Last citizen; Changing image, part two
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men were created equal. A madhouse has property rights. These abolitionists star a menace to the American way of life. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude except as a punishment for crime whereof a party shall have been newly convicted shall exist within the United States or any likely subject to their jurisdiction. Oh right they're free but that doesn't make them citizens. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of this state wherever they reside. All I can say is they're inferior and I've got to be kept in their place. Yeah and this guy dowered proves where right. Why they evolved entirely differently from us. And God created humanity. The Declaration of Independence the 13th and 14th Amendments and Genesis
1 side of the argument. Man's need to justify his actions. The other side. Today we continue exploring the changing image of the American Negro. The last citizen. The last citizen 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 citizen is produced by Radio Station WBA put a 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 professor of sociology at Purdue University. Today's program the changing image. Part two. Here now is Mr. Director and part of one of our discussion of the changing image.
We concentrated on the evolving conceptions of the negro in the United States until the time of the Civil War. We noted that when the negro is subjected to handicapping conditions he doesn't look very good. Thoughts if you have state laws forbidding him to learn reading and writing you can't expect him to produce great works of literature. We must say that the image we have of the negro hinges to a great extent on his appearance to us after we have treated him in a certain way and after we've treated him in a certain way if we were uneasy about it we want to justify ourselves and then we have to prove that he was worthless all along. Just to show that we were right in treating him in the way in which we did these things one another deadly fires when one inquires into the nature of the image held of the negro up until the Civil War. Or for that not of there after to day way continued the story of the image of the Negro in America. We will touch at least briefly on four main periods since the Civil War. Each of which had a profound influence on the image of the negro. The whore periods are
reconstruction of the period between reconstruction and the turn of the century. The period around World War 1 and the period from 1930 to the present going directly into the reconstruction period. It might be well to note that at this time the great majority of Negroes still lived in the south. We must also remember that immediately after the Civil War the Confederate states were treated as conquered lands. Federal troops occupied the chief towns and the troops included numerous negroes Southerners were undoubtedly resentful about this perhaps resentful isn't a strong enough term. The evidence suggests that very many of them were simply shocked among the negro troops were former servitors of the whites. I'm less under the circumstances could only intensify feelings of resentment and shock. We have to remember too that all this occurred at a time when the Army of the Confederacy had been disbanded and it was forbidden to wear the southern uniform. The resentment and shock we should probably
had fear widespread fear for example in the year 1865 that Negroes would stage a general uprising at Christmas time. Thus we can see how difficult it must have been for the Southerner to adjust to the new situation. And it can easily be imagined that such a situation would create an atmosphere for the development of more unfavorable images of the negro feelings against him must have run high and feeling certainly helped to mold images. Incidentally I don't mean to imply that all southerners felt the same way about the negro or that various feelings were evenly distributed in the various layers of Southern society. There are testimonies and reconstruction documents that it was for the most part the poor whites and generally the so-called lower classes of Southern society not the upper classes who had the largest antipathy to the negro. I suppose that the poor whites antagonism was at least in part lower roused by the fear of competition from the newly freed slaves. Competition of an open labor market.
