Internationalizing Black Power

Charles Marsh: I saw a reference in a letter that you had gone to Russia. Did you go?

Cleveland Sellers: I went to Japan for the Seminar on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; I was supposed to go to Cuba, southeast Asia, and Russia. I couldn't bring the pieces together. I came back to America in 1967. But I never went to Russia or Cuba. After 1968 I had a restriction on travel. We were trying to internationalize the struggle.

CM: Do you lose the particularity of the local movement?

CS: You very easily can. There are some realizations that are kicking it for SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee]. Maybe we have done as many things as we have the time to accomplish. So let's now try to touch as many bases as we can. Let's try to touch as many nerves as we can. The panthers were there; we fought off the panthers. I left SNCC because I wasn't interested in organizing black liberation groups. Whether they were the Black Liberators or the Panthers; I wasn't interested in them.

CM: Was that for strategic reasons or religious ones?

CS: It was probably from strategic and deep seated moral ones. I didn't think you could win a confrontation in America with organizing an army. I had seen that half of the panthers were active agents of the FBI and local police and the like. The time was for a retrenchment in the African American community. We were trying to bring those people together.

CM: That's the SNCC vision.

CS: That's right. And we're back to that. That was not exclusively anybody; but it was easier for us to go into a black community, and say that SNCC is basically a black organization and say that that kind was kind of the thing we going in the black community.

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