Seeds of discontent; Episode 8 of 26
This is the eighth in a series of programs entitled 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 tonight seeds of discontent continues with its third part of this phase of programming which deals with the feelings the concerns and the plight of the American Negro. For those of you who were not able to listen to the first two parts of this subject let me briefly summarize. We have interviewed a number of older Negro men some of whom have lived in Detroit for upwards of 40 years. Some were truck drivers some barber some factory workers. One was a transportation supervisor. Two others were retirees. We have attempted to gain through their eyes and voices some kind of historical perspective on Negro life. It is our feeling that this kind of dialogue and perspective is most necessary if this country is ever going to come to grips with the problems of mass a discontent and to a degree rebellion. In part
one gentleman talked about why they came north as so many black Americans have done so since. Their reply was very simple. To get away from the oppressive system of the South. To find a better living and to find better jobs. The North represented hope. The north was the land of promise. The land of the promise however became a nightmare. As we listened last week to their discussions on red light districts the Negro community and riots. Many negroes were crowded into rundown dwellings and restricted from many vital aspects of social life and the larger society. Their communities which were created by force and racial restrictions became dumping grounds are playgrounds for vices which the larger society would not allow in its so called clean areas. Many negroes were viewed as criminals by police departments and were constantly harassed. Many were held in pockets of poverty and so it
was until the resentment level grew so high that it burst forth across the country and urban communities in the form of riots and rebellions in the land areas that had once been viewed as a gateway to greater self-realization and social betterment. Chicago New York L.A. Cleveland New York and finally Detroit. The voices on this third program will summarize the meaning of this existence for many negroes and their final reflections about the right. In a way their statements represent the thread between that history of degradation and the hopes of the future which they see in the young angry people around them. Once you get out of this area to refer to some current events we have here. I think this thing was basically I mean you hear
people say this was a race riot. Basically it wasn't a race riot. This was a matter of people wanting to face the facts and come up and say well I have got to be this I may as well make myself this that. And when I say this I mean is the name that we have to carry that somebody put out of somebody's brain missed by somebody take us with you know. Now you've got these same people can we use names and these tags on you. These same people are the one that will come in your neighborhood. Sell you food double prices. HUGE double part of whatever commodities you have they have they get they. Sell you double the price it should be there take it back in a bill in my home on the outskirts and suburban areas. And the first time they see you drive through and a car maybe you want to go through my rounds out there. First thing they do call police just like you feel for the bar in a place go right along with it. They never
stop to ask you. What your problem or anything like that they never try to find out what your problem is. They grab you sometimes drag you are you current hue children out you need beat you with a blackjack you argued for no good purpose. The fewer things in Missouri now are about the same as they were worsening terms of things you're talking about. Well figured less speaking I can say Speaking personally I've had more things to happen to me behind. Shall we say these current events that have never had happened before. Prince 11 drive now that my first Travis life in the city in 1932. And I've got more tickets in the last. Two three months than I did and the last. 10 or 12 years. I like to make this comment just last week. President Johnson was speaking at.
Well he's been makes me make many speeches at exactly where but in a way I was listening to the radio and one of the things that he dwelled on that the American people are getting tired. Of hooliganism and they're going to start doing something about it. I don't know whether you fellows heard it but I mean he made a big thing of the American people are getting tired of rioting and hoodlums. Them and the destruction he did not say didn't didn't make any sense if this is a general statement I'm going to say no. But we know because the white man says last summer so it's a riot. They have been making much to do about. It. And save it in the streets but the streets being unsafe and about about protests and about the police who has done this we know it's legal
you know. But now all of a sudden they're American people and when he said American people. We know that he was talking about the American white man because we know that there have been things that happened to Negro people in the south by the Ku Klux Klan. I have. Seen some things as I mentioned before being from Selma Alabama. I saw many things happen and you couldn't go to the police with them and mention this because if you did because of white painted it then you told the policeman about a year ago if you didn't get killed to begin with then you were just about it. So he's saying the American people are beginning to take over are they going to do something about it. But yet on the other hand they're American people didn't think about doing anything about any violence until we as negro started to do in some of the things that we're doing because of the weed treatment we have got.
The treatment that we have gotten over the years. Has for a minute the attitude we have. To make the things that we do youngsters are doing. I can't tell my daughter that I had a very. Good Childhood. I have children ever born in Detroit and when they were young I used to look at radio TV programs and my daughter said to me that if I can I go to that can't you take me there. But during the inception of TV when they had kids programs you go children can go you may apply and I did my particular try to get one in the unit where you just weren't invited. So the youngsters now are tired of that. If you if they can't get it they are going to go fight for something that is not realistic. And they rather die here and I can understand and I will I'm all in how I was made a gentleman his age. I'll be 57 years old very shortly.
