Interview with Ezell A. Blair, Jean Wheeler, Stokely Carmichael, Lucy Thornton, March 4, 1964

Project: Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

Stokely Carmichael (1941-1998) was a civil rights activist. While a student at Howard University, Carmichael became leader of the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), an affiliate of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). By 1966 he had become Chairman of SNCC. Prominent in the Black Nationalism movement Carmichael coined the phrase "Black Power". As his message became stronger he was asked to leave SNCC in 1967 and joined the Black Panther Party. Carmichael then left the Black Panther Party in disagreement with the notion of working with whites for the revolutionary struggle. He moved to Guinea and changed his name to Kwame Ture. Carmichael died in Guinea in 1998 of prostate cancer. Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (1941- ) was a civil rights activist and one of the Greensboro Four who, in 1960, sat-in at the lunch counter of a Woolworth's store in Greensboro, North Carolina to challenge the store's refusal to serve African Americans. While at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University Blair was elected president of the junior class, president of the student government association, the campus NAACP, and Greensboro's chapter of the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE). In 1965 he moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts after finding life difficult in Greensboro for a labeled "troublemaker". In 1968 he joined the Islamic Center of New England and changed his name to Jibreel Khazan. Lucy Thornton was a civil rights activist and attended Howard University. Jean Wheeler was a civil rights activist and attended Howard University. This interview begins with Ezell Blair, Jr. describing his involvement with the Greensboro sit-ins. Blair explains what inspired the sit-in, those that were involved, and the role that NAACP and CORE played in the sit-ins. Stokely Carmichael and Blair also discuss the relationship between the NAACP, SNCC, CORE, and the SCLC. Blair discusses the effectiveness of legal and nonviolent methods in the civil rights movement while Carmichael joins to discuss mass movements. Blair also discusses the concept of the "New Negro". Lucy Thornton enters the conversation with Blair and Carmichael to extensively discuss African American identity, integration, and cultural assimilation in America and the importance of taking pride in African culture. White southerner identity and culture is also discussed. In the second part of this interview, Stokely Carmichael is not present. Jean Wheeler and Blair discuss the importance of history, education, wealth and political power in the civil rights movement. Thornton, Wheeler and Blair each respond to the question "What is a Negro?" and consider the revolutionary aspects of the civil right movement including a change in American morals and views. The differences between the North and the South and between different social classes in the civil rights movement are also discussed. Additionally, the growing impatience in the African-American community and the possible resulting violence is addressed. To conclude, Blair and Wheeler discuss violence within the civil rights movement.

Interview Accession

2003oh020_rpwcr009

Interviewee Name

Ezell A. Blair

Jean Wheeler

Stokely Carmichael

Lucy Thornton

Interviewer Name

Robert Penn Warren

Interview Date

1964-03-04

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Blair, Ezell A. Interview by Robert Penn Warren. 04 Mar. 1964. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Blair, E.A. (1964, March 04). Interview by R. P. Warren. Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Blair, Ezell A., interview by Robert Penn Warren. March 04, 1964, Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7m0c4sjs77