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This is the 11th in a series of programs and titled seeds of discontent. Presenting the program tonight is hard for Smith Jr. assistant professor in the School of Social Work Wayne State University. PROFESSOR SMITH On our last two programs we have looked at the world of entertainment as it applies to the American Negro. This was done as an extension of three preceding programs dealing with the historical perspectives on the problems of the negro and American society as has been pointed out history has not been a severe with some negroes as with others. And as a result reactions to the world whether through the mass media or the street will be different in many respects. In many respects however there will be similarities and threads of common reference. In any event one must confront and communicate with Negroes from various walks of life in order to achieve some minimal understanding of the problems of the negro and American society. Our starting point and looking at the problems of the negroes from various walks of life was a field of entertainment. We started with entertainment because of the following reasons.
The degree to which it appeared that Negroes had established themselves solidly. The number of established performers within the field the frequency with which the entertainment field in popular reporting is held out as a symbol of hope for aspiring young negro performers locked in ghettos throughout the country. And finally the frequency with which the entertainment field is set to provide a better opportunity structure for Negroes in general. And discussions with Odetta and Leslie grow not to established performers and the folk music and jazz feel there is strong reason to assume that while the field of entertainment has been a little more favorable to the American Negro a psychological our credibility gap still exists between the negro as a performer and the negro as a man as a social being at times racial characteristics are more important than talent. There are discrepancies between salaries paid. There are restrictions placed on how many can
succeed at any one period of time for reasons other than talent and contribution to the field. And American society. Although less flagrant there are still problems in the area of public accommodations unless one has the money to travel first class. And finally the structure of the field itself places restrictions on an aspiring young negro from the slums unless he has a sound understanding of the economics and legal aspects of the business which of course has to be provided by an ill staffed poorly geared school program and a ghetto neighborhood. And a very real sense them in the field of entertainment will still continue to be a source of frustration and discontent for many Negroes still at the bottom. Tonight we're going to move outside the field of entertainment and have the entertainer look at the problems of the negro in the larger society. This perspective is important for several reasons. The negro performer and his travels through various communities
is exposed to the attitudes reactions and feelings of the total society. The negro performer who makes it big generally has a creative capacity for looking at problems which go beyond the confines of the performing arts. The negro performer usually lives in many worlds the least of which is the constant seeking out the constant adulation and expressions of feelings by fans throughout the U.S. and they have a lot of Negro fans. Let's listen. As leading folk artist Odetta professional bass is Leslie Granada and comedian social critic Dick Gregory discuss the problems of the American Negro and American society. We will start with Dick Gregory statements about causation. We need a system that would mandate a system you get revoked. So this is what it is we want to kill the right man to assist in a way to be close to him shut up and eat you don't kill him or we'll get millions.
But that doesn't like learning in its own. System. We don't want we going to get rid of it. Please get rid of us which is totally impossible. The tech right cop in our neighborhood are we so hostile Wisner his two uniformed officers just because it's the right cut man put out a tyrant but a doctor's begging is heaven to be no hostility there. And so consequently you know you read American history where we talked about the. British was probably your red coat. And so one day so why do you allege that the blue clothes are the same connotation to get over that the red coated to your founding father Minott a British soldier took off that red uniform and put the same suit on George Washington was when nobody knew different because all of the British. System that we have. And defining the system many experts are focused on jobs and education as a
basic cause of the problem. Mr Gregory was asked what he thought about the various citizen groups that have attempted to deal with the problems of education and jobs in ghetto communities. I think it's a that's good. It's not without problems. He was then asked what would solve the problem. To go in and read a constitution right and go in and. Give this man Total Freedom. Oh equality under the Constitution. She give me a job move me out to ghettos. That makes. Certain people feel good that I'm doing for black people. Because if I went to Vietnam night. And got killed this government would give my black wife $10000 as an insult and that's all I'm worth. So he's a token. And she can take that $10000 I'm buying a house in a neighborhood she won't want to and. You know.
