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Going to the root

From a 1968 interview with Roy Wilkins, then head of the NAACP and a veteran of 30 years in the civil rights movement. Mr. Wilkins passed on this week. It's useless to say that the urban crisis can be solved without solving the matter of racial adjustments or racial justice. Likewise, it's foolish to assume that the purely racial crisis can be solved apart from the solution of the crisis of the cities.

The word militancy means so many different things to so many different people.

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I happen to believe that the NAACP was the most militant organization in the civil-rights field when it started because it insisted on going to the root cause of the problem, namely racial discrimination and the policy that kept the black minority out of the mainstream of American life. The campaign carried on by the NAACP to bring the Negro under the Constitution and to get legislation that would protect him was militancy.

How does this apply to the current situation? Generally "militants" include people who feel something is lacking in the present programs for change. They want to go beyond the borders now encompasssing the civil-rights movement. They want to try new things and ask new questions.

I think this has a place in the new assault. Nobody in my generation ought to assert that he has thought of everything and every method. A people that does not rise up with new ideas and does not submit to change is a dead people. I don't think my people are dead; I think they are very much alive.

I think we'll have young people come along -- we have many of them now -- who will advance some crazy ideas, but they will advance some new ideas, good ones, and those are the ones we need.m

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