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This is the seventh in a series of programs entitled seeds of discontent. Presenting the program tonight is hard for Smith Jr. an assistant professor in the School of Social Work Wayne State University. PROFESSOR SMITH. Welcome again to seeds of discontent on tonight's program we shall continue nation of the Negro in America has lived and seen through the eyes of a group of Negro citizens who together represent over a hundred years of Negro history. On last week's program these young women voice their feelings about why the negro came nor what he was looking for and what was actually found. Basically he was attempting to escape the degrading and unjust conditions of the South. And he had hopes of bettering his social and economic status. Although things were better in this in the in the north than in the south the north still felt far short of the promise in most areas of social endeavor. Poor housing menial jobs for many no jobs for some for those who succeeded economically. The factors of social acceptance and
status commensurate with economic status in the society at large was conspicuously missing. The land of the promised land became a concrete and asphalt prison. The specific topic for tonight's program is riots red light district and the Negro community. A historical perspective. This topic represents a high watermark in terms of discontent. And it's symbolic of the struggle against dehumanizing social conditions as a prelude or a starting point. Let's consider the following dialogue. The police department have created an atmosphere which creates hate. Among the common man. Now living in the city of Detroit. Since since I've been raped I have been abused quite a few times by police officers and I've had on two occasions I've had a policeman to come to my house and search me.
Catch me outside of the house and industry to someone search me complicate my keys and go into my house and such in my house which I know where's it gone. I've made complaints about it but nothing ever happened on Mt.. I even talk with the police department about it and he says you will never get you any tea among the policeman's if the policeman's create hate each other among the common men because if I see something that's happening that I would be in a position to or inform on offer so that it's a certain amount of hate that I have for things that they have did to me that I've related to doing what I wouldn't say anything till now I've had a break but I had to break my don't worry and looking very evidence of this and that. Go away with an island without anything haul me off to jail take me down and turn me loose to send it back home and that was wrong and we know that was wrong.
I've made complaints and I have one particular police sergeant. He's retired now that arrested me five times in one month and took me to the police station and each time he took them to the police station I had to come back. Turn me loose it was nothing that he could put against me. Well how do you think that made me feel about the police department I didn't create. I didn't put all police to all the police means in the same category. But it makes you have a certain amount of hate feeling against some policemen to make you just said the police department is no good. Yes things like that this ban. So that's one thing that I always say they should try to create unity among the common man and then everybody can get a loan. But if you see me because I'm not working and if I got fifty or sixty dollars in my pocket why did you get the money from ACT one on for size since I worked for 40 years. As I said if I can't have some money in my pocket it wouldn't be no point me working would it. Well I
don't have it I says well maybe you got your snow bank I got mine in my pocket and so on like that. Now you're doing something wrong. That is when I'm doing something wrong. You can hit me in the police station in a number of times and I haven't found anything I was doing wrong. Why keep bringing me over here. So that's just a way of course the situation severa lighten up some. Now in the last year or so but the last two or three years ago. I was writing the police note every two or three days. Well I have wanted to verify something you say. They seem to have a license to pick people up on the streets for nothing. I mean you know of the insulin. Good listen a little amazing what if you want to call it seems that you find a way to walk past and get over it and come and find a man who is trying to work and make a living and
trying to stay out of trouble. This this this doesn't only come from the top of the police department some way up there in the nonaligned somebody's got to know about these things and there's somebody that they should be able to step in. But as you see it continues it continues to go on in time. And yet today it's about the back seat. I can see them ahead of these people that have done things that come by and pick up an innocent man that has no meaning like you say and don't push him around if you if you have known me well you know somebody's doing something. A policeman's job is to find out these things. Not the citizens business to tell it and they have lost so much faith and confidence in them that they wouldn't tell me even if they knew. It is no coincidence then that every major riot of the past five years was triggered by an arrest by a police officer. Aside from the fact that there are bigots and racists and police departments the same as any other answer the Tousen of American life.
These by only charge feelings towards the police also runs deep into American history and the development of the Negro community particularly ghetto communities in large urban areas. Because of restrictions placed on Negroes in the areas of housing and jobs. Negroes have different statuses have to live together. Some negroes the majority of Negroes were working class man strivers who were trying to get ahead in the face of overwhelming odds. Some a minority who are also overwhelmed by social ODs resorted to prostitution in order to survive. Yeah it is apparent that police departments did not make this distinction. Most negro communities were earmarked as high crime rate areas where every negro was treated as a criminal and as a result generations of hate and antagonisms were spawn. This is merely the spark however.
