Tag Archives: #Freedom Now Party


Henry Cleage outside of Cleage Printers 1963

I wish my interviewing skills had been better when I recorded this. Obvious things like, turn off the radio and go to a quiet room. I edited out as much of the extraneous noise as I could. Henry and I were sitting in the living room of my house in Idlewild, MI. You can hear the sounds of the kids getting dinner on the table and hollering at the dog in the background. In 1994 my youngest four were all at home and we were homeschooling. Henry lived about 4 miles away and often had dinner with us. In his statements, Henry couldn’t remember some names. When I posted the transcript of the interview years ago, my friend Paul Lee commented:  “Henry couldn’t recall the names of the “two brothers” who co-founded the FNP with “Afro-American” newspaper foreign correspondent William W. Worthy. They were Leftist attorney Conrad J. Lynn and Daniel Watts, publisher of New York’s militant “Liberator” magazine. As you know, Worthy and Watts attended the National Negro Grass Roots Leadership Conference in November 1963.”

Yesterday I came across these posters from 1963 and today I found the theme for this weeks Sepia Saturday was Posters. Although these are not on a wall, there were identical ones put up around Detroit during the time leading up to the election of 1964.

Ronald Latham

Older posts about the Freedom Now Party

The Freedom Now Party – William Worthy’s Speech

The Freedom Now Party – Convention

Transcript of Interview With Henry Cleage – Freedom Now Party Votes Stolen


And now a modern wall with posters not too far from my house. The colorful part is painted. The faces are printed on paper and glued on. To the left of my sister’s face, three artists were peeled off. The building is a former night spot what now stands empty in a mostly deserted strip mall.  I hope they plan to put the three missing artists back up. There were men in the back painting that wall and there are similar murals on the other walls.

A wall in Southwest Atlanta dedicated to local artists. My sister Pearl Cleage, a writer/playwrite is in the center.
For other Sepia Saturday Posts, Click photo.

The Freedom Now Party – William Worthy Speech 1963

Inspired by a Facebook post by my cousin Nikki, I went through my collection of The Illustrated News and found the first mention of the Freedom Now Party (FNP).  In the days to come, I will be posting a series of The Illustrated News issues that mention the FNP.  There is a lot of reading there but I hope some will wade through it.  This is the September 2, 1963 issue.  The story about the FNP is on page 2.  Other posts about the FNP are The Freedom Now Party Convention 1964 and Interview with Henry Cleage.  Click any image to enlarge.

 The Illustrated News was published during the early 1960s by my father’s family and family friends.  Two of his brothers, Henry and Hugh, started a printing business because the family was always looking for ways to be economically independent.  The main business was printing handbills for small grocery stores.   They started several newspapers.  First they did The Metro but the one I remember best is The Illustrated News. It was printed on pink paper (that was what was left over after printing the handbills) and distributed to churches and barber shops around the inner city. Some people had subscriptions. My father wrote many of the lead articles. My Uncle Louis wrote Smoke Rings, which was always on the back page. Billy Smith took most of the photographs.

illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg1 illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg2 illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg3 illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg4 illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg5illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg6illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg7illustrated news sept 2 1963 pg8

N is for a Nostalgic Interview with Henry W. Cleage

a-to-z-letters-nIn my fourteenth post for the April A-Z Challenge, I am going to share a Nostalgic interview I did with my Uncle Henry Cleage in 1994. I’ve done several posts about the Freedom Now Party before. At that time I didn’t know how to embed the actual audio interview. I figured it out yesterday and so, here it is!

I wish my interviewing skills had been better when I recorded this.  Obvious things like, turn off the radio and go to a quiet room. I edited out as much of the extraneous noise as I could. Henry and I were sitting in the living room of my house in Idlewild, MI. You can hear the sounds of the kids getting dinner on the table and hollering at the dog in the background. In 1994 my youngest 4 were all at home and we were homeschooling.  Henry lived about 4 miles away and often had dinner with us.

An interview with Henry Cleage about the Michigan Freedom Now Party.

