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Today the outlook of the negro worker is considerably by down than it was at the beginning of this century. And by holding the Negro down into the good old areas we are rapidly in many major areas rendering the negro employable. Or had bad. Employable on only a casual but not a permanent thank you because. These are a few of the comments you will hear in the next half hour as we explore the situation of the negro worker in the city. In discussing the last citizen. The Last of Us and 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 that is News produced by Radio Station WBA a Purdue University under a 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 Richter and Dr. Louis Schneider a professor of sociology at Purdue University. Today's program the city and the work are one of the points we have continually stressed throughout our series has been the end of dependence of the various facets of the social life of the negro. We know for example that the negro's housing his education his income his political aspirations are affected by his employment opportunities just as all these things affect one another. Today we take up the question of Negro employment a crucial factor in the interrelated factors that set the negro's conditions of life. I would suggest Walter that we treat this considerable topic by touching on
several main phase brief historical introduction to the situation of the present day negro worker would be a useful thing. Then I think it would be a good idea to turn to the negroes present day overall employment situation. Well perhaps a few words on some special local conditions. And finally if we turn to one day of us that have been made in the past few years particularly since World War 2 to help the Negro in his employment situation we should have a reasonably rounded if brief view of the subject we're trying to tackle. Well following your suggestion I don't think we could do much better than to turn once again to Dr Rayford W. Logan professor of history at Howard University who discusses significant features of the negro's labor situation since the end of the Civil War. Labor had not in this period immediately after the Civil War achieved a strong position which it now had as the national labor union. Debate it
from 1866 to 1869. What it should do with this new contingent of workers looking back we would say is that white workers should have welcomed an increment in the form of new workers even though they be black in their struggle for better working conditions and higher salaries for working men. But prejudicial prevailed custom prevailed and so in 1869 they a national labor union voted to help Negroes to walk and I was but in a separate union in 1869 then negroes organize the colored national labor union. This union like the National Labor Union disappeared largely after the crisis of eighteen hundred seventy three. There then
emerge you know the Knights of Labor which some call a radical organization called its members like Ana kissed and in general succeeded in making it have the image of a subversive organisation. But the Knights of Labor did make an attempt both in the south and in the law to have some of that unions include black and white workers. The year 1886 was a crucial year in the history of labor in this country and that year it was all going to rise as the American Federation of Labor which because of the Association of the Knights of Labor with the Haymarket riots. I was able to assume the dominant position in labor in the United States but the leaders of the EOF available were mostly European
who were interested in skilled workers. Now in 1886 most skilled workers were white men. We're not saying that they were necessarily prejudiced against women or that they were necessarily prejudiced against negro wechat was their philosophy of the labor movement repeatedly expressed by Samuel Gompers and others by the latter part of the 19th century the Knights of Labor had gone out of existence. Perhaps because of this stronger position which the A F of our land had its general convention in nineteen hundred authorized each national affiliate to determine its own membership policies. Most of them including such powerful organizations as the machinist and the railway Brotherhood would not permit neg wells to enter on any second
chances wanted to light the stevedores even in New Orleans. I had mixed all what we did a call integrated unions if you like the carpenter a paperhanger and the like all deniers negroes in separate trade union. But again at the beginning of this century labor itself was not strong politically or economically or as a pressure group. Today the outlook of the negro worker is considerably brighter than it was at the beginning of this century. Two of the principal reason for this AM food Outlook Live now go work there whether he be in awe than I. Unions are not the consequences of the first and second world war. Perhaps I may need louder mood from the South Atlantic states particularly into the
industrial cities of that awful large number move from were all areas in the south into urban areas that conditions of living were generally better than they had been in their previous homes. During World War 2 and afterwards by Hopsin now I'm again mood this time particularly from the southwest and straight up along the Pacific coast. Already in 1935 there had been organized a Congress of Industrial Organizations. Let's see I O for various res unmoving they CIO was more liberal in its membership policy than was the American Federation of Labor. Even at that time as they see i o increase in number and in power because of the large number of women workers and well workers. They offer valid began to liberalize its policies on
June 25th 1941 President Roosevelt issued his famous executive order 8 8 0 2 designed to hit discrimination in the war in desperate on account of race color religion or national origin. Trade unions themselves began to take a more liberal attitude toward Negro workers then jumping down to a period of just about three years ago. These two giant Federation the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organization merged. One of their first objectives was to increase membership from 15 million to 30 million. That object Dave has not been achieved largely because of an amount opposition on the part of white workers including some in the trade union in the southern states.