Listen as each gentleman explain their feelings about the conditions of social life and Negro communities over the past 40 years. Let's start with red light districts. We've heard a lot of talk about various red light districts in Troy particularly prior to the war and just afterwards. I wonder if you can just go back and think about a few of those districts or I remember two in particular they used to refer to Paradise Valley used to refer to certain areas blacks in their own words. How did things get to be just what life was like during those days. More or less for Sachin. Explain about that. And that pre-war days yeah. You take the Berry Street you. Are safe from. From our stand you all the way down. While I say yes all the way down
to about crash it. Was going to set a red light district. Prostitutes were. You know all day and all night in that area and over on CNN. Find out is before the freeways was seen as whining hasting see those three particular streets was noted for prostitutes. Where did most Negroes live during those days. Well in those days there are more steps very well from the south. Well I say south of Middlebury own back of course in their twenties. They all live south of forced it was only a few I guess it wasn't half a dozen families above forced Avenue and they're in their early twenties. You ask a question about the pattern of his kind of housing.
I think I take it this way the fact that you know about the red light district and of course we have we still have I think what you like about this one no one has read my district. What happened to the people who were not interested in that type of thing or care for a better way of life. A different type of neighborhood to live in. And due to the fact that there's a tremendous influx of Negroes to the northern cities in Detroit in general because of the industry here. They still had to live. In the same areas now we had people living in Mr. General with a mission and Hamtramck year and you had a few living on the West Coast they have the system is going to sleep almost through on people different social status. Together constantly. Now I don't mean that they have a reason for some people come in and out and cases of Negro
people I think and you find them in all races. Prostitution had been in existence of the Bible before as one of the men women and men and they're not all black men and white but the white prostitutes don't have to face the same thing as anything. Now I would say that I believe that the people who have this social value on the same social level are same picking the same type of living I think they would prefer being together. And the other people too. Now of course that's creating a thing in among us as Negroes to feel like we're going to feel like. By Jove he's got a better job with animals and he doesn't like me but to see the thing of the whole thing the whole striving is for to varie yourself. So if a Negro I feel like this is wrong for illegals who have. Been advanced I don't think we should get about should forget about the last fellow who hasn't been able to and I think when you know I made the statement that some of us are responsible some of us are. But I mean that's that's that's what everybody. That's not a general thing. Oh it will not raise money
for their plight because first because I think it has left us with him then he would have to be in you know our money wouldn't be what it is. I would have my African name. And I wish to because I could look it up and find out because that much would be much more proud. Well you you spoke of red light districts and prostitution. First let's define what constitutes prostitution. Now we are hearing this let's call it ghetto. That's the name that it's been given you know and we see that quite often in the nose today. What constitutes ghetto and prostitution. What's the cost of it whether it's come from. Why did it happen. Who are the prostitutes. Best customers and
who are their best customers. The Muslim girls point more compound towards more from Sinclair sure but from all the big rich white neighborhoods why. Because he dragged through in his car he picked them up and he deals with them. It is in the person that lives here that does it all right. He comes out of it leaves this house with his wife and children come down yet and get these girls this is given them that I had the idea Well I'm here in this hole I can't get out of it I mean it will get something out here. Now he is the first meandered to mind tomorrow morning is going is out as with his current tie and white shirt on and say that negro has no business out of it. Get on down there. So he sets a boundary line for you. You never get out of it because you can't live outside that why because this is his playground.
