thumbnail of Seeds of discontent; Episode 18 of 26
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
This is the 18th in a series of programs entitled seeds of discontent presenting the program tonight as Harvard Smith Jr. assistant professor in the School of Social Work Wayne State University Professor Smith. Tonight we move into the concluding phases of our programming on the historical and the current level of discontent among American Negroes. During the weeks that we have dealt with this subject we have had an opportunity to hear the causes of discontent and the nature of problems from the point of view of many Negro citizens from many stations in life. You've heard negro entertainers ordinary citizens educators newspaperman professionals and others who must confront the realities of today's divided world of racial attitudes and tensions in their day to day existence. Basically there is has been a lament a sometimes angry lament about the land that held out so much promise but somehow failed to produce massive failures and basic institutions for
meeting human needs have been pinpoint with clarity and understanding. Tonight we're going to try to capture a mood a spirit and a feeling of what lies just over the hill from the point of view of negroes involved in the struggle at an organizational level in order to acquire this perspective. We have gone to a leader of a grassroots organization which works in the heart of the inner city. Its job is to help citizens in a given part of the city to organize and determine for themselves the direction in which their destinies will travel and doing so. The leader and the organization is confronted with a cold tragic and often appealing asked banks of the human condition in the urban center. At a given point in time the leader and the grassroots organization can be a reflector a barometer of the mood and spirit of a given locale on a particular issue or life in general. This is necessary in order
to survive as a viable part of that community. If it does not maintain this lifeline it develops Harden arteries faces heighten conflict and alienation our withers away and dies. Such has been the case with many private charity oriented social service agencies and ghetto communities. I focus tonight will be on the ideas and opinions of Mr. Rennie Freeman director of the west central organization. For the past three years this group has been involved in the work of helping inner city residents Dorgan. They have fought many battles with Wayne State University. The present city administration and the Housing Commission regarding the issue of urban renewal and its effect on the inner city dwellers as a result of their organizational efforts. They want a major victory for low income families. When they were awarded a bid to build and operate a low income housing development. After Detroit Riots a rebellion the director Mr. Freeman was selected as a member of the
new Detroit committee a committee a prominent businessman and community leaders pulled together to rebuild and spearhead plans for greater development and utilization of human resources in the future. After several months of work on the committee Mr. Freeman has resigned. Some of his stated reasons for resigning will appear later in our interview with him. We will open the program with his point of view about the July riots its causes and consequences. While you say she is very active in the community for that reason I feel that your point of view is very valuable in looking at a number of issues. The first one that I like talk with you about consumer's development in the last three years we've had a series of explosions riots that Dunc's whichever term you heard use I wonder from your vantage point as a grassroots
organizing what do you think are some of the causes or causes. Well I think that black people are becoming more conscious of the lack of alternatives. You know we just have albums. There's no there's no legal and that's been created by the establishment to deal effectively with the problems. You're in the black community and white society on the whole is not prepared to deal with dealing with the problem in the black community. And more and more like people are becoming aware of the fact that.
The programs that for the most part accommodation programs and the kind of programs that are going to benefit them and nothing that they do in these programs is going to alter their situation so that. You know they reach out there and into other areas and start to make noises in motion direction and get the most response I guess you know. And it turns out to be fire and fire and bricks I guess. You know that's that's from the point of you I would say you know the black community and the rising
anxiety in their. Direction of course is one where it's a listening response to this crisis so to speak of the black man. Now more and more that response the response that white society. Coming our way. He's turning violent. You know and the more violent the response is. The more dangerous the black community gets and of course you know you have these two things happening in this black community and Rangers white community and the white community continues to respond in an anxious way and then again elicit the same kind of rebellious response from the black community.
So it's one of those things it's a situation that I don't know where it's going to take us I was going to end but I don't see the white community respond in any other way and I can see how the black community can respond and you know the way I see so it's a question and a new causation one. Working towards Well the point. Yeah you might say that you know in a sense but of course they point out very quickly that the initial cause. Is from the you know from White society. And until they can do something to clean up their house they're not going to be able to respond and you know any other way then they're responding now. And that's with violence.
