Written Word: A Form of Political Expression

George Spivey and the other men of the Afro-Am started a publication called Blackout, a magazine composed of poems that artistically showcase the Black struggle. George worked behind the scenes on the first issue but presented his poem, “For Non-Blacks Only," in issue 2. During our interview, Brother Spivey emotionally conveyed his love for poetry and for expressing oneself through writing. In his early years, George was able to recite poems like they were his phone number. It deeply saddens him now that he isn’t able to do so anymore, but he makes a point to encourage children to express themselves through writing.

In his poem, George mentions the famous Wallace Affair. The Wallace Affair refers to the 1967 visit to Dartmouth by George Wallace, the governor of Alabama and outspoken supporter of racial segregation. During his inauguration as governor in 1963, in a state building, he said, "Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!" In 1967, the second time Wallace appeared at Dartmouth, he had gained support from racist whites in the north who were also opposed to the civil rights movement. Due to Wallace's outlandish beliefs and confidence in them, many students reacted with rage, and the rage physically drove him out. Mentioning this event, even today, still carries an impact years later.

When I quote George's work, or even mention the title of the poem, he is unsure of where I am getting such powerful and meaningful pieces of text. In this poem, George presents the Wallace Affair as a gut-wrenching and campus-dividing event. But when asked about the event now, in 2023, he views it as something positive that happened for the betterment of the Black community. He speaks about the protest while smiling and laughing and explaining how everything happened the way it needed to. This is in contrast to other Dartmouth Black Lives narrators, who recall that the Wallace Affair had bad connotations in their college years and, over 40 years later, they still feel the same way. They aren’t laughing, smiling, or finding the good in it; they look back and remember their feelings in that exact moment in 1967. Take Robert Bennett’s (‘69) interview, for example. He recalls the event in a negative way, and, as he tells the story, one can almost imagine going through such horrors. His tone of voice gives a sense of some intense emotion. George's writing likewise conveys the impact of the Wallace Affair and, despite age impacting his memory, the message is still powerful.