Last citizen; Protest
Nine thousand thirty one. Another great slave rebellion broke out in Virginia that by not turning in this one. Some 60000 have only been killed more than 100 lost their lives running the same route 17 planes were put to trial in. This excerpt from Langston Hughes recording of the glory of Negro history sets the scene for today's discussion of the last citizen protest. The last of us in the new year when 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 that poses to all Americans. The last edition is produced by radio station WABE 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 E-W Richter and Dr. Louis Schneider a professor of sociology
at Purdue University. Today's program protests here now as Mr. Rector. We have been concerned with how the Negro has reacted to and coped with the various limitations and discriminations that have been imposed on him in American life. We have not however as yet faced up specifically to the question of how the Negro has striven to improve his lot. And the moment one begins to think of this. Two things must come to mind. The negroes protest and the negroes defense defense would encompass the work of such organizations as the National Urban League commissions against discrimination and so forth. We shall be dealing with these next week for this week. We want to treat the matter of Negro protest. Protest has taken various forms historically but as soon as we become so to put it history minded in regard to protest we must inevitably think of the early negro slave revolts. One gathers from the accounts of the historians not in the passage from Africa to the new
world. The danger of revolt in the course of the voices was a very real one. According to one well-known historian the Negro men were usually kept shackled for the first part of the passage until the chances of mutiny and return to Africa dwindled and the captain's fears gave place to confidence. According to Marvel Herskovitz an anthropologist who has devoted much research to the negro and his background it is not generally known how early in the history of Negro slaving revolts that occur the negro slave trade began with shipment of slaves to Haiti and 15 turn. The first slave uprising in Haiti in fifteen twenty two first took place only twelve years after the commencement of the traffic in the New World possessions of Spain eleven other rebellions are recorded between the years fifteen twenty two and fifty three of which those of fifteen thirty three thirty seven and forty eight occurred and some for Domingo during the following century tour of all took place at Haiti one a part of the Permian 679
and another and sixty 91. This indicates the mirrors beginning of revolts outside the United States. The history of the West Indies is rich if Rich is the right word with rivals to sign over to and the legal revolution in Haiti will were remembered in the South for decades after to say I was dead whether in the United States slave revolts were also plentiful. We get report after report on such lines as these. The constant fear of slave rebellion made life in the south a nightmare again fresh in the memory of southerners while our heroes of the Negro revolution in Haiti once more the tendency to revolt was on remittance covering all the southern states and the northern ones as well during the period they sanctioned slavery. It's true that most of the revolts were small scale but they were pretty chronic things apparently and their crime necessary and sheer persistence until the time of the Civil War evidently occasioned more than a little theory among southerners started rumors wild rumors among them and the time seemed to have brought about something like panic.
I might add that the revolts of Gabriel Gabriel Prosser as he's called one named after his master in Virginia in 1900 of Denmark Visayan South Carolina nine thousand twenty two and of not Turner again in Virginia in 1831 are the ones most frequently referred to in the literature of slavery evolves. And if these revolts I've often been remarked by the historians we may be sure that they were never forgotten in the south. The story of the slave revolt. If we could tell it in detail would be a most dramatic thing. However dramatic or not I take it that this was not the only form of Negro protest. No certainly not the slave could of course Maleng her he could run away. He could practise sabotage in one or another form. Indeed one of the historians go to work on these themes of protest from a lingering absconding and sabotaging one has almost prompted to wonder how the slave system could have been profitable. But our subject isn't the profitability of slavery. Also there was the famous protest conducted by negro fighters in the northern abolition movement. There were many of these among the
best known names of those of Frederick Douglass Sojourner Truth Harriet Tubman although Douglas as recognized as probably the most eminent Negro leader in the period to which we were pointing. I'd like to have his capture if we can something of the spirit of one of the negro abolitionists you've mentioned Lou namely Sojourner Truth by listening to some words about her by Langston Hughes in her own way Sojourner Truth could be as eloquent as the more outstanding and more verbal and grammatically impressive Frederick Douglass. The following is an excerpt from the folkways recording of the glory of Negro history with the author Langston Hughes narrating. One had been a slave but one way to freedom was a woman named Isabella in New York City. She had a vision. So she changed her name to Sojourner Truth and she began to make speeches all over the north against slavery. Now about my law it gave me the journey because I was to travel up and down the line showing the people that I see
and be in a side on me. And afterwards I told the Lord I wanted another name because everybody else had to know. And the Lord gave me truth because I was to declare the truth to the people. I have had five children and I have seen in most all sold off into slavery. And when I cried with the mother's grief none but Jesus where they be I don't know. And my children don't know where I'd be but I look at the stars and they look at the stars and somehow feels better now walks the world looking for truth. I think of the great things of God not the little things. As a sojourn looking for truth. To her it was freedom not just for herself but for all
