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The National Urban League formed in the Southern Regional Council bought a monster argument out of committee on human relations a Kansas City mayor's commission on human relations San Francisco Council for civic unity. And almost unending catalog of organizations in the United States devoted to defending and extending the rights of the negro. Listen as we examine the work of some of these organizations in our continuing discussion of the Negro in America the last citizen and. The last citizen the Negro in America a series of programs devoted to the extension of our knowledge of the largest minority group in the United States its problems and the problems it poses to all Americans. The last citizen is produced by Radio Station WB A producer University. I'm Doug Grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. The discussions are the producer of the series E-W Richter and Dr. Louis Schneider a professor of sociology at Purdue
University. Today's program defense. Here now is Mr. Richter and the past 16 programs we've been discussing various problems the negro faces and has faced in the United States over the past 300 years. Last week we dealt with organized negro protest a great many organizations are devoted to the negroes cause either through protest such as that engaged in by the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People or through somewhat less publicized activities and gauged in by dozens of organizations scattered around the country. Activities which are loosely but usefully classified as defense we haven't had organizations such as the national and local Urban Leagues the Southern Regional Council various committees on human relations to mention only a few. Today we're going to take a verbal journey around the country and find out what some of these latter organizations are how they happen to come into existence what they're doing
and their methods of operation. We ourselves will interject some comments but we feel that the story should be told in considerable part by the men who man the important posts in the organization and we shall proceed accordingly. I think we should make clear at the beginning Walt that the object of this program is primarily a descriptive one. We think that there is rather little public knowledge about such organizations as you've mentioned and perhaps a good bit of info misinformation. Our design is to increase the knowledge and lessen the misinformation. Since you mentioned the Urban League First let's begin with it. The Urban League was initiated in the early years of this century. The first tentative activities that led to its formation began 50 odd years ago and the organization itself came into formal existence in the years 1910 to 11. The first president of the league was a Columbia professor of economics the late one author a Seligman. A good part of the motivation in the establishment of the league stem from the desire to aid
negroes coming from the south to adapt to the industrialized cities of the north and the east. The league is primarily an interracial social service agency. MARTIN all commented in 1944 that the activity of the local Urban Leagues is as wide in scope as modern social work when applied to the very a gaited needs of the poverty stricken negro communities. And Mr. Lester Granger executive secretary of the Urban League states today that our principal emphasis points are better jobs better housing but health and recreation and equal access to the public welfare facilities available to other citizens of the community. We spoke with Mr. Granger in the summer of 1988 at the headquarters of the National Urban League and New York City. He indicated some important features of the work of the league and answer to our questions. The National Labor Day depends entirely upon the professional staff and upon a regular budget which comes from the community
chest. If there is a community chest and until recently members of the chest where we were. And. Consists of interracial bawd which is elected because again according to certain rules with a membership which is small in comparison with the NAACP are other organizations and the Avonlea gets its strength from the fact that it is professionally directed and and and his the standards of professional social work. We therefore can't claim to be a mass organization representing negro opinion fact we make no effort to represent negro opinion as such. You deal with an individual case. No I did differ to the point I'm making is that our open Younes all policies of the result of interracial consensuses arrived at through our boards and committees. Our emphasis is not with individual cases but with community education organization and action. We blueprint the social needs
and economic needs of the Negro community. We deduce from the facts gathered a certain plan of action. We interpret the needs and the proposed action to the community. We find individuals and organizations relieve their list under Alabama to get changes made. I will go on their own. Two of the goals that we have pointed to and using the methods that we've used and everything is really well represented. It is reasonably well represented considering the fact that a local Lebanese must support itself and to support it in with practical separations must come from the community chest. Of a long period of time and enjoy the fact that there is more reluctance on the part of a southern community. To accept the kind of things that Devon extends far. I think we do well to have set up 18 Urban Leagues in southern and close bought estates. Now we want to get down to cases. We asked Mr Granger for concrete
instances of the work of the league. He spoke as follows of the activity of the league in connection with the Negro population in Portland Oregon. Think for instance of Portland Oregon. Where before the war there were 800 negroes after the war at the peak of the law. There were eighteen thousand and Portland had always been a town of intense though a non-legal prejudice. Hotel accommodations restaurant accommodations and so forth the preferred jobs are bought in a gross the bulk of negroes lived across the river in the van and Van port. The jerry built town y industry town when the flood that took place around about one thousand forty five forty six white vans put out that cut down the a large amount of Negro residents and it sent negroes from Van toward over into Portland proper. At that point things began to happen and the Urban League was
