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This is the sixth in a series of programs and titled seeds of discontent. Presenting the program tonight is hard for some of your own your assistant professor in the School of Social Work. Wayne State University Professor Smith welcome again to seeds of discontent. For those of you who may not have heard our first two programs I should like to reiterate the purpose of this series. Our main objective is to identify stress forces within today's society and hope that we can better understand and find solutions in order to accomplish this objective. It is felt that it is imperative that we hear the voices concerns and feelings of those who wrestle with these forces in their day to day life. So far we have presented the voices and the plight of juvenile delinquents the hippies and of those whose existence is tied up in the large subculture of poverty. Tonight we begin a phase in our series that is most vital in understanding the scope and dimensions of discontent so widespread and contemporary America.
Our topic is the American Negro. This is what. When. I'm on a Big Bill Broonzy song is symbolic of the question which lies at the base of current discontent. But the roots of the question are scattered throughout the bloody and strife torn history of race relations in this country. Our emphasis tonight will be on gaining some kind of historical perspective from the voices of those who lived during that era.
But to get things started I just like to go around the room and ask each of you how long you've been here and just indicate maybe where you came from and basically why you came to Detroit. Well I came to Michigan and I are 19 now live in the state of New Hampshire. Don't nineteen twenty six. I came down in the city of Detroit 1926 not lived in Detroit since 1946. I came to cover 37 years ago when I was quite young and I've been there a minute in my life and I've seen a steady growth of that sense of time. Where did you come from Nashville Tennessee. And you sir I came in tonight and I came from Chicago. What were some of the reasons for your for better living.
Well when I came the first 25 merrily on a visit to visit my sister but I came back here to live and for one I made several trips in a minute you know between when I came back for work. Plan was going on. I mean face it you were born and raised in Selma Alabama. Why did you leave. I left to come north and just Detroit was not really an incidental because I did have relatives here at the time but I came looking for the land of promise because you hear this you did hear it in the south going north because that is where you get that you know the opportunity
and another way it may have two minutes to beat you. So he will certainly give you a chance. Most of these men were refugees from the south. They came north looking for the land of promise. Looking for a better existence. They are not a typical. And the fact that the city is Detroit does not mean that the experiences which they will relate to you would have been different in any other large industrialized city. U.S. Census data indicates that from World War 1 to 1960 the Negro population outside of the South grew from two point four million to better than nine million from one thousand sixty to 966 there were significant increases in migration rates from the south to the west coast in the northeast and north central states. The voices on tonight show represents a combined total of well over 100 years of Negro life in large American cities and in New York. Let's hear their story about the land of
promise that so many black Americans were attracted to after years of degradation humiliation slavery and injustice in the south. But based on everything that you tell me so far certainly most of you were coming to Detroit and attempting to find a better life for you to get ahead to. Well to follow the American dream. Now I just wonder in looking back since the time that you came here looking back at things that happened to you in any area such as finding a job or finding housing or just finding things adequate. Just just have you found it to be. While off on the day it quieted him what it was when I first came to Detroit. Cousin I first came to deterrent house the situation was very bad and people were doubling up. Sleep in the manner of Sharon.
Two and Three men were sharing a room with someone like that. But the wages was pretty good and so they were willing to go along at that until they could find better. And the situation was had changed quite a sea considerable since that time and you feel that there is better housing. While yes it's fear it's better housing than it worse at that time much better although it could be much better. But it is still better than it was if it took that time about what has been your in terms of looking back now and when you came here what you were looking for or just how the city happened to you as well. Right. So many areas where there were one of whom it was living and supposedly now as we term an all white more or less 90 percent white.