persons like these already point us forward away from the violence represented by the old negro slave revolves and taught a new kind of protest. Which appealed to Democratic and religious principles and which in many ways constitutes the foundations of protest as we encounter it today. But we aren't yet ready to go into the present day protest. At least I think we should pay some attention to Marcus Garvey and his universal Negro Improvement Association. I agree we should pay attention to Garvey has a certainly a significant story. Let me draw on Cronan study entitled like Moses which gives the story of Garvey and his association the story is significant partly because Garvey's protest involves a radical rejection of the white world and a program of extreme negro nationalism or racialism. This is no longer a form of protest of the negro leadership today by any means and Garvey is in a sense a tremendous contrast figure. He was born in Jamaica in 1887 evidently of unmixed negro stock. He was not well
educated but always yearned to be considered an educated person and the equal of his enemy. Dr. Dubois he apparently became acutely conscious of the existence of race prejudice in his native Jamaica in his early teens. He also developed an antipathy and distrust toward mixed bloods are lighter skinned negroes in England shortly before the World War he absorbed from certain associates a good bit of African nationalism and also developed or intensified aspirations to be a race leader. In the summer of 1914 going home to Jamaica Garvey was already filled with the notion of uniting all the negro peoples of the world into one great body to establish a contrarian government absolutely their own. He had a vision of a new world of black men not pay own service dogs and slaves but a nation of study men making their impress on civilization and causing a new light to dawn upon the human race. Well little Garvey found his universal Negro Improvement Association in Jamaica. Yes he did and once he had gotten it started there he proceeded to Harlem in New York early in
1916 to offer his program of race improvement to American Negroes. Garvey made his most powerful appeal and got his greatest support from the mass of poorly educated negroes who had migrated from the South during the war boom and who were finding certain disappointments in the shape of the post-war world. It should be recalled also recalled also that existing Negro Improvement groups had given little attention to lower class negroes. One may say that the black masses were ready for almost as a 1999 20 Garvey's organization grew rapidly although it probably never grew as rapidly as he claimed. Well you've mentioned Garvey's nationalism and the appeal it held for lower class negroes American Negroes What do you like to go into a bit more detail on this. Well it's worth recalling how strongly affirmative of the goodness of things black Garvey was this was an emotional a powerful element in his teaching and personality this willingness to invert what we might call conventional American call of values and the sort of going to quickly a kind of equation of blackness and goodness.
As you know also Garvey sort to work out a back to Africa movement which looked originally as if it would get warm support from the Liberian government. I must make short and simple a long and involved story and say that Liberia finally withdrew any kind of support from Garvey ism. Garvey denounced Liberian officials as race traitors and concentrated much hatred upon Dubois who in his mind evidently had become the villain responsible for his Garvey's failures in America and Africa and whom Garvey called purely and simply all white minds nigga. Well I understand that these years of the mid 1920s began to see the decline of Garvey's movement. Yes he was sent to the Atlanta penitentiary in 1925 for five years after an appeal of mail fraud conviction was rejected. He was pardoned in 1927 and deported to Jamaica. He started to rebuild the UN IAEA the universal Negro Improvement Association in Jamaica and had something like a brief renewal of Fame
at the end of the 20s. Certainly the 30s inaugurated a period of obscurity for the Depression generation evidently had little interest in Garvey's ambitious schemes for Negro salvation. He died in London in 1940. Well you've repeatedly said that Garvey and his movement were significant in the whole picture of Negro protest. Would you perhaps outline the significance as you see it. Think the movement showed the sheer eagerness of the black masses to acquire a feeling of pride some kind of considerable self respect. Certainly Garvey spoke as if he were making a tremendous answer to such an appeal. Consent of this which I find quoted from a volume edited by Amy J Garvey entitled The philosophy and opinions of Marcus Garvey. But when we come to consider the history of man was not the negro Apollo was he not great ones. Yes honest students of history can recall the day when Egypt Ethiopia and Timbuktu towered in their
civilizations towered above Europe towered above Asia. When Europe was inhabited by a race of cannibals a race of savages naked men Heat fans and pagans. Africa was peopled with all races of cultured black men who were masters in art science and literature. Men who were cultured and refined men who it was said was like the gods. Even the great poets of old saw again beautiful thoughts of the dew lighted up for the gods to be in companionship with the Ethiopians. Why should we lose hope. Black men you were once great and you shall be great again. Lose not courage lose not fade. Go forward. The thing to do is to get organized
keep separated and you will be exploited. You will be robbed. You will be killed. Get organized and you will compel the world to respect you. If the world fails to give you consideration because you are black men because you are negroes. For hundreds of millions of you shower through organization shake the pillars of the universe and bring down creation even as Samson brought down the temple on his head and upon the head of the listings. And again Garvey declaims wake up Ethiopia wake up Africa. Let us work toward the one glorious island of a free redeemed and mighty nation. Let Africa be a bright star among a constellation of Nations forces Garvie eloquent not to say flamboyant on the subject of the African background among Negroes prospects historically I think this effort to inspire
