WGBH Journal; Interview with Bobby Seale, Skilled Jobs For Women, and Unconventional Teaching Aids
Good afternoon and welcome. This is GBH Journal and I'm Bill Cavness. Bobby Seale is probably best known as one of the founders of the Black Panther Party. An interview with Bobby Seale is the first feature on today's show. The report was prepared by a public radio station in Colorado. And all of the features on today's show come from other public radio stations in the country. We'll also hear about a group called Skilled Jobs for Women, another which is concerned with problems of displaced homemakers and to close, a report on unusual teaching aids for children with learning difficulties. [music]
The Black Panther Party is a militant black organization formed in the 1960s. One of the founders of the group was Bobby Seale, He talked recently with reporter Daryl Morgan of station KCSU, Fort Collins Colorado about the changing situation for blacks in the country today. [Morgan] How do you feel that the situation has changed since those turbulent days of the 1960s? [Seale] Well in terms of the masses of black people, minority people, and even poor white people, the oppressed conditions that they exist in, no it has not changed it is still there in fact. In some cases it's quite worse and we see the amount of black youth unemployed and minority youth unemployed in this country. The wretched living conditions, the housing situation, the inner city problems. All this still exists and this is really what the struggle was about. Coming from mine and Huey's standpoint of view with the Black Panther Party was about really dealing with, there is police brutality. OK here the smallest changes that has come about somewhat in
some cities we see the federal government actually investigating cases of police brutality and charging and indicting these police and putting them on trial for public cases of police brutality. When Nixon and Lyndon Johnson and other city government officials in the past wasn't even thinking about ?services of a? civilian review board. So this is how it should have been done a long time ago. There's a lot more black politicians being elected. What this exemplifies more is the right to vote. That's changed somewhat, OK that still doesn't mean the problems are solved. We don't see a lot of lynchings going on down south and that had a lot to do with black people saying "we'll arm ourselves" and the riots, that people that reacted to in a spontaneous way. Which Huey and I never really agreed with spontaneous rioting, a lot of people think we started riots, we never started riots, in fact we stopped riots, I mean I'm documented in newspapers stopping a riot in North Richmond because I didn't believe in it, we believe in organizing, unifying people around programs, so the police they attacked us. We shoot it out and they think we are the leader of riots, they don't understand we weren't leading riots, we were leading the right to self-defense and the right to self-determination.
And looking for some kind of liberation from the wretched conditions that we we're subjected to in ghettos. [Morgan] Do you feel that that racism is simply less overt today than it was say 10 years ago? [Seale] It's slightly less overt. I mean I think people hear me say that I think time's are mellower. A lot of the news people say Bobby Seale think time's are mellower so therefore he has mellowed. you know. [Morgan] Has Bobby Seale mellowed? [Seale] No, I'm still basically the same Bobby Seale, what has mellowed is I don't have J. Edgar Hoover and Agnew and Richard M. Nixon and Lester Maddox and Bull Conner you know and Ronald Reagans etc. running up in front of my doorstep and Mayor Daley, rest his soul, see we don't have them right there with that overtness, so the system with its overt, primitive, conservative racism manifested in the institutionalized, institutional structure of the society has mellowed. I'm still talking about the need for full employment, decent housing, etc etc.. That's why I started Advocates Scene, a new lobby group I'm putting
together in Washington D.C. I'm putting a lobby group together with some militant teeth in it, the corporate power structure is running our legislators, people are running to the polls, you know, a lot of them voting every two years and four years for congressmen and presidents. We hear about poor people, minority and black people, putting presidents in there with a significant vote. I'm saying they need a more viable, concrete framework in Washington D.C. which is to start dealing with every piece of legislation. And my technique of lobbying is going to be based on a grassroots network set up in the home districts of Congressmen throughout this country, especially in areas where there are minority and poor peoples and begin to organize people, more so in trying to teach black people, and black youth that are unemployed, that if you ignore the political system talking about you don't want to vote etc, you're wrong, you're ignoring the very structure that is not really serving your interest, we have to get down to the nitty gritty and I want and support Advocate Scene as a lobby group. Lobbying is only the right to petition your government.
