Black Power Surveyed; Handful that we are in Mississippi: A Spectrum of Opinion in Mississippi
Do you judge on these. Black Power surveyed. When I present part 5 the conclusion of a documentary study undertaken by Frank white Harvard graduate and presently Rhodes scholar at Oxford travels and talks in New York Washington in Mississippi exploring the many approaches to the concept of Black Power. This evening Part 5 hand for that we are a spectrum of opinion in Mississippi home. The final phase a Black Power survey was undertaken in my home state of Mississippi primarily in my hometown of Canton a community
of 10000 people 25 miles north of Jackson the state capital. Here I had expected the task to be easiest. Here I thought black power manifested itself in simple political terms for Mississippi the challenge to white America is most clearly manifested in Mississippi the challenge to whites to sacrifice their personal safety and to literally restructure their society is real and it confronts everyone every day. Furthermore it was in Mississippi and specifically in Canton that nonviolence and they will have God and unmourned death. What was it Canton that the Meredith marchers were tear gassed by state troopers. I talked for example with Mrs. and the divine lady in her 50s who is leader of the Madison County movement. I talked with her
about the work of her organization and about the march and its aftermath and the mass kind of movement without one night then Mangus. In December 1963. They love the church and the pleasant dream down a wall of the street. The purpose of the movement was to. Coordinate voter registration. And. Voter education. Federal programs. But the homecoming in conjunction with Coppola's program in the state. What he is really basically. In the Negro community not round but media is that people need information. And people need to know how to get information. It seems that although both information was closed. We worked. Screw desegregation we were able to
bring about a cobra. And. School work. A year see a selection worked on boat registration. We hear and spite of all of this. The. White community was still a close family. You know with the self I was so right. You know he's still right. You think this is still true. You think it's changed at all. I'm I'm I'm forced to say that out of seeing a change. Yeah. And you know when you talk about me talking about black I mean why make such a big a big a bad out of it. Why make such a bigger badder when you see I am no better that there was nobody in Mississippi screaming like last year when about dozen people were arrested in Jackson. These rats didn't just you know they didn't just. Curse and I call a megalopolis of my love with someone. These
kids were acting brutal beating like like like. Mad humans. You know. But like something else. Is finally came. Up and moved a black Me group. Was taken and stretched out. Stretched out. And those rights altered negro. Prisoners. To be there. Good to be back mom. Not only her that was my with to beat her. I am mostly white keep our eye. On what has kept them going. Unless it was something. You know basic with me and the player that you're going to have to do this if you go through with it. But I don't think know why women in this country would have gone through what we were taking that I am just unbelievable you know I'm very sorry the U.K. and failure
were black for real new claim. You know I am here. I'm 30 years ago and my experience here was. Is something that maybe you never hear. But is common is there are many who are them who have lost family and how completely and the same oh what's the use. You know I live in and. And I can't do anything about. The Meredith March was. Very good when we understood that. The march would come down that one come. With Joe and the players in Memphis. And. We made it known that we and also my daughter was blue and we thought we could use it to our advantage in this county. When our people there was honestly we have no idea how many hundreds but they were there. And when I got there ever was but machree.
Working from his seat standing on top of one of the big trucks when we were going you know when we really knew anything then that. Well then I guess. And they were through and. The gas canisters or whatever because things cause. I was an experience we never had before. Well how many people were. Overcome. And. When I found myself I was stretched out on the ground in the mud race that I. Just read that I just knew that was it. But somehow I managed to. Get out. I got up and started staggering as sick as Akon. And what a bastard. Yelling uniform. Many years a baster came up and pushed me and told me to get the hell out of it.
Now you see that's where Achard have been. As sick as I was and. Asked when I would have you. Turned right around and let him have it right in his place. You know why I'm denying that they were good. They get up and do. If they were really me they would do some speaking they would tell me they exist either. No good thing. I want you. Where you want to back me.
