Comment on a minority; John Buggs
Comments on the minority and how has the negro fared in the Los Angeles area in comparison with other parts of the country. I think in general we might say that the negro finds perhaps less resistance to his participation in the pool in the mainstream of community life then perhaps he does in some of the great metropolitan centers of the East. And I watched as I did Mr. John books like executive director of the county of Los Angeles Committee on Human Relations that the need Mr. Boggs was a man who has had broad experience in the field of race relations when I was a teacher as well as a social worker in both the South and the West too but if I had today's comments on a minority of people that are taken from a longer interview recorded with Mr. Lopez in his Los Angeles office I believe our main topic the position of the negro in the unusual city of Los Angeles. Neighborhood attitudes have not crystallized as they have in the older communities in Chicago in
Philadelphia in Detroit in New York and for this reason. Since it is a largely an area in which all of the persons of migrants such attitudes as we find in the east that result in some of the serious conflict situations but haven't materialized to the same extent. I would say however that we are seeing develop in Los Angeles County today and many more tension situations than we saw even a year ago. Would you care to expand on those pension situations what sort of country and situations situations particularly evolving around the movement of negroes into neighborhoods from which they had been previously restricted. Most of the incidents that have come to our attention through the various police forces and in the county relate to tension situations developing in communities from which Negroes have been excluded but are now appealing. And this is happening not only in the city of Los Angeles but particularly in the
suburbs. In addition we are seeing tension situations develop on the juvenile level between particularly negroes and Mexican-Americans particularly in those areas in which the Negro is supplanting the Mexican-American in terms of population. The negro In other words has been restricted here to residential to certain areas. Oh yes and historically the negro lived in the city of Los Angeles on the east side of town just after the Supreme Court's decision with respect to the restrictive covenants. Negroes began expanding through the central part of the city and now extend entirely through the central part of the city almost the entire breadth of the city of Los Angeles. But there has not been too much expansion except on the periphery of those areas to which he had been historically confined. The national picture seems to be that when the negro moves out of what has been
traditionally a negro neighborhood into another neighborhood that this is shortly thereafter followed by an exodus of the people that originally were in the neighborhood and this neighborhood becomes. Again a negro neighborhood is that the pattern here too. I would say in the central part of the city this has been the pattern. I don't think it's a pattern in many of the suburban areas. If you Negro families have moved in the West Valley area for example in Los Angeles which is in the San Fernando Valley and the east San Gabriel Valley where a few Negro people have recently been living I doubt that this kind of expansion will take place or that this kind of exodus will take place because there are not enough negroes interested in moving that far away from the central part of the city where the negro who can't afford to pay the price can pretty well move into almost any neighborhood he wants to know at his own peril. And here again it's difficult to prognosticate tension situations will or will not develop. We have known of negroes moving into some suburban areas
in which we expected a great deal of tension to develop and it did not occur in other instances. Negroes have moved in the years where we felt there would be no problem and problems have developed. Well how about employment opportunities for the Negro in Los Angeles. Of course the problems in the city of Los Angeles and in the state of California for that matter agents is active in the field of human relations have for more than 10 years been attempting to secure employment practices law in the state and on the local level. This is met with no success until recently as you may know in San Francisco and in Bakersfield. Here in Los Angeles there is no such law. In general I would think that a great deal of progress is being made in the matter of unemployment as it relates to numbers of minority groups particularly the Negro but I still think we have a long way to go. One indication of this is the fact that there are some departments of county government in the county of Los Angeles and which
almost half and perhaps in some cases more than half of all of the clerical help is Negro. This would seem to indicate that the avenues of private employment are closed. And so those persons who are qualified for clerical in stenographic positions find that they can get these opportunities only in civil service. They have as much competition for jobs there as they might have and other areas this seems a little incredible to me that almost 50 percent of the clerical help and some of these county offices say should be negro. I was a possible but I don't think there is the competition. The salaries for public employees are not always as high as those in private industry. I would hazard a guess that in most instances salaries for Coughlin stenographic employees and private industry are higher than they are in civil service jobs.