What about some of the specific areas in particular the city of Detroit and the city. Here it is with housing or education that seems to be some of the most significant causal factors at this time. With this housing better housing would be in the area of education in the area or something beyond it. You know trains in these things you know it's more like I said before that an awareness of the unwillingness of signing you know to accept the black man you know as as a human you know with all the rights thereof and force you know that undermines all of the you know
anxiety and alienation that it's exhibited. Have you seen any significant changes one based on what you talk. You seem to be talking one about the psychological state of White Sands. The most recent occurrence here in Detroit and others have you seen any significant degree of willingness to look back at what all of this May to do any time. Plan for the future. No no no. And here again you know we talk we talk about the establishment. You know the powers that be and you know you even have a right you know and they haven't altered the model
that they that they intend to. Do you do you know how to relate to black communities. That's the accommodation mouth is the same so that there may be variations of that mountain but they're not really getting out of the conversation out. So you know therefore you can't say that any activity or any operation that they've. Put into effect though put into motion you know an event significant. I see all the newspapers before they went out of business to try to place great emphasis new Detroit committee an organization trying to develop certain kinds of programs. I wonder if you could give us a little information in this regard.
Do you feel that what. You're trying to really in the right direction you know your back. We recently started playing you know why. You know I think new talk of many is living a lie. You know I don't think that. You know people are aware of the fact that there is much. Division and faction in the tri committee in the black community or anywhere else you know. And for the most part you know like many you know is the vehicle that represents you know the white community point of view that added to the white community and I say that because the pressure of the white community that guides its actions so that their response
to what they consider a critical need. You know again within the commission mound which is demonstrated by. The conditions on which they would support activity in the black community. They're willing to let the black community be recipients of the goods from the white man's table. But they're not prepared to. Let the black people administer you know. Any of the resources that they had their monies you know have to be accounted for in terms of program to be. Money that ties you know to the establishment you know by. Putting conditions such as
specifying whether or not there should be a relationship between one element in the black community another element different point of view in the black community. You know all these things you know it's just paternalism and of course that isn't that isn't really meeting the needs. Matter of fact what they're doing is feeding the facts basically. It's the same mountain as just you know it's just some variation you've got you've got some powerful and influential people sitting on the committee. But it's still the same accommodation model that you're working from. And of course the results you know are going to be the same and you can expect them to be saying. So I would say that. That they turn their guns the wrong way they turn into the black community where they should be turned into the white community because the problem you know is the racism that exists in the
society. That's the principal. Problem and the tri committee as you know. Power and resources and influence you know to turn and deal with that. But but they won't deal with it because they will be going against the mood of the white community. You know they don't want to hear about you know racism in the white community they don't want to hear about. The travesty that is being perpetrated on you know people all they want to hear about. Are things that let them know that those who are in position to control do in fact have control and of course that means that any vehicle city government committee federal government. All project to the public. And when they reach the point where they can project that image
their position their status their whole thing is in jeopardy. So course it's a matter of media interest on the part of those participating. You know I say on this committee or in politics. To project the image of having control. It's one of the reasons. I think many want to make it clear that they were putting conditions on this money and the black community under control. You know that kind of thing. And of course it's patent nonsense because you know and that's why I say they're living a lie. You know that's what I'm saying. And of course the other is that they're pretending to be unified when in fact they're full of. Factionalism there is as we find in the black community but they point the finger at the black community so
you have to get yourself together you know we have to be organized. You have to be representative. And all these things you know but all the time they are hiding their disunity and saying that you can't deal with us you know to your representative. And of course they're not representative. Issue has come up before you get the feeling that maybe the truck and other parts of the establishment as you mentioned possibly with a little more. Hospitable all the negroes could be classified into one. Ethnic group one interest party feel and bang they would be more comfortable if there was division. Well I honestly think that you know that
black people are classified you know and. You know will be for you know for the white community. They're all in one group. You know the problems you know in the black community and they rationalize to themselves and say that these problems are the reasons that. Black man can't pull himself up by the bootstraps in this kind of nonsense. You know it's like the old story goes you know you cripple a man and then cursing for a living you know. But they see us all as blacks you know and they have contempt for someone and think like you. Back to the Negro community. In fact you know.
What the result of the last three years has happened in the Negro community feel that they have come closer together or do you feel that there is much conflict among Negroes in the Negro Why did you feel the come closer together. I think the riot. Brought some realities right down front for a lot of black people. There were. People who thought that you know what they call. Lawless elements running around in the black community were. To be blamed for all of the problems the race problems and all that. You know the acute. Conflict you know. Between black and whites in the community. But then they had a taste of billy clubs of you know white police. You know like these other kids you been tasting
for years you know. And. I began to realize I think for the most part that. First you know that is the order of the day you know and not persuasion. You know liberals in the white community would have us think you know. You know the way that they choose to deal with the black problem. And of course this realization you know passed on you know quickly spread across the black community so that I think that you'll find a. Far. Less number of black people today in Detroit who think that they are going to escape the terror that. That might at any time come down on the black community. I think it does.
