Documenting the American South Logo
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Richard Arrington, July 18, 1974. Interview A-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Desire to involve young African Americans in politics

Arrington's primary political goal is drawing young, capable African Americans into Alabama politics.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Richard Arrington, July 18, 1974. Interview A-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Would you be interested in attending the convention as a delegate?
No, I'm not interested in attending as a delegate. I have become involved over the last couple of years more and more in politics. I ran for the county Democratic executive committee for my district. I ran simply because I want blacks to have more voice. I ran for the state Democratic executive committee for my district. I was successful in both of those races. I don't think that's necessarily good from my own viewpoint. Being a member of the city council, I think that implies enough involvement for me. But I wanted blacks to have increased representation and I felt that I could win those races when no other black in my district could win. So I ran. I think the situation in this state is changing. I think there are a lot of young blacks coming along. We're going to see some of them in the legislature, we're going to see more of them in local government. They're going to be better prepared than blacks have been in the past. And we're going to begin to see the impact of that. We're going to see them more active in party politics. Different executive committees and so forth. This is the way I think it all ought to be. And really I guess I'm more interested in that than I am in anything else. Getting some of the young, capable blacks involved not only on the political scene but involved in Birmingham in terms of who sits on these boards and who sits on these committees, like the ONB committees. One of the criticisms I had of blacks in this town is that the blacks who have been identified as leaders in this community have not reached out and recruited young, capable blacks. They have not passed leadership on. They have taken the leadership . . . if they have been considered to be leaders, they have taken the leadership and held it close to their chest, so to speak, and I don't think they have always been as responsive as they should be. But the important thing a leader must always do, I think, is reach out and bring into the fold other young, capable people. And this is particularly true of the black community. We must identify young blacks who have that potential. And we must bring them in. And if we don't give them that recognition, there's no way in the world that we can expect the white power structure to give them that recognition. I think we're moving that way and that's what I'm particularly interested in, politically, in civic affairs, and all. But it's a tough row.