We worry about these insects and little John. Jumping on. The fact that in 1942 when I was 10 years old. Had my daddy been killed by German in World War Two in for it too. In 1970 I'm 35 and I was mean I had a German killed my dad in 42 I would've gone 25 years without a daddy. And that same German I would kill my dad in 40 to come that is country and goes and comes and live in place where I can't live with it we'll burn this damn country down. Graham. Says that single we don't want him win so that's what we're talking about. Russian exchange students come to this country I have no problem finding housing in these races college towns he didn't come here to be a citizen. I'm here as a Russian as a communist. Exchange student. No problem finding housing. Star means daughter didn't have to get no special low pay at live make go to white folks. As well this is what I added to it just like a farmer. The dumbest family were knows better
than to go out and plant his corn in a field that littered with weeds. Here go and pull the weeds out. Of. Here burning down. There. I don't think black kids as my crop and Americans my wife and. I got to play them one day. I can't keep them too long. And I think I got the same respect for live human beings that a format for Cohen. And I don't have no life in and be implanted to be 8. And he wouldn't play in his corn in the field weeds out in Atlanta here in the four. Hundred leagues. He was asked if the problems in the north were as bad as in the south. Worse than you know as we lie about it and no i didn't we play with it and so and I'm not that have affected Lightfoot mentally with in the south are affected by folks physically. And the time you affect a man mentally. Chance to tell you how it's done. As has been the honest innocent.
Maylon mistakes he gave was not only a black school but he was a black principal so 5 years old I got to see like folks in authority of not you never see black reasoning. And he knows he feeds me and. You know we know he steals from me and of knowledge. He worries about maybe and only leaves. And he worries about me being dirty. And depreciated broccoli. And it's very interesting because we are Hitler Hitler in his country and Hitler had a lot of brilliant intellectual rich Jews and a thousand chasing camp in a time he were up as guard Jason camp and the Jews I was taken in dirty had enough sense to know he got 500 cats in the area before five peoples that he's going to be that way. And is saving in the urban cities today. And rock's. Population per acre in Los Angeles is 7.5 people break in Watts is twenty seven point nine people so you damn right I'm dirty and he knew every step in life if he got the gun that was a guy that twenty seven and
a half with. If you send me the same amount of street cleaners per acre you use of. I get the same amount of garbage collectors for twenty seven point nine people for regular white folks half a 7.5. So not only are we have garbage on the ground one day you're going to God it will be in your backyard. And he's only know I mean it was reversed. You took the country is not reversed didn't put them white people per acre wallah just I'm a broker a good wife would be dearly love him not to do with a color. Like the babies you know the wealthy people that all the baby doctors like Dr. Spock tied up who don't need a relic of the their wife was in good physical shape and chances Some happens with a baby is so needy and the poor people in the ghetto that need to baby doctors and it would social nurse. And it should be reverse you know the social nurse should be able to heal Woodridge Baldwin chances nothing would happen and a billion baby doctors should be dying to get a woman baby sit down every hour until until we realize that.
All of these attitudes he did. And the Negro is not embarrassed him about things he used to be embarrassed. Their. Education Don't embarrass me. Because we in Vietnam. Committed to freedom at the knees and nobody cares about it educational background and if you don't care what he's been arguing about. He's a problem. Not a problem of black against white supremacy right against wrong that is beginning to swing more and more to me. Mr Dick Gregory and his reflections on the causes of the problems of the Negro in American society and the following dialogue we turn to Mr Leslie bases for Odetta and a longtime jazz performer. He studied music at the New York School of Music and was later a member of a group of performers sent to Asia on a goodwill tour by the Department of State. These are his reflections.
You must have seen a number of communities in the last several years. Perhaps during the time that are recent to one disturbance of riots or rebellions there and doesn't seem to be unanimity on the exactly what they were. But I wondered in travelling into various communities what impressions do you have of both from the point of view of causation and how people are feeling about it now. Oh the biggest feeling I get from it I've heard is that. Everybody is tired of the jive you know and I mean everybody is tired of what obviously is a pretty on a oh well we don't want you to ride we don't want you to be deprived of living proper limited accommodations over and nobody does anything. And I mean this is
true in many areas the kids have a television. Television has informed everybody of what's going on all over the country and all over the world and not only here I remember when we played a concert in Watts We were out in Los Angeles a few months ago. Well the snow was right after the riots. And I purposely wanted to to go into that area and to know only see what was going on but but you see I am a firm believer in. In the in the possible benefits of music as applied as is therapy and and in all sorts of situations of tension and of course a lot of the one of the biggest results has come out of a watch is that there are more places now kids can go to learn how to play in Paignton and do things like that. But I we played this concert at this community center that had been set up and it was just great. You know it was just a fantastic
ovation these are the people that never get to come to our concerts or to a club where we play and after the concert I went down to a little bar down the street I want to get a beer and I had a young lady with me and we came out of the bar. And young fellows about six some were standing outside. You know they saw saw me come out and she come out in neighborhoods where you know see here and what I'm saying here girl coming out of her you know good this man woman. He said ok brother. OK. You know so you need you need to do the things. Share things together that reduced this level of fear and tension. You know like if if I didn't say anything to him or if he didn't think that I wasn't afraid of him a little bit first of all he winna said nothing to the girl if he didn't think that about me.