The corporate power structure is running our legislature, look what they did to this consumer agency bill. Now, Advocate Scene is about probably I think the first lobby group that will represent solving the problems of the 60 million people living at subsistence and below in this country. We cannot ignore the structure. I am ready to get out there, I'm going to be organizing, and this is the kind of stuff I am going to do in terms of the political and social spheres, of really dealing with the problems. I'm not going to sell out the struggle like I saw Eldridge Cleaver do, you know. I'm just, I'm staying here and this is my intention all along, is to getting to doing something else after I finish writing my book. [Morgan] Well very quickly in the short time that we have remaining, how do you assess the Carter administration in terms of their dealings with the black people? Are you disappointed? [Seale] So far, they haven't really moved. I think Vernon Jordan criticized correctly but I don't think Vernon Jordan and other black leaders have come up with concrete suggestions. What we're going to be talking about, what Advocate Scene is advocating the need to root the poor and the low income into the economic growth of
America. We want a long-range economic stimulus program as opposed to short range economic stimulus programs. I'm advocating a 200 billion dollar long-range economic stimulus program, 20 billion dollars a year for community control, economic development directed specifically at the 60 million poor and low income people in this country. I'm saying that a temporary economic stimulus program is akin to wasted monies in the past of war on poverty monies, revenue sharing monies, model cities monies that does not leave viable economic frameworks that leaves permanent jobs. [music]
[Cavness] It's been almost a year and a half since a coalition of Madison, Wisconsin Women's groups secured federal funding to start Skilled Jobs for Women. The job counseling service's first year was a fairly successful one. Of 300 women who received job counseling and placement help, 50 to 60 percent either went on to take jobs, or to get more training in high-paying, skilled blue collar fields. This year Skilled Jobs for Women is trying to zero in on disadvantaged minority women in the Madison area. The staff hopes that 35 percent of its projected 200 clients this year will be minority women. But so far they aren't having much success in reaching those women. Black, Hispanic, and Native American women have made up only 20 percent of Skilled Jobs for Women's clients. Program director Andrea Graf and outreach worker Jana Peterson talked with reporter Monica Petkus of public station WHA about why
minority women have been reluctant to take advantage of and use the blue collar job counseling service. [Guest] We've talked to many different people in the city in different agencies, in the government about this particular problem of integrating minority women into the program. For certain segments of the minority female population, for example Hispanic women, Native American women, the idea of being in a non-traditional job is a new one. It's a new one. It's a new one for all women, as a matter of fact, and it takes a certain amount of re-education for any woman to become interested in the concept of being in a nontraditional area. For a woman who perhaps comes from a very traditional kind of culture, or for a woman, a Hispanic woman with a language barrier, it's one additional step to break through and become involved in the whole concept of being in the blue
collar work field. [Petkus] Is there really kind of a myth or a stereotype that goes with that that you have to be big and you have to be really strong, burly, mannish in order to do this kind of work? [Guest] I think it's true on the part of employers, I think it's true on the on the part of a lot of women, but construction is not the only kind of nontraditional job, the skilled, semi-skilled, and technical jobs include drafters, include computer operators and include business machine repairs. You know it runs the gamut. I think part of the problem is that women don't know about all of these different kinds of jobs nor the possibility that there are entry level training positions, that they can get in, where they can learn on the job. So they're earning while they're learning, not going to school, you know, and all these sorts of things but actually in a job and with an advancement potential. I think that's part of what we have to do and that's part of what our service is, very much
providing that kind of information. [Petkus] Do you think it would be an added incentive if they were more aware of just the financial reward involved, that you could really support your kids on this kind of money, it's not like going and working as a waitress and hoping that you're going to come home with three bucks an hour. [Guest] I think there's a double pronged issue there that yes it's important for them to know of the reward, however, for a lot of the women they are in dire economic situations at the very present time. And our program doesn't have any subsidy, in other words no one is paid to come here for workshops or job information or counseling, it's voluntary. There's nothing mandatory about it so that may be a consideration for a lot of women. There's not an immediate kind of reward. It's a very difficult issue to confront but-- [Petkus] Well, it sounds like a Catch 22. [Guest] Not necessarily because to some extent there are some women who could be in the program who are, say, collecting
