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On the Tail of the Panther: Black Power and the 1967 Convention of the National Conference for New Politics

  • SIMON HALL (a1)

Extract

Addressing the opening night rally of the National Conference for New Politics (NCNP) Convention on 31 August 1967, the executive director William F. Pepper informed the several thousand delegates that:

Historians may well count your presence here as the most significant gathering of Americans since the founding of our nation. Never before have so many Americans, from so many different living conditions, come from so many diverse sections of the land to dedicate themselves to the rebuilding, indeed to the reclamation of their government and their destinies.

Pepper concluded his remarks by declaring that “it may well be that what you begin here may ultimately result in a new social, economic and political system in the United States.” Outside the auditorium a bongo group was chanting “Kill Whitey.” The convention was one of the most ambitious attempts to forge a broad political alliance of antiwar organisations, New Left insurgents and the radical wing of the civil rights movement in 1960s America. It was planned by the NCNP, a co-ordinating organisation that hoped for a fundamental reconstitution of the American socio-economic and political order. Scholars have largely ignored the NCNP, and although the 1967 convention makes brief appearances in the literature it is generally portrayed as a farcical horror show. However, the motives behind, events of, and reaction to the convention reveals much about “the movement” in late sixties America.

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Footnotes

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I would like to thank Tony Badger, David Lambert and the anonymous reader for their helpful comments on earlier drafts. Financial assistance from the British Academy and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation is gratefully acknowledged.

Footnotes

On the Tail of the Panther: Black Power and the 1967 Convention of the National Conference for New Politics

  • SIMON HALL (a1)

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