Well let us go on and talk about the county of Los Angeles Committee on Human Relations. What is it. When was it formed what does it do. Start with when was it for the County Committee on Human Relations was founded in 1944 and if I'm not mistaken it was the second such official committee establishment's the United States I believe the Chicago mayor's commission preceded the establishment of this one. Why was it for. It grew out of the Zoot Suit Riots that took place in Los Angeles in 1944 you may recall the conflict situations that developed between Marines that were stationed here at that time and Mexican-Americans at both the zoot suits so-called At that time the County Board of Supervisors felt that county government had a responsibility in the area of human relations particularly as it related to conflict and tension. And they established this committee for the purpose of working in that you know you have tension tension and conflict in order that they might develop a program looking toward the elimination of the original name of the committee
was the County Committee on interracial progress. The county board of supervisors felt that the Zoot Suit Riots were simply a symptom of generational conflict. Regardless of the particular identity racial identity of the group that happened to have been involved in those incidents at that time and specifically what are the activities of the county of Los Angeles Committee on Human Relations perhaps the largest part of our program is working in the field of community organization. Our feeling as a committee is that problems of human relations particularly the elimination of tension and conflict and the development of understanding and appreciation on the part of one group by another. Is actually the function of community people people that live in the community. I doubt that a professional in the field of human relations has ever solved a human relations problem except of course in terms of promotion of legislation such as for employment practices laws in which professionals are extremely active after last few years that a
professional in this field should serve somewhat in the capacity of a catalytic agent. To this. And then our responsibility is that of developing in the communities throughout Los Angeles County Human Relations Committees composed largely of lay people who will assume the responsibility for what happens in their own community as human relations wise. These groups of people are responsible for identifying problems of tension conflict discrimination and segregation in their own communities and working along with the professional help supplied by the US office to develop techniques procedures and methods looking toward the elimination of these negative aspects of human relations. As I understand it this is not the only organization working in this area and the area of race relations in Los Angeles would you mind telling us a little bit about some of the other groups. Oh by no means we have in Los Angeles I think a pattern that we are extremely proud of and that has perhaps seen a greater
measure of development here than perhaps any other place in the country. You may have heard of the Los Angeles County conference on community relations. This is an agency composed of 60 organizations and agencies that are active either as a primary because of a primary interest in the field of human relations are some tangential interest. All of these agencies have come together to form the county conference on community relations County conference as a coordination clearance and referral agency for its 60 members. These numbers consist of such groups as the Anti-Defamation League the American Jewish Committee the American Jewish Congress the NWC PRI the Urban League the Fellowship of Reconciliation the Congress of Racial Equality various church and civic groups that have an interest in the field of human relations labor organizations practically any group that you might think of in any other place that has expressed an interest in this field goals number ship and county conference and staff wise we all work together
attempting to do together those things that are best done together and referring to each other. Those things that are best done separately frankly how effective do you think these groups are. The most difficult single thing we face is to evaluate our own efforts. This is extremely difficult and I am often asked this question with respect to our own agency and I perhaps ought to speak only for our own agency. This is extremely difficult. Education is a long hard civil process and one is not always sure that he's going forward instead of backward. I would say this though that one criterion that we might use in terms of the evaluation of our own educational program might relate to the number of people that we are able to interest in a problem of human relations. Three or four years ago we could count these people in terms of tens or twenties. Today the
situation is quite different. There are many many more people at least willing to sit and listen and to discuss problems of human relations and we've ever had before in this county and we are finding an increasing number of individuals that are willing to involve themselves at a community level and to take a stand and to commit themselves to a positive program seeking to eliminate some of the more obvious aspects of discrimination and segregation and poor human relations in the communities for which they feel some responsibility. We for example four years ago had about six communities in which we had been able to organize human relations committees on the local level. We now have more than 30. We have some of these committees that have memberships of as much as 150 people. Now this to me is progress. Another indication is perhaps the acceptability on the part of the community of our program. Prior to six months ago we had knocked on the doors of service clubs for an opportunity to be programmed in
the field of human relations before them without too much success. Service clubs such as Rotarians. That's correct. Conus exchange clubs 20 30 clubs etc.. Today our own office has so many calls for speakers to come here and talk with these men about problems in the field of human relations if we are unable to fill them. We've had to limit our staff to 12 such engagements a month less than they do interesting. What would you say was your bugs. Was that one of the greatest limitation or greatest problems the negro faces in the Los Angeles area. I don't think there's any question but what housing is the great unsolved problem as it relates to the negro. I have a few statistics that would probably be interesting to you. Recently the Los Angeles City Planning Commission released a set of statistics with relation to the increase in population in certain communities in the city of Los Angeles and at the same time they released statistics with respect to the increase in housing in those
same areas. In those areas in the county in the city rather that have a high concentration of minority group peoples particularly negroes and Mexican-Americans living in them. We discover that the ratio of new people not increase to new housing between February of 1056 and up top of 1957 were as follows. In one community 12 additional people for every additional House made available in one community fourteen hundred ninety one people were added to the population and they lost 50 housing units because of the encroachment of industry. In another community 31 people for every additional home in another 44 for every additional home. Now these are in areas that have been historically negro areas or Mexican-American areas. If we contrast that with communities from which negroes are effectively excluded by a great variety of devices we discover that doing the same period of time the ratio of homes to increased
population would be in one community one point four homes for every additional price and in another the ratio was one to two one another one to one point five and so forth. I might point out also that in these areas of high minority group concentration in which we see concentration and overcrowding are continuing at a rapid rate. These are already the most overcrowded areas in the city of Los Angeles. So what we see developing something that we've never had before and Los Angeles did it and that is the development of an overcrowded situation that will result in storms the likes of which we haven't had in the West which the east has been crying about for so many years. This is inevitable and it seems to me will result in increased Crime and Delinquency and which will of course call for increased social services police protection probation services and an increase in taxes. What I notice from information I have here is that at one time you were a member of the Southern Regional Council is that correct.