Henry W. Cleage
Henry W. Cleage

You can read related posts at these links:

Interview with Henry Cleage about the Freedom Now Party

After writing about politics in my childhood yesterday, I remembered this interview I did with Henry in 1993 about the Freedom Now Party and decided to run it today.  Scroll down for an easier to read transcription of the article. There are several corrections.  Did I not fact check in those days?!

This article first appeared in 1993 in “Umoja * Unidad *Unity, A Newsletter for Homeschoolers of Color”

Our Stories

Freedom Now Party – 1963 – 1964

In the last several weeks black “leaders” have been speaking out against the treatment of Lani Guinier while at the same time saying they had to stick with the Democratic Party because “there’s nowhere else to go.” Aside from the obvious answer that they could go fishing and do the Race less harm, it brought to mind 1964, the year the Freedom Now Party got on the ballot in Michigan.  I was a freshman at Wayne State University that year.  The year before, the six children (Correction: 4 girls were killed, not 6) had been murdered during Sunday school in Birmingham, Alabama and over 100,000 had marched through downtown Detroit in protest. (Correction: the march took place before the bombing.) The March on Washington had taken place. The movement against the war in Vietnam was growing.  That summer, one of the first riots had rocked New York and the Freedom Democrats from Mississippi were not seated at the Democratic Convention.  Malcom X had spoken in Detroit at the Grass Roots Conference.  Ossie Davis, James Baldwin, Odetta and others called for a boycott of Christmas gift buying to protest the violence in the south.  Atty. Henry Cleage, along with family members and several friends had put out the Illustrated News for four years.  It was a biweekly Black Nationalist paper that was distributed through churches, baber shops and other places black people gathered.  Recently, I asked him to tell me about the founding of the Freedom Now Party.

Interview – Henry Cleage

Kristin: Henry, I’ve been trying to remember how the Freedom Now Party started.

Henry: Well, do you remember Worthy?  William Worthy was in New York with those two brothers, I can’t remember their names, and they started talking about the Freedom Now Party.  That was about the time the group in Detroit began to be black and quit trying to integrate.  I remember sitting in my office talking about it.  The question everyone had, you know, there weren’t enough Negroes to win.  The answer that was being made by Rev. (Note: Rev. A.B. Cleage Jr.) was you can’t win anyway.  The point was you could punish the Democratic Party.  And that’s the way it started. Then they sent Worthy and those two brothers, they were all over New York hollering about freedom, they came and we started the Freedom Now Party.

The important thing about it, I think, was after all that, it was supposed to be nationwide, but Michigan was the only place it got on the ballot.  Getting on the ballot in different states had different rules. In Michigan we had the Struther sisters and Boggs and one or two others.  You had to get so many names from different counties – so they went up to the counties and got them.  You know the way women will do, they just do stuff.  And, of course, they had yours truly pointing out the laws and stuff – they did it and they got on the ballot.  Of course they stole all our votes though.

Dunbar worked at the county building.  He got drunk at one of the parties and he said, “If you knew what they did with your votes…!”

You know, the votes come in at night.  It was on the radio.  The Freedom Now Party had 40,000 votes. Next day, they didn’t have but about 200, you know.

He, Dunbar, said, “If you knew what happened to your votes, you would really be drugged!”

I said, “Well, you’re black, tell us what happened.”

“No, no, I’m not gonna mess up my job.” And, of course, he wouldn’t tell.

The FNP had challengers at the precinct, but Dunbar worked down at headquarters, at the Clerks office, where the votes would come in.  I don’t know if we could have had somebody down there we didn’t.  The votes came there from all over the state.  There were Flint votes and Grand Rapids and…I remember that night they reported so many votes for the Freedom Now Party, on the radio, and we figured out that it was 5%, which means you get on the ballot next year without getting the petitions.  The next morning they said we didn’t have 1/2 of a percent.

Kristin:  Did the Freedom Now Party just go to pieces after that?

Henry: Yes.  After that it generally fell to pieces.  I think it finally dawned on everybody, like it dawned on me with the court case, we aren’t going to do anything quoting law here. Like Lani Guiner.  She said something with a whole lot of sense to it, you know, and they act like she’s crazy.

For another post – The Freedom Now Party Convention.

To read more about Lani Guinier and the 1993 controversy read “‘Quota Queen’ or Misquoted Queen?”.