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Comments on a minority. First thing we must remember is this that there was no legal family among the negro slaves and that the most important person in the Negro family. Was a Negro mother. In other words. Even though the master showed no respect for the father's position in the family they had to respect the fundamental tie between mother and child. The voice is that of Dr. Frazier and the chairman of the Department of Sociology at Howard University that Europe is an internationally recognized expert on the sociology and I have family I organizations public the number of attacks on the American negro with violence unless Dr. Frazier in an interview conducted in his office with Richter producer of the series which was a comment on the family life of the negro in the United States and the sympathies that grew up among people within the same household. Now you see this was not an institutional family because he didn't not have
the support of law or of the community even of the mores. In some cases the Negro family was able to grow up under more favorable conditions for example among the favored house servants. The father probably played a more important role and the more respect was shown for family ties and the role of the father and his family. But but always his power was subject to the master's power. But I think that under survey Avery that is under the slave system the Negro family achieved its greatest development among the artistes because the skilled artisans were permitted to live in their own household. They were permitted to cultivate a garden around the house and the father played a very important role in the family and exercise quite a bit of discipline over the
children. And his wife had to respect his authority to some extent. What the family did not acquire an institutional character of one of the negro slaves. It only acquired and the institutional character outside of the slave system among the negroes who were free before the Civil War. We must remember that at the time of the Civil War there were nearly half a million free Negroes in the United States. About half of them were in the south. And this may seem strange. May be seemed paradoxical to some people. The negro in the South before the Civil War had a much more secure economic position. Than he did in the north before the Civil War. He was an able and in the now to stand up against the competition of European immigrants. And he lived always close to the margin
of existence in the south on the other hand. He had a secure place as a skilled artist. As a matter of fact. Around 18 20 he was in South Carolina. The white mechanics. Were always complaining. About the monopoly which free the negroes had all the skilled trades and that would prevent white. Immigrants from coming to the south to compete. And then the negro in the south. Free negro in the south for the Civil War was able in some areas in the non plantation areas to acquire land. For instance the negro acquired a land in a state like Virginia where the plantation system had broken down to a large extent and you had small farms. There was a privileged Trius among the free negroes who were quite conspicuous in cities like Charleston South
Carolina. The acts that constituted a chaos. They were largely Milagros. Incidentally you'll be interested to know that 30 percent of all 37 percent of all the free Negroes in the United States were Milagros whereas only 8 percent. Of the slaves were well in cities like south Mobile. And New Orleans who had no lack of not an aristocracy because it was really an intermediate pass. For instance that the French opera the mere lack of freemen lack of CAS known as Xan Du lieber or free man of color. They had their own tier of boxes at the French soccer. In other words they had a place within the social structure. The free Negroes in the south own land own plantations and not only that but all slaves. For instance. If you take a city of
negroes who are paying taxes on a million dollars worth of property in 1860 free Negroes were in Charleston in New Orleans. They are paying taxes on 15 million dollars worth of profit. So there was among the three negroes in the South before the Civil War. A substantial group of people. Who had a secure economic state. And it was among these people that the family first acquired an institutional character. I mean that the family had a legal basis. I mean the family represented a tradition. That the family was rooted in the mores of the community and was given social recognition. Now many of these families represented a heritage which has been perpetuated and has not been lost among Negro families today. Now after the Civil War. When the negro became free
more enterprising and energetic negroes began to buy land and by purchasing land. They were consolidating the masculine interests and masculine role in the Negro family so that it is not surprising that some of the most ambitious elements among the growth of some of the more stable elements of the growth of the negroes who are descendants of these pioneers so to speak who after emancipation first acquired land and laid the foundation boys stable family life. And they grow family today represents all those different strains. Cultural strain social social strains for instance if you take the masses of disorganized negroes in cities today you can always trace them back. To the
negro of among whom no stable institution or family life existed before the Civil War. They have continued to live on Southern plantations in a condition close to that under slavery as they have migrated to cities. The slender bombs of sympathy mutual help in the same household has not been strong enough to withstand the disintegrating effect of urban life. So that it comes for much social disorganization among Negro families in cities today. But on the other hand the more stable elements among Negro families will be will be will have back. These free families with an institutional basis. They will have an aura is their background. These families that were established by the freedman after emancipation. Of course it should be kept in
mind that the process is still going on a process of selection. In which they grow through better education that occupation is able to rise in social status and therefore the Negro family to that extent is improving. The northern migration have any effect of Negro family life. It had tremendous effect on Negro family life. Now let me start out with the great masses of negroes who came from southern plantation. These Negroes as I showed had a family life which represented on the whole what we call a natural arc to say and by natural argues ation. It was just base for the natural human impulses and sympathies. But it was not an institutional type of family life in the
city these families went to pieces. There. They could function as families in the simple rule areas. But when there were plans in the midst of a higher developed. Urban civilized nation they were not able to function for example in the ruling rural communities. This family though based upon sympathies. You motions which are generated among people who live in the same house whole and care on a common struggle for existence was also given supported support by the churches by fraternal organizations by the mutual aid societies. But when they migrated to the great impersonal northern cities all these supports were taken from this simple type of family life. Now another thing that has happened with a Negro family in the city is this.