Yes I was a member of the Southern Regional Council I was also cochairman of the Florida State Committee on school integration I was an unpaid executive secretary of an end of a branch in my own County Florida. Perhaps the distinction of being the first one of the face Negroes to register as a Democrat in the state of Florida back in 1946. In other words your experience then close the experience of being a negro in the south and then coming out here and being a negro in Los Angeles. I mean that there's what would you say were the primary differences and existence for the Negro in these two areas. Well in terms of the problems that one meets I would say that the differences in degree rather than in kind except for the fact that in a place like Los Angeles you know that at the very least the law as written on the books is against
certain aspects of segregation and discrimination which is of course not true in the south. I feel that certainly a negro has an opportunity for a greater measure of advancement and participation in the mainstream of community life to a much greater extent than is true in the south. But on the other hand the Negro has the dubious value in the south of knowing what is what. Well he can go and well he can't go and he can choose his own place to fight this kind of discrimination or segregation in a place like Los Angeles you're never quite sure. There are still many instances in the city in which a Negro would be denied service in a place of public accommodation even though the law states that this is illegal. What I'm trying to say is that there is a tenuousness about life in a place like Los Angeles for the negro particularly one who has lived in the south and is perhaps basically
suspicious and concerned about being embarrassed. There's a certain tenuousness in living here that you don't find in the south. I think that one of the important aspects of human relations in the Los Angeles area is related to the number of crackpot organizations of a bigoted nature that we have in this community. I don't believe that we have any other place in the country such a gathering of such organizations as we have here. As you may know the John Doe case no organization has its headquarters here and Glenn Dail the American nationalist organization had it has its headquarters here in Inglewood. Such persons as Frank Britton and John Howard K. Smith and several other individuals who are nationally known as the hate mongers. Have headquarters in this area. This means of course that there are perhaps more individuals actively opposed to the Promotion of Positive human relations
than you perhaps would find in most places the size we have had in the last year or so. Speeches given by John Howard K. Smith at places and Los Angeles that have resulted in a most unhappy kind of attitude being developed on the part of the youth of schools recently no less than a dozen cyclists have been sent to our office from schools such circular as having been directed to student groups particularly the high school social clubs by bigoted organizations such as the American nationalist that are seeking to co-locate in the youth of the community. An attitude that would prevent them from thinking in positive terms about the problem of integration. We have to fight I think to a finite or extent than is perhaps true in most places throughout the country. How do you go about fighting that. It's a difficult thing to fight for the reason that you give space to such an organization
if you recognize them and view them as as an opponent so to speak. We have in a sense taken the position that such organizations expounding such un-American causes are not worthy of consideration in terms of of our making an effort to do anything about it rightly. We do however advise people for example that if any of that comes addressed to a school organization that does not have a return address on it they perhaps ought to look into it and see what comes from Auden out of this is a procedure that is used. I think that perhaps the best thing we can do in terms of what's happening in some of the schools is to keep the officials of the schools advised and to let them take whatever steps they feel necessary to weed out this kind of propaganda coming to the attention of their students. There are many people who feel that the crime rate among Negroes is higher than among other groups in our population. There are
other people who say that you know this is not so. That reason seems that there's a higher crime rate is because the negroes discriminated against by the police department. Mr. Baggs What do you have to say about the crime rate among Negroes. Well I think in the first place that there is some justification for saying that Negroes perhaps are booked on suspicion more frequently than are persons of the Caucasian group and that there was perhaps greater attention paid to illegal activity on the part of negroes in negro areas by the police than would be true in other communities. At the same time I think there may be something to be said for the fact that the crime rate among Negroes both adults and juveniles is perhaps higher. I know that I worked in Los Angeles County as a probation officer when I first came to this county and
I was particularly concerned about the large percentage much larger than the proportion of negroes in the general population that were brought before the courts and that were guilty of the perpetuation of certain kinds of criminal activity. The probation officer of Los Angeles County for example said a few weeks ago that approximately 40 percent of the population of juvenile hall consists of negroes and Mexican-Americans even though this group represents less than 20 percent of the county's population. This is a significant statistic here we're doing a low level of juvenile delinquency would you like your question. Yes we've been concerned about the relationship that exists between the human relations and juvenile delinquency and to this end we've done a little research to determine what some of the outstanding sociologist in the nation say with respect to the relationship between these two aspects of society. Doctor cried daughter of the University of Florida for example stated that cultural inferiority