pride of race and background is most significant. However the methods of Negro leaders today may differ and however different the tones their eloquence may take many of these leaders undoubtedly still wish to instill pride and magnify self respect in the Negro people. In brief I would say that the Garvey movement gets some of its significance from the US it helps through its gaudy thing they used to make negro suspicious of black chauvinism. It prompted a rethinking of the feasibility of various kinds of Negro aspirations. It stimulated contrast conceptions among many who drew from Garvey's activity. The lesson that major hope for Negro aspirations lay not in the aggressive repudiation of the white man and things white but rather than forthright appeals to the white mind based on the latter's own at least partial adherents to Democratic outlooks and Christian principles. Well you have indicated that Garvey's opposition to Dubois was very strong and we've encountered Dubois's name before as an opponent of Booker T Washington DuBois
has loomed large on the American scene as a Negro leader in the context of protest. We might mention his part in the Niagara Movement which merged with the NAACP the Niagara Movement was launched 50 odd years ago when a number of Negro intellectuals met at Niagara Falls. They hoped to establish a national protest organization Booker T Washington oppose the movement and called for your boys a strong criticism. Look at the impact of such criticism Washington to move toward more of an aggressive forthright protest position. And here also with better omits numerous details except that by 1910 the Niagara Movement was no longer really effective and the NAACP with which it merged had gotten started. Well we come then to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Undoubtedly the most important contemporary organ of Negro protest. We can't hope to give a full story on this but I'd like to have us understand some significant features of this major organization and to do
this we'll listen to the substance of an interview we had with Roy Wilkins executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Well the association of course was formed in 99 for the purpose of. Getting rid of discrimination and segregation between United States citizens on the basis of race and color and that was its basic. Formulating principle. Fifty odd persons gathered in response to a call from Garrison Dillard and stated this pretty well in the call and they issued to the rest of the country to join them in this new organization. It was sparked of course by the race riots which had been held in Springfield Illinois in one thousand eight and which shocked the country a great deal. And we as most people know the first 20
years of the association were devoted almost single handedly to the fight against lynching racial violence. And it was not until the middle 30s that lynching began to decline noticeably under the hammering of the first 20 25 years of the associations were the first I like to think that the NAACP had to get the negro free from physical intimidation and murder before it could talk about as enjoying the rest of his rights. And this took a bit of doing. In other words there was a transition then somewhere along the line from the fight for the protection of a new girl physically to the protection of his rights. I wonder when that this change. Well I wasn't on it. I don't think it's fair to say that there was change. There was only and it was it was only that the emphasis upon lynching
was an emphasis rather than an exclusive program. There was a change in emphasis then. Well let us put it this way. The association broadened its activity as it found support and resources beyond the lynching fight. For example in the as early as 1913 it declared against segregation in the public schools so this was an objective. It declared for a justice in the courts which meant the due process clause of the 14th Amendment and the equal protection clause and for Negroes on jury service and all the other things in courts these were carried along with the early reports of the association. They could be studied would show a rather balanced program with a heavy emphasis on Legal Defense and anti-lynching work but not an insensibility to the other elements of the program. Later
these came in and came to be more prominent. Especially legislative work and political action. Of course political action and legislative work for effectiveness had to await one of two things either the enlarged and French's mind of the negro in the southern states or the migration of the Negro to northern states where he could exercise the franchise without restriction. Now this didn't happen of course until after World War One heavy migration to the north in the twenties and then increasing migration following the news that went back and the transfer of relatives and the bringing of this and then economic changes and later World War 2. Whether the population spread and the negro thus became a political factor in certain sections of the northern states and thereafter
legislative work and pressure for the attainment of the goals of the uneasy peace through political action. Or through the use of political influence let's say a voting power became more effective because they had more votes to bargain with. In recent years the Double-A sci fi has really come into conscious life of the American public because of its. Activity in the area of legislation in the area of legal protection for the fights it's been making in the segregation cases in the schools and so forth. Is this just one part of the liberal ACP program or do you have an educational program or other programs as well. Yes we have. We have in our minds on paper a very broad program and we do