I also talked with the Reverend Ed Keene the faculty member of the predominantly Negro College of Tougaloo near Jackson. Ed King is white and he has sacrificed for the movement still bearing the scars of a beating which hospitalized him for several months in 1963. Ed King talked about the Freedom Democratic Party and his assessment of the future for white and black America. But in Democratic Party certainly been concerned about have. Local people have political power and it's been concerned about giving Mississippi negroes a place that they can learn politics. And learn. Procedures. Politics and Government. So that it's been. Probably had a greater emphasis on education even than voter registration. So maybe it's not a normal political party in that sense but. I think the feeling has been that the voter registration shouldn't go so
fast that the people don't know how to use it. And don't know what it's all about. And many of the people have. Almost no understanding. Of how government functions. Or what a political party is. Certainly the idea that. The negroes should speak for themselves. Is one of the basic ideas in the FPP. That. In the counties in Mississippi where the negro majorities the negro should be in control. But that in other counties negro should still speak with some degree of power. Based on their proportion in the community. The FPP does not expect white candidates to be appealing for the Negro vote on realistic grounds. We do expect white candidates to try to buy the Negro vote. And we expect some negro votes will be for sale. But they will not be for sale of a benefit to the Negro community but a benefit to small groups of Negroes. We hope the day will come. When white candidates. Stay in a county that is only 20 percent Negro that a white
candidate will seek that 20 percent of the vote on the basis of a program. But that day is not going to come until Black Power has been show. And this and we would agree with Nick. And I think this is the the best thing that's niggas talking about until white people have seen enough black power to respect black power. They will not approach the Negro community with programs. But will only approach it with contempt. And try to buy off negro ministers and traditional negro leadership and. And will be successful in doing this. The Negro community doesn't show enough power. If Negroes through democratic process cities establish any hopes of the democratic system in America and work to benefit them. They'll be massive white violence. Against them. As a psychological factor involved too many negroes vote white because they believe that everything white is automatically better than everything black. And so even given an
election. Somehow in the ballot booth by voting for a white candidate they somehow get over their feelings of inferiority of being a negro. And so that this is this is another factor that we will take time to educate people out of fear is the major problem. Certainly in the plantation country. If you have to go to the plantation store or anything nearby. Most Negroes. Who are owned by white people will vote for the same IP. We think for instance that Senator Eastland could get 90 percent of the people on his plantation to vote for him. In the elections this year if they were registered to vote. What did the march have any effect here. In reality that it didn't really affect Mississippi negroes. And in general what happened on the more. From your experience what did you say. Well. The march had a great effect on the local people.
The march detoured from the original route from Memphis to Jackson. The shortest highway. And detour and rambled through the desert. Like a kind of wandering religious procession almost. I had a great impact on the people who saw it. They have a mystical feeling about Martin Luther King. And the fact that he had come to them. Dr. King was passing through we see it a beaner. And in a little hellhole in the city. This this this had a great impact it made the whole civil rights movement alive for them. I think the press. Didn't understand the march. Because the march was. Was trying to reach Mississippi negroes of merit it started it as a march against fear. The press thinks that Negro leaders are supposed to communicate with whites and that's the purpose of a Negro leader is to keep whites informed about what many roads are doing. And so when something occurs where Negroes were
trying to communicate with. With the mass of poor negroes in the state. Press couldn't believe that what was being said was not for the benefit of white America. So that the press had a hard time listening hearing understanding. I think that the march revealed much more about white America than it did about black power. I don't think white America is at all ready. To really let negroes. Become a part of this country. An example of this was the whole argument about violence. It was taken completely out of context. Negroes were not talking about. Violence they were talking about self-defense. This was never made clear. By the press. About the march. As far as I know. People will not tolerate negroes being human beings. Most Americans most liberal Americans. Will not allow Negroes to be men. And this this was was at. I thought this was very
clear. There's no such thing as protecting yourself there's no such thing as self-defense. Negroes have to be nonviolent. America is certainly not nonviolent in Vietnam or anywhere like this. Yet we demand that Negroes be nonviolent we demand that Negroes be more perfect more Christian more Gandhi and more loving more forgiving. Than white people are. What we're saying is that. That most Negroes are worse than whites. And the only Negro we will ever accept into American life is a negro who somehow can behave morally better than white. I think there's a good tradition in America. From the days of the first settlers of people defending their homes. From Indian attack or from any other kind of attack. And the American man is the man who somehow can protect his home and his castle.