So until and till I let him know in no uncertain terms that I'm a man and I'm beginning you and I'll rock you up if you get wrong not because I hate you but you're getting all wrong now and I think that's what we need I think more entertainers and musicians and artists should go into these communities with mixed groups function together on music and so what not preaching this and that just play the music and lunching together and be strong. You know we played a high school in Detroit the other day is the same have a tutor the kids have that same little strength you know. My little niece was here yesterday and she looked at a friend of mine it was here Jerry's got along here she's 11. She says Why do you wear your hair like that. He said well cause I like it is when you wear your hair like that actually when I'm a girl. So the kids are aware of different things and like when they
when she comes to being around what our society is A is A is A. There's not a split society but it is composed of people of all races and I think that's what is important you can separate all we want to but we have to in the final analysis in my opinion be able to bloom understand and work with not only white people but. As we say white but every type of person that we might come in contact. Do you feel that the national mood again looking at the various communities that you have been throughout this country do you feel that the saying which we call the national movement or the the redness or in this sense of commitment do you think it's really big or do you think America is finally ready to look at its racial problem realistically. I am prepared to do something about I'm afraid about this to be
honest I'm afraid. Personally I'm afraid I'll say this. Many of us are many of us you and I and people we know and many other people that could be of some help are ready to. We've already looked at the situation we also have some ideas about what possibly could help. But on the national level. Maybe yes but because the high school we played yesterday is an example of a fairly endowed high school that really is trying to try out some of these ideas and you and I both know should have been used in schools all along and maybe it's a drop in the bucket. But I think being in Australia helped me understand a little bit about some of this is that there's there's been a lack of understanding of what people need as opposed to what they want. And a lot more has to be done in this area of
communications we have to get this money thing straightened out. We have to get this labor thing straightened out. People have to be able to earn earn some money and in a meaningful way and they have to be able to learn how to. To make money with their hands not because I mean I don't really believe in this thing because you know because I hate the psychology for her child to get well because I'm black I'm handicapped and they should give me some money because I can't make it in the world. That's just not true. And that's why I'm always glad to go to these communities and to try to show that there are many ways you can learn if you talent into a place of music that will help a little bit. But even if you get this talent you have to become increasingly aware of the world about you. You have to become more aware of the economic structure of your country first of all which will explain an awful lot and your community and then your own personal like you have to do with your family and I have to do with my family and I think more things
in this area and are closer to working on a on a less academic level. I don't know. I went to the Job Corps. We did some of those and it's such a sad sad thing that I feel because I realized that they were just so out of pre-induction center you know for the guys that were not old enough to be drafted who are potentially troublemakers on the street. But it's like going in I've been in the Army and I don't really recommend it you know except even the army could be a beneficial experience for a young man if you didn't have to face the possibility of being sent off somewhere to die for something he doesn't understand. So I think we have to get to those areas I think who they're going to they're going to have some of these Vietnamese thing the government has put her question. And then they're going to have to settle. These situations like in Detroit never been and exists everywhere everywhere.