AFDC or Social Security benefits or unemployment. I think really that that is an issue for some women. That they do have to be out making some kind of a living somehow and they're willing to take a lower paying job in order to do that. However I really think from doing a lot of outreach in the area that the main problem is the educational factor, the resistance that women have to approaching the concept of non-traditional jobs for themselves. And I've often heard "well that sounds fine for somebody else but I really don't know if I could do it myself." And "boy the money sounds great but I don't know if I could stand working with all those men in the electronics plant or on a construction site." The other thing that stops a lot of minority women in particular I think is some of the requirements that even entry-level jobs may have as far as having maybe a math
background in high school, which is a requirement for many entry level blue-collar jobs, that you do have some knowledge of math or sciences, and this is, this could be a turn off too. [Guest 2] There may be another, another issue here too that, that we have touched around but not touched on directly and that may be the fact that we're a women's service, we're not a minority women's service, and that sometimes, I think in people's heads, an identifiable image situation does occur, it doesn't mean that we've done anything right, wrong or otherwise to add to that or detract from it that but there are a lot of minorities in this community. So do you become a Native American women's employment service, or do you become a black, you know, women's employment service or what. But I think it's something that needs, you know, needs to be dealt with because perhaps people have for too long said "well the women's community is all one community" and there are, there are differences and there are
special needs and special concerns. [music] [Cavness] Approximately two point two million women in America over the age of 35 are forming a new category of disadvantaged persons. They are displaced homemakers, once primarily housewives and mothers. They suddenly find themselves displaced due to death or separation or divorce. Many are too old to find jobs but too young for Social Security benefits. And are not eligible for unemployment or union benefits. In May of
1976 the state of Maryland passed legislation which appropriated one hundred ninety thousand dollars to the Department of Human Resources for the purpose of setting up a center for displaced homemakers in Baltimore. In October of 1976 New Directions for Women opened this center, which at the time was the second one in the country. Jean Ross, of public station WEAA in Baltimore, spoke with Cynthia Moreno, director of the Baltimore Displaced Homemakers Center about federal legislation being considered to provide for such centers across the United States. [Moreno] The federal legislation was first introduced about three years ago when Representative Yvonne Burke from California heard about two women in particular in California who were starting to provide services to displaced homemakers, Laurie Shields and Tish Summers, and Mrs. Burke introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to fund 50 centers nationally.
Since that time there have been a lot of changes in the federal legislation. At the moment there is a bill pending before the House of Representatives and another before the Senate and these bills would add to the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act a segment which would provide funding for displaced homemaker centers and the sponsors are once again Yvonne Burke and in the Senate Birch Bayh. [Ross] Among the many problems faced by the displaced homemaker is the problem of monetary resources. Many homemakers find upon trying to enter the job world they lack many of the basic job skills necessary to survive, as a result they become part time workers. Another problem many women face is that of fixed incomes. Most times the amount of money received by a widow or a divorcee, whether from a retirement pension, Social Security, or public assistance is hardly enough to take care of herself and her family independently. The displaced homemaker center is a free service except