The negro man is not supposed to do this. The negro man is supposed to pray to Jesus. And say I love you. When his home is attacked when someone throws a fire bomb at him. When whites ride by in a car firing guns. Once negroes in the context of speeches about black power began to take up guns and defend themselves. Defend their homes from attacks at midnight. The white press suddenly said this was violence. I think this is an indication that white America is not ready to accept negroes as human beings. We will accept Martin Luther King as a Nobel Prize winner. As a Christian saying. We will not accept a negro as a hero because he defends his home because he defends his family from murder by the Ku Klux Klan.
The negroes in Mississippi are not of course prepared to take up arms any more than all whites are active members of the Ku Klux Klan. The older generation of negroes in particular still has hope. I attended an organizational meeting of the Madison County movement in Florida a small community 20 miles from Canton. The county seat was held in an old negro church and attended by some 40 men and women most of them middle aged or older. Most of them farmers and farmers wives. Mrs Divine was there and I watched her do her best to cling to this doctrine that the poor must now organize themselves must now make their own decisions. After the meeting I talked with the people about the movement. I came across that I've been
visiting with me and invested in it and I like this movie. I like it and it's something that we've been trying to get here and have gotten to the place where we will have got that spirit to start this movement here. And I'm just one hundred percent with it and I hope what we did the night that it will crowd this community to be in better shape. What do you hope will happen as a result of the movement and it is going to this movement hope it could bring about a better print monks. Race for the white hope that we will look foward to and with my whole heart. I
wanted to come out that way. What do you think about what MS divine said about black power. You agree with her. I agree with her about this black problem because it don't sound so will be you black power here too much to hear of it myself. Black power. I don't think I think what she's about. I agree with. I don't like that. We would like you do feel you need power and I feel that we need power. But I believe it would be honest and I don't mean you gotta be you know you know no way that you feel may be open to that that's that because I mean it's kind of it already. And I hope we have experience. But we will. Get it on me to the mouth. We all is.
It's difficult to see the chicks you know that they're left with the mission about them that they're got then you're more than to be a part of me up part of our community part of a great part of my community and my home. New questions are part of my people. Ever wonder what we can each other more and I want to love children more my children into Kasia. Will one day I believe we will cordon bidding if one might want to keep 11 down and then you have no other unit of the white right that you know on trail. I think Star is very one. I thank God because I went there
three months and I have learned a lot. And this one. And so I am reading writing and reading writing. Oh and. You count me out so much in our community where I am was not a want to go. We have even right there where in the finger while we are here tonight and our sense is really the first time I say that we do get a contact between the Negro community and the white community that that is what I'm trying to do. You know I want to hear about as one phase that I'm interested in. All we hear about why now is the fact that
I said not that my father in fact my father knew I was over here would be the result. We don't have too many young people in this community. They always hear something about here that I don't know. I think I prefer the paba to some of it it is wack that they get up and move out. Because they don't they don't find opportunity here. That's why they don't stay. But the four it is divide them cos they are call me. Cause I couldn't I couldn't promise anything because it depends on what happens. Was.
It well this is happening on the negro side with some leaders restraining those advocating racial. With some organizing more of the logical question is what is half white. I explored this question in a small way. By interviewing the Canton High School debate and discussion group and that session in itself shows why there is little communication between black and white and spite of an apparently urgent situation when whites are gay she said. Segregationist said black power he means. The black the takeover of the United States. They go with the government. They go over. But. When. I couldn't. Speak for the Negro. But when they claim black power I mean they mean. The power to be equal to anybody else. I think that.