But basically I have the same thinking that the youngsters have because I'm a girl and I can't separate my self from the Negro people. A matter of whether they are poor or whether they're rich because we as Negroes have undergone some of the same treatments. There's no way to get around it. It's amazing to me why the white man can't see. The fact. That in this nation twenty five or twenty million negroes who is a part who is a part of the total community can spend 100 years. Here after emancipation working with him around him seeing what he accumulates. Seeing what he enjoys. And yet. Not have the feeling that we. Will have the desire to have the same thing. It's amazing to me
how he can think we can continue to be satisfied with him enjoying all of these things. I mean we're human. We have a brain to see to think as as humans we have same desires illumine else. Now in the communities where as your neighbors we aren't really as a neighbors because we are in the same cities although we're not living next to each other in many places but we see how he lives. We happen to make his living. He's growing rich of our sweat. And then he thinks we're going to be satisfied just letting him have everything and not even giving us an opportunity to get an education so they will be prepared. To demand or to ask to accept this type of seat he's created a monster for himself. There's no one everyone knows looking solutions but there's no one solution because the thing
is to make have been the implications. It's not it's a monster that a lot of hears this boy and this reaching out in all directions he doesn't know which one to cut off first and it would make a difference which when he got out because the next was going to bite him and in business for a number of years and you've lived in Detroit now for for about how many years. For 25 years I wonder if you can just think back for a moment and just look back at. Life as you've lived in Detroit and maybe just tell us something about your experience in So. Many major problems if you care. And earning a living as a businessman or just living your life as as a free human being. What. Is businessman I have too much. Typical anymore than. Like I've heard members of us say with the biggest of my trouble would with white man's been with the police department I've had to be commanded.
To be was my place and I've never done one thing illegally in the business place. I've had him come in and want to search everybody I remember one incident back in the year of 1944 when operated by a Chaplain John Palmer Street and a very outstanding and prominent negro minister. And my barber shop police came in and handed one to stand up. And stick a hand all in their pockets. Has a dent in this mystery I don't remember his name offhand now but he happened to remember that he was a graduate of. University of Illinois. With all the letters behind his name that I think he possessed a. Ph.D. degree. So after he left. He wanted to know what kind of place. Was I running here so I told him and Sam run in a negro barber shop that's all I'm running
and. You as a community leader. I would think would would have been the first. To tell this man he was wrong when he wanted to stick his hand in everyone's pocket in the play. And it would come back as this exactly what I did I insisted they carry me down. After the finish meddling or looking around whatever they didn't find anything. So I. Put Miss Goucher and brought me to Goodwood station. So I was. Right on when they walked in. Now I don't know what he will bring him in here for saying well he resisted arrest. But I happen to be one a man and he was a very dark complection I. Have heard that he. Was Spanish or something to that effect. However he walked right up and spoke and said well no other man just said he was going to be searched. In his place and he came down. For us to Section here
in the station which I thought was probably. Not under so we'll take him on back there and search him so that's what he did. Right now so far as. My living. I've had. Police to meet me in the street. I've heard one fellow said back you and I've smelled the whiskey on the back. And I've had him catch me like late at night nobody on the street around. And I absolutely had to be was me to the extent that. I almost do something crazy you know. Like sticking my hand in my pocket and trying to provoke me into saying or doing anything. So that after I beat my brains out out the street but being from the south and knowing this type of fangs I mean I know if it does make a difference whether it's in Alabama with us and Charlie New York or where have you.