organized in Portland in 1046 and with the organization of the avenue for the first time the negro leadership. Had something to hang on to and there was a means of communication between height and leadership. They really became the driving force in a movement for racial Reformation reformation of racial practices. Today Portland is very close to being a model city in comparison with what it was in one hundred and forty two a 43 or even forty five. Critics I include an idea it's rooted principally to the Urban League but to the Urban League as an instrument of a rising public interest and that's the leagues is a function that really instrumental social interest. And the Andy of course initiated a social interest as well. I would say that. I would say that the great majority of Portland would also give the heavenly credit for this change. Still getting down to cases and crossing the continent to do so. We spoke with Mr. Wesley braziers
executive director of the Los Angeles Urban League. Among the things we asked him was whether there were any accomplishments in Los Angeles on the part of the Urban League in which he took particular pride. Yes I would say there are quite a number that we like to point where I can't be numerate all of them but one that hits me immediately would be our request to the Federal Housing Administration to change its regulation in terms of meeting the requirement for getting an FHA insured loan. You recall that the financial stipulation was so great that the average citizen could not meet it. I would say they wanted only the head of the house. It is income to be
considered and. It must have brains around 550 to 600 a month. The Arab League sent saying that it wasn't the intent and the purpose of this FHA ruling to make this provision just for a certain class of people. Therefore we recommended to FHA through our national office that they have give some consideration to supplemental income of the children of the aunt's relatives and that this be counted also. This would not help just the Negro but would help all citizens as a result of our proposal. We're happy to say that this was found feasible by A.J. And today throughout the United States people are now able to meet the requirements and to get
FHA insured loans. There is another that we like to think of. We worked for 10 years without department stores here in Los Angeles trying to sell them on merit employment for a minority group persons as sales clerk. We haven't completed the job but there are quite a number of Negro Mexican American Japanese girls now selling directly from the fourth floor and our major department stores. We also like to think of the success of integration and the banks in Los Angeles. Here again we find after many years of working with presidents of these financial institutions that minority group persons are being hired in various capacities I could go on but I think they would be too numerous to mention. Walt I notice also that your interview materials with Mr Brazier include one story
that I think we should allow Mr Brazier to have again in his own words. It's the kind of thing that one calls human interest material and I think its human interest is considerable. I refer to this matter of adoption and adoption agencies. Very well then here's Mr Brazier to tell us the story some years ago here in Los Angeles. Now the private adoption agencies would accept. Minority group children. And we approach the boards of directors of these agents is then asked that they consider accepting them. There were many minority group parent families that wanted to adopt children but had nowhere to turn and did not have the legal protection that they could get from such agencies as theirs and that we felt they would find they as very community.
Agents is accepted our challenge and after keeping the youngsters there for several months the agency has called us and said. We are not able to place these youngsters is what's wrong and we immediately ask how do you go about placing your Caucasian youngsters. So while we advertise we say well then do the same for the minority group youngsters. They called in several of the metropolitan papers and a picture here of a very beautiful one of a docu and one about the caption when I was looking for a home. We later learned from the adoption agency that they had over three hundred fifty requests for those two children today.
And as a result of this initial effort on the part of the Urban League we now have what is called a joint recruitment agency. Their primary purpose is to interpret the minority group community ways and means of going about adopting a child and disproving many of the myths that the adoption rules and regulations are so severe and so straight that they can't adopt a child. I like to think of this human relation element in adoption because it has benefited so many of the minority group Families and Los Angeles. Before we move on we should note that these statements exemplify only a few of the activities of the Urban League. We could fill several hours of programs with stories and anecdotes. But at least we have a notion of the type of work the Urban League does. But now what about the Southern Regional Council. Can you give us something of the background of this
organization. The council grew out of a prior organization known as the Commission on interracial cooperation. The letter as its name would of course indicate was a joint organization of whites and negroes that had its center in Atlanta and was organized immediately after World War 1 in 1919. If I may again use Myrtle's words it was organized in an effort to meet the great uncertainty and strain in the relations between whites and negroes after the first world war. In 1957 the Congressional Record printed an account of the commission from which I'd like to quote briefly. The commission was founded by a group of the South leading church men and women. The Commission helped organize extend and guide the work of state and local interracial communities. It assisted them in making their influence felt by newspapers civil authorities churches school officials police administrators and health officers. It gave much attention to factual analysis of the problem of lynching and other forms of interracial violence. Its Auxiliary the Association of Southern women for the Prevention of lynching under the
direction of Mrs. Jesse Daniel Ames did much to educate public opinion on the causes and possible remedies for such violence in its 25 years of operation. The commission made a meeting of white and Negro citizens for the discussion of common problems and accepted practice almost everywhere in the south. It marshaled thousands of Southern church people in opposition to lynching and other injustices brought you ally to bear on race relations issued two million copies of pamphlets and leaflets and symbolize the faith of the Southern white people and Negro people in the processes of mutual agreement and cooperation. In the years 1939 to 1944 but transition from the Commission on interracial cooperation to the Southern Regional Council took place. When we visited the offices of the Southern Regional Council in Atlanta during the summer of 1050 8 Mr Harold Fleming the present director telescoped some of this historical background and went on to make some further interesting comments about the work of the council.
