Rochester Black Freedom Struggle -- Raymond Scott

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Interview Subject: Raymond Scott
Date(s) of interview(s): 9/10/2008
Interviewer: Lauren Warren Hill


Minister Raymond Scott, a native of Buffalo, New York, attended Harding University, a church-related school in Searcy, Arkansas, in preparation for the ministry. Upon graduation, he moved to Rochester, married Rochester native Maxine Hill, and became involved in the civil rights movement through his friendship with Minister Franklin Florence, who was then serving as the first president of FIGHT. Mr. Scott worked with Minister Florence at the Reynolds Street Church of Christ; he served as a community organizer and later became director of Hanover Houses’ Ministry, which was sponsored by the Rochester Area Council of Churches.

When Bernard Gifford was elected as the president of FIGHT in 1969, Minister Scott was chosen as vice-president; he took over as president in April 1971 when Mr. Gifford left Rochester. Also in 1971 Minister Scott was one of five outsiders called to meet with Attica Prison inmates in an effort to ease tensions during the riot.

Mr. Scott continued to serve as FIGHT president until 1976 and subsequently held various positions in the community, including that of Commissioner on the Rochester Housing Authority Board and the President of the Rochester sub-region of the NY State Northern Region Black Political Caucus.   For many years, he served as director of the DePaul (formerly The Health Association) Problem Gamblers Treatment Program in Rochester. He continues to be an activist and organizer in the Rochester community. In 2014, Minister Scott served on the leadership group for Unite Rochester: Justice, a community-wide, long-term effort to raise awareness of racial inequities and to engage in problem-solving toward effective positive change.



The Reverend Raymond Scott, President of FIGHT [1971-1976], discusses how he became an activist following his move to Rochester in 1966. He speaks of Minister Franklin Florence as his mentor and the reason for his first involvement with FIGHT. He goes on to discuss the continuing summer violence and police brutality after the 1964 riots and the role of FIGHT in all of this.

Minister Scott moves on to discuss the 1971 Attica Prison riots and his role as one of the first five outsiders called to meet with the inmates in an effort to calm the situation. He recalls his time in the prison yard where negotiations took place; he recreates the atmosphere and the emotions of those involved-both from the perspective of the prisoners and that of the guards. He recounts his experiences during the retaking of the prison, including witnessing the guards on the catwalks firing into the crowd of prisoners and hostages.

Minister Scott goes on to talk of the internal power struggles that weakened FIGHT, focusing on the elections riddled with controversy and violence in 1968 and 1970. On another topic, Minister Scott remembers behind-the-scenes vote-counting that resulted in the 1975 election of Rochester's first African American, Ronald Good, to the City Council over Urban Cress, and Christopher Lindley over Constance Mitchell.

Finally, Minister Scott offers his perspectives on the gains that have been made in Rochester since the 1970s and stresses the importance of not forgetting the legacy of the work done during that time.

Transcription Policy
The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has made every effort to transcribe the oral interviews as recorded. It is standard in transcriptions of oral histories to retain dialect, grammatical idiosyncrasies, and the natural rhythm of the spoken word. The transcript is meant to reflect verbal conversation as recorded rather than a polished written document. Our transcription policy adheres to this protocol. While each interviewee was asked to read and edit his/her interview transcript to ensure the proper spelling of people and places, all transcriptions retain their original wording. Any post-interview content additions or corrections are placed in footnotes. Occasional interviewee requests to remove selected passages have been honored, and the point of such removal has been designated. We believe this policy preserves the integrity and spontaneity of the original interview.
This set of oral history interviews was conducted beginning in 2008 by historian Laura Warren Hill in conjunction with her research project, "'Strike the Hammer While the Iron Is Hot': The Black Freedom Struggle in Rochester, NY, 1945-1975." Statements in these interviews are those of the interviewees alone, and in no way speak for the University of Rochester as a whole, or for individual members of the University community. The University accepts no responsibility for the content of these interviews

Transcription of Interview:


Laura Hill: I am Laura Hill, here at the University of Rochester Rare Book and Special Collections, with Mr. Raymond Scott on July 11th, 2008. So the first one's an easy question-tell me about some of your first experiences with activism.

Mr. Scott: Well, my first experiences primarily came through a relationship that I had with Minister Franklin Florence. [1]

Laura Hill:Okay.

Mr. Scott: He was my mentor; he was my friend; he was like a father figure; he performed my wedding ceremony; he was the first black man that I ever met that talked about God like he really knew him; he was quite active in the civil rights struggle, and FIGHT had just been birthed. I was a young minister at the time, and so he was the ideal mentor for me.

Laura Hill: Okay, I don't think we talked about that before.

Mr. Scott: Well, he performed my wedding ceremony, and my first son's middle name is Franklin, after him. That's how much reverence I had for him, at that particular time. And he was, and is, the most charismatic man that I've ever met. Since he was involved in the movement, and I had some obvious concerns, being black, about civil rights, the two just meshed together. He was quite active; he was a fiery, godly man with a passion for justice. And I respected that immensely, and so I began to follow in his footsteps. And the FIGHT organization, at that particular time, had just been birthed.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: I wasn't involved; I didn't become involved until 1966, or shortly thereafter, and- because I was in school at the time.

Laura Hill: I was going to ask you- you came to Rochester in 1965?

Mr. Scott: No, I came to Rochester in 1966-that's when I got married, in 1966. That's when I literally moved here. My wife (Maxine) and I were here for a short period of time that summer, then we went on a missionary trip to work in New York City.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: After that, we came back to Rochester and stayed for a while and then went on to finish my education at one of our church-affiliated schools, Harding (College) University, in Searcy, Arkansas.

Laura Hill: And the "we" here is you and your wife?

Mr. Scott: My wife and I, yeah.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: And, that was a school in Arkansas, in Searcy, Arkansas- Harding University, now. And, we were one of two black couples on campus that were married out of about, probably about three, four thousand students. And, it was interesting, because Harding didn't integrate probably until 1963 or '64.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: And that was just with two black students. We went down as the only two black married students on campus, and there were about eight to ten other blacks on the entire campus. And that was an interesting experience; Searcy was a College town. When we arrived on campus all of the ";married students" apartments were filled. However, people from the town placed their advertisements on the Harding bulletin board indicating that they had apartments or flats for rent.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: And so we had to go off campus looking for apartments. And it was a church town, it was, you know, we were members of the Church of Christ at the time, and most of the people in the town were members of the Church of Christ. And so, those "Christian" people were advertising on the bulletin board for apartments.

Laura Hill: At the church.

Mr. Scott: Ah, no, at the school. The school was a church-affiliated school.

Laura Hill: At the school. Sure, okay.

Mr. Scott: And so, most of the people were advertising at the school for apartments. So, We'd look on the bulletin board, see where the apartments were, and then we would call. And we would say, "We're students at Harding."; They would say, "Oh, really, are you?"; We'd say, "Yes, we're students at Harding, and studying for the ministry." They'd say, "Oh, fine, fine, well yeah We'd be glad to have you come and take a look at the apartment." We'd then say, "Well, let me ask you one question, do you rent to black people?" They'd say, "No, we don't. Umm, why? Are you black?" We'd say, "Yes." They'd say, "Well, no we won't rent to you." So, we would hang up, call somebody else. "Hello, we're students at Harding College, and we're studying for the ministry. We're members of the Church of Christ." They'd say, "Oh good, good. And you go to Harding?" We'd say, "Yes." They'd ask, "What year are you?" We'd say, "Well, this is our third year," (because we came from another Christian school in Pennsylvania-

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: - ah, a two-year college and, “you are students at Harding?" We'd reply, "Yes". They'd ask, "Studying for the Ministry?" We'd reply, "Yes." They’d say, "Good, We'd be glad to have you come over, take a look at the apartment." We'd say, "Well, let me ask you a question, do you rent to black people?" They'd reply, "No, we don't." Then We'd ask, "Oh, really? Can I ask why?" They'd reply, “I just don't want them in my house. Period." I'd say, "Okay, good." So, needless to say, after I went through a string of these, I was quite upset.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: And so, I remember one day, the President of the college spoke in a Chapel gathering. And he talked about faith like it was nothing. I mean, it was like, like there were no problems. He just spoke like there were no problems in the world; nobody had anything to be upset about. And so I went to him, after his message in chapel, and I said, "Dr. Ganus, can I see you in your office?" And he said, "Yeah, well, let me finish talking with some students, and then you can meet me there." So, I went into his office and, I never will forget, I opened the door, and he said, "Raymond, come right in." And I shut the door, and then I lit in on him, and I said, "You- you guys are being such hypocrites." I said, "I'm black. I'm a Christian. You're a Christian. And the lord says there's no respecter of persons, and you allow those white folks in this town to advertise on that bulletin board, and they won't rent to me. I'm their brother in Christ and they won't rent to me, because I'm black. And you are party to that." "How am I a party to that?" "You're allowing them to advertise. Why don't you take a stand?" Well, he stammered and stuttered, and- 'cause most whites at that time weren't accustomed, especially down there, to black folk talking to them that way.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: And, long and the short of it was, he got me an apartment on campus in the faculty apartments. And my wife was six-months pregnant at the time, and so he got me an apartment on campus in the faculty apartments. But they wouldn't take the advertisements off the bulletin board. They said, "What about the white students?" Well, what about what's right? What about what's right? So, they had an interesting brand of Christianity-

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: - and, it's one that I still don't understand. I had several similar experiences down there. When Martin Luther King got killed, we almost had a fight. The President (of the US) had ordered all flags to be flown at half-mast. Some white students objected as we (black students) started to do so. They hated Dr. King; but we stood our ground around that flagpole; just the ten to fifteen total black students that were on campus.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: Finally, the president (of the college), who was not a King sympathizer intervened, and said, "Well the President [of the U.S.] has said it and so we have do it. We're good Americans, and we have do it." So, we did it.

Laura Hill: It's amazing to me, that most- I find this with my college students- they cannot understand how unpopular Dr. King was with white folks when he was murdered. It wasn't until fifteen or twenty years later that his legacy starts to be reclaimed.

Mr. Scott: Right, right. Exactly. Yeah.

Laura Hill: They- there's a memory gap there. It's interesting that you bring that up.

Mr. Scott: Experiences like these laid the groundwork for my return to Rochester to continue being mentored in ministry and community action by Franklin Florence; plus we could be close to my wife's mom (our mom) in the event that we were needed. So we returned, and I went to work at the FIGHT organization as a community organizer. Ultimately I became the Director of Hanover Houses' Ministry, a program sponsored by the Rochester Area Council of Churches.

Laura Hill: Okay, tell me a little bit about the kind of work that you did as a community organizer for FIGHT. What was the day-in-and-day-out schedule of somebody who was a community organizer?