As a result of larger economic and educational opportunities. The negro has risen in occupational status and social status and as a result of that he has a quite a new conception. Of family life and of his obligations. AS. Parents or as fathers and as mothers for example. A lot has been made of the fact that quite often the negro woman used to wage era in the Negro family and a lot of people have gotten a certain kind of sadistic pleasure out of the fact that Negro men are supposed to depend upon Negro Women for a living. But this should be kept in mind and they grow a woman has always had a better opportunity for employment than the negro man. It has been the Negro man who has been insecure and uncertain where employment
was concerned. And the reason quite often that he was in the wage earner was a lack of economic opportunity. But today as he has increasingly security pin position as an industrial work worker in modern industry. To that extent does he assume greater responsibility. Some years ago I made a study of 75 cities and I was interested in dating with this problem. I had the hunch. That negro married women were to a large extent because of the lack of employment of negro man or husband in industrial implied. I found in the 75 cities. That there was a negative correlation between the proportion of Negro married women who
were at work and the proportion of employed Negro man who were in industrial employ are to make it simple it was this the more that employed negro man had an opportunity for industrial employment the smaller the percentage of Negro married women were at work. I think this is very interesting because I think further studies would show that with industrial employment employment opportunities generally that the negro male assumes greater responsibility for his family and therefore the family comes on the different type of this. I think at the same time one of the greatest weaknesses in the GRO life in this country is the failure of the Negro family. It may sound startling to someone to realize that in most of our cities. Large
cities especially about 30 percent of Negro families have a female head. Now I have this female here it isn't due to Widow hood because that would imply a terrific death rate among them. It's due to a number of factors it's due to the fact. That illegitimacy is still high among Negroes and therefore the woman bears the responsibility for it is also due to the fact that negro has desert him for only large numbers is hard to get an exact measure of that but I would say that desertion causes a large number of the group of women to be responsible for. They're family so that we have this phenomenon of about 30 percent of Negro families and many of our large cities with a female head. Now anyone realizes that that is an extremely normal condition. Is that normal
in the sense that it must have tremendous consequences for the rearing of children not only the breakdown of family discipline where there is no man present. Not only that the child is neglected. Because the mother must work but also in the personality development of negro troops. There is no male model in the home. They help in molding this child's personality and probably some day some social psychologist will make a study to show the influence of female dominance in Negro families upon the personality development of negroes especially in the grown male. Dr. Fraser you would say that about 30 percent of Negro households are female dominated because of many cases of desertion and a few other factors. How does this compare with say a white group of
comparable economic level. Brother tell you truthfully I don't know of any studies have that have been made in which you have made comparable studies now or. Where you can compare Negroes and whites the same economic they have. Out in Chicago the Chicago Department of Public Welfare. Has made a study recently. The culture of southern white poor white. And Southern poor whites who migrate to the city shows many of the same characteristics as Southern negroes. Now we can say that they are exactly on the same economic basis but they do represent two different traditions and two different cultures. And I don't think it's
exactly right to say that. The negro culture in the south what has been traditionally the Negro folk culture represents a. Type of social disorganization. There might have been different patterns of behavior in different sets of values. But I do not think that it represents social disorganization so very difficult to equate the folk culture of a poor white or the culture of the poor white with the folk culture of the negro. I'm not it rather I should say I'm not in sympathy with statements that are designed consciously or unconsciously to be defensive. Most of the statistics that we have available on desertion would indicate variations are more frequent among Negroes in the whites. Now that isn't due to any of racial characteristics it's
seen that is due to social circumstance. And I don't know whether if you should find. White people to who approximated negro from point of view of employment occupation and income. Other characteristics that you would drive exactly the same race I don't know about I don't think that's important I think the important thing for us. To see this social process is that which I work. In a sim and a thing the negro to the standards. Of behavior and the values of American civilization as a whole. And we see that it works and the one of the most important recent phenomenon. It is the emergence of a sizable negro middle class. Now this negro
middle class is probably extremely self-conscious as any new middle class is acquiring and who are strangers. And they may be inclined to engage in conspicuous consumption. And other things that may deviate somewhat from what is regarded as normal American pattern. But it is essentially America it's America I'm. Outlining as American men do in motivation. Now this new middle class has come into existence by middle class I mean people who have income from the style of life generally associated with the middle class. This new member has come into existence. As a result of the fact that Negroes have had greater employment opportunities.