But now as for the riot. I think. I'm not a young fella but I believe that the thing that caused the riot in 1943 instead of the China one it caused a drug charge in 1967. I believe. As one feller said it's now awareness. I believe that we have as colored people have had no alternative than to tell our kids. The true facts of life today. And I think that they can very well see without a means of communication to do television and certainly in the more recent years things have been put in the papers for instance like the fellow in Mississippi who shot many gamers in the back and didn't do what de. To the Martin Luther King. Was trying to work for the benefit of everybody not only in the United States but throughout the
world to bring about some peace and he has to do five days. So that situation with Adam Clayton Powell in New York. Who is one of the pioneers in trying to do something for his people. That type of abuse that he got in Senator Dodd it ended white man didn't hesitate to put all of this and the paper. Sat in the back there years ago when we were afraid. I didn't know what way to go. There wasn't anything we could do about these things that happened to Paul Robeson and all our people that we respected. But. Suddenly young feller today he sees this and he's damn mad about it and so am I for that matter. I don't like to laugh never liked it. And I think that was with the one of the main things that
brought about these conditions is the very history hears here from all of people around barber shops and in the pool rooms in and seeing the man come in and abuse everyone and it's nothing new could do about it. For instance when I first came to Detroit I happened to be down on Hastings Street in a pool room one day she wouldn't gamble. Police came and searched everybody. So I know why you have to look at me and pass me up. And truthfully I was the fellow that was standing there so scared to death because I definitely had a weapon in my pocket but he didn't search me. So he asked me say I don't know what he hears and then after the pile of all these knives on the table and I see you don't. Know how would you feel. If constantly you went seeking employment. Like I happen to
know numerous of college fellows who went down up and down Jefferson Avenue Fourth Street and what have you. Asking for jobs. White man right behind him. Negro fell in front. We're not hiring today. Maybe the negro in the white fella been standing in the yard for two hours talking. To a white fella get a job and he has to go back. His family is home crying need new medical attention or what have you. All the essentials of life. How good then would you feel if you come back and the best you could do is try to hustle up a corner and hang in the pool room to try to make enough money to buy for your baby. How would you feel. So I mean this is the thing I think that more than anything else I don't more claim no be no authority on this but this is what my experience has taught me as a regular topic life for 25 years is and I have
seen this up and down Jefferson Avenue because a short span of my life I did work with the union. In a capacity as an organizer and I have been up and down Jefferson Avenue and know this same conditions existed in numerous other areas of city Detroit where they had smaller factories that employed. Up to a thousand 2000 people and many times I've had them to point when their representative charged them with discrimination to point to the negro that had the broom but swept out the toilet and kept the toilet clean and say that we're not discriminating here you can't charge us with discrimination and a half out of twenty five hundred people to our free Negroes. And AFAIK this is the thing that has caused and the fact that the younger Negro is as I said before have had opportunity to study
the history of the Negro people. And they are becoming more and more enlightening like into the true facts of life. As to the attitude and real feeling of the white man toward the negro. And that's the thing that is going to cause the very next track. And that's all I have to say. This is history as seen through the eyes of the older generation. It is rather common on the part of many to refer to the negro over 35 as an Uncle Tom white person who has swallowed his pride and refused to look at reality. Based on what these gentlemen have said this does not appear to be the case. They are very realistic and assessing their environment and the odds placed against them throughout history. They are angry and have passed it on through generations. It is also frequently said that there was a loss of pride of culture and identification on the part of the older negro. In listening to these men one somehow gets the feeling that this is not true.
The sense of pride of culture of being proud and somebody is there. It has always been there. It seems rather to be a case of maybe American society not wanting to recognize it. After all a man doesn't fight and struggle in both peaceful and non-peaceful ways. If he feels that he is not worth fighting for. Negro is old and young have been fighting throughout history and for many it has meant death. One of the most tragic of circumstances. The symbols of protest of recent years do not exist in a vacuum and are not the result of a few fiery speakers on street corners yelling hate whitey. It is rather a case of history and the realities of the present coming to a head and a more massive and spontaneous form. Why this massive and spontaneous form. History also gives us a clue. Let us pause at this time and listen as the Freedom Singers recreate some history
which lies at the heart of what is happening now. This is. Their only. Thing. Was theirs. We. Eat.
There have been too many. There have been too many tales of peaceful leader very sane man who fought for Emmett Till was a child. And yet society wonders why there are some Negros who are ready to fight violence. Was was. There. If you take this legacy of hateful treatment of degrading restrictions and
unjust taking of human life and place it in the body of a young American who by the very nature of his culture needs to rebel and the dimensions of the problem begin to emerge. This then is the historical perspective of the Negro in America. Labels such as extremist hoodlums lawbreakers will not make these facts of history go away. I will not erase the blood stains will not erase it from the minds of millions of men. This can only be done by a new commitment an action towards justice for every man. Next week we will move away from history and confront the present question of the Negro in America in spite of his history existence attitudes and feelings are not the same for all negroes. There are as many shades of opinions and feelings as there are shades of color. We will therefore attempt to get points of view from different professions and economic levels. We will attempt to look at various factions and cleavages in terms
of political and social action strategies for the future. You have just heard hard for 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 8 of 26
- Producing Organization
- Wayne State University
- WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Series Description
- For series info, see Item 3313 and 3314. This prog.: See also program #6 and #7. Continuation of same discussions: Negro-police relationships, the riots, red-light districts, and the Negro community.
- Social Issues
- Media type
Producing Organization: Wayne State University
Producing Organization: WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-15-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Seeds of discontent; Episode 8 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 3, 2024, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-r49g8r7h.
- MLA: “Seeds of discontent; Episode 8 of 26.” 1968-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 3, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-r49g8r7h>.
- APA: Seeds of discontent; Episode 8 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 http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-r49g8r7h