Mr. Scott: Well, basically we had to be there at nine; organize our day generally around issues within the community. Issues were identified reading the newspaper, going door-to-door questioning and listening to people about apparent problems they were experiencing on their blocks or in the broader neighborhoods. We learned what the issues were that were mounting. We organized block clubs on various streets to attack those issues. If the issue was poor refuse collection, or slum lords, or various property violations, then we organized the people to deal with those particular problems. And we did that on a block-to-block basis. When their concerns were addressed, people began to feel empowered. Ultimately when issues arose that transcended their block, but were common to all, these people would band together behind the FIGHT leadership to address it, e.g. The FIGHT/Kodak Struggle. If there was an issue that needed to be addressed with the City Council, in particular, then we put together a mass of these folks to attend the City Council meeting, and make their voices heard. And if we had to disrupt the meeting, then we would disrupt the meeting.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: It was the same process with the Board of Education. If we had to galvanize people to make a move around something that they were doing that we felt was not in the best interest of our kids, then we would do that.

Laura Hill: Can you give me an example of a particularly successful campaign that you mounted like that? Refuse clean-up, slum lords- what were the nuts and bolts? How did that process work?

Mr. Scott: Well, one that immediately comes to mind was when we organized people around the initial attempts to have Corn Hill declared preservation district. The problem was that most of the people that lived in the Corn Hill area at that time, owned property, and if, in fact, they declared it a historic preservation district, the taxes would go up.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: And people might be able to pay their mortgage, but they would not be able to pay the taxes.

Laura Hill: Now, these are black folk that own land there?

Mr. Scott: Black folks, yes. And, what was happening, at the time, was that there was a movement afoot to get white folks to move back into the city. And so there was a group, called New Rochester, that began to buy up houses. They started with a little conclave, and they renovated them all. They looked better than the houses that were around them, but the houses that were around them weren't necessarily bad, these houses were brand new.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: And so, it's like the Lord says, "A little leaven leavens the whole lump." They started with this conclave and the idea was to expand it. And what that would have meant was that the black folks that were there would have been moved out. That's what happened, historically, when preservation districts were established.

Laura Hill: Is this in the Nineteenth Ward?

Mr. Scott: This was in the Third Ward.

Laura Hill: The Third Ward. Okay.

Mr. Scott: We fought to keep that area from becoming a preservation district which would have caused the displacement of our people. We disrupted meetings of the City Council to make our point. Some folks threatened violence. But that was never our thing.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: My position was that I wasn't going to throw one brick nor one bottle; I was not going to throw any Molotov cocktails. But that didn't mean that there weren't some people who wouldn't do that.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: And there were some people who would do that.

Laura Hill: And so these were black folks, that were- .

Mr. Scott: Yes, as previous experiences had shown.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: The movement to have the preservation district declared was being spearheaded by Republican Councilman Robert Woods. He was standing firm on this issue.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: We realized that real force that drove the City Council at that time was the Republican Vice Mayor JohnParrinello. [2] John was a fighter. He understood the justice of our cause. Finally one night he did something that I had never seen done before or since that time. In the midst of the public debate at the Council Meeting, he bucked his party and abruptly announced that he was changing his vote. Equally as surprising as Parrinello's move was that of the former Democrat Mayor Frank Lamb. He too abruptly announced that he was co-endorsing Parrinello's vote to rescind the move toward the creation of the preservation district. (At that time the Mayor and Vice Mayor were selected by the majority party on the City Council. The official leader of the City was the City Manager.)

Laura Hill: Oh, interesting.

Mr. Scott: So, they, they backed off of it, at that time.

Laura Hill: So it sounds like you were working on both ends of the situation. You're trying to organize the people, in one sense, and you're also trying to keep some order in the neighborhood at the same time-keep control of the more unruly forces that are operating.

Mr. Scott: We had to do that. We, like Dr. King, weren't about destruction. Our tactics were a bit different than his. I mean, he was totally, totally non-violent, and disruptive in a very, very peaceful way.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: Dr. King's tactics focused primarily on marches and pray-ins. We were a bit more vocal. We understood, at that particular time, that the threat of violence was more potent than violence itself. Both tactics were effective and served as a means to the same end at their appropriate times.

Laura Hill: Why is that the case in Rochester at that moment?

Mr. Scott: At that time in Black Communities across the country there was an emerging frustration with non-violence as a tactic as we were constantly watching our people being brutalized. Stokely Carmichael burst on the scene with the slogan "Black Power." It portrayed a new militancy. Establishment folks didn't know what to make of it, but it scared them, especially coming on the heels of the riots. Minister Florence, then President of FIGHT, caught hold of the slogan and rode it very effectively in Rochester, as did his successors. At that time our people took pride in referring to ourselves as "Blacks" as opposed to "Negroes." This, too, represented a new militancy. These changes didn't represent destruction; they signaled empowerment and a beginning of the end of the status quo. We didn't want to tear anything down; we didn't want to physically destroy anything. Well, there may have been some people who did want to do that, and some people who did do some of that- but that wasn't the tenor of the FIGHT organization. Our strategy was to push to the edge. We went as far as we could, keeping our consciences intact, in terms of who we were. As a result we were able to keep a lid on things, but at the same time, get some things done.

Laura Hill: Give me an example of how you see either your own actions or the actions of FIGHT pushing it to the edge, or pushing it to the limit. Give me an example of what that limit was at that time.

Mr. Scott: Well, I, I think, again, if you look at the preservation district, there was the whole idea that there could be trouble. We effectively sounded that alarm and, fortunately, that got heard.

Laura Hill: Is that a result of the riot?

Mr. Scott: Yes, the establishment feared that it could happen again at any moment and, in fact, it did.

People talk about "the riot of 1964" like there was only one in Rochester; there were "riots" yearly for about 4 to 5 years. The establishment folks would always call FIGHT to ask us to help quell it.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: Once something got started on one side of town e.g. Joseph Avenue and folks on Jefferson Avenue heard about it, something would start up there, too. FIGHT would shuttle back and forth between the two areas. Our primary objective was to keep our people from getting killed.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: I was president of FIGHT for five years, and there was not a year that that did not happen.

Laura Hill: And so, you're President from-

Mr. Scott: And there were killings, too.

Laura Hill: - you're president from '71 to '76. [3]

Mr. Scott: Yeah.

Laura Hill: And so this trend of these summer uprisings continues- ?

Mr. Scott: Just about every summer. Just about every summer.

Laura Hill: Okay. Tell me about the killings- what was happening there?

Mr. Scott: Well, um, there was one young man that- I think his name was Tommy Lee Wright, if I'm not mistaken- I was a young upstart, Franklin was president at that time- and he tried to run through a roadblock.

Laura Hill: This is 1967?

Mr. Scott: I think this was '67.

Laura Hill: Mmm, I think I've read about, about this.

Mr. Scott: There were several people in the car. A cop shot and killed him. We've had to deal with variations of this same theme over and over again.

Laura Hill: Uh-huh.

Mr. Scott: Though not during those riots, there were a couple of killings that come to mind.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: There was the killing of a young lady named Denise Hawkins.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: There were five to six officers in this tiny hallway, and she was probably a hundred pounds. She had been arguing with her husband and walked out of the apartment with a butcher's knife in her hand where five to six burly officers were in this hallway; it was reported that she lunged at one of them with knife. The long and the short of it was, five or six burly officers couldn't subdue her, and one of them shot and killed her.

Laura Hill: He didn't just shoot her, but killed her.

Mr. Scott: He killed her, yeah.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: I had the opportunity to read the actual reports that officers filed. It was obvious that they had gotten their stories together. However, in reading the transcripts of the officers' statements, it was very clear that-and I don't know which of the officers it was- at least one of them was half-hearted in his revelations of what he saw and didn't want to go along with their program.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: But he did. So the guy that killed her got off.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: So you had that kind of thing going on. Those are just two situations that come to mind right now.

Laura Hill: It's interesting, what your stories bring to my mind, are that police brutality is such a huge issue in Rochester before you're here- 1961, '62, '63, you have the Rufus Fairwell case, you have the black Muslim trials, you have the A.C. White case. And there's all of this organizing around police brutality, the Police Review Board is created, but it sounds like, in the later sixties, you have the police really stepping up the violence in some ways. But I haven't seen that same kind of community outcry against the police. Why is that? Do I have that wrong? Was there- ?

Mr. Scott: During which, which period of time?

Laura Hill: Um, iif we're looking at '65 to '70 or '75- what's happening in response to this police brutality and harassment then?

Mr. Scott: There were a lot of things that were done that were not reported in the news. We were speaking out and filing reports with the police department's internal affairs department on a regular basis. They didn't like to see us coming but we kept coming anyway. I remember a young man came to my house with his mother. And his eye was swollen up as big as, and I mean literally, a golf ball. And, this kid was about fourteen-years-old.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: What had happened was that he had been kicked in the eye by a police officer. We went down and filed a complaint, according to proper procedure. Historically, we filed a lot of the complaints, yet they would never volunteer any word on the outcome of their investigations. I remember following up on this one. I went to one of the Internal Affairs officers that did the investigation, and I remember him saying to me, Well, uh, here's what we know: we know there were two officers present. We know that the kid was kicked. We just don't know which one did it. So we're going to note the files of both of them." And so, that was the end of it.

Laura Hill: And that was it for them.

Mr. Scott: That was it, yeah. There were a lot of people who were growing increasingly angry about this kind of stuff. I think the consistent complaints led, ultimately, to more black police officers on the force. At that particular time, there weren't many at all. While I have no hard statistics to support my claim that their presence stopped a lot of the injustices, it certainly appears that such was and is the case.

Laura Hill: They added more black officers, mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: They added more black police officers, yeah. And you find similar actions in various venues after chronic complaints and/or rebellions. I mentioned to you the last time we talked that when we went to Attica in 1971 [4], there were no black prison guards- none! In fact, that was one of the demands the inmates included in their manifesto.

Laura Hill: There's still very few in New York State.

Mr. Scott: Yeah. But there were none at that particular time. It was interesting to go back, some years later, after the Attica riots, and see some. Again that was one of the demands that the inmates included in their manifesto. This was also in manifesto prepared by Auburn inmates. There was nobody. Going back to the Rochester, as black officers began to appear situations began to change. During one of the later riots on Jefferson Avenue there was a black officer present as cars, driven by blacks, were trying to get out of the area.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: And the white policemen were hitting the cars with their billy-clubs while yelling, "Get on through.â€� And there was a black police officer, named Ike Carson, who was on Jefferson Avenue. And, he started yelling to those guys, “Stop hitting those cars! Stop hitting those cars!" By this time RPD had established their "Tactical Unit".

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: They were present at this point. I think the leader of that unit was a guy named Bertino. He said to Ike, "Officer Carson, if you don't like what you're seeing, then get the hell out of the area." Ike said, "Well, no, I don't like what I see.'Cause it's wrong." He said, "Then get the hell out of the area, now." He was Ike's boss, a sergeant or something.

Laura Hill: A superior.

Mr. Scott: Yeah, a superior, so he says, "Get the hell out of here." Ike said to his partner, who was white, "Come on, let'sgo." He [the superior officer- Bertino] said to Ike, “No, you go!" and to Ike's white partner, “You stay". AgainBertino said to Ike, "Get the hell out of the area." So, he left. He came to see me at FIGHT Headquarters the next day to tell us about it.

Laura Hill: So it's the FIGHT office; he came to FIGHT.

Mr. Scott: Yeah, and we went down and met with the Police Chief.

Laura Hill: Is it still Lombard at this time?