On the whole however one may say that more neg while workers today. Absolutely and comparatively have better jobs at higher salary is not opportunities for promotion than they had even before the outbreak of World War 2 and that those who believe that the need Well weka will continue to improve his position. Dr. Logan ends on a rather optimistic note although his entire statement is such as to suggest some misgivings about the general employment situation of the negro. In fact at present I'm taking into account the situation that has prevailed since the end of World War 2. There's a good deal of evidence to show that very serious problems attend the whole question of legal employment. Let me give you one somewhat arbitrary but I think significant example of the kind of thing I mean. I turned to a few figures from the San Francisco Oakland
standard metropolitan area 1950 figures recent enough for our purposes today. I use data coming from the US Census and that's extremely important west coast area of total employed male workers minority and non-minority in 1950. Ten point seven percent were in professional technical and kindred jobs but only 2.1 percent of Negro workers had such jobs. Again thirteen point nine percent of the total employed male workers were non farm managers proprietors and officials but only 2.6 percent of the Negro workers were so occupied. On the other hand 8.4 percent of the total employed male workers were laborers except on farms and mines while 36 percent of the Negro workers were laborers. It's interesting also that foreign born Mexicans had a job distribution pattern somewhat like that of negroes Filipinos
also had very low representation in the better jobs and were heavily employed as service workers. Chinese were likewise heavily employed as service workers but they were strongly represented in the category of managers officials and proprietors and were three times as well represented as Negroes in the category of professional technical and kindred workers. Now of course some of these things reflect westcoast peculiarities. It would be interesting to turn aside and look into them in detail. But the main thing for us to notice is the special situation of the negro by comparison with that of the total employed population. Notice again negroes were only one thing if as well represented as the total population in the high level professional and related jobs. They were 115 as well represented in the category of managers proprietors and officials. They were more than four times as well represented in the category of laborers. No matter how far from final for certain purposes the story that figures like these may tell us the
figures themselves yet are one might say most eloquent. Well that is a significant set up in a local area but now I'd like to arrange what photographers call a blow up Lou. I believe the situation you've described is generalizable. Let's get in some of the dimensions of the larger picture in the summer of 1958 Dr. Irwin Sobel economist at Washington University in St. Louis Missouri. Made the following comments to the annual Institute of Race Relations at Fisk University. Now well the Negro has made advances in the land betting the twenty years since World War 2. It must be remembered that the entire white population has been upgraded considerably and other words if we take our census classification will say that there have been a tremendous movement out of the game. I don't get older.
Arius even a tremendous operating out hand O-level then to the so-called higher occupational breakdowns. Now if we compare the negro. In a vacuum we can say that there have been substantial advances. If we compare the negro to the white advances then an advantage of a negro is holding it alone and he is still in the main concentrated about seven out of ten negroes are concentrated in the last two or three occupational breakdowns as opposed to less than two out of ten whites in these particular areas
and the great danger of this development is there that the on skilled labor and the unskilled labor is increasingly becoming a non saleable commodity in the American society. There is increasingly no place really on him and by holding the Negro down into the unskilled areas we are rapidly in many major areas rendering the negro on employable or at best employable. On only a casual but not a permanent basis the Negro is still the first to be fired and the land hired. And I indicate to my student led rather than attempt
to divide the labyrinth barometers. Level of business activity and trying to forecast trends just walk to work. What is happening to the employment of negroes and you'll find that three to four months before we are aware of any general downturn in employment of negroes already has started to turn down. Incidentally the unemployment rate of negroes even in the prosperous period of 55 56 to June 57. Was at all times a level of 8 percent higher than the white unemployment rate today and the recession about six and a half times. Percent so that negroes even in prosperous times experience a level of unemployment that by our own Bureau of Labor Statistics is critical any
area with over 6 percent unemployment as a as an area of labor survive and over 8 percent would put them into the substantial labor surplus area. You know when I had gone back to minority groups not for a permanent. Recession as long as we were engaging in the process of blowing up I'd like to add that the figures for San Francisco which I gave before were really not seriously out of line with the figures for the whole nation. Again according to the 1950 census data for us from a country as a whole 2.2 percent of total employed males among non-whites while professional technical and kindred workers but the comparable figure for whites was 7.9 percent two percent of the non whites employed males were managers officials and proprietors except farm. But eleven point six percent of the whites were sole lasted. Twenty three point one
percent of the non-whites were laborers except on farms and in mines. But no more than six point six percent of the whites were such laborers non-whites are of course very largely negroes. And this is therefore a good enough description of contrast with we Negroes and whites in terms of occupational distribution. We now have a portrayal of historical background and we have a few features of the structure of the negroes occupational and employment situation. I wonder if we can shift gears at this point. Let's turn to one or two of the problems in connection with employment and with relations to employees and employers that the negro faces there are certainly numerous difficulties here not the least of those difficulties is the sheer fact that many people are still pulled in different directions by the caste and class principles. But Ken as principal says in effect We can't accept these colored people on equal terms it's out of the question. The class principal says we're united by the fact that we're all workers facing certain common working conditions.