economic pressure and racial antagonism play as important a part in negro child link once as they do in adult crime. Other sociologists have indicated the delinquent status still appears to be a function of minority group rejection. He states that the focus has shifted today from the native born children of European immigrants as in the first three decades of the century. The children of our negro Puerto Rican and Mexican artist I don't think there's any question but what human relations all aspects of segregation and discrimination develop antagonisms fears vindictiveness on the part of the Negro youth that find expression in delinquent behavior on their part. Not only is this true but we also I think need to recognize the fact that. Delinquency as it relates to this whole matter of human relations forms a very good basis upon which conflict situations can take place so far as juveniles as we have been plagued
here in Los Angeles County with interracial incidents existing between Negro and Mexican Americans so that it just isn't negro white but it can be even between minority groups and cells because of the fight for survival all of the. Other belief on the part of one group that there is a necessity for gaining a standard particularly in terms of neighborhoods where Negroes are at the present time displacing Mexican Americans. Do you think that this is expanded. It would seem to be very logical that this is extended to the adult level of crime to you or this. Yes I don't think as overtly as would be true on the juvenile level. I think we can very definitely in many instances in Los Angeles County point to the fact that certain gang fights and delinquent behavior on the part of Negro you go directly out of. Into racial tension and conflict. I'm
not so sure that we could document this is successful as it relates to adult crime. On the other hand I'm equally sure that negro adults who because of a feeling of rejection gained over a long period of time react in this most unhappy fashion as a means of striking back against an unseen force. When you started quoting sociologists. This topic of juvenile delinquency delinquency and poor race relations would you like to run with it. Well we have been trying to determine for our own use here on our committee what actually the relationship is between delinquency crime and poor human relations. And to that end we wrote to several sociologist Dr. Milton Barron associate professor of sociology and anthropology at New York City College and writing to us on this not as satisfied as long as we adults insist on segregated ethnic patterns of housing. And there is tension between neighborhoods in terms of fear of
invasion and succession or because of resentment resulting from exclusion. Boys will reflect these adult fears and resentments expressing them in racial religious and nationality gang fights such as occur on the boundary lines or into situ areas between neighborhoods. Further than this we conducted a survey of one thousand fifty five. Among probation officers in the Los Angeles County Probation Department in an attempt to determine what they as probation officers felt existed in terms of this relationship in the juveniles for which they have supervisory responsibility. We discovered that 66 percent of all the juvenile probation officers answering this question asked they did that they saw evidences of intergroup tension between the young adults and juveniles in the areas in which they worked. Forty eight percent of the officers indicated that such attention was exemplified through interracial gang fights. Seventy six percent pointed to the fact that they had picked up expressions of attitudes of hate and hostility
as indicative of intergroup tension in the areas in which they worked and 77 percent indicated that conflict at school between the various ethnic groups was indicative of deep seated hostility existing between them. One thing that has impressed me in my travels around the country and speaking with. The Negro leaders is the general attitude of pacifism. I have rarely detected a sense of militancy a willingness on the negro to become violent if necessary. How do you feel about a search about this situation. Probably surprise you. I don't believe that the pacifism that you see actually is the pacifism that the people home. There has been
a discussion as to the efficacy of the use of pacifism as a technique for gaining privileges of citizenship and inclusion and community life in places like the South. There are those individuals who as a matter of principle believe in the Gandhi approach to this whole matter of the solution of a social problem. There are those who do not necessarily believe in it but believe that it is the most effective kind of technique that can be used at the present time for a great variety of reasons one might be the fact that the negro being in the minority and many communities of the South does not feel that he can win on a violent basis. I don't think the path of his and you talk about actually as a philosophy held on the part of the people I think rather it's a technique that has been proved workable in some areas. Thank you Mr bugs. You have been listening to comments on a minority presenting today
- Comment on a minority
- John Buggs
- Producing Organization
- Purdue University
- WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- In this program, John Buggs talks about African American life in Los Angeles, California.
- Other Description
- This series explores minority issues in the United States in the mid-20th century.
- Broadcast Date
- Social Issues
- African Americans--California--Los Angeles--History--20th century.
- Media type
Guest: Buggs, John
Interviewer: Thompson, Ben
Producer: Richter, E.W.
Producing Organization: Purdue University
Producing Organization: WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-51-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Comment on a minority; John Buggs,” 1960-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 12, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-707wqw60.
- MLA: “Comment on a minority; John Buggs.” 1960-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 12, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-707wqw60>.
- APA: Comment on a minority; John Buggs. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-707wqw60