Mr. Scott: No, no, this was John Mastrella. And went down there with him and he said- he listened, then John said he would look into it. And he did, and the result was Ike got assigned to guarding the car pound.

Laura Hill: He's reassigned.

Mr. Scott: Yeah. That’s how they dealt with it, for going outside, he got reassigned (demoted). To my knowledge, he never got a promotion as a result of that. Never, never did. Remained a police officer. Never got a promotion. He’s retired now. But different guys would come and tell us different things. We continued to fight them, and we continued to expose the RPD’s brutality as well as their lack of inclusion. As a result of the exposure, some changes were made.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: I think that, by and large, we've worked up to where we are today. By comparison, there is some degree of civility now, in terms of the way they work with people. There is some degree of sensitivity now. That doesn't mean that it is perfect, but I think that all of that ground work was laid back then.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm, sure.

Mr. Scott: And we do have a significant number of blacks on the police force now, in Rochester.

Laura Hill: Okay. You mentioned- .

Mr. Scott: And in high level positions, too. It's not enough to just be on the police force.

Laura Hill: Is the police chief black now? I think I saw him on TV last night-I paid some attention to it.

Mr. Scott: Yes. Yeah, he is.

Laura Hill: Um, if we could go back to your comments about Attica in 1971-were you there as the president of FIGHT?

Mr. Scott: Yes.

Laura Hill: What was your role? What was your position? How did that come about?

Mr. Scott: Well, it's interesting. People, at that particular time, looked to the FIGHT organization for anything in time of crisis. I mean, whatever.

Laura Hill: These are city officials? These are community members?

Mr. Scott: Everybody.

Laura Hill: Everybody. FIGHT was it.

Mr. Scott: They looked to FIGHT. Um, there were other agencies that ran programs, and that was good- Urban League was around, ABC was around- but when there was a crisis, when people wanted action, you know, then they looked to the FIGHT organization. Even to do things that we couldn't do, they'd look to the FIGHT organization.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: So, when the Attica riots jumped off, I got a call- I wasn't even aware of the riot- I got a call, from some of the ladies who were relatives of some of the guys that were in there.

Laura Hill: Those who were incarcerated.

Mr. Scott: Incarcerated. They said, “We want to come over and talk with you.â€� The lady that called me was AnnetteThomas, she's like a sister to me. She said, “Scotty, we want to come over and talk with you, because we want to find out what's going on; we can't get any information; we don't know anything. And our loved ones are there. And, you know, so- â€�

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: - we want to come over and talk with you. And see what you can do. Give us some direction." So, they came over, and they explained what had happened. And in the meantime, before they got there, I had gotten some more news about it. And so, they came. After they finished talking, I got on the phone- and at the time I was Commissioner on the Rochester Housing Authority Board.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: And so I called one of my colleagues- a guy named Don Corbett [5]- who later was elected to judgeship and later became an administrative judge. I said, "Don, I've got some ladies here. They're trying to get information. They're looking to us for some guidance, in terms of how they can get that information to check on the status of their loved ones. They can't get anything, and they just, they don't know what to do." He said, "I'll pick up John Parrinello and we'll be right over." So, he picked up John Parrinello, who at that time, was the vice mayor, which was kind of odd because they were Democrat and Republican.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: Yet they were good friends; both of them were attorneys.

Laura Hill: Not the chief of police, still.

Mr. Scott: No, John Parrinello.

Laura Hill: Okay, I'm getting them confused.

Mr. Scott: You're thinking about John Mastrella.

Laura Hill: Yes.

Mr. Scott: Yeah. John Parrinello was the vice mayor at that time. And so, John came over with Don, and as I look back at that, John was in the midst of all those black people, and I think that was kind of awkward for him, he was stoic.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: But very helpful, very helpful- and always been very upfront, always. After we explained the situation- he said, "Well, just let me call Andy Maloney." Andy was the under-sheriff of Monroe County.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: And, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, along with other Sheriffs’ Departments, in addition to State Troopers, were being deployed to go down and support the local police, and the guards, in trying to retake the prison. So, he called Andy Maloney, because he knew that the Monroe County Sheriffs were going down the following morning-

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: - to help out. So, he asked if we (Rev. Marvin Chandler [6] and I) could ride down with them.

We had learned that Arthur Eve, the black Assemblyman from Buffalo was on the scene attempting to negotiate an end to the crisis. My thinking was if we could get there, talk with him and find out what was going on, we could provide the loved ones of the inmates some sense of their state of affairs.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: And people would accept that. So, my objective then was to simply get there, get on the grounds, and see Arthur Eve.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: Okay, and so, Andy Maloney said, yeah, he would talk to the sheriff, Sheriff Ralph Skinner, but he thought it would be okay if we rode down behind the motorcade the next day. And they were going down like about four o'clock in the morning, something like that. So, he talked to John and Andy said okay, but he would talk to the sheriff. But have us to meet them at the Public Safety building at 4:30 in the morning.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: So, I called Reverend Marvin Chandler, and asked him if he would be willing to drive down with me. (In fact, I woke him up that night, probably about twelve midnight). I wasn’t going by myself. Marvin said yes. So, we went down; we got down to the motorcade and, Andy- Sheriff Skinner lived in the Public Safety building, he literally lived in it.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: Yeah, I'm serious his apartment was in the Public Safety building, that's where he lived.

And so, he came out, Andy explained our presence to him, and he said, "Yeah, let them ride down behind us." So, we drove down behind them because they needed to get us through the roadblocks.

Laura Hill: I would think it would be especially difficult for black men in this moment.

Mr. Scott: Yes, and so we rode down, and it was interesting, it hit the paper the next day, ''Minister Ray Scott, President of FIGHT and Reverend Marvin Chandler were escorted to Attica by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department." It wasn't the case at all, you know, but that's the way it hit the papers.

Laura Hill: Right. Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: I learned, as a result, that those kinds of things even to this day, as far as the papers are concerned-to appreciate what Saul Alinsky said, "I don't care what they say about me, as long as they spell my name right." Because they'll mess up anything else.

Laura Hill: Right. [laughs]

Mr. Scott: So, we got down there, we got through the roadblocks, and got on the grounds. And there were newspaper reporters and townspeople all around, because some of their loved ones, or all of their loved ones worked in the prison.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: And so they were all over the grounds. Marv and I just kind of walked around looking for Arthur Eve. We asked whether he was there yet; he wasn't. Finally he pulled up in his car, and he got out. And, I remember, I went right over to Arthur and said, "I'm Minister Ray Scott from Rochester, and this is Reverend Marvin Chandler, and look, our folk are concerned about what's going on in there. And they want to hear from you."

Laura Hill: And this is, I assume, outside the gates at this point.

Mr. Scott: Yes. On the grounds, outside the gates. And so he said, "Well, okay, but let me go inside. I need to speak with Commissioner Oswald. And I'll come back out, and fill you in." So, we said okay. We felt, mission accomplished-he's going to come back out and fill us in. We'd then be able to report back to our folks. He goes inside and he comes back out, and he's looking for us and he sees us, and he comes right at us. He said, "Listen, I just talked to the Commissioner, and he wanted to know if you two ministers would be willing to come in, and go into D-yard with us. (Oswald, Eve and Tom Still, who was an attorney who had come up from New York).

Laura Hill: Also black?

Mr. Scott: No, he was a white guy. But all the prisoners knew him because he- you know- .

Laura Hill: Right. Handled their cases, and- .

Mr. Scott: - handled their cases. So we said, "Yeah, yeah, definitely." So, he said, "Okay."

Laura Hill: How were they conceiving your role at that point? Had they conceived a role at that point?

Mr. Scott: Had who?

Laura Hill: The Commissioner that's asking for the two of you to come in.

Mr. Scott: Well, they were trying to bring the thing to a halt. And they were looking for as much help as they could get to make that happen.

Laura Hill: I think what I'm asking, Mr. Scott, is, was it 'cause you were black or was it because you were ministers?

Mr. Scott: Both. Both. And the president of FIGHT, in Rochester.

Laura Hill: Did the Attica inmates know FIGHT?

Mr. Scott: The, the local guys did.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: As a matter of fact, and that was going to be my next point-

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm, sure, go ahead.

Mr. Scott: As we were walking through the crowd toward the prison doors, I remember Andy Maloney coming up to me and saying, “Ray, what's going on?" I said, ''They've asked us to come inside and meet with the inmates, and see if we can help out." And he said, wow, well I thought I was going to have to be giving you information; I guess I'm going to have to look to you for some now." We just kind of chuckled and walked off. We went inside the prison, but before we could go into "D Yard" we had to sign waivers.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: If we got killed, it wasn't their fault. So, we walked on in, and they took us through all the gates at led to the place where we were to meet with Commissioner Oswald. He was looked upon, at that particular time, as a prison reformer. He explained the situation.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: So, he explained the situation, and we walked in. The inmates had a gauntlet set up when we got into D-yard.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: The gauntlet was in the shape of an "l" that led from the door head table where the inmate spokesmen were.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: And so we made our way up to the table. But the interesting thing about that for me was, as we walked, I saw so many guys that I knew. It was like old home week for me. And I felt safe, very safe. The guards being held prisoner and the bulk of the inmate population were separated from us by the gauntlet. They were well organized.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: And I heard the guys calling, "Minister Scott, Scott! Scotty! Hey Scotty! Raymond!" And I was hugging guys, shaking hands, and giving high fives and we passed through the gauntlet.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: I'm from Buffalo originally. I saw guys that I grew up with in Buffalo; I saw a guy that lived right behind me when I lived on Cedar Street in Buffalo. He lived right behind me on Walnut Street. I hadn't seen some of these guys in years. I saw a guy I went to school with, played basketball for the same school. I didn't know he was in Attica. I saw another guy that was a track star in Buffalo. He was sitting down on the ground with his legs crossed. And I called his name, he said, "Hey, Raymond." And I said, "Aw, man," you know, just- .

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: And um, he later got killed, in the riot. So, that part gets kind of, you know, hard for me, so- I need a break now.

[47:34-49:21] [7]

Laura Hill: [Yeah. It's um, I think it's the job of the, the role of the historian sometimes is to try to translate to the audience that this is not a textbook you are reading about, that these are real people with real experiences.

Mr. Scott: Yeah.

Laura Hill: And there's- particularly with prison work- there's such a dehumanization of inmates that somehow they cease to be people once they are behind bars. And um, I don't know if I shared this with you, but I worked in the prison system for four years, I did HIV counseling and testing. And uh, one of the most difficult, urn, things for me was following the rules of social distance.

Mr. Scott: Yup.

Laura Hill: I'm talking to these men about their sex lives, about their drug habits, uh, I've just told them they have HIV. And you want me to keep a social distance?

Mr. Scott: Yup, yup.

Laura Hill: It's just, that kind of stuff doesn't happen. And so, all of that was to say I very much appreciate how difficult it is to, to play a role, a mediating .role, to be between these different social worlds when you are deeply, personally involved in what you are doing.

Mr. Scott: Yeah, yeah. Every time I- I don't talk about this much. Um, but every time- uh, go head?

We're back on?

Recorder: You're on.]