Uptown in Harlem is the same the same feeling and they're getting you know when you get that blind thing like a couple of guys got killed last night. Understand. And you know that's getting pretty far out there because like nobody there are bigoted people there are people who would always hate negroes and so forth and so on. But there are millions of people also who who just sort of floundering around acting like they are you know and that that dialogue has to be set up. Things have to be. That's why I believe in music can teach so much music and art and things with light and that's what I'd like to see him spend some money and let some of us that that do have something to say and have and have are willing to take some time and do it to try to work on some programs that can reach all of these kids to young people. I'm concerned about. And they can be reached on so many levels and they can teach us so much because we really don't know
whether. Oh you know we don't know how they're thinking. We don't know what was in a kid's mind when you know they see these two men in a car and want to shoot both of them and run away. You know didn't do anything to them. But that's another psychology that takes a lot of understanding on our part and there's no way for us to find out about it and we talk with him and that's sort of the way I feel about that overall situation. Although the reflections of Mr. Graham are somewhat different than those of Mr. GREGORY. There are many common reference point dishonesty and justice. And I need for some basic economic social an attitude change were listed by both as being basic causation factors. The major difference in their reflections I sighed from the degree of anger and emotion expressed is Mr. Gregory's emphasis on him salts and their relationship to the present mood of anger
and rebellion. Let's move from Mr. Graham Mr. Gregory to your dad to the outstanding Negro folk artist and get her reflections with sit ins demonstrations and marches have also has also come these subtle areas of recognition on our part of ourselves and how how we've swallowed so much along the line. I call it a mess. And there are before that there was the civil rights movement period. You know and then it had to be branching off of different civil rights movements and with that within it all the recognition of what we've been living in and what we have accepted and working on
working these things out of us you know. As an entertainer Irving you have been in touch with a number of people throughout the country and a number of different communities. I wonder if he would just briefly back over the last few might in view of what happened this past summer and just try to give us some impressions of what you say what you felt and what all of this play. My viewpoint my work my vantage point is one which has come out of actually the field of music that I work in. And because with that with working in the folk music I was also reading history history that we didn't get
when we were in school. I would like desperately to work in the area of love. I His very difficult awful lot of the time. I mean I feel. That if we in our work could. Say to. Who ever would be listening. To there is glory in you and the glow is that when there is glory at me it was who could sort of recognize ourselves. Then we would have to put anybody else down in order to stand tall now. I'd like to work who lives in me. I know that that's impractical with man.
It just doesn't work all the time. When I heard we were in Japan when I heard about the pot boiling over here. And the news was very sketchy you know. Even so it wasn't difficult at all to say yes I have course the pot boiled over it seems. Which is a negative thing that I just wouldn't it not be but it seems that before anything is done some heavy thrust must come along before anything is done. You know because I want things better then I must say hey I I see why these things do happen.
I see that there is nothing being done here peacefully coexist thing. Well the big dramatic things you know being done. But I do wish that there was some way to get say this committee that Johnson formed. The riots so-called riots. That he would have called together the men and that the newspapers and he was busy claiming cause the riots. It really is an insult you know. I mean how in the world. Out in the world can't anybody think of a whole community is so flexible and pliable that they would they would riot with no
reason except that someone stepped there and said riot. But they don't somehow or other don't dare think that there's a reason you don't want to hear it. So they call. All these successful businessmen and one business or another. I have no connection with people walking the street. No closer than he said. And they're supposed to search out to pieces. I don't know how many pots it got a big blue the white man's logic just comes into play. Reflections from the top on the problem of the Negro in American society. Mr. Gregory takes the position of a revolutionary. Mr. Graham takes the position of a coup professional O'Dowd ranges between the two poles throughout the combined dialogue however is the constant
expression of disenchantment with the dream never fully realized. If this is symptomatic of the feeling of Negroes at the top then the feelings of negroes not so high on the status list can be better understood. His disenchantment and anger must be ten fold. In coming weeks we hope to capture more attitudes and feelings of various negroes from many walks of life and an attempt to more completely understand and dissect the many facets of the problem of the American Negro. You have just heard Harvard Smith Jr. assistant professor in the School of Social Work Wayne State University. Seeds of discontent is produced by David Lewis and engineered by Dave Pierce this is Wayne State University Radio. This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
Seeds of discontent
Episode Number
Episode 11 of 26
Producing Organization
Wayne State University
WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
For series info, see Item 3313 and 3314. This prog.: Problems of the Negro in general society are discussed by Odetta, Leslie Grinage and Dick Gregory.
Social Issues
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Producing Organization: Wayne State University
Producing Organization: WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-15-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:57
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Chicago: “Seeds of discontent; Episode 11 of 26,” 1968-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 2, 2024,
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APA: Seeds of discontent; Episode 11 of 26. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from