And of course that that would move you toward. You know unity when President Johnson in his recent Trask Congress. Placed great emphasis on the number of programs one was housing. Another was increasing the FBI the other was eight forces. This is I suppose part of master and rebellious activity in a country where you just give me your reaction to this proposal. Do you feel that the direction in which he's going is going to be fruitful course for America. Or. Just read about this in the way of leadership. Let me point out that.
I don't really. Give a damn about the president's programs that were referred to as you know by the Republicans is nothing new. You know kind of thing. Housing no crime zone. These kind of things in Samal promises you know. But I would disagree about there being nothing new in his message because the new thing was that you know. You know crime in the streets. You know. And that's clearly directed at you know the riots in the cities you know 67 and you know he's concerned about control of the. Right. And I think that that was the first campaign you know that could very easily take place in this country from the top down. And it seems as though that's exactly what was happening from the top down to.
Crush an activity you know in the cities. And of course the black community is becoming more and more militant you know posture on these issues. And they're right to be militant about things that they take issue with is being denied. So I think that that's just an initial phase of preparing the white society here in America to justify. The terrorism that that I think we can expect to see this summer. And as we move closer and closer to those hot days I think that you're going to hear more coming out of the White House and State House and city halls on this issue and moving further further toward
police power. You know and the police state. So that at the point where there is some commotion in the black communities. Yeah I think that when the black blood flows that. The country be in a position you know to justify it you know. And I think that that you know the far reaching implications of what the president had to say. I think that this new line and he's come out with you know it's serious and grave implication for black people. Or managers. So you are in a position of power to make change. What makes some of the city change. What kind of thing would you propose in order to deal with the problem. Especially
here. Well first of all I had to get my line of changing the focus. You know the focus should be in the white community not in the black community. Racism has to be rooted out I think that this is Saturday. You know it was a very sick society. And that the cancer is in the belly of the white community and that that they're going to have to dig it out as far as the black community goes I think that in light of what's going on in light of the president's State of the Union message that blacks to look out for themselves and to concentrate and focus on. The security of the black community safety in the black community should be paramount concern and anyone addressing themselves to the concern of black people today should be first of all.
Measures to community safety. And life. I include here this business. If you talk about crime and crime in the black community that it should be a concern of the black community like other things are you know when a black man hits another black man that not only you know crime you know in terms of the law but it's a crime. You know in terms of criminal act on black people you know black I think that black you have to address themselves to that issue too. There's no reason for black people to perpetrate crimes on other people. You know we have to get away from that kind of thing and then further I think community safety has to be concerned with. You know being a counter police force as it were you know to watch the police
you know because that's the force that you know that is the real threat to the black community. And of course there's always that long run threat that you know you're going to have. Whites that they're going to want to try. Out their brand new weapon that they're you know purchasing and all of this. And you know I think that that has to be made clear that community safety is the most relevant response that blacks can make in the community now be concerned about that. And I think that the other things you know the other things. Should follow there. Whether or not there will be large rebellions in the future is not clear. Nor is the question of whether or not there will be increased repression in negro communities. Clearly established as yet. What is clear however is that repression and rebellion are very much connected. Some political
analyst have said that the bleak picture painted by Mr. Freeman is a very real possibility. As we move towards a summer of 68. Whatever the case America must face the fact of the future possibility of repression and of a larger dimension. Every billion and revolutionary fervor being added to the whole spectrum of discontent among American Negroes whether or not this will lead to an outright racial war between black and white appears to be beyond comprehension at this time. Albert Kimmel after years of experiencing and observing a divide and war torn Europe wrote a book called The rebel. The following excerpt from the rebel seems a political will to those who would use a greater level of repression. We know that rebellion can also be caused by the mere spectacle of oppression which someone else is the victim. It can often happen that we cannot bear to see offenses done to others which we ourselves accept without rebelling.
Seeds of discontent
Episode Number
Episode 18 of 26
Producing Organization
Wayne State University
WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-vt1gpb19).
Series Description
For series info, see Item 3313 and 3314. This prog.: The emergency of black self-help groups in Negro ghettos. A look at current crises and needs in urban centers throughout the nation.
Social Issues
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: Wayne State University
Producing Organization: WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-15-18 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:06
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Seeds of discontent; Episode 18 of 26,” 1968-04-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 22, 2023,
MLA: “Seeds of discontent; Episode 18 of 26.” 1968-04-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 22, 2023. <>.
APA: Seeds of discontent; Episode 18 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