Mr. Scott: I don't really talk about it much, and I mean that's been- goodness gracious, I don't even know how many years ago, and I still have difficulty talking about it.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: But we, we went there. We went up to the table, and, uh, L.D. Barkley [8] was at the table, who was from Rochester.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm. He's an inmate.

Mr. Scott: He's an inmate. And, um, very articulate. My whole experience there made me mindful of the fact that some of the sharpest minds that I had ever experienced were locked up.

Laura Hill: That's right.

Mr. Scott: Those guys-L.D. was articulate. I mean, bright, substantive. I think of guys like Roger Champton- they called him "Champ"- extremely, extremely articulate, and I remember this guy they called "Brother Flip." And, I remember, at one point, he stood up, and he gave the most impassioned speech I think I've ever heard in my life. And he concluded by saying, "We have determined that if they will not allow us to live as human beings, then we will at least try to die like men." And the place just- [makes explosion noise].

Laura Hill: Yeah. That's pretty powerful.

Mr. Scott: - just exploded. All of that took place during the two to three days we were there. And- .

Laura Hill: So you stayed on; this did not just become a- .

Mr. Scott: No. No, we were there for- let's see, I guess we got there Friday morning. Stayed on Saturday, I think we went home, quick, to check on my family, came right back, and stayed there Saturday night through Monday. And were there when they did the killing on Monday morning. The other point I was going to make was that when we initially arrived at the table, they asked us to speak, and they were glad to see people coming from the outside.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: They had wanted other people to come, too. They wanted Bobby Seale from the Black Panthers, or Huey Newton [9]. They wanted, um, Bill Kunstler [10], who was a renowned attorney at that time, and others like that- um, newspaper reporters, Tom Wicker [11] from The New York Times.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: These were people that they were asking to come-and demanding to be let inside. But it just kinda got out of hand. Some people had their own agenda. But by and large, from my perspective, those that came were people of quality. There were a couple nuts that just kind of snuck in there.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: So what happened was they asked us to speak, identify ourselves. And they gave us, you know, a rousing applause, and thanked us for being there. There were just five of us at the time: Arthur Eve, Tom Steele, Commissioner Oswald, Marv Chandler, and myself; we were the first five in there. At that time, one of the brothers stood on the table- there's a picture of him in The New York Times- I had just finished speaking, and identified with them, and it went well.And then- .

Laura Hill: What do you say? What do you recall saying? I mean, you obviously didn’t know you were going in. It wasn't prepared; it's got to be off-the-cuff.

Mr. Scott: Well, I spoke in terms of 'we', not 'them'.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: You know, in terms of the changes that we want made and that kind of thing. And, identified with them- the changes were legitimate-and so, I identified with them. And I spoke in not in terms of "us and them," but "we."

Laura Hill: Yeah.

Mr. Scott: And they heard that. And the proof of their hearing that was one of the guys stood up, and this picture's in the papers if you look at some of the historical stuff, in The New York Times.

Laura Hill: Sure, uh-huh.

Mr. Scott: The cameras, newspapers were there too, they allowed them inside. And this guy jumped on the table, he's pointing down to Oswald, just kind of reading the riot act to him. And he said, "We don't have to let you out of here. We just might keep you here." Oswald was cool; he didn't say anything. I remember- and I took the mic at that point-and I said, "Wait a minute, brothers. We guaranteed this man safe passage in here, and safe passage out. Now whether or not they keep their word about promises that they made, we're going to keep ours." And all the prisoners said, "Yeah, yeah!"

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: So, we talked a little more, and we left. And they let him go out. I remember, I was getting some water at a fountain in the administrative building, and Oswald said, "Reverend, you're a good man." [laughs].

Laura Hill: Are there negotiations taking place at this point?

Mr. Scott: Yeah.

Laura Hill: Are you mediating? How is that happening?

Mr. Scott: Yeah. Um, just looking at the list of the demands that they'd made, they had just really formulated them. And they were all reasonable. I forgot what, there were twenty-one or something like that. Eighteen or twenty-one, but they were all reasonable. They were all reasonable at the time, all of them were-

Laura Hill: Yep.

Mr. Scott: - with the exception of the one that would have guaranteed safe passage to a foreign country of their choice.

Laura Hill: Probably never gonna happen.

Mr. Scott: Not gonna happen, that won't fly. But most certainly what they wanted was immunity from prosecution, for-

Laura Hill: For the events in Attica, not for whatever they had done. Sure.

Mr. Scott: Right. So, when we got out- while I was still at the fountain Oswald said, "You know, this whole thing changes, if that prison guard dies. I can't guarantee some of these things, and especially the immunity, if that guard dies." The whole thing seemed surreal, at that time.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: Bill Quinn died, we were told, when he was thrown off a catwalk.

Laura Hill: Okay, I'm not familiar with the ins and outs of the chronology. So Quinn, I assume is an officer- .

Mr. Scott: He was an officer, and when they took over the prison, he was in the way, and they threw him off the catwalk.

Laura Hill: Okay, I see.

Mr. Scott: And he was critically injured.

Laura Hill: Not dead yet, but injured.

Mr. Scott: Not dead yet, but injured- well, he later died. And so, Oswald already told me, "If he dies, this whole thing changes."

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: And, uh, he came to me later, and he said, "I can't guarantee what they want now. So, it was just, it was a matter of how much we could get, what they could agree to, at that particular point. But more importantly, it was a matter of ending the stand-off.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: And the negotiations were just going nowhere. And it was simply a matter of ending the stand-off. And, I remember Clarence Jones, owner of the The Amsterdam News. "Ray, they’re gonna kill these brothers. They're gonnakill'em." And again, to me, it was like- that can't happen.

Laura Hill: It's surreal.

Mr. Scott: Yeah. That can't happen. The night before the retaking of the prison, we were in the administrative building, and Oswald was talking with us-.

Laura Hill: So this would be Sunday night?

Mr. Scott: Sunday night. And I was just sitting, listening, and looking. And Bill Gaiter, [12] the guy that was president of the BUILD organization in Buffalo, which was a sister organization to FIGHT- .

Laura Hill: The counterpart of FIGHT.

Mr. Scott: Counterpart of FIGHT.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: He stood up, and he gave a most impassioned, emotional speech. And I remember sitting next to a guy from the Detroit Free Press, out of Michigan.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: And when Bill finished- Bill was walking the floor, like a preacher, like a black preacher; he was walking the floor and talking and everybody was listening, including Oswald. He was talking about black fathers being taken away from children and killed. I was sitting next to this guy from the Detroit Free Press and he said, "Man, I feel like crying after that stuff." I watched Oswald- he didn't say anything. Finally, I said, "Mr. Oswald,â€� I said, "It appears, to me, that you know what you're going to do and when you're going to do it." He just looked; and he didn't answer. And then he just turned around, and just kinda began to walk- pacing, like. Didn't say anything. And we said at that point, "We better stay here overnight.â€� Thinking that somehow our presence might act as a deterrent.

Laura Hill: Yeah.

Mr. Scott: We better stay here overnight.

Laura Hill: Are we at time? I thought so.

[1:02:39-1:04:04] [13]

Laura Hill: [It was always- I mean, one of the most interesting lessons in my life this far, about race, I learned in the prison system. And that was, that those prison officials would put on a face for black activist groups coming in- ABC, always came into the prisons I worked at, Groveland and Livingston- and as soon as- .

Mr. Scott: You mean ABC- Action for a Better Community?

Laura Hill: Action for a Better Community. Gary Andrews, I worked with- I don't know if you're familiar with him.

Mr. Scott: Mm-mmm, no.

Laura Hill: And as soon as those men left, you got that real story. You know, whatever they- they would pay lip-service; they would say, "Oh, we're gonna do this, we're gonna do that." And then as soon as they left, it was, "Don't give them anything." You know, "You don't let them in here." It was just a very different story.

Mr. Scott: Mm-hmm.

Laura Hill: And, you know, I, I didn't work for the prisons; I worked for the Department of Health. But I had this, um, this role. And they had no problem saying these things in front of me, because, to them, I was white and so my loyalty was to them. It was- they could not understand that my professional loyalties would be in a different direction. My racial loyalty was supposed trump that.

Mr. Scott: Mm-hmm.]

Laura Hill: So um, it' interesting to try to sort through- listening to your stories, somebody like- is it

Osgood? Oswald?

Mr. Scott: Oswald.

Laura Hill: Oswald. Um, to, to try to understand where his loyalties were, in that moment, and how they were divided.

Mr. Scott: Well, I think there was something about him, in all fairness, that was good. There was something about him that was good. And, as I said, he was looked upon as being a reformer in the prison system- by some of the inmates, too. And the fact that he would even come into D-yard, was monumental. And this is on the heels, understand, of the fact that a lot of them may have been facing very, very serious penalties, because they had thrown this guard off the catwalk.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: And the fact that he would come into D-yard-and like the one guy was saying, "We don't

have to let you out. We may not let you out of here," you know.

Laura Hill: And that wasn't posturing?

Mr. Scott: No. And, and he came back and back. Until he was finally told, "You can't go back in there. If I'm not mistaken, the governor ordered him not to go back in there.

Laura Hill: I was just going to ask- is it Rockefeller at this point?

Mr. Scott: Rockefeller, yeah.

Laura Hill: And so, you all make the decision on Sunday night- we’re gonna stay overnight.

Mr. Scott: Yeah. Some of them had to leave for personal reasons.

Laura Hill: Sure. Has the group grown at this point?

Mr. Scott: Yeah, it had grown.

Laura Hill: They've called in who now? Who has joined you?

Mr. Scott: Ah, let's see. Um, Bill Gaiter came, he wasn't one of the original five. Um, Dave Anderson, Dr. David Anderson-

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: - from Rochester. Uh, a guy named Kenyatta, Bill Kunstler, Tom Wicker. Um, Clarence Jones. Wyatt Tee Walker, [14] who was on the governor's staff.

Laura Hill: Kenyatta is a local person? A state person?

Mr. Scott: I don't know where Kenyatta came from.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: He was, not cool, not cool. He was talking inflammatory and stupid. "If they won't do what we want to do, we'll burn this mother down." Arthur Eve, the recognized leader of the group, had a side bar session with and cooled him down.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: Man, how you gonna burn brick?

Laura Hill: [laughs]. Sure.

Mr. Scott: Just inflammatory. So, we- I forget, but those were some of the other people that came.

I'm trying to think- I'm missing maybe a couple, but those are the ones that I recall.

Laura Hill: And at this point, Florence is not- .

Mr. Scott: Franklin came.

Laura Hill: He did come. Okay.

Mr. Scott: Yeah, he came. He came- l think it was Saturday. I think he came Saturday.

Laura Hill: How did that transpire?

Mr. Scott: He just came. Most of the people- there were a Iotta people, well I can't say a lot- that were not asked to come; they just came. They went where the action was, and Franklin was one. He just came.

Laura Hill: And he had the same access that you all had. He was going into the yard, he was- ?

Mr. Scott: Yeah, oh yeah.

Laura Hill: How- l mean to your knowledge, the best of your knowledge- how was the state making decisions, at that point, about who was gonna go in and who wasn't?