If you find we want to go like that you only want to move there was no one paid any attention to it we spoke of it being it was just neighbors but the negroes were more or less in U.S. as we call it new areas. The thing that has happened in recent years is that they have been able to move. Into some areas that were supposedly white but by the fact they were integrated areas. Up until the last wave crest moved out. Because he was moving the whites I think you know pretty much the past in fact during the more stir
from south of the south of Barry on back of course the point is all live south of farce it was only a few I guess it wasn't half a dozen families about forced Avenue and in their early 20s and more they are left back and more stubbornly east over east of B and St. Mabyn street over this way we're going to have to call up people and in their 20s living conditions were you know. And I have. Her No you know her little oppression you know depression core living condition got a little better because some of them immigrated out there from places and but in general it worked and it wasn't too good in the 20s
and I think the term black bottom came about. I'm not sure but it was the lower east side just like New York has a lower east side and the concentration of all black people no matter what their means of life whether they were prostitutes or whether they were people who worked in factories or whether they were doctors that there were many doctors who had homes in there because I think that when you know everything about the history of Detroit I think of the doctor that got into some trouble by shooting someone down there. Yes abscess we killed him. But everybody was there. We're all in one area and get out of it. So that was the pattern. You had to live there. If you're black you no matter what amount of money you had and of course when they told me is when they start really redevelopment recent years turn the homes down bind them up replacing them and that's the that's the big thing. Go over there
they own some of them many of them brought these years that may never turn out to be here because they don't have the move to keep them up to the standard they were in the bottom because their incomes will not allow them because many times there is actually often it was the first one to be laid off in the course and actually if you have me if you have family incomes worst and. They tore the houses down immediately replaced them with these brick like Lafayette towers these big high rise buildings where the Winstar is $150 a month and it was like if you make hundreds of dollars in a month. So now these people who were displaced there was nothing built more houses built. Maybe they got a lot of money maybe they got a little bit more money out of their property than the and they would suppose I don't know I really don't know whether it was worth any more. I suppose when they get the same amount of money to buy something
else. But they can afford to buy the type of houses that were available and win enough so the city of the government who were responsible did not replace the houses that they that they tore down or took away for us to take company away because they forced him to sell. These people probably have maybe stay there and their children will take them over and stay there until they die. But when you when you uprooted and move have to move you have to go wherever you can. So they have the system is continuously almost from people due to social status. Again constantly I just like to get some of your impressions that you've seen really in the job market for the negro during these past 30 to 40 years. Would you care to comment on what kind of jazz were available to Negroes during your wild What are some of the problems that are running this city at that particular time the city was given color people
jobs and the garbage Department. That was a more important job because the people in that own the city know about what you're with on letters in the late 20s late 20s and the garbage department that was there what they specialize in give and call the people good jobs on what they call good jobs in the garbage to find. So most followers preferred to go to Ford's dodges Chryslers or someplace where they get their you know making much better living. Or working conditions at the factory. Back at that particular time was pretty rough they didn't have no more way of ventilating the factors with DAF fresh air like they have today and it was some pretty rough jobs down. But the crowd of fellows always in particular got all of those bad jobs and just do it went on and on and on like that and go later years and then just go about Dime and Rose were two done with chemistry.
Doing a little bit better you see I worked at the factory myself and when a war come on and I afford it or if I had worked quite awhile I'd just take the fact through and I knew quite a bit about the work and everything and was a good workman and was and wasn't absent I got elevated to or from what I got to be a foreman or couple. Bunch of white fellows didn't work didn't want to work under me and when I went on I made the best of it I couldn't I had a pretty hot way to go but I have a pretty fair superintendent that stuck with me so the work got got a little rough and due to the fact it was a factory where the consist of a lot of the metal in my help come as a failing that a lot of that and I left the job went to the railroad and went and I was a Pullman porter for the last 50
and that's why I retired. So well. You were very small and had to pay 60. It happened that comes in the middle late 30s but just like he said before the negro had a backbreaker. PBA the back way cause I worked out for myself. I had one thing that happened to me from the city of Detroit I took an examination when they first started. Colored people on buses. I took an examination for a bus driver. And it so happened it was a white boy and the next best we took a test you know like just like when I was in school. And he kept asking me what you put for this but you put so that I don't know his name
I can call his name I would write. What he prepares for this but he put that. Time around on time out there and I never heard from him. So I take it on myself to go down and see what happened. So guys to you for you as well. What did I feel I don't like to sharpen up on it you know. I told you for you. So whenever that came out of the world you get a carton. So the same card same thing on the flight you feel. When I go back to check on this thing out now right on the 13th floor What about Billy you know I stand I I don't know may call names because it's been a long time. Yes to my examiner was the same for all of the Took my answers. That's who my examiner was and they call the police they had me thrown I don't want to go.