for job training assistance which is provided on a sliding fee scale and some workshops. Cynthia Moreno told me how her center's services relate to someone on a fixed income. [Moreno] Well when you talk about fixed income to the displaced homemaker, there are a variety of ways - [Ross] Right. Like social security and a pension and all that. [Moreno] Social Security is a very common situation. For the most part all displaced homemakers who have fixed incomes and most often if a displaced homemaker has an income at all it's some kind of a fixed income, the center would be working with the displaced homemaker to find job possibilities which would add to that income. In many cases for example a woman who receives child support has just that money coming in to support herself and her family. And it might have been awarded a number of years ago. The amount might not have changed over time. More important it might not even be being received regularly. You might not know that nationally less
than half of divorcing mothers are awarded child support at all and of those only about 20 percent receive child support regularly. So even though it appears that many displaced homemakers have a fixed income even that income is often not coming in as regularly as one might hope. [Ross] Some of the regular services that are available to help displaced homemakers at the center consist of individual counseling sessions in which a plan of action is developed to prepare for a job readiness. Such counseling may include referral to other agencies, participation in workshops, involvement in what is known as a self-evaluation program, and job placement assistance. One of the most popular aspects of the counseling services is the internship meeting. Caritha Arrington explained why this particular program is so well liked. [Arrington] One of the highlights of it was the month we had a meeting every Friday from 12:00 to 1:00. And this was called intern meeting, internship meeting,
where all the interns came and and we sort of hashed out our problems of the week, you know, how we were doing, how we weren't doing. And if anyone had a problem we would sort of role play and set about the business of trying to solve the problem which was fantastic because you know you feel very threatened when you don't know what you're supposed to do in a job. But when we sit there and talk about it and someone says "hey that's the same problem I'm having. Well, let's talk about." And this is very important to women who have been out of the workforce over 20 years because they feel very threatened by, you know, today's society. So the weekly meetings really helped a lot. [Ross] A majority of the women who are helped by the Displaced Homemakers Center went to other employment agencies or tried to seek employment on their own unsuccessfully. However after completing the job readiness program offered by the DHC, they became successful members of the full employment community. Cynthia Moreno says their job placement rate has been very encouraging.
[Moreno] Well the center has been really fortunate in its first year, of all those who came into the center, even if they were were looking only for resource assistance, we were able to place one out of every four persons. When we were able to expend even a dollar in terms of training funds, that figure rose to over 60 percent and we're very proud of the statistics. [Ross] Since 1973 the problems of homemakers in general has captured the attentions of many federal and state legislators. The Displaced Homemakers Centers started in California, spread to Maryland, and now there are a total of eight centers throughout the U.S. Twenty eight other states have displaced homemaker legislation pending. When federal legislation is passed, funding will be increased for centers like the one in Baltimore, more centers will be opened around the country, and this much needed facility will be providing its services to more women who every day find themselves becoming members of the new disadvantaged. The displaced homemakers. For National
Public Radio in Baltimore, Maryland. I'm Jean Ross. [music] [Cavness] A talking bear and a beat ball are technological innovations which are being used to aid in the education of children with various learning difficulties. These two particular innovations were developed by a volunteer service organization within the Bell Telephone Company and they're currently in use in a school in Missoula, Montana. Bernice Danels of station KUFM put together this report. [Teacher] Kids, listen. Shhhh. Gary, can you find the ball? Come on. Come find the ball.
[Danels] A talking bear and beat ball called me to a Missoula, Montana elementary school to see how some technological innovations of Telephone Pioneers, a volunteer service organization of Bell Telephone, are used. The school has two hundred twelve students,15 of them severely handicapped and/or educable mentally retarded. These 15 are in three classes, each with a teacher and several staff and volunteer class aides. [Talking Bear] Jeremy, can you think of anything else that's yellow? [Jeremy] Uhhh. [Talking Bear] How about my feet, [Talking Bear] How about my feet, are they yellow? [Jeremy] Yeah. [Bear] What else is yellow? [Jeremy] Your stomach. [Bear] My stomach! Ho-ho, what else is yellow? [Jeremy] And your ears. [Bear] What do you know? [Jeremy] And your face. [Bear] My face too? [Jeremy] And your face is black. No, And your hands are brown [Bear] My hands are brown. What color are my eyes? [kids] They're brown.