Mr. Scott: I think that was pretty much left up to- I think Oswald, at that particular point, had significant input into that. I think as time when on, and they could see that it wasn't going the way they wanted it to go, I think he was taken more and more out of the loop. You know, his liberal tendencies were not appreciated.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: I mean, remember, you're dealing with a Republican administration, both national and state now.

Laura Hill: And he's not ending it fast enough.

Mr. Scott: And he's not ending it fast enough. So, and I think, too, that the more and more people that came, the more and more emboldened the inmates became.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm. Sure.

Mr. Scott: You know, seeing they had this kind of support. But in the final analysis, having been able to step back from it, some things had become very clear. When I went back a year later, I spoke a group of Supporters of the Attica Brothers who had come to commemorate the 1 year anniversary of the rebellion. I said something regarding the points that they were trying to make, then.

Laura Hill: The inmates.

Mr. Scott: No, I spoke to the, to the people that came up in support of the inmates, a year later-

Laura Hill: I see. Yep.

Mr. Scott: On the anniversary, the first anniversary of the riots, I shared that when Marv Chandler and I were riding home after the killings, neither one of us said anything for a while, and then I just kind of turned to him and- I said, "Man, this whole thing, it was like they were saying, "Listen to me. Listen to me. Listen to me. We've got problems here. Listen to me."' And he said, "Yeah, it's like they were saying, 'Listen to me or I'll die." And I said, "Yeah." Well, I said that to the group, "It became clear that when they did what they did, they were saying, ‘listen to me. Listen to me, or I'll die.' But in begging to be listened to, they weren't speaking to Governor Rockefeller, they weren't speaking to Commissioner Oswald, they weren't even speaking to President Nixon. They were speaking to us, The People. Saying, 'listen to me, listen to me.' They understood that if we only knew the inhumanity that was going on behind those walls, the people would be so appalled that we would rise up and demand change."

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: And I said, "So our presence here today, is to let them know that we heard what they were saying. And we will never forget them, but instead, we will always remember Attica. Remember Attica. Remember Attica. And that became the slogan, "Remember Attica. Remember Attica."

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: Well, going back to the night before, we stayed overnight, and the next morning, they came in to brief us. They were getting ready to retake the prison. We had the option of staying in the administration building, or leaving the prison. And, some of us chose to stay. And they said, "If you're going to stay, here's what you need to do." They told us to tape up our sleeves, tape up pants to our legs, in essence, tape up any exposed skin and to put wet cloths over our eyes.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: Again tape anything that would be exposed because they were gonna use tear gas. And the gases were going to be so strong that they were going to come right in through the administrative building windows, in spite of the fact that the windows were going to be down.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: And they did use a lot of tear gas. We had to put wet scarves around our faces, because the stuff would burn. And my eyes were burning, boy, they were burning. And we could look out, and we could see them shooting from the catwalk. They told us to stay away from the windows, but we didn't.

Laura Hill: How could you do that?

Mr. Scott: Yeah, but we could look out and see them shooting from the catwalk. The guards were not supposed to be shooting, but they were up there.

Laura Hill: And Quinn has died at this point?

Mr. Scott: Quinn has died, yeah. He has died.

Laura Hill: Their brother.

Mr. Scott: Yeah, yeah. But they were not even supposed to be involved in the retaking of the prison.

Again it’s surreal; I'm sure, even to the inmates, that the whole thing was surreal. It was almost like the inmates were role-playing. Somehow they had managed to get their hands on a couple of flare gun rifles, or-

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: - tear gas guns. And they were handling those things like these would counteract the weapons of their attackers who possessed various kinds of automatic weapons as well as gas masks. The inmates had these sticks, you know like you'd use in a gang fight, which would match up well against the weaponry of your enemy, in a gang fight. And they were treating them like they were real weapons. Surreal!

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: I guess the inmates had taken the flare guns or tear gas guns from some of the officers when the rebellion first began. Again, Surreal!

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: After they did the killing, I think it was the Deputy Commissioner to Oswald who came in to give a report on what had taken place. He came in smiling and said, "Well, it's over and I gotta tell you, it was an excellent assault," or something to that effect. "The prison has been retaken and being an ex-Navy man myself, they did a magnificent job." We didn't know how many people had been killed, but we would begin to find out later. He did say they that they didn't get all the inmates who were watching the hostages and therefore some of the hostages had their throats slashed and were killed. As you know, it was reported after the autopsies were done that all of the inmates and all the hostages died by gunshot wounds. Nobody was killed-

Laura Hill: By inmates, right.

Mr. Scott: - by inmates. Nobody was killed by inmates. They had no guns. Needless to say, that revelation was a pivotal point. We came back. We began to organize support for inmates who would ultimately have criminal charges brought against them. We began raising a legal defense fund. When they started the trials, somebody had been to one of the courts sessions in Warsaw and came back to me at FIGHT. He came back to me at FIGHT and he said, "Scotty, I was down to Warsaw, man. You need to go down there. You need to see what they're doing to the brothers down there. They're railroading those brothers." So I said, "Okay, when's the next court date?"

Laura Hill: I'm sorry to interrupt you, Mr. Scott, but these cases are being tried in Warsaw?

Mr. Scott: Mm-hmm.

Laura Hill: They're not in a higher level court? I mean, this is local justice?

Mr. Scott: Mm-hmm, in Warsaw. So I said, "Well, okay, when is the next court case?" And he told me.

So I said, "Why don't we, you know, maybe six of us, drive down?" We took two cars down to the next court session.

Laura Hill: This is a FIGHT delegation?

Mr. Scott: FIGHT delegation, yeah. So we drove down to Warsaw, and he was right. He was definitely right. So, at that point, I became committed to them, and to putting time and effort into their receiving justice. When the court session was over the brothers were taken to a jail facility on another floor above the courtroom that had open windows. They were there to await transport back to the prison where they were being housed. As we were leaving to return Rochester we were able to see and communicate with each other through the open windows. So I told the brothers that we would be back.

Laura Hill: Yeah.

Mr. Scott: So I said, "We'll be back and next time we're bringing some people with us." So we went back, had a press conference, held some meetings, organized the community. And we went back with a busload of people. And, when we went, they were ready. Unlike the last time this time everybody had to be searched. We went up one at a time, they held rigidly to the capacity rules. We kept sending people in and out so that everybody could get a sense of the injustices that were taking place there.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: The next time we back to Warsaw we took two busloads of people. I realized that continuously making that trip could prove costly without some form of victory in the process. People could become discouraged, funds for the transportation could get costly, etc. We needed a quick victory of some sort. Two principles come to mind: 1) GOD orchestrates when you trust HIM, and 2) Saul Alinsky always said, "You can count on the establishment to do the wrong thing at the right time."

Laura Hill: That's right.

Mr. Scott: Well at this court session the Judge set bail for one of the brothers (Greg Felder) from Rochester at $500. That was a lot of money to a group of poor folk.

Laura Hill: So he's an Attica inmate.

Mr. Scott: He's an Attica inmate.

Laura Hill: His time was- he had served his time and he was only holding on for these new charges? How did that work if he was on bail?

Mr. Scott: I'm not sure just what that was, but he definitely had new charges for his role, although I think miniscule, in the rebellion.

Laura Hill: Sure, okay.

Mr. Scott: And, so the long and the short of it was that they the judge set bail at $500, which was a lot of money back then.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: I called over one of the key members of my FIGHT inner circle, Minister Clarence Sharp and I said, "Look, why don't we raise the money to take him home right now from our folk?" He said, "Yeah. Okay, why don't we pray about it?" So we stopped and prayed. "Yeah. Good, let's do it." So we started putting that word through the crowd, and everybody began to smile; everybody perked up; people got excited.

Laura Hill: They're doing something.

Mr. Scott: Yeah, yeah, yeah were doing something.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: As I implied before, we needed a shot in the arm, and now, we're doing something. Folks were saying "Yeah, yeah, let's do it!" So people came out of their pockets to raise $500, and as I said, that was a lot of money. And we told the attorney that was representing the brothers what we were gonna do, and he beamed. He said, "Yeah," you know, he was one of those poor folk lawyers.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: And he said, "I got ten dollars; I'd be willing to contribute to that." So we did it. We raised it. His mother thought it was a miracle, she and her daughter were present that day. She's been loving on us ever since that day.

Laura Hill: Yeah.

Mr. Scott: But the long and short of it was, we brought him home with us on the bus. And that was a big deal, that was a real big deal.

Laura Hill: How was all of this being received in Rochester, at this time? You know, Attica is, is slightly removed, it's obvious that there's this relationship back and forth, between Rochester, Attica, and Buffalo. How is the Rochester community- communities, responding to FIGHT's involvement with this?

Mr. Scott: Well, they appreciated it. Some people didn't want it to divert us from more local issues, but by and large, there was an appreciation and a respect. We were fighting justice. I found that if FIGHT was in the news media, then people were happy. They knew we were doing what we were supposed to be doing, fighting for them.

Laura Hill: Black people.

Mr. Scott: Yeah, black people were happy. If FIGHT was in the newspaper, if we were on the radio, if we were on the television, then black people were happy. If we weren't in the newspaper, on the radio, or on the television, people wanted to know, “What's happening with FIGHT? FIGHT's not doing anything".

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: Ah, so, whether it was Attica or it was something else, if we were in the news, the community as a whole-

Laura Hill: Was happy.

Mr. Scott: - was happy. They realized we were doing something. There were always the naysayers, but by and large, if we were doing anything, then they knew that if they needed something to be done, FIGHT was the place to go.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: They didn't, by and large, go to ABC, they didn't, by and large, go to the Urban League when they needed action- whether it was police brutality, whether it was a situation on their job where they were being discriminated against, if they were trying to buy a car and were being discriminated against, FIGHT was where they came.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm. Is that, I've seen in Franklin Florence's papers here in the archive, that in his period, anyhow, people came to him. They came to him, there're some papers- Trent, is it Trent Jackson?

Mr. Scott: Mm-hmm.

Laura Hill: Was trying to get hired as a coach at one of the high schools and had problems. And there are letters from stenographers, who were trying to get jobs, and they're engaged in this sort of back and forth with a company, and Franklin Florence was copied. I've always sort of wondered about that process. Was Franklin Florence's name enough to get attention to these matters?

Mr. Scott: Ohhh, yeah.

Laura Hill: Tell me a little bit about that.

Mr. Scott: Well, I said to a group of people at a meeting held recently when I was introducing him, that "If you have a job in this town and you're black, you owe it to this man." And that's not an exaggeration, that is really not an exaggeration, which is one of the reasons why I agreed to do this interview. Because there are black folk that walk around Rochester who work at Kodak or Xerox, etc. and don't know how they got there. A foundation was laid for them. If they did know, they've forgotten. And they need to be reminded.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: And, he did things when they weren't popular. He was the inspiration for people like myself to get out there and put it all on the line. But he's the guy that laid the foundation. And he was powerful at that particular point. He was really powerful and fiery, too. He was quick on his feet, in terms of being able to respond quickly with power in virtually any issue where justice was called into question. But at the same time, he's the most charismatic person that I've ever met. White folks feared him and revered him, at the same time. So yes, if he was copied into a letter regarding a discriminatory issue I can assure that hisname carried wait back then.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: He's older now, but he still is the most charismatic person I've ever met. And he was the most articulate at that time. He could he could rev up a crowd like nobody I know.