How about using one of them I might add something that really was talking about the silly cars for the longest time. Most of the civil services were negroes not in any qualified position when one didn't get one he had to get through a lot of people saw happen during the Iraq war going to really start I apply a previous hour and that particular model or two or three that I recognize and some that I didn't know better to be taken men often might not and some of those remain the best. Several of us and they told us all the same story. Now the problem they were telling us this has both been examined. He did look like he was qualified to be a grabber even and he was one of the doing exam and examination I turned down on had to do with a piece of a composition of the body if you know what I mean. And he come asking us a personal question.
So when he walked away I said well I said that's only because I say have you each one said No I said we'll get together let's cut this out a whole lot of marking. We got together a group I got into and we got together went back to him and told him that you tell us something better and that we wanted to matter to course. So then he started back down and then he bided went back and he came back and told me that I was all right and he batted one by one he told us all right the question of police brutality was the number one issue in this and in the recent riot situation. So it's important to go back now in terms of your early years here and let's just look at the police department as it grew up during the early years that you were here sir. When can you first remember or was there always new grue officers on the force and what was the experience of of the negro with the police department during those days.
Ever since I've been here I've had to call a patrolman's not very menacing as it is now. Not too many now but they were carting inclined to go along with the white police. And some time ago quite a few years ago back in the early twenties and I mean in the late 20s and early 30s the police department were pretty cruel and they used to have used to treat the people better especially the colored people because of that particular time we had our police commissioner your name by the name of Rutledge And he always never talked to police to have any courtesy towards the black citizens. And his point was to knock him down kick around beat them or shoot them whatsoever or anything that they see fit to do and it was never not been done about in an investigation never got out of it never got out of the
front door just like that. As time went on and it just eventually got a little better than the end of the late years just a few years ago when they had an upright police crash a White girl was killed up here on Kirby at that at the time we had a man here by the name of Mary Ann on a Polish commissioned by the name of Hubbard Hubbard. Debbie Hart and he put on the crayfish dragon at the time they would pick up anybody at the shell walk in the street at night unless you had on a shoe or some kind of professional manner something could explain that to on. Just pick a pick pick pick you up and if you will answer what is sufficient and run that down to J Young people and some time with night two or three days some time and call it an investigation which was all on call. And the Mal lost his election the next time just because of
those facts because the people got on him and wanted him to fire this police commissioner and he said that Mark was his man. We were at a meeting a couple of times and heard Professor quick debate with him over to him a great grill over here at Wayne State and he says that part was a good man and he kept him there. And any complaint you made to him didn't get no farther than the door I was misused to cut the time by a policeman I had an attorney to sit down and write the police commissioner a letter and I kept a copy of it. You never heard from and it was nothing that had done about it and that's just the way it went on. But we have other samples and I would like that because I have seen some very flagrant exhibition of disrespect to Negro people by a patrolman on the street and witnesses that I can almost call hear this a long time.