This is his playground. Now that I mean I can. Go on and bring out a whole long drawn conversation but think about it. Just think about it and that's my opinion about that. He keep you in here and I want to use you like you want you know was where you want when you want to find a prostitute because you know if he catches outside of this boundary he knows what the other white boy is going to do with it and for. What it's long as he stays he has no interest because I have a catch picking him up half the time you know I'm sad we have some city officials canceled men counsel women what would it be. That I always make an issue about prostitution and when you say prostitution they are referring to in the gray areas because they don't mention anything about what's going on above 8 Mile Road. And it is there too but they always want to make some issue about do something about the prosectors. But. They don't think about anything
about the prostitution customers. I think someone else mentioned it. Now they want to pass laws on what to do for a lot of pressure. Well if they were passed laws to arrest the person who's patronizing patronize a prostitute that would do something to break it up. But they don't think about Rick passing laws to arrest the person who's really contributing to it because he considers his dial. His dollar to it. He's freaking them. They don't go out in his area and ask him to come down into Detroit. He comes seeking the negro prostitute and bring his money. But there are no laws and nobody ever talks about passing a law that will affect both or maybe pair of parity for both people. So they're they're they're they're the only thing they're doing is protecting trying to protect themselves and there is a lot of political expediency in turn make people think they're doing something but they are this is a civil war whitewash given what they want and
soundly. Aside from factors of restricted poor housing and lack of employment in hard times there is considerable feeling about the way negro communities were used. As one gentleman has said Negro ghettos were used as playgrounds. I'm sure the anger and emotion was evident in their dialogue. These conditions of social life led to great psychological damage to some negroes concepts of themselves and those around them. For others increased motivation to flee to find something across the boundary line for yet others. The conditions of life meant to stay and fight. Let's go back to all the riots during the Second War era. Most of you were living here then. I wonder if you can just think back then to some of the causes you saw them then and look at the recent disturbance here in the city
recently. Well what do you see as being similar do you see there are any differences you feel with pretty much the same story the same thing that happened there. What difference if any do you see. Well that's right. Difference where. You see the riot in 43 was out of pure ignorance. Pure ignorance. The riot in 67 was created by conditions awakening and tiredness. If you get what I mean if you want me to go for that explain when the riot broke out. In 43. It was more or less entirely Steve's hoodlums and a chance to blow off steam. Now we can't say that this one this time was entirely harmonized.
And in this thing this time this thing wasn't broken out just to be looting. I mean I know this and I didn't even participate in anything to do it but any man with common sense can see that this thing had been planned. And it is not used to get them used to try to get away from it had been planned it had a reason to be plain. You understand you think you think these young kids are you sentimental Vietnam you sent him to Germany you sent him to friends you simply different places to fight. I have heard a lot of the young fellows say. Why should I die over there. I'm not free here you know that MS will die here. Well think about it doesn't make sense why you gone fight for somebody else's freedom and can't fight for your own. I won't fight for your own state. Now I'm trying to consummate my whole story in a few words and you know it. These are facts. I mean as I see them.
You understand now. How would you feel just I mean you know you you're a questioner not me. But to answer a question with a question if I possibly can. How would you feel fighting for this man shot and let some other rampaging Roman carry you out stuff you wouldn't feel very good with nor does it make sense. Oh I see your point. You get what I'm talking about now. He can't live at home yet he's gone over there and fight another nation somebody else's country for the white bands on and he can't leave it alone because the white man gone tell you is that what you're saying is that he's learned that for his own rebellion or that there was more awareness it wasn't racism. Now that they use this expression a race riot wasn't a race riot. It's just a tad innocent people on one part but waiting on the other and knowing how much he or
his parents have been pushed around all that like that when that's where the awakening comes in. And for anybody's information it one Listen to this. I'll be 54 years old if I live to see 11 day of February. And I know what happened for a lot of these kids that are doing these things. I know a lot of what happened before they were born so that kind of makes my story. Did you have something. Yes I did. Making history as far as I have to go with. That and 42 it wasn't wasted. And the negro was not. Necessarily responsible for that. Right. You had an influx of. White people coming to the north for jobs. Same with the need a tremendous amount of Southern whites and
I there were a lot of rumors flying rumors can do an awful lot of damage. In any instance. And tension was high and I think even even if you May compared with the situation now as far as for its wars worsens and I think even then you can always have a feeling although the way they express it as they are now about. Their going to war. Fighting they still don't have any protection. This is supposed to be home and it's saying the. National Anthem and all that but it really. It wasn't. Maybe it meant for us but we really want you to never get the year. We never got the. Deportation from the United States. Government nor your local governments of people in general respect that we should have. So it was an
emotional thing. And in the whites when they go to fighting each other because there is reason to go didn't want to fight someone else. If you want to fight a thing to have it happen here and there are many things I think at that particular time could continue to contribute to the to the race right. It was a race this time. It was not a race riot economic conditions and I think a white man asked me once why do you think these things have been happening so much in the last few years I says Well you know. The negroes celebrated a 100 year emancipation. I think it was in 1965. I says Now psychologically we've been waiting. In wait 75 years you can weep 87 you can wait 90 I said but. When it becomes 100 years. And
things are still bad I say you think about it. We have three figures which psychologically makes a vast difference in your thinking. If you're looking for something yourself and I say the very fact that 100 years has passed I sit in the thinking of the people now is that we waited. We are now going to get it even by showing that we deserve it. So you think that you may end your and your actions toward me you treat me as if you are you make remarks about me as being untrue. So if you think that way and that to prove that I mean if you're you have to prove that I'm a destructionist. But there's a sure thing in the way you treat me. I may just as well do it and make you respect me I make you think you something to think about. Well if I may say this and come back and. Listen. First to history a little bit is what it is.