The first thing I think that might be pointed out is that the Southern Regional Council is an organization of some. History. And antedates the recent concern and attention that has centered on race relations in the south. In fact it goes back through its parent organization to World War One. Or just after World War One when there was an increase in racial tension and difficulties in the south and the Commission on interracial cooperation came into existence. This organization performed very valuable way over the years up through the 20s and the 30s into the early 40s played a major role for example in. Combating lynchings and other forms of violence in the south. During. World War. Two. Some fresh impulses were felt in this field in the south. And out of a series of
conferences and major considerations by Southern white and Negro leaders the Southern Regional Council was born. The council's role has necessarily changed over the years as the situation has changed from those days when Negroes were pretty generally disfranchised. Without political or much economic power. In the early 20s we've now come to the point when a series of successful court decisions have defined or redefined. The rights. That negroes along with other citizens entitled under law to enjoy. In the Southern Regional Council through its fieldwork its information program through conferences through work with the press and the other mass media. Through In short a variety of techniques and staff methods. Has tried to keep up with these rapid changes and to contribute to.
The. Major transition that the South is undergoing in redefining equally the rights of all citizens. What do you find the largest obstacle in fulfilling the aims of your organization. While the obstacles. Despite all the tension and difficulty of the last few years. The obstacles in a way. Are. Fewer. And less formidable than they used to be. Because. We have had a legal redefinition. Of. What equal rights. Mean. Which means that that a more democratic society in the south. In which Negro citizens participate and from which they benefit. Like other citizens is now under written and law. The difficulties now arrive the rise of costs and trying to translate. These legal.
Realities into the practical everyday realities and Southern communities. There's a good deal of tension a good deal of very vocal resistance to these changes. In the main I think stimulated and led. By. Political figures in the south. Having asked Mr Fleming about obstacles to working out the aims of his organisation we asked him also to give some estimation of actual accomplishment. And he answered as follows. Well we're very sensitive to the fact that. You can't measure these things with a yardstick. It's very difficult to. Measure concrete achievement in this field because you're dealing with people and with processes. But there are things that we feel we can. Validly say that our organization has accomplished or has contributed to in an important way. For example. There's been some voluntary
change in racial patterns in the south. The opening of private institutions of higher learning many of them church related in the south to Negroes for the first time. The council undertook. Some years ago. To further this voluntary trend to make the facts available to the administrators. Trustees and faculty members of those institutions to point to working precedents elsewhere. The same thing is true in a variety of other fields professional associations which increasingly have opened their memberships to qualified negroes. The use of Negro policeman in the south which has practical advantages as well as. Simply being civically desirable. And. The voluntary desegregation of buses and some cities for example at the height
of the controversy over Montgomery in Birmingham's transit systems we were able to point out to the south and to the rest of the country that a number of Southern cities and we name them had quietly and without controversy dropped segregation on their buses. The transition had gone smoothly. A lot depends simply on demonstrating that these things can be done that the myths and the fearful prospects with which people are. Haunted. The fear that change means disaster and the racial feel can be dispelled by the judicious use of facts and precedents in this field and a lot of our activity has been in that direction. We've also supplied skilled specialists as consultants to school boards who are grappling with questions of policy how they should proceed. To other kinds of community leadership as well. Other people in the station making accusations or other people who. Were in position to play a part in the
decision making process. And there again the calm. And constructive effect. Of let us say a school superintendent from Kentucky who's been through this experience who has. Seen the process of desegregation work. And who can bring to his colleagues in a more troubled area deepest south. Very specific practical advice and assurance and know how this it seems to us is the kind of very very bedrock assistance that an organization like this can make possible. A good many other examples I could cite the opening up of public libraries in the solace to citizens of both races. I worked with the mass media not only in the South but in the rest of the country because basically we feel that it is just as important what citizens elsewhere feel about this question as it is. Important. What Southern is feel. This is after all a national and even
