can get the conversation going is what is quality education and what it should be just as we would have the conversation going in the 60s is about the political issues in this country is what it is and what is political power and what does that mean for the oppressor of black people and the people of color. I think we're down I just want to make sure I didn't overlook something important. You remember Cassius Clay fighting Sonny Liston and Clay becomes Muhammad Ali in 1964? Number just totally random whether you ever remembered the first time it came across Ali
that he had an impact on your thinking but you responded to him in any way. Yeah there was a core convention in Miami I think it was in 1961 and it was then known as Cassius Clay came to visit us and I had my first time meeting him and talking to him was there and so we remember this conversation I forgotten who he fought he had fought is and so he had predicted that he was going to knock the guy out I think was in the fifth round and he knocked the guy out in the third round and so ask him what happened why didn't you let him go to five rounds and he looked at me and he said because he had a bad attitude. That stuck with me all my life since that time it's about how the game can change based
upon who you with and what you're doing and stuff like this but that was my first time of meeting. I mean he made the change from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali it was not too much as I heard the rumors you know read about this but when it happened it was amazing to me was how the country turned on him because of his change and I'm looking at this and I'm hearing this guy talk about the fact is I don't know drank in and blah this you know he didn't give up chasing women but he had stuff like that you know he living a good clean life you know and standing up for community and everything and people were saying this is a bad guy and I'm like what the morality around this is what a belief is but this so this does not this is not something wrong with this picture but then but that brought to it
was what how deep this prejudice was in this country around people with different ideas you know and even in terms of your religion or wherever you come from what you have is I mean this is deeply embedded because all he did was change his name he had to religion or he just changed his name you know so he's American and exactly right I mean here's a guy who made his stand and it turned out over the years he was right you know a lot of stuff he stood for you know and everything still does and his press conference after being listed he says I don't have to be who you want me to be yeah that's right he was he was you know a very good role model not just about kids but I mean in terms of being in a human being you know with a stand up for what is right no matter what the sacrifice
it because here's a guy who gave up all this stuff is to stand up for what he believed in you know and they had to do with he didn't believe in or he wasn't going to go and I mean we have conscientious objectives all the time you know that's that exists and you know but I mean to get up to him because of his fame and the priority at that time is but he was you know he's still he say here it is you take it you know let's get 30 seconds of silence what we call room town room town for Dave Dennis 30 seconds of silence starting up And ribeye.
American Experience
Raw Footage
Interview with Dave Dennis, Civil Rights Activist, part 2 of 2
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WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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It was the year of the Beatles and the Civil Rights Act; of the Gulf of Tonkin and Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign; the year that cities across the country erupted in violence and Americans tried to make sense of the Kennedy assassination. Based on The Last Innocent Year: America in 1964 by award-winning journalist Jon Margolis, this film follows some of the most prominent figures of the time -- Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Barry Goldwater, Betty Friedan -- and brings out from the shadows the actions of ordinary Americans whose frustrations, ambitions and anxieties began to turn the country onto a new and different course.
Social Issues
Politics and Government
American history, African Americans, civil rights, politics, Vietnam War, 1960s, counterculture
(c) 2014-2017 WGBH Educational Foundation
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Moving Image
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Identifier: NSF_DENNIS_008_merged_02_SALES_ASP_h264 Amex 1920x1080 .mp4 (unknown)
Duration: 0:43:47
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Chicago: “American Experience; 1964; Interview with Dave Dennis, Civil Rights Activist, part 2 of 2,” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 19, 2024,
MLA: “American Experience; 1964; Interview with Dave Dennis, Civil Rights Activist, part 2 of 2.” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 19, 2024. <>.
APA: American Experience; 1964; Interview with Dave Dennis, Civil Rights Activist, part 2 of 2. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from