[Bear] And how about my mouth? [kids] Red. [Danels]That's the bear. He's a five foot tall stuffed bear, but stuffed with more than filling. Inside the apparently ordinary bear is radio equipment through which speech pathologist Janice Nugent communicates with her students from another room. The two-way device allows Nugent to more effectively counsel those children with speech impediments. [Nugent] Some of these kids tend not to-- tend not to initiate any verbalizations. And sometimes this bear will help them, you know, the bear will be going "bababa, lalala", that kind of sound play and they'll want to join in, or else I will have a lesson with them beforehand, and try to get them to make that sound, and then I'll say what I have to go and do some work and then the bear will say "did you hear that?" you know and sometimes the bear will get it out of them in a more spontaneous way. Janice Nugent points out another advantage: the students aren't embarrassed by
corrections the bear offers. [Teacher] Do you want to come find the ball, Annette? Can you hear the beep? Listen. What do you have, Annette? Say "ball". [Annette] "Ball". [Teacher] Good, good try. That's the beat ball. Pioneers Representative Don Henderson explained that the ball, which is standard softball size and made to withstand high impact is mainly used in sports for sightless individuals. Though the school has no
blind pupils, the ball is used for more than what could appear play. The teachers explained that their severely handicapped students have trouble paying attention for any period of time, and in orienting themselves to the location of a noise or sound. The beat focuses their attention and the teachers help the children in play-like situations to find the hidden ball and, in an identification and verbalisation exercise, the children must say "ball" before returning to the circle of friends. Don Henderson says the members of Pioneers have all served the phone company at least 18 years and find the skills they've acquired in electronic communications have helped them create technology to expand the world of the handicapped person. [Henderson] We have many other things that we do besides the talking bear and besides the beat ball. We also have the cricket which allows a sighted person to put a sounder on the back of their bicycle so a blind person then can follow the sighted child
through the streets in the various places they want to go. We also provide specialties to the deaf. It's a teletypewriter for the deaf and the dumb. You know it's the tele- typewriter is located in the person's home. And the person then, if they need to, like for instance they want to make an appointment with the doctor. Well, they cannot pick up the telephone and call the doctor's office like you or I can. They merely get on the teletype, get dialtone, and dial an answering service, which we have provided with a teletype also. And the answering service in most cities take care of this as a donated service and then they just tell the answering service "I would like a an appointment with Dr So-and-so" and then the answering service will call Dr. so-and-so and get the appointment and they'll type it back to the person. And so this is what we call our teletype for the deaf and dumb. We have many of these other features. For instance when the blind children go to the Ice
Follies, or go to a major theatrical production, we will then get a radio announcer to come with us and we will provide each one of the children or adults with earphones in which they can hear a play by play description of the event as it unfolds. And you know a radio announcer can be very descriptive and tell these people what's actually happening on the stage. And then we'll arrange for the performers to come behind stage after the performance so that they can feel and touch their costumes and it's a very moving thing really. [Danels] Don Henderson says Pioneers find their retirement or near retirement does not have to mean noninvolvement. They take pleasure in knowing that some simple and not so simple devices can enlarge the access the handicapped have to life. For National Public Radio. I'm Bernice Danels in Missoula, Montana. [music]
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- This episode of WGBH Journal brings together features produced by public radio stations all over the United States. The first segment is an interview with Bobby Seale, founding member of the Black Panther Party, prepared by KCSU. Other features include a report from station WHA on the Wisconsin organization Skilled Jobs for Women and its difficulties in reaching out to minority women through its job counseling service, a report from station WEAA in Baltimore, Maryland about a job service for displaced homemakers, and a report on unusual teaching aids made by Bell Telephone for children with learning difficulties produced by station KUFM in Missoula, Montana.
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Host: Cavness, Bill
Interviewee: Seale, Bobby, 1936-
Interviewee: Graf, Andrea
Interviewee: Peterson, Jana
Interviewee: Moreno, Cynthia
Interviewee: Arrington, Caritha
Interviewee: Nugent, Janice
Interviewee: Henderson, Don
Interviewer: Morgan, Daryl
Interviewer: Petkus, Monica
Interviewer: Ross, Jean
Interviewer: Danels, Bernice
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Identifier: 78-0160-06-08-001 (WGBH Item ID)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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