educational work. We like to say that we carry on our programs through three channels legal activity in the courts. Legislative political action programs and educational programs educational public opinion. We maintain a Washington office for example for dealing directly with the Hill and with the government agencies. And then our educational program we do the same things that other organizations do in order to win support for their point of view we hold meetings and we should pamphlets and film strips and radio scripts and we hold conventions and conferences and we lecture to colleges and forums and clubs and we try to interest other organizations and get them to cooperate on our program. We in turn
cooperate in their programs so that we use all three of these activities. Of course the most spectacular has been our legal work and people have tended to think of the NAACP as a legal defense organization. But in recent years beginning in 19 in the mid thirties or early 30s really the NAACP has been increasingly active in the political arena where we're a political organization but not a partisan organization. We have members of all parties in the organization. And but we do have political action on our education program. It hasn't been as effective as we would like. We have an ideal for it although some people say it has been effective I think it's been effective largely because of the issues that we have
sponsored and talked about because they themselves have had an educational value and have penetrated the public. But we could do a better job with a little more money. Of course this is the the cry of all organizations especially voluntary ones where you have no endowment and where you have no dry Goulding of money we don't hire any professional fundraisers to raise money for us we pay no commissions on memberships or on solicitations of toil and we comply with all state regulations on the collection of funds it's purely a voluntary operation and an operation has trouble raising money. Does the devil a CPA feel that it has the general support of. All negroes we feel that we have facts. We know we have. The moral support. We don't have the financial support and we don't have the membership
support. A good many people ask very frankly I think you ask a very discreetly How is it that you say you represent the aspirations of 15 or 17 million Negro citizens and you only have 300000 members. If you represented their aspirations wouldn't you have at least a couple of million members. And I think that's a good question. The answer is that you know voluntary association largely nonprofessional we have a small paid staff. You don't get members. People don't just join because they believe in a movement. Recently the Catholic digest within the last six eight 10 months conducted a survey sampling in which they found that about 93 percent of the Northern negroes support the program of the NAACP in their minds and
their hearts and the 94 percent of the Southern negroes agreed with the NAACP program. I'd like to have the dues of all those people here. It would certainly make the job easier. Mr Wilkens went on to explain that white membership of the NWA CPE ranges from 10 percent to 15 percent of the total. Before the recent pressure of southern governments on the NAACP he also pointed out about 60 percent of the membership was in the south. This has shrunk. But Mr Wilkens also indicated that he expects that a recent Supreme Court decision which held that the NAACP was not compelled to give up or make public membership lists should a revival of membership in the south. After the survey of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Let's turn once again to you a little would you give us a lightning summary of Negro protest. That's all it could possibly be. We're started with violent protest beginning centuries ago and mocked for the period before the
Civil War by the slave revolts of Gabriel Prosser done Marc Veasey not Termina were touched on Negroes in the abolition movement we describe the activity of Marcus Garvey and saw it briefly to assess its significance. We then turned to the NAACP one of the clearest things in the whole movement is this in broad perspective there has been conflict between a principle of seeking salvation through activity that rests no hope on the white mind. Or in his culture and the principle of looking for major alleviation of the negro's problems through appeal to Democratic and religious principles that are imbedded in the white man's cultural background a lot of principle has clearly won the day. Again let me emphasize that we have touched only the high spots of The Story of Negro protest. The NAACP is the most far reaching of the negroes protest organizations one that is national in its activities. However there are other local and regional protest groups at work. For example the Montgomery Improvement Association which again through peaceful means carried on the much publicized Montgomery Bus Boycott the Tuskegee
Civic Association whose fight for voting rights for Negroes in Tuskegee has been going on for many many months now but a fight that is again a peaceful one. There is also a host of organizations dedicated to furthering the negro's cause through social work education and discussion which to differentiate them from what we have called protest organizations. We will call defense organizations. These will be our subject for discussion as we take up defense next week and investigating the problems surrounding the last citizen. Let me. Ask Alice and the Grammy voters Governor Rick Scott our last set of this program was produced on record. Right I would go to university. Under a grant from the Educational
- Last citizen
- Producing Organization
- Purdue University
- WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- This program focuses on the history of protest in African American culture.
- A series of programs devoted to exploring the problems facing African-Americans and how these issues impact all Americans.
- Social Issues
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Guest: Wilkins, Roy, 1901-1981
Host: Schneider, Louis
Producer: Richter, E.W.
Producing Organization: Purdue University
Producing Organization: WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
Speaker: Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967
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University of Maryland
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