Laura Hill: Right. Was Florence- l'm not sure how to ask this question. There has been some- there have been some people, who have indicated that Florence was not a self-made man, that he was made by Alinsky, that he was made by Chambers [15] and the Industrial Areas Foundation. I've heard plenty to counter that, but how would you weigh-in on that discussion?

Mr. Scott: Well, I think that you have to look at the whole concept of mentorship. As an example, when you look at the FIGHT-Kodak struggle, the whole idea of going to Flemington, New Jersey, the whole idea of obtaining stock proxies and using them to get into a shareholder's meeting, had never been done before, and hasn't been done since. When you look at using that as a strategy to address an issue on behalf of the poor people and ask whether Franklin, at that time, was the guy who put that on the table, I would think not. That kind of strategy would have emerged from the wealth of experience ofAlinsky, Chambers and IAF.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: But, did they tell him what to do and what not to do? No, nobody did that. But, was Franklin willing to listen and learn? Yeah. We didn't know anything about organizing; we didn't know anything about tactics, that kind of stuff. So, I think, rather than being controlled, or a product of them, I think what you had was a partnership.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: Where they didn't tell him what to do. They may have mentored him in areas, at that point, that were outside of the realm of his experience.

Laura Hill: Absolutely.

Mr. Scott: He may not have had the wealth of experience that they had, at that time, so he took their wisdom, based on experience, added his fieriness and his charisma, and it was a good team. So, in essence they made each other.

Laura Hill: How does, how does the relationship between Alinsky and his people and FIGHT come to be severed?

Mr. Scott: That happened when Bernie Gifford became President of FIGHT.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: I think there were primarily two reasons: 1) While Bernie and I never really talked about it, I believe he didn't trust Alinsky's relationship with Franklin. It’s like the old principle: If your friend is my enemy, then I have to watch how I deal with you. 2) There was a mood circulating through the black community at that time: “It was time for black folks to take care of black folks business".

I think Franklin, to his credit, forced a lot of young black men to grow up. And I always say that for some of us that process was "like wind carving stone." I don't know too many who walked with him that did not revere him. But, for him, you were either with him or against him, and man, if you were against him you had a fight on your hands. If you stood through the fight based on objective principles, then you grew as a person; and again that growth process was "like wind carving stone" because, in essence, growth isn't always smooth; sometimes it’s very, very painful-psychologically and emotionally. If you didn't stand then your self-image was shattered.

Laura Hill: Can you give an example?

Mr. Scott: Well, me.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: Back then you felt a sense of unity within the Black Community, in general, within the FIGHT Organization, in particular with Minister Florence as its leader. Franklin always taught regarding FIGHT, the Organization was more important than him or any other individual. I believed, and acted on what he said. So when Bernie Gifford won the presidency, I made it plain that I was going to support the FIGHT Organization and its

present administration. And, man, it was on from there. I was vilified from then on. But I

stood fast, by the Grace of GOD; and I grew.

Laura Hill: Can you tell me a little bit about that election night? I've heard a number of reports, um, about the divisiveness you referred to, that there was violence involved, that it was a very ugly evening. What are you recollections of that night?

Mr. Scott: Which one?

Laura Hill: The election night at the convention, where Gifford wins the election.

Mr. Scott: Well, he won two. [16]

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: The first one, um, there was no violence. But you have to understand over the previous two years, a shift had taken place, Franklin had stepped on so many necks-

Laura Hill: Yeah.

Mr. Scott: I mean, so many. He had stepped on so many people's necks that they were tired of it. And so, all of those enemies coalesced and came against him. There was the church community, the black ministers. Some people didn't want to do it publicly, because they feared him. So, there were a lot of people who were throwing rocks and hiding their hands.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: That's where, what they called the "controversial voice vote" was taken.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: Yeah.

Laura Hill: I think you were describing this when we talked before. Could you describe again how that process worked?

Mr. Scott: This is the way it was supposed to go. Counters were to be selected from both sides. The delegates for Florence were to be asked to rise and be counted, they were to stand up and be counted. Then the delegates for Gifford were to be asked to do likewise. The winner was to be declared.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: But on this particular occasion, the Gifford team essentially closed Franklin out of the convention by controlling the "chairmanship of the convention". The team that won the chairman of the convention always won the election unless the proposed chairman was uncontested. The Florence team lost the chairmanship when their choice for chairman was defeated at the beginning of the convention. Therefore, by the time for the convention to vote on the presidency Franklin knew he was losing, so he was going through the crowd getting people to move around. This movement created commotion.

Laura Hill: You'll be counted a second time, and that kind of thing.

Mr. Scott: The strategy was to create enough of a commotion to get the opposition's team to get frustrated enough to leave the convention while enough of yours remained, to provide you with a majority for victory. (I was on Franklin's staff at the time as a community organizer. Bob Jones, the other community organizer, and I were just sitting in the back watching everything take place). The Gifford Team recognized the tactic and called for a voice vote.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: Rather than the count.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm. Sure.

Mr. Scott: And Bernie won it. Franklin says there was discrepancy and that Bernie didn't win, but

Bernie won it.

Laura Hill: So in a voice vote, it's whoever can make the most- ?

Mr. Scott: Who can make the most noise, yeah.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: That's what it was. ''All those in favor of Gifford- ?" And people yelled. And, "All those in favor of Florence-?"And people yelled. And Bernie won it.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: I knew that FIGHT couldn't go on the way that it was the year that I worked there. The drop in morale in the community and the Organization was clearly evident. This was the result of the FIGHT election that took place in 1968 between Franklin and Gifford where, by almost every account I heard, Bernie had won; but at the last minute, before he was officially crowned the winner, he conceded the election to Franklin.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: I think that convention was in June 1968. I didn't return Rochester from school until August of 1968-- I think.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: But my understanding, even from talking with the Florence delegates, was that Bernie had clearly won, but then conceded.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: This produced a large backlash against Franklin.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: Franklin had whipped up on so many people. He could be loving and charismatic with you; he could draw you, and he could whip the daylights outta you with just words man- intimidation!

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: Not many like him could do that. And so what happened was that all of these people just rose up. Bernie had won it; but Bernie in the last minute went up and conceded. And that began the demise of the organization. That was really the beginning of the demise of it, because it was divided at that point. It'd been a unified group-people may have had their personal perspectives about things, but it had, to this point, been a unified group. That point in time truly, in my opinion, really represents the crystal clear division. And when I came back to Rochester, I was expecting to see the FIGHT that I left when went away to school.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: When I returned the spirit was gone. And it never fully returned; that was the beginning of its demise. It was a heck of a year. I was doing community organizing and it was hard to produce the numbers at meetings.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: It was a heck of a year trying to organize. Bernie got approached to run again, and I remember going to Beverly Majors to get her to organize a group because FIGHT was a member organization of groups. She had organized a group for the previous convention.

Laura Hill: Yep.

Mr. Scott: I went to her when we were preparing for the convention that year, and said, ''Bev, I looked through our FIGHT Credential Sheets that we have from last year, and I see you had a group last year. Will you be bringing your group to the convention this year?" And she said, "Naw, I'm not going to bother with it this year. If Bernie Gifford was gonna run and he was serious, then I would, I could get involved. But not if he's gonna do what he did last time." At that time Bernie wasn't running. But finally, enough people got to Bernie and talked him into running, again.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: And being serious this time. And, so Bernie decides to run, and Bev Majors called me and said, "Bring me one of those delegate sheets, because I'm willing to organize my group." So I did and she did. And people came out again, this time, and this is when the controversial voice vote occurred.

Laura Hill: Yeah.

Mr. Scott: Franklin calls it controversial, it wasn't; Bernie won.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: And so, that further exacerbated the FIGHT demise. From what it was originally, I mean, it was still a strong organization, but not what is was a few years back. Black unity and brotherhood/sisterhood was sweeping the nation and, to me, we suffered a significant loss in Rochester.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: And then too, Bernie had a different style. He was not as articulate nor as charismatic as Franklin. He was smart, very, very smart, well read. But neither he, nor myself nor anyone had the charisma that Franklin has.

Laura Hill: So you said, you asked me earlier- which election night? So I think then that I'm referring to this second election. Um- .

Mr. Scott: There was no violence there.

Laura Hill: I have been told that there were- that, that- .

Mr. Scott: That's the third one. [17]

Laura Hill: The third one. Let's get there then, sorry.

Mr. Scott: Alright. So, Bernie ran again. And Franklin had some people from the westside, primarily, that were strong arms. And, Gifford had people from the eastside, primarily, that were strong arms. Bernie's strength was really was broad-based because Bernie, he's the resident intellectual who had turned community activist, a PhD candidate.

Laura Hill: So at this point, you're Gifford's vice president?

Mr. Scott: At this point, I'm going to run as his vice president.

Laura Hill: With him, okay. Okay.

Mr. Scott: With him. That was a tough decision for me, because I was still a member of Franklin's church.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: I'm still a minister there. So, but, there were a lot of people at the church who were opposed to him at that particular time.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: And so, I hesitated to run, because I didn't want to create any commotion in the church.

Laura Hill: And this is- he has not started Central Church of Christ yet.

Mr. Scott: No. No, this was at the Reynolds Street Church of Christ.

Laura Hill: This is- right, okay.

Mr. Scott: So, I didn't want to run originally, and then people began to prevail upon me. People in the community began to prevail upon me. I was director of Hanover Houses' Ministry, which gave me a large base of support.

Laura Hill: Right, sure.

Mr. Scott: That's where the people were there, and I had a good rapport with all of those folks. So, Bernie's folks even began to prevail upon me. And I liked Bernie. But then, people in the church began to say, "If you're gonna do that, you need to announce that. People would love to hear that." I said, "What?" I was surprised by that. So, the long and the short of it was that I decided to run.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: And so when the time came for the election, it was clear that he wasn't going to be able to win, but he thought, probably, that Bernie was soft, and that he could just take it. You know, take it. So they go in, and they took over the stage early, before the convention even started. But Bernie decided to use voting machines this year to avoid any confusion.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: We used voting machines. Franklin resented that. Because as I stated previously if you create enough commotion, then some of the people ultimately begin to leave. And if they leave, then your opposition numbers go lower.

Laura Hill: Sure. Yep, yep.

Mr. Scott: - you know, you can lower your opponent's numbers and keep yours high. So, again he wanted to be able to create commotion. Well, the voting machines wouldn't allow that, because people could come in all day. The voting hours were declared and people from the community could come in, place their vote, and go.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: They show their membership card, come in, place their vote, and go.

Laura Hill: They don't have to be at a convention, they don't have to- sure.

Mr. Scott: They don't have to stay at a convention. Well, we were killing them in the votes- we were 600 and something to 100 and something- or something like that. So he didn't want that. So he came in and to heck with the voting machines, his guys take over the stage. And they had red bandanas around their heads, they had iron pipes wrapped in crepe paper, and they took over the stage. He and his, leaders I guess, were sitting on the side, while all these guys took over the stage. So, some of the guys from Joseph Avenue, came in support of us.

