Interview with Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D.
Q: When did you first encounter Nat Turner as a figure in history?
Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint: I knew about Nat Turner when I was a teenager because I used to attend left-wing summer camps in New York and New Jersey. They were interracial camps and very concerned about segregation and the oppression of black Americans. One of the historical figures they discussed, rightly, was Nat Turner and how he had been a leader of a rebellion against slavery in the nineteenth century.
The most important camp that taught me a great deal about black history in the United States was called Wochica, located in New Jersey about two and a half hours from New York City. Wochica stood for “workers' children's camp.” It was supported by left-of-center labor unions. A few organizers were people who were probably associated in one way or another with the Communist party. One of the causes they took on was the cause of black Americans and the fact that they were oppressed and that they were segregated in the United States. As part of that mission, they taught all the campers something about black history and about important people in the evolution and movement toward black freedom and liberation.
My father was in the American Federation of Labor Party. He was a printer. He was also chairman of the boys department at the YMCA in
Edited from an interview conducted for the documentary film entitled Nat Turner ˜ A Troublesome Property, produced and written by Frank Christopher and Kenneth S. Greenberg, directed by Charles Burnett.