Nineteen thirty five The negro man pulled up to the corner of many Wood Avenue and joy road was coming out of your road stopped for traffic lights in real time. Marcella caller directing traffic in the afternoon when school was letting out but there were two people in the car and they were talking and the car stopped in an instant here just a little bit across the cross walk but the school term was standing there watching this particular car watching the people in it and he allowed me to get their car back because if I may use that expression because he was there. And the people in the street a lot of people but he had no respect for the people in the street no people live in car because at that time they were not there were no negroes living or in that area around their men were in general men are often whatsoever because to keep from getting beat over here I suppose he just backed the car. This is something that I witnessed I heard you
were asked a question earlier about you know political force. And years ago you had many Negro policemen on the force as in many I mean were there never has been adequate in number but they were lauded by the police department for the simple reason that they were very hard on negro people. They kept them in the basically patrolling negro areas because you got a reputation by kicking his own people around beating him over the head in their name to speak and I've heard mention of one of them. History Well yes the red. Was 1 1 1 some of it by the name of. I remember him because he used to patrol pacing street I was working late since you and I first came to the city as a barber and he would walk down the street there's trouble standing on the sidewalk. During the Depression nobody had jobs and he'd walk by. If you standing by the wall it was radical movement in the past
and he would use it to tobacco and he would spit as close as he could to your feet. Make it your backers try to spit on you and he says when I come back don't be standing there now or you're doing your thing and maybe there are only two people standing I've heard him tell just two men standing talking. These were men who were working had been working in factories particularly the two men that I can recall now and these men came from West Virginia who are law abiding citizens and I know them very well. It was time we're talking talking about working about unemployment because I haven't been standing from a place. He didn't care just don't be here when I get back. So okay many of them are some of those fellows have abated because they had to do in the gangster area they happen to be the the menace of the gangster was to white man himself because they shot each other.
But I was one of these Negro policemen will kill one of them once in a while and he was OK with them as long as he kept and which he continued kicking and shooting negroes and they have never promoted and I can assure you there are many things that bear this out now negro policeman patrolmen very rarely get above the rank of sergeant. You have you have I don't know how many they have they have been in terms I think they have been very many but the very fact that when you get above sergeant you have to wear the insignia of a lieutenant they give you some status so they don't make negro policeman lieutenants very fast. But they have had many Negro detectives and they can't wait for that moment but the point is that I what I'm driving at is the reason they get this promotion which is seemingly big
maybe these problems were bad in themselves because they can't. I'm of the type that he thinks he's something above everybody else but he's in plain clothes. So he walks out the door. All of the people who know him personally are and can identify him by some of his actions or his name. I only know that he's in Newtown. I say OK let's look for a moment. What a lot of talk there's been a lot of talk certainly in the last five years about discrimination and discrimination in jobs discrimination and housing discrimination in schools discrimination all over. And just let's go back and look back at the times during your early years here and and just try to describe in a few words what the story was at that time in terms of the quality of it. How I mean was treated as a man.
Well if you ask me I'll see it in one word. I mean a couple of words. There wasn't any. There wasn't any of this then for many was the land of promise. I see no point in editorializing. They have stated their history as they've seen it develop over the past 40 years and their perspectives are important. If the problem is to be fully understood. One final commentary on what this existence this history has met over 37 years that have had some experiences that were gratifying because our people cannot be compiled it cannot be generalized. But as a whole the land of promise. I'm still looking for because I find that in the United States which was created was founded because people are looking for freedom and liberty and a chance. It was done by white and they still have it for themselves that
way and I am still looking for the land of promise and I am sure that with the thinking of the young negro today even though they say violence will not get anything it's going to make him THINK YOU HEAR MY say that white men think and give a little bit more consideration and respect for the black man because we are in the land of promise. And if I recall our last summer where I work and said we might just as well get together and do things right because we're not going to be getting up each other's throat every August. So there's no point in that. We're here to stay. We didn't ask to come. We're brought here and we don't intend to leave you just going to see that we get some of the things that are here since we have to build it. Supervisor of the screening and intake unit maintained by the Michigan Department of Social Services
delinquency rehabilitation program seeds of discontent is produced by Dave and engineered by David Pierce State University radio program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
Seeds of discontent
Episode Number
Episode 6 of 26
Producing Organization
Wayne State University
WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
For series info, see Items3313-14.This prog.: Historical perspective on problems of the Negro. A group of older Negro men, residents of Detroit upwards of 40 years, describe why the Negro left the South, what he was looking for and what he found in north.
Social Issues
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Producing Organization: Wayne State University
Producing Organization: WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-15-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:02
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Chicago: “Seeds of discontent; Episode 6 of 26,” 1968-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 1, 2024,
MLA: “Seeds of discontent; Episode 6 of 26.” 1968-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 1, 2024. <>.
APA: Seeds of discontent; Episode 6 of 26. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from