They're using white power as a meat and not as many. Black power as a means of getting what they want and what they need. Now. Which to my. Mind. To try. To. Get someone was from. Our parents more have more or less taught us to hate. Not just because they've taught us to hate. Doesn't mean that we should. Get some of either some of our ideas. From other places. As in our social actions. When I was going to. My Grave it takes a boy to ride this way. So I. Like playing your father. Here I'm proud. Of this association patent generation. And. None of you that's what you. Mean I believe in the school as the only. 10th graders that we have a week left. And. They just
look. Like the bicycling for the mouse to the house ghost in this is that I really just have a sauna for bad and they are not really a set in their eyes this time I see a micron of the neighbors it's good but I think that one day when they are exposed to more. Then I can come out and you know I think that I will become more level. As a space for them once they get to college and it's just unfortunate for the morons that will not become enlightened. But the tragic irony of it all. It occurred to me is that the forces behind this struggle which have produced the call for black power may well have outrun the people who created those forces. Mississippi is changing. We have an administration dedicated to social change that would have been utopian five
years ago. And finally we have a generation of middle class affluent yet idealistic young white people coming to maturity. Young people who literally risked their lives to bring change to Mississippi to hears ago. However just as a generation perhaps flexible enough and committed enough to really come to grips with the race question is moving on to the white scene the patience of their negro peers seems to be dwindling to almost nothing. And to these young people a white man can do no right. They may not believe Dr. Oz mythos but the white man is literally the devil. But they do believe it in every other way. And so as older negroes and younger whites talk of equality and love between the races. Older whites and younger negroes talk of white backlash over Black Power
correcting this imbalance is harder than reporting on it. But I at least am convinced that this is the greatest challenge to the future of this country with the words of James Baldwin. Everything now. We must assume it is in our hands. If we if we do not falter in our duty now we may be able. And for that we are to end the racial nightmare and achieve our country and change the history of the world. If we do not now dare everything to the fulfillment of that prophecy recreated from the Bible in song by a slave is upon us. God gave you know of the rainbow sun. No more water in a fire. And you will know much more.
- Black Power Surveyed
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- WGBH Educational Foundation
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- WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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- This is the third part of a documentary study on black power conducted over one month by Frank White, an Oxford Rhodes scholar. (In previous segments, White investigated black power in Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Washington, D.C.) In White's hometown of Canton, MS, he interviews Mrs. Annie Devine, leader of the Madison County movement, formed in November 1963 to coordinate voter registration, voter education, and federal programs in conjunction with the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) programs in the state. Mrs. Devine discusses the movement and James Meredith's March Against Fear, between Memphis, TN, and Jackson, MS, during which Stokely Carmichael delivered a speech arguing for Black Power. In Canton, Meredith marchers were tear-gassed by state troopers. Rev. King, a white member of the faculty of Tougaloo College, discusses the Freedom Democratic Party and offers opinions on the significance of the Black Power movement. White also interviews a number of African Americans and whites.
- inner cities; Mississippi; African Americans Economic conditions; Black power; African Americans--Civil rights--History
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Editor: Myers, Maureen
Interviewee: Devine, Annie
Interviewee: King, Rev.
Narrator: White, Frank
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
Publisher: WGBH Educational Foundation
Recordist: White, Frank
Writer: White, Frank
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- Chicago: “Black Power Surveyed; Handful that we are in Mississippi: A Spectrum of Opinion in Mississippi,” 1966-09-01, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 27, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-9cj87k60.
- MLA: “Black Power Surveyed; Handful that we are in Mississippi: A Spectrum of Opinion in Mississippi.” 1966-09-01. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 27, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-9cj87k60>.
- APA: Black Power Surveyed; Handful that we are in Mississippi: A Spectrum of Opinion in Mississippi. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-9cj87k60