Laura Hill: It's one I'd like to hear.

Mr. Scott: Uh, these were street brothers.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm. And Florence has his, his street brothers too, right?

Mr. Scott: Yeah, but these guys were street brothers.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: Franklin's brothers, Franklin's guys were not as "street" as these guys were, from Joseph


Laura Hill: So we're having the same conversation- I understand that Florence was widely supported by the Matadors, that there were some other groups, organizations, that referred to themselves as gangs, and that they-

Mr. Scott: That was early on.

Laura Hill: - offered protection for him.

Mr. Scott: That was early on.

Laura Hill: Okay. So this is, we're talking a later period now.

Mr. Scott: Later period. Initially, he was revered by those folks. But all of those guys had gotten older, and that had kind of died down at that particular point. During the FIGHT-Kodak struggle, that was there. But this is all after that.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: But this is all after that. This is now, 70.

Laura Hill: You have these guys from Jefferson Avenue.

Mr. Scott: Yeah, and they're the ones that are on the stage, primarily from that side of town. The guys from Joseph Avenue wanted take over the stage. And, we said, "No, nobody takes over the stage"- even Bernie wanted to go take over the stage. I said, “No, no, no. Nobody takes over the stage. Nobody goes on that stage." "No, they're making us look like punks!" "No, nobody takes over the stage." And I knew some of those guys on the stage too, from church; I knew their families.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: So, "No, no, nobody goes on the stage." Then the guys on Joseph Avenue are getting frustrated with me. "They're making us look like punks!" So I said, "Look, all of our guys, back into the bleachers!" And they said- I remember one guy, who later got killed- said, "I ain't nobody's guy!" I said, "Man, come on, get in the bleachers. Would you please? Just get

in the bleachers." And he went up there, and they all sat up there. So I was over talking to another minister, called Floyd Rhodes and Bernie, and Bernie was going on and on saying, "Scotty, we gotta take over that stage! We gotta take over that stage- they're making us look like punks!" I said, "Nobody goes on the stage, Bernie. Nobody goes on the stage."

Laura Hill: And at this point Florence's his people are still up there.

Mr. Scott: His people are still up there, he's sitting on the side.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: We over on the other part of the auditorium.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: And his guys are on the stage, and they'd just taken over the whole thing.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: I was standing there with Bernie and a minister named Floyd Rhodes. We were trying to find some way to convince Bernie to be cool. And while we were talking all of those guys had started filing out of the bleachers, again. They'd had enough and they were going toward the stage. And they had guns, knives, straight razors- everything. The other guys had iron pipes and who knows what else. I don't know. But I know what these guys had.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: So they started out of the bleachers. And I just stopped talking, and I ran over to the stairs leading up to the stage. And there was a pole here, stairs here, and then a pole here, and then stairs, and then the pole. And I remember, I jumped, I don't know how I did it- but, I jumped over the first pole and wound up in the middle. And I was standing between these guys that were trying to come up the stairs and these guys that were on the stage. The guys on stage had all filed over to the top of the stairs.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: And I said, "Look, stay back." And I looked over, and Floyd Rhodes had come over behind me. And he jumped into the middle of the stairs beside me.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: "Get back, man. Go back up in the bleachers, man! Get back, get back." And his guys were at the top, waiting.

Laura Hill: Florence's guys.

Mr. Scott: Florence's guys were at the top of the stairs waiting. "Get back, get back." And finally, then one of the guys pushed me, one of the guys from our church pushed me. One of his guys said to him, Lee, what are you doing" His name was John Reynolds; he was a member of the church too. "Lee, what are you doing?" He said, “Scotty's trying to break this thing up. Man, what are you pushing him for?" He said, "He's not coming up here." He said, "He's not trying to come up here. He's trying to break it up. What are you doing, pushing him?" I said, "Look, I'm trying to stop this. You guys obviously want some trouble." It would be to their advantage.

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: They didn't have the numbers. So the whole thing could be called off, it would have been to their advantage.Well, the long and short of it is, our guys got back into the bleachers. And then the ministers came in, from some of the larger churches. And they went over and talked to Franklin. And he was saying to them, “Where were you last year?! Where were you last year?" Long and short of it was, he pulled his people out of the convention and declared victory.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: Well, we thought that was the end, but it wasn't. So then he began to come over to FIGHT headquarters, and demanding the keys to the office, and the office itself.

Laura Hill: Um, that night, were you and Gifford jumped?

Mr. Scott: No, this was what I'm getting ready to tell you.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: On different occasions, they would come over to the office, a whole group of ‘em demanding the keys-

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: Demanding that we turn over the office to them. So this went on for maybe a week or two. And so finally, people got tired. I was still trying to mediate. During one of those nights someone suggested, “Let's leave the office. Everybody's gonna leave the office; we're all gonna go home." And they said, “Well you better not open back up. You better not open back up. If you do, we'll be back. We'll be back." “Look, man, everybody's leaving the office. We're leaving." “You'd better not open back up." As I was preparing to leave the building, I remembered seeing several guys come walking out of an office with guns.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: They came filing out with these guns, and they walked outside. One of Franklin's guys said,

“What are y'all gonna do with those?" or something like that. And then one of the guys turned around and said something to one of their guys, they walked out. I'm still trying to mediate. I had gone back home; I had gone to my house over on Joseph Avenue. And, I remember being on the phone with these guys, with Franklin's guys, still trying to mediate from home. I'm saying "We need to quit this, man. We're not each other's enemies."

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: You know, "We're not the enemy." We were having these conversations on the phone, so I left. We hung up. I was just going down to the headquarters on Joseph Avenue. I walked outside to get in my car. And I did a U-turn in the street at Joseph and Kelly, and as I did, this car pulled up on the opposite of the street from where my car was parked.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: And I saw all these guys, about 5 of them and I knew 'em all- about three of them from church. And they looked like they were going to my house, so I just said, "Hey, are you guys looking for me?"

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: And so, I thought they wanted to talk. So they came over, and one of them said, "There he goes." And so they came over, and I'm just naive. And they grab me out of my car, and one of them kneed me in the side. And they took me over to their car and put me in it. And one of 'em, while I was in the car one of them hit me. And so then, I said, "What is going on?" Well, what I surmised was, those guys with the guns, went over and shot up their headquarters.

Laura Hill: I see.

Mr. Scott: And while there were a lot of people in it. Fortunately, nobody got killed. Nobody got hit. But, they shot up the headquarters. So they thought I had something to do with that, or that I knew, or that I was just gonna be the patsy. So, they came and got me and they took me over to the headquarters, where the police were. And the police, when they saw what they had done, came to the car and told them to back off, and took me out of their car and put me in the police car.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: And then, a little while later I learned, Bernie comes- they come with him in a car. And they had gone to his house and suckered him outside. And then put him in the car and jacked him up a little bit, I guess, and brought him over to the headquarters too. But it did more damage to them than it did to us, because both of us acted innocently. If we knew something had happened we sure would not have allowed them to walk up on us and take us.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: Well, but, that was the end of their group, because the people were afraid, having been shot at. And I mean, this thing wasn't about getting killed over.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: So that was the demise of their group. Their group stopped coming around.

Laura Hill: Yeah.

Mr. Scott: And that's what brought peace. That put an end to them trying to come over and take over the office.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm. It sounds to me, based on what you've described, based on what I've heard from some other people, that there is, at least at this time, a lot of male posturing in FIGHT, surrounding FIGHT.

Mr. Scott: Mm-hmm.

Laura Hill: What are all the women doing?

Mr. Scott: Being supportive. I think you have to understand that there has been an attempt by white males, historically, to emasculate black men, out fear of them. Our women understood that during those times and attempted therefore to encourage their men to take the lead, and break attempts at the psychological demoralization of their men.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: Black women have been systematically exalted, used and misused. At that time, we were coming to an awareness of those kinds of things. And it still goes on very subtly. For example, the guy that should have been president of Xerox was a guy named Barry Rand. Check it out, ask anybody. He's a black guy. He was told, by the leader of the corporation who was at that time leaving the corporation, "The business community is not ready for a black man to lead Xerox." So, they put that jerk in there that messed it up. And they're still paying him to this very day, and his wife. I forget his name now, but you do the research, you'll find out.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: But Barry should have been the president. Well, look at what has happened. They didn't get a black man, they got a white man and then they got another white man. And then, what? The leader of Xerox today is a white woman [18]. Who is the president? A beautiful black woman named Ursula Burns [19].

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm. How are we on the tape?


Laura Hill: So you were saying, before we broke there for a minute, that that was the role of women. They were largely supportive of this movement.

Mr. Scott: Yeah. Well, they were supportive of the movement primarily because they wanted to see the emergence of the black male in leadership. And I related how it still shows up today, with the leadership of Xerox, Ursula Burns being a black female. And black women have historically held positions because white men were not threatened by them. They were threatened by black males, so black women were pushing the men out front and were willing, at that particular term, time, to take a subservient role.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: Um, and so that's where they were. They were very, very present. Very present.

Laura Hill: Give me some examples of how.

Mr. Scott: Well, you see it in any movements. If we had to go to the City Council meetings, to make our point and we were going to be disruptive and that kind of thing- the two times that we almost got into literal fights with the police, were over black women being vocal.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: And, the policeman had tried to subdue some cab drivers, who were there on an issue. And when they went back and tried to, you know, get them to leave and all that, they pushed one of 'em. And then they got into a shoving match. And the union leader of the cab drivers stood up to the City Council and said, "Frank, stop this!" So the mayor calmed them down. Nobody got arrested. So then, a little later Mary Davidson was vocal. When you mention FIGHT, you can't mention FIGHT without mentioning Mary Davidson. She's passed on now, but she was very vocal. And so, she stood up and said something in the City Council chambers. The mayor said, "Sit down. Sit down!" And she didn't sit down.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: She just stood there. He said, "Sit down!" She didn't. He said, "Arrest that woman- arrest that woman!" And I can hear still Franklin saying, "No, you don't! No, you don't!" And he rushed towards her, and when he rushed towards her, he said, "Get up brothers. Get up!" And everybody rushed around her.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: He said, "You're not gonna touch her!" Then, I forgot how it happened, but they backed off. They didn't touch her. We all stood up, and they didn't touch her.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: And then when Franklin got up to speak about the issue for which we were there, he said, "This is a classic example of a double standard." Those cab drivers drivers were physical with them.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: And they didn't arrest not one of 'em.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: And then this black woman stands up, she just speaks and refuses to sit; she just stood there. And then they weregonna arrest her.

Laura Hill: And these cab drivers were white.

Mr. Scott: The cab drivers were white.

Laura Hill: Sure, sure.

Mr. Scott: The other one was a lady named Dolores Walker. She did the same, the same kind of thing- this was during my administration; she did the same thing, and they were going to arrest her. And I said, "Don't you touch her." And I told all the brothers to get up, and we rushed to the front and stood around her, in front of her. And the mayor told the cops to back off.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: They were vocal. They chose to take a more supportive role to elevate the black man. I they understood what that emasculation has looked like. There were some feelings about what that emasculation was doing to black homes.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: And so the move was afoot, at that particular time, to keep black men down.