then a national problem. The welfare of the whole United States is at stake. We can expect no wiser decisions nationally than the information available to the American people makes possible an organization like ours with. People working in it all over the solves with the insights and experience and understanding that come from the long years of. Effort in this field. We think can provide some interpretation of facts. Analysis understanding through the mass media. That may facilitate the national solution to this problem in the end. And we put in a good deal of our time and effort on that if time permitted we could spell out a good many of examples of. Instances in which we think this has been. Been effective. I'm afraid now that just as Mr. Felt planning and is conscious of letting a good deal in his description of the work of the Southern Regional Council will have to admit a good deal as well. Let us however examine one more organization a local
one. You have a suggestion Lou. Well I have a report for the year ending April 30th 1958 of the Committee on Human Relations of the county of Los Angeles a report submitted by the committee's executive secretary Mr. John a bug's. I'd like to present something of the context of this report for it will give us an idea of the scope of the organization's activities. Some interesting data are presented on the housing problems of minority groups in Los Angeles and in fact the report begins by noting that the single greatest area of discrimination today is in the field of restrictions against members of minority groups and the sale of houses. The report goes on to discuss tensions in the schools. Problems of employment divisive factors in the community in general and the work of the Committee on Human Relations in connection with the committee's specific activities one finds that in the course of the year it held over 300 conferences with individuals and groups conferences relating of course to minority group problems numerous speaking engagements
with conferences were held to with law enforcement agencies and conferences were held with individuals claiming discrimination in employment outside of county government. There were radio and television appearances on the part of the executive secretary in discussion of minority group Crime and Delinquency discrimination in housing and so on. This is about a very partial listing of activities. Also it's noteworthy that the committee has devoted a good deal of time to adult educational activity on Main instrumentality of this being a 10 session basic study course in human relations and the committee has sponsored conferences for all the chairmen of local Human Relations Committees with which it works throughout the county. There were two such conferences for the year ending April 30 of 1958. Again the committee has prepared information bulletins that the stickle reports and other materials designed to acquaint the public with certain facts regarding the problems and progress in the field of human relations. Once more I told only a small part of the story I know that you have given us only part of the story
of this Los Angeles County Committee on Human Relations a little but now I can do no more than allow the executive secretary Mr buggers a few words of his own on how the committee came to be formed and grew out of this instant riots that took place in Los Angeles in 1044 you may recall the. Conflict situations that develop between Marines that was stationed here at that time and Mexican-Americans that will be zoot suits. So called it that the County Board of Supervisors felt that county government had a responsibility in the area of human relations particularly as it related to conflict and tension and they established this committee for the purpose of working in the area of tension tension and conflict in order that they might develop a program looking toward the elimination of it. We have then reviewed quickly on to a considerable extent in the words and publications of we're functioning officials. The work of three organizations engaged in activities designed to further the interest of legal activities we have loosely labeled the funds. We've
included reference to our national organization to an important regional organization and to one particular local organization. The concrete and illustrative nature of today's program is evident enough. It is our feeling that Americans wish to one sure know about the work of such such organizations as these before we come close to any genuine solution of the so-called Negro Problem. It may well prove necessary that an employer an appreciable portion of our citizenry be directly or in directly at one level or another involved in the work of the kinds that we've described. Next week will bring us to the final program in this series. In this program we will briefly reveal some of the facts and principles with which we have been concerned during the past weeks. Well take a look at what the future might have in store as we listen to further comment by some of the people with whom we spoke. Join us then next week as we conclude our discussions on the life of the Negro in America the last citizen.
Last citizen
Producing Organization
Purdue University
WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the various groups that have come together to defend the rights and welfare of African-Americans.
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A series of programs devoted to exploring the problems facing African-Americans and how these issues impact all Americans.
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Social Issues
African Americans--Economic conditions.
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Guest: Brazier, Wesley
Guest: Granger, Lester B. (Lester Blackwell), 1896-1976
Guest: Fleming, Harold
Host: Schneider, Louis
Producer: Richter, E.W.
Producing Organization: Purdue University
Producing Organization: WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-50-17 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:34
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Chicago: “Last citizen; Defense,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 25, 2021,
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APA: Last citizen; Defense. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from