Uploaded by BLASSDCCD on 25.07.2010

PETER BAILEY: He was a master teacher and there is no greater loss to a community than
the loss of a master teacher. NARRATOR: During the next three days, 20,000
people endured subfreezing temperatures to say goodbye to Malcolm X.
OSSIE DAVIS: When the funeral was over and Malcolm was stripped of his western clothes
and then the Muslims came and dressed him for proper Muslim burial, they had a service.
We went out to Ardsley, the cemetery. And when we got there, you know, the professional
gravediggers was standing there with their shovels, but some of the black brothers said,
"No, huh-uh, we can't let you do that. We dig this grave. You know, we cover this brother
with dirt." And it was a moving moment, and I was proud at that moment to be black and
proud that my community and people, no matter what had been said by the outside world, said
to the brother, "We loved and respected and admired you." So we buried him and there it
is. NARRATOR: Malcolm X had a far reaching effect
on the civil rights movement. In the South, there had been a long tradition of self reliance.
Malcolm X's ideas now touched that tradition. In 1965, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee launched new strategies to challenge white control of southern politics.
STOKELY CARMICHAEL: Our direction was clear, a heavy emphasis on nationalism, strong, as
strong as Malcolm had it, as strong as we could get it.
NARRATOR: Carmichael and other SNCC members began a voter drive in Lowndes County, Alabama,
known as Bloody Lowndes for its violence against blacks. Although 80 percent of the population
was black, there were no black elected officials. Economically dependent on white plantation
owners, many were afraid to join civil rights efforts. And none had been allowed to register
to vote until early 1965. STOKELY CARMICHAEL: Now, in this country it
says majority rules. We are 80 percent of the majority in this -- We are 80 percent
in this county and we have the right to rule this county. We have the right to rule this
county and we're going to rule it. I don't care how poor we are and how black we are,
we are going to govern this county. JOHN HULETT: Stokely Carmichael and Colton
Cox and others who got together and told us according to the Alabama law, if we didn't
like what the Democratic Party was doing in our county, or the Republican Party, we could
form our own political organization and it could become a political party.
STOKELY CARMICHAEL: George Wallace was the head of the Alabama Democratic Party. The
Alabama Democratic Party was racist. Its symbol at that time had a white rooster and it had
the words of white supremacy. That was the official emblem of the Democratic Party in
Alabama. So here it would be easy for us to tell our people, "Hey look, this party's not
for us. We need our own party." NARRATOR: The new political party was named
the Lowndes County Freedom Organization. But it became better known by the symbol it chose,
a black panther. JOHN HULETT: And then when we chose that symbol,
the black panther, the minute the people in that county started saying we were violent
during that time. You know, now you got a violent group in Lowndes County who is turning
out -- Who are going to start killing white folks. But it wasn't that, it was a political
-- Just a symbol to our own race that we was here to stay and we were going to do whatever
needed to be done to survive. JOHN JACKSON: Everybody was excited because
they said, "Well, they have the rooster, which represents the Democratic Party, the elephant
which represents the Republican Party, why can't we have a black cat to represent us?
Everybody knows how a cat look," and we were excited because we knew that if a person couldn't
read or write, they sure knew the difference between a cat, an elephant and a rooster.
NARRATOR: SNCC went door to door and farm to farm explaining to first time voters the
rules for taking part in the Lowndes County primary.
STOKELY CARMICHAEL: Now, the law says you can't vote in ours and also vote in the Democratic
primary, which has to be held on the same day according to the law. So what we'll have
to do is vote on one and not the other. So if you want to vote for our candidates for
sheriff, for tax assessor, tax collector, coroner and the school board, then you have
to vote for us. NARRATOR: On May 3rd, 1966, Lowndes County
blacks voted for the first time since the end of Reconstruction. Some voted as Democrats
in the Hayville courthouse. Several blocks away, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization
held its primary on the grounds of the First Baptist Church. Voters for the independent
party were introduced to candidates for seven offices, including sheriff, before casting
their ballots. Even with the ever-present threat of violence, 900 black voters showed
up that day to vote for the panther. JOHN HULETT: This was the first time that
the black people in this county came together to make choices of their own candidates for
public office. It was important also because the numbers of people that turned out for
the election that day and voted for their candidates and felt that they had done something
for themselves, to start making some of the kinds of changes they wanted to see happen
in the system. NARRATOR: Eleven days later, Stokely Carmichael,
representing the new militancy within SNCC, defeated John Lewis as national chairman.
STOKELY CARMICHAEL: If you took a clear look at John Lewis, he looked more like a young
Martin Luther King, Jr., than anything else. JOHN LEWIS: It was almost like a coup. People
were saying we need someone who would stand up to Lyndon Johnson, we need someone who
would stand up to Martin Luther King, Jr. STOKELY CARMICHAEL: It was clear that he'd
been alienated from the SNCC staff. So the vote against him represented that. But more
importantly, it represented the clear insight of the SNCC organizers that understood that
the question of morality upon which King's organization depended to bring about changes
in the community were not possible. The SNCC people had seen raw terror and they understood
properly this raw terror had nothing to do with morality, but had to do clearly with
power. NARRATOR: It had been almost a year since
Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, but white resistance remained strong. In Mississippi
alone, more than 300,000 blacks were not registered to vote. James Meredith, the first black person
to enroll at the University of Mississippi, was determined to change all that. On June
5th, 1966, Meredith left Memphis, Tennessee, prepared to walk 220 miles to Jackson, Mississippi.
He called it a March Against Fear. JAMES MEREDITH: To point out and challenge,
if necessary, this all pervasive and overriding fear that's so much a part of the day to day
life of the Negro in this country, and especially in Mississippi.
NARRATOR: On the second day of his march, James Meredith was shot from ambush.
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: We, as you know, have been greatly concerned about the shooting
of James Meredith, we have expressed that. NARRATOR: Leaders of major civil rights organizations
rushed to Memphis, Tennessee, where James Meredith was hospitalized. They vowed to continue
the march for him. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: And something needs
to be done to make it clear that we are not going to be stopped, we're not going to be
intimidated. NARRATOR: From the start, there was conflict.
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: If we're going to be free, we will have to suffer for that freedom,
we will have to sacrifice for it. STOKELY CARMICHAEL: But I'm not going to beg
the white man for anything that I deserve, I'm going to take it.