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were involved with them, their right to a fair trial, that kind of thing.
Sometimes we were far ahead of the Blacks in it.
Did the union have official positions in support of the Panthers and
Not in support of the Panthers.
In support of their legal rights.
In support of their legal rights. Now, on Angela Davis, we made
a very specific point. In both cases we said, “We do not share their
views, but we believe in their right,” that kind of thing. Then on Angela
Davis, I did something. I got a call from Bettina Aptheker, saying that
they needed help, could we do something to help on it. She had also
called Stanley Levison, and Stanley and I met and we talked about
what could we do. We decided that I would talk to Ossie and Gloria
Steinem. The simple thing that we would do is we would do a direct
mail thing, sign a letter that Stanley would draft, a broadly based
letter, signed by the four of us, with a return. We raised close to
50,000 bucks. In the Angela Davis book, it says it was the largest
single contribution they got. So that was one thing, and the members
knew we were doing it. But then, we had a cultural event at the union
for the Angela Davis Legal Defense Fund.
And there was never a backlash from the white workers?
There was never--there must have been some mutterings
about it, but, you see, the thing is this, that the union was delivering,
in those days, delivering lots of goodies to whites and blacks. What
bounced against us is out of town, the managements, particularly
where we were trying to organize whites, were putting on the clippings
from our paper, from the magazine: “This is what the union is for.”
The Angela Davis thing.
Angela Davis. That kind of thing, of course it was harmful, to a
degree, but generally speaking, I remember we had a big event at the
union, where we had a lot of big name talent there. So I don't think
that this is the beginning of the division that later takes place in the
You don't think there were black workers thinking to themselves,
“What are we doing with these honkies running our union?”
There may have been some. I think that at this time and for a
long, long time thereafter, Davis was regarded almost as a black man
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