If you unite you will follow color. If you don't unite you may overlook common economic interests of black and white to say no more. All in all the cast principal still has appreciated will power. We have to realize that as murderball already knew in the 40s and indeed the new before him we are not dealing with absolutely frozen attitudes on the part of white workers. If we're ever justified in speaking of frozen attitudes workers who talk one way a way that would suggest prejudice and readiness to discriminate will sometimes act another way when confronted with a situation in which they find negroes are already working with them and employers for their part if they are minded to end discrimination may discover on particular cases cases just this openness this flexibility this thing to hold onto prejudiced attitudes and discriminatory behavior to the bitter end. There are times when a little courage will go a long way and produce surprising results.
Also of course the throws in this the openness of attitudes gives grounds for some optimism about the work of action agencies that have the object of reducing employment discrimination against Negroes. Well there is much that could still be said about employee and employer attitudes toward matters of discrimination but. Not a look at a means of coping with the discrimination problem that has grown up since about the time of the beginning of World War Two. And that means is the PCs the fair employment practice commissions. These constitute the phenomenon of the 1940s and 50s. The first state to pass fair employment practice legislation was New York and the following Mr. Elmer Carter commissioner of the New York State Commission Against Discrimination gives us a vivid idea of how the New York Effi PC functions. In a statement he made to us in New York City in the fall of 1958 the law provides that in the event a
person applies for a job and he feels he is rejected because of his race or color or creed or national origin he may file a complaint with the commission which has been created in order to secure redress and a remedy for the denial of his civil rights. The law also provides that it's an unlawful employment practice to discriminate in the terms and conditions and privileges of employment. Even when you're implied that is that you cannot if you employ a person who is a negro or Italian or Jewish person you are a Puerto Rican. You may not have a differential wage or different conditions of employment for them because of their race or
color. And the bases of promotion in the echelon of progression in employment shall not be denied restricted or obstructed because of race or creed or color or national origin. So that a person who not only feels that he has been rejected for employment because of his race creed color national origin but who fails to secure promotion all feels that there's a differential we are a a a a a an assignment of duty which are based upon race creed color national origin may file a complaint with this commission. On the filing of the complaint the chairman of the commission which is composed of five members appointed by the governor of the state of New York. May I assign the complaint to one of the commission and direct
him to initiate an investigation. The investigating commissioner with a member of the staff investigates the charges of the complaint. The charges which have been made alleging discrimination when the investigation is completed. The investigating Commissioner must attempt to eliminate the unlawful employment practices complained of. Whether it's the rejection of the person because of his color and his charge or failure to promote by conference conciliation and persuasion if he makes a finding of probable cause to credit the allegation in the complaint that has been demonstrated beyond the
shadow of a doubt that legislation. As one of the great deterrents of discrimination in employment and legislation I can see the widening of opportunity the lessening of discrimination on the basis of race color creed or national origin. And more than that that legislation serves to arouse the conscience 13 years of the experience of the commission of the state of New York has dissipated for ever. Certain legends or myths are concepts which were prevalent during the discussion as to the efficacy of such a law. The idea advanced in the early days of the discussion
of the law against discrimination prior to its passage. That and the introduction of a colored person into the work force of an organization where no colored person is ever been employed before in the job category above the level of the menial would cause a stipulation of racial antipathy in the tag of my sons has been proven to be absolutely with out. But Betty that's the Carter statement is a strong one in favor of the view that legislation can make a contribution toward eliminating discrimination. In our last program in the course of discussing the negro's migration and urbanization we remarked that many of the problems incidence of that
migration and urbanization needed an approach at the level of public planning. There seems to be warrant for a similar contention in this case intervention at crucial points and on crucial problems by public agencies is I suggest an important part of an overall strategy designed to work toward the solution of our racial problems and conclusion then we may say this issues exist in the sphere of such things as migration urbanization and of the discrimination we've discussed today that simply demand overall approaches to structures of relationships. Hence the need for the sort of thing Mr. Carter stresses in our discussion of Negro employment. We had as our guest today via a tape recording Dr. Rayford Logan a professor of history at Howard University Dr. Irwin Sobel economist at Washington University in St. Louis and Mr. Elmer Carter commissioner of the New York State Commission against discrimination.
Next week we take up the topic of housing as we continue to discuss the last citizen the Negro in America. Nuke. Iraq. Thank. You I've been less mean to Dr. Lewis neigbor about her and sociology at Purdue University and the program's producer director E-W record. They discussed. Last. Sort of. Program work produced and recorded by WB for the university under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Shack. And of danger commuted by the National Association of educational drug.
Last citizen
City and the worker
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 employment issues effecting African Americans at the midpoint of the 20th century.
Other Description
A series of programs devoted to exploring the problems facing African-Americans and how these issues impact all Americans.
Broadcast Date
Social Issues
Labor unions--United States.
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Guest: Carter, Elmer A. (Elmer Anderson), 1890-1973
Guest: Logan, Rayford Whittingham, 1897-1982
Guest: Sobel, Irwin
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: 59-50-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:35
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Chicago: “Last citizen; City and the worker,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 17, 2022,
MLA: “Last citizen; City and the worker.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 17, 2022. <>.
APA: Last citizen; City and the worker. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from