Laura Hill: Sure. I was hoping I could get you to retell the story that you had told Michael and I, about the two white women that came to FIGHT headquarters that day, demanding to, to see- .

Mr. Scott: And they were going around attacking black organizations, and calling the leadership "poverty pimps" and things like that.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: So they decided they didn't like what we did with the preservation district either.

Laura Hill: Okay.

Mr. Scott: They wanted it to be a preservation district and we won. So they started going to black organizations. I don't know whether they went to Urban League, but I know they went to ABC and demanded to see their annual report-

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: Or their audit-

Laura Hill: It's an audit. The year-end audit. Fiscal report.

Mr. Scott: So, they went to ABC and Jim McCullough said, "Sure," and he gave it to 'em. Next they came to FIGHT. They said, "We wanna see it," and I said, "Well, we're not giving it to you." They said, "Then, we're not leaving, we're just gonnasit here. And we'll stay here 'til you give it to us." I said, "Okay." So I went back to my office, called folk together. It was mostly women. I said, ''Look, you guys, I want nothing to do with this. I got a meeting with the president of Marine Midland Bank in fifteen minutes. I don't want to see them here when I get back. So, y'all escort them outta here. No guys. So I left, and when I got downtown, I heard that they had picked them up, literally, and put them out into the street. And they never came back.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: They never came back. So we had to go to court behind that. And the judge threw it out. Black women have always been active and they still are.

Laura Hill: Yeah.

Mr. Scott: But at that particular time, everybody was recognizing the emasculation of the black male. And so women were supportive of rectifying that situation.

Laura Hill: Sure. We, um, we have to wrap up, and I've kept you here so much longer than I said I would. Are there other things that you think we haven't covered? Other things that are, that are important to this story that we haven't got at?

Mr. Scott: Um, well, I think you have to look at, um, the results of all of this.

Laura Hill: Okay. What are they?

Mr. Scott: When we- in 1975, I think it was, we ran Ronald Good for City Council. It was the first time a concerted effort like that was done. One prominent financier and industrialist in the Rochester area had said he would die and go to hell before he saw a spear-chucker on City Council. So we ran Ron Good. And we knew that Ron could win because everybody loved him; he was a gentleman's gentleman.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: Everybody loved him- white people loved him, black people loved him, everybody loved him. He was just a nice guy. Very smart man, very astute. Not a rabble-rouser, you know.

Laura Hill: Right. He's not a Franklin Florence.

Mr. Scott: Not a Franklin Florence, but a gentleman and everybody loved him. But, we needed to see a black face on City Council. And that was my agenda. And Constance Mitchell [20] ran on the other side of town.

Laura Hill: Sure. Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: Ron won. Actually, the night of the election, Ron ended up with 848 votes to Urban Cress's

848 votes, and they couldn't believe it. I remember Urban Kress saying, "Wow, they must have pulled 'em out of the woodworks." They thought he was a shoe-in we just hadn't win anything, in terms of politics, against white candidates.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: So, Ron's showed up as a tie, 848 to 848.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: I was in the County Legislative office building, in the chambers. They'd count them someplace else by hand and post the results in the legislative chambers, on boards.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott Minister Clarence Sharp and I walked into the legislative the night of the election after the polls had closed. We looked at the totals, and it said, "Constance Mitchell: 1291. Christopher Lindley: 1242." Chris Lindley [21] was the fair-haired guy of the Democratic Party at that particular time. Very, very smart.

Laura Hill: This is a primary race?


Mr. Scott: This was a primary race, yeah. For him to lose, it would have been, man, it would have been a slap in the face to Larry Kirwan, [22]who was the popular Democratic Party chairman- . Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: It- Connie winning 1291 to 1242. The guy recording the totals wrote "final" across the top of that race. So we're standing there some for some reason. We wouldn't leave. The guy goes downstairs and he comes back up, maybe about fifteen, twenty minutes later, takes those numbers down, and writes, "Constance Mitchell: 1242 to Chris Lindley: 1242, Tied." We said, "What?" So then they have to count the absentee ballots, between the time that they were gonna count the absentee ballots, Ron Good said to me, "I know what's gonna happen." He said, "I already know." He didn't tell me how, he said but, "I'm going to win.

Mrs. Mitchell's going to lose." They weren't going to give us both of them.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: So he winds up winning. She winds up losing, by two votes. It was a gross miscarriage of justice for Connie and the community.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: But it did what it was supposed to do. It let black folks know that they could win. The floodgates opened.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: Today, there are, I think, four blacks on City Council, and one Hispanic.

Laura Hill: Out of nine?

Mr. Scott: Out of nine.

Laura Hill: That's impressive.

Mr. Scott: Yeah. Whenever black folk did something, Hispanics tended to follow.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm, sure.

Mr. Scott: So, um, and on the City School Board, there may have been one, two, and now, if you look at it, the blacks and Hispanics there hold a majority as well.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: So, my point is that all of that comes on the heels of David Gantt [23], I was his campaign manager, for his first two campaigns in County Legislature. We talked him into running and bucked the Party. Ron Good came after that. But David is now the first black State Assemblyman in the history of this town, and he’s also the first Dean of the Monroe County delegation.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: And he’s true to form. I mean, his mother was an activist, and she was a pistol. And so, he came from that stock and he behaves that way. He doesn’t do things for popularity, he does things based on what he thinks is right. And whoever doesn’t like it, too bad. And people loved him for that.

Laura Hill: Yeah.

Mr. Scott: Well, so now he’s the first black Dean of the Monroe County delegation. I was just at a function last week where T. Andrew Brown was selected as the first black President of the Monroe County Bar Association.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: Al l of that comes on the heels of what we did back then.

Laura Hill: It’s the legacy.

Mr. Scott: Yeah. And Andrew recognized that in his speech. They had the largest audience that they’ve ever had at one of their annual functions for the presidency.

Laura Hill: That’s fantastic.

Mr. Scott: We’ve had two Black Superintendents of Schools. But all of that was unheard of during that day. And, I guess, some of us who were visionaries could foresee this day, but most people could not.

Laura Hill: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Scott: I guess, all of this, comes on the heels of what was done back then. And, again, one of the reasons that I agreed to share it, is that, our folk in high places need continue reach back and help somebody else. And there were, I remember- I just think about some of the things that we went through. Franklin-all of the presidents of FIGHT-at least Franklin, Bernie Gifford, and myself got threats-

Laura Hill: Sure.

Mr. Scott: from whites. And at one point, there was a deer head that was put on a church step on North Street, with my name on it. And, "This is what's gonna happen to Reverend Sic Scott." I got several of those from somebody who identified me that way, as "Sic,"; S-1-C. And threatening letters, we all went through that. And as a result of that, us being willing to go through it, we have what we have today. From my perspective, there's no reverence that I seek. There's no glowing accolades that I seek. I'm glad that people are doing well, but I would not want them to forget how they got where they are and think that they did it on their own, because then they're not obligated to pay it forward.

Laura Hill: Right.

Mr. Scott: Wherever he is, or she is, I want them to feel obligated to pay it forward.

Laura Hill: There's still a lot of work to be done.

Mr. Scott: Yeah.

Laura Hill: Yeah. Thank you so much. I appreciate you giving your time.

Mr. Scott: Good, good.

-End of Interview-

[1] Minister Franklin Florence {1934-) emerged as a vigorous civil rights leader and advocate of black power in 1960s Rochester. After the 1964 Rochester Race Riots, Chicago-based community activist Saul Alinsky and his Industrial Areas Foundation were brought in by Rochester church leaders to begin recovery efforts. Florence was chosen to head the steering committee of a newly formed Rochester community black activist organization named FIGHT (Freedom,Integration/Independence,God, Honor, Today). Florence became FIGHT's first president in 1965, and since that time Florence has offered his leadership and his passion to addressing- in a variety of ways- social ills, especially in the areas of employment, housing, and education. Minister Florence continues to serve as senior minister at the Central Church of Christ, Rochester.

[2] John Parrinello was on the City Council of Rochester 1970-1974, and served as Vice-Mayor 1972-1974. Over the years he has become widely known for his work as a defense attorney. He currently is a partner in the Rochester law firm Redmond and Parrinello.

[3] In April 1971, Minister Scott- then the FIGHT vice-president- rose to the presidency when Bernard Gifford resigned. Minister Scott served through 1976 (five years total).

[4] The Attica Prison Riot in 1971 began in protest of prisoner treatment. Roughly half of the inmates were involved. They took control of D-Yard and the control center and several hostages (including Officer Quinn, mentioned later by Mr. Scott). Negotiations did not go well, particularly after a guard (Quinn) died from injuries sustained during the uprising. Nationalguard, state police, and prison guards used tear-gas and force to regain control of the prison, killing 29 inmates and 10 hostages and injuring 80 others.

[5] Donald J. Corbett, Jr. a lawyer who spent many years in the New York State judiciary, including service in Monroe County Family Court and later in New York State Court of Claims, where he was Presiding Judge for eight years, retiring in 2003.

[6] The Rev. Marvin Chandler, interviewed May 13th, 2009.

[7] The bracketed section from 47:34 to 49:21 was recorded at the end of the break and was not originally meant to be part of the interview.

[8] L.D. Barkley was a prisoner in the group of “Attica Brothers� that was killed in the retaking of the Attica Prison after the 1971 riot.

[9] Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, American civil rights activists, co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in 1966.

[10] William Kunstler (1919-1995) was a civil rights activist and lawyer known for his controversial cases.

[11] Tom Wicker was a well-known and respected New York Times political reporter who covered the Attica Prison Riot. He subsequently wrote a book recounting the events of 1971 entitled A Time to Die: The Attica Prison Revolt (New York: Quadrangle/New York Times Book Co., 1975).

[12] William L. Gaiter became president of Build Unity, Independence, Liberty and Dignity in 1966.

[13] The bracketed section from 1:02:39 to 1:04:04 was recorded at the end of the break and was not originally meant to be part of the interview.

[14] Wyatt Tee Walker was Martin Luther King, Jr’s Chief of Staff. In the 1970s he worked as an Urban Affairs Specialist for Governor Nelson Rockefeller.

[15] Edward Chambers, interviewed August 9th, 2008 as part of the Rochester Black Freedom Struggle project

[16] FIGHT began in 1965 and Franklin Florence was elected president at the first convention. In 1969, Bernard Gifford was elected over Florence and was re-elected in 1970. There was tenstion over the elections, which Mr. Scott discusses here.

[17] This is the 1970 election (Gifford’s re-election, the third election for FIGHT overall).

[18] Mr. Scott refers to Anne M. Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox, 2001-2009

[19] In April 2007 Ursula Burns was named president of Xerox and continued to work alongside then-CEO Anne Mulcahyuntil Mulcahy’s retirement in May 2009. Burns was named Xerox chief executive officer in July 2009, and in May 2010 Burns became chairman of the company.

[20] Constance and John Mitchell, interviewed July 12th, 2008

[21] Christopher Lindley, interviewed June 10th, 2008.

[22] Larry Kirwan, head of the Democratic Party in Rochester at the time.

[23] David Gantt has been the representative of the 133 district of New York (northeast and southwest sections of Rochester and Gates, NY) since 1983.


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