And that they have better educational. Opportunity. For example. In the north. We can say about 24 percent. Of negroes are able to maintain what might be roughly described as a middle class way of life. In the in the West. About twenty four percent also but in the south. Only about 12 percent of negroes are able to maintain a middle class way of life. From the standpoint of income and education and other features and you see this is directly related to employment opportunities. Now what. What arc a patients. Is the new mill may grow middle class constitute. Is constituted of white collar workers. Is constituted
of the upper levels of skilled workers as constituted professional and scientific work. Is it is in the north where the negro has the best opportunities today for that type of employment. Only Birmingham. Approaches northern cities in the proportion of Negroes. In skill employment. When it comes to white collar employers. None of the southern cities approach the northern cities. It is in the northern city that the Negro has had an opportunity for white collar employees. And the reason for that is where. Much of the white collar employment is hidden in this civil services in the south. The negro has scarcely any opportunity for white collar employees one in their civil services. If he is in
white collar employment he must work in a negro SCU or a Negro business are said to be employed by the municipality to work says a social worker in the neighboring community in the north on the other hand. He doesn't suffer such restrictions. For instance. Negroes are being employed in white collar jobs in private industry in the loft. In stores. As sales targets. Moreover when it comes to municipal employment there is no color so far. As white collar employment is concerned. Then he has an opportunity. As a professional scientific work for a great employer and to serve a much larger community to the white community as well as a Negro community.
This of course is tied up with a political power which the Negro has in all the cities too. Since he has the right to vote. It isn't so easy to discriminate against Negroes in all the cities and keep them from occupying positions in municipal and parliament. And not only that in the north today negroes are members of city councils they are members of State Legislatures. Negro judges in the cities. And this is all a reflection of the negroes new political status. Which he has gained since migrating to northern cities. Now this is related to the Negro family life. Because. Middle class Negroes have a family life that is very much the same as middle class white families. They have her much less same standard.
Same aspirations. For their children. In fact they want to attend the same school. And the Negro has a new status and really the. Social distance between the middle class negro in the modern city and the negro. Peasant from the rural South. Is almost one of decades or centuries almost I would say. But I but this is interesting as in they grow comps in a modern city today. He has more and more indicating that he has had some experience with city life. So that if you go to the railroad stations to meet him in northern cities he doesn't look like they see. And the person that he wants to look like. One of the characteristics of the white population of United States is a great deal of
social mobility. There is considerable social mobility among the growth. And one of the most important factors in the social mobility of the Negro is education. Education. Transform the negro from a simple minded unsophisticated. Folk person. Into an educated more or less sophisticated. Person with a new orientation towards life all together. And here he doesn't transform the person himself at least as children. And as a result of this education he's qualified for new types of jobs. Yes buyers to new types of jobs. And increasingly the opportunities for him to acquire new types of jobs. For instance a study.
Negro students in business courses in the Negro College shows that probably no more than four or five percent of their fathers were businessman. They have all come from this. Full background. Or you might say from a background of domestic service. And they are today increasingly aspiring for white collar occupations as typist since the NAR was an secretary at one level at a higher level. They're aspiring to become professional men. And what is even more important. As a result of the fact that we live in an industrial civilization is based upon science. Increasingly negroes are entering into scientific occupations or occupations requiring a background of chemistry and physics. Then at the
highest level. You have an increasing number of Negro scientists physicists and chemists being employed in industry. Every day we see indications of new employment opportunities in the high ranks of industry. This is a form of social mobility. And it has its effect upon the Negro community from the standards of the Negro community values and I have to grow community. Thank you Dr. Frazier. You have been listening to Dr. Eve Franklin Frazier noted sociologist and author commenting on family life in the United States. These comments were taken from a longer interview recorded by E.W. Rick Perry and Dr. Fraser's office at Howard University in connection with the production of the last citizen. A series of programs produced under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio
Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters were invited to join us again next week at this time as we listen to the comments of Mr. Edward Houghton. Formerly director of the San Francisco Council for civic unity and now executive director of the San Francisco commission on equal employment opportunities as he discusses the position of the negro and the San Francisco Bay Area with particular emphasis on housing. Comments on a minority was produced and recorded by radio station WB A Purdue University. This is the end of a radio network.
Comment on a minority
E. Franklin Frazier
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 features an interview with E. Franklin Frazier, an American sociologist and author.
Series Description
This series explores minority issues in the United States in the mid-20th century.
Broadcast Date
Social Issues
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Guest: Frazier, E. Franklin, 1894-1962
Interviewer: Thompson, Ben
Producer: Richter, E.W.
Producing Organization: Purdue University
Producing Organization: WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-51-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:50
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Chicago: “Comment on a minority; E. Franklin Frazier,” 1960-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 9, 2023,
MLA: “Comment on a minority; E. Franklin Frazier.” 1960-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 9, 2023. <>.
APA: Comment on a minority; E. Franklin Frazier. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from