Yes I know. When England. Saw they say when they cast out came over here and I'm going to see it just as I know it. They fought. For their freedom from England. They eventually gained their freedom from England. Then they took over this country and it's there now. This is known as the greatest country in the world that mean that this is the report we get this is the way we see it this is the way we hear it every day. Greatest country in the world democratic country. Every man does what he wants. What do you get out here. I revert to this prostitution deal. You get out here you get around the city you see how people are living in this particular neighborhood around in this particular. Part of the city. People stacked on top of one another sleeping on the beds and
floors in the basement and everything else and you get out of around the outer city and you you find hundreds and hundreds of apartments for rent. Not only that they're building them every day. But you go and try to rent one up as a black man. You go and you buy you a house maybe cost you forty five fifty thousand dollars. See how often your windows are broken how much paint thrown on your house. Even if you don't if it doesn't result in bodily harm to what you. Want to stand your ground is a broken house is a barn on your lawn your house smeared with paint you all for your $50000 don't mean nothing because you got the wrong color. This is a thing it's got to be eliminated before this is going to be a great country and I don't care about any in the city I don't get white black ruled out there by the community. I'm
talking just the way I feel. And I'm not telling punches. Yeah that's all that I say OK what about the. Two riots that you saw in your lifetime are. Or was there maybe earlier incidents that almost grew into some kind of open conflict here. You might know about well on a number of occasions number of Q Are patients I've seen things that would normally set off for conflict between the right and the like. Now what would and what and because of that call it more. Hampered by the police department then worse than in the later years. Then they would just get to yeah and talk
among their sounds. The older people you see but as the younger people come along they come along with them which say a new idea to do away with all the things that people thought about and what was free and wanted to be a good citizen you know song line and their first rat. As I said was something that just grew up. That was on call for all together. It works and what's necessary. It didn't profit anybody any. It didn't didn't do nothing far and it didn't do nothing for nobody else but it created a lot of animosity and that's that's about all but the second round. What Colorado which wasn't around I guess just grew out of for a young set. No more shuttle people was in but the younger people.
You know with the new idea and the different news and housing the condition was bad and it was live and in places that wouldn't be seen and Sam couldn't get a job and some would apply for jobs and jobs that they thought they were qualified for and it passed him up to try and I mean so you know what a body of people get together and all of them call us to talk in the same way you know get fed up with stuff if something's going to happen one way or the other yes. So that's just about what I see. Yeah that's just the way I see it. You know that's about the only way I could see it. Next week seeds of discontent concludes this historical perspective on riots. Red Light District and the Negro community. In addition we will also listen to reflection on the future. You have just heard Hartford Smith junior assistant professor in the School of Social Work Wayne
State University. Seeds of discontent is produced by David Lewis and engineered by Dave Pierce this is Wayne State University Radio. This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
Seeds of discontent
Episode Number
Episode 7 of 26
Producing Organization
Wayne State University
WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
For series info, see Item 3313 and 3314. This prog.: See also program #6. Older Negro men talk about Negro-police relationships, the riots, red-light districts, and the Negro community.
Social Issues
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Producing Organization: Wayne State University
Producing Organization: WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-15-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:19
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Chicago: “Seeds of discontent; Episode 7 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 April 20, 2024,
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APA: Seeds of discontent; Episode 7 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