There's certainly good grounds for such a supposition. Besides poor whites had not only already experienced competition from the Negro but had themselves often been despised by Negroes at the same time that they depended on the negro to be low man on the totem pole. Well here we've already hit on two images the image as a competitive worker and the image of the low man on the totem pole. All right now let's explore this matter of images further. I have here a volume that reproduces a letter from S.G. Memon Jr. the Confederate secretary of the Treasury written to President Johnson on September 4th 1865 Nunzio writes the country seems prepared to assign to this negro race an inferior condition. He writes of the vices of an inferior race and of the natural indolence of an inferior race and of the natural indolence of the African race and of the necessity of training Liam theory of race. He does speak of the possibility that
Negroes will prove capable as he puts it of standing up on the same platform with a white man. But in the context of his letter it hardly seems that he takes this very seriously. When you say that this view of the negro the image of you wish a little was the prevalent one in the South after the Civil War. This kind of deal was certainly very widespread. We find Governor Dean us walk off Florida in an inaugural address of December 20th 1865 praising the negro forest faithfulness to Southern whites and war and peace. The governor notes that it was not the negroes fault that they are free. He adds but they are free. They are no longer our happy contented slaves with an abundant supply of food and clothing for themselves and families and the intelligence of a superior race to look ahead and make all necessary arrangements for their comfort. The idyllic picture of a negro is conditioned on the slavery is to put it as mildly as possible very debatable. But the important thing here of course is the governor's blind
assumption of the superior intelligence of whites. It sounds as if this would not have been a matter of argument for him I thought. It strikes me a little about this sort of an image the one obviously held by Governor Walker as a survival of a pre-civil war image. It is and there's a point to be made here that is that the pre-Civil War images particularly those are antagonistic to the negro were reinforced and augmented by reconstruction conditions and experience B C Truman a journalist who after the Civil War report on conditions in the south to President Johnson and to Congress wrote almost the only key that furnishes a satisfactory solution to the southern question in its relations to the negro. That gives a reasonable explanation to the treatment which he receives in the estimation in which he is held is found in the fact too often forgotten in considering this matter that the people from their earliest days every guarded slavery as his proper estate that a vast majority of the Southern people entertain this opinion. No one who travels among them for
eight months can doubt. Holding that the negro occupies a middle ground between the human race and the animal they regard it as a real misfortune to him that he should be stripped of a protector. The persistency an honesty with which many even of the greatest men of the South hold to this opinion is almost unaccountable to a Northern man and is an element of such magnitude that it cannot well be omitted from consideration. Is there any evidence that would indicate that the behavior of the newly freed slaves reinforced the type of thinking which we've been reviewing will opt out after the Civil War there were negroes who were at times conspicuously disorderly who were engaged in criminal behavior who were known to be improvident who could show obstinacy in refusing to work responsive and could give themselves airs that would have been ridiculous and anyone behavior of this kind reinforced negative images of the negro. Even the All Whites could own did also witness very different kinds of behavior behavior which hardly anyone could criticize. What we might call selective perception seeing what we want and need to see
overlooking other things this would no doubt have helped to eliminate from the picture shall we say more commendable kinds of behavior. And I would add that Negroes in any case were frequently enough misled by by on scrupulous whites and that white southerners had on the slave system scarcely prepared Negroes for the responsibilities of freedom. Moreover not many thought to check the ways of negroes against the ways of whites of nearly similar levels of education and similar background. And the South had a heritage of thought about the Negro that made it all too ready not to give him the benefit of any doubts when it came to why sassing has moral worth or his ability. There was an ancient and powerful inclination to attribute shortcomings not to circumstances but to night a viciousness or incapacity. This would seem to indicate that the white Southerner never gave up the beliefs about the negro the images of him held prior to emancipation and that he wouldn't time try to replace slavery with some other form of institutionalized discrimination.
That is exactly what happened within about a dozen years of the end of reconstruction in 1877. The South had begun to launch itself on a Jim Crow program. This brings us then to the second period we want to discuss today. The period between reconstruction and the turn of the century the period which Professor Rayford Logan describes as the nadir the low point and his book The negro and American life and thought. Professor Logan speaks about the reaction of himself and his students to the portrayals of the Negro they found leading national magazines and the post reconstruction period. But what amazed and I might say shocked was the evidence the stereotype in leading national magazine when one of the students first began to report on the anecdote on the cartoon and the
stories in Harper's magazine frankly I did not believe that student and I had her bring copies of Harper's Magazine to class so that we could have this visual evidence. I think one might be safe in saying that there's hardly a newspaper in the Deep South today which lamp power could do it. As did Harper's Magazine in that period between 1077 and 1901 and author Markham review a scholarly magazine was not as bad as was Harper's but the North American Review. John Wright took a position in support of the South. Most of the contributors to the short stories in Atlantic Monthly and in its various departments and they wrote some of the most outlandish stories in the most atrocious dialect that one could possibly read.
Similar articles lampooning need welders appear in Lee's nor the newspapers. Let's put aside this statement of Professor Logan's something of what a historian CV and Woodward tells us in his valuable little book The Strange Career of Jim Crow. He points out that as far as action in relation to the Negro is concerned it took the south about a dozen years after 1877 to get launched on a Jim Grobe program. He recounts how as recently as 1885 one team McCants Stewart a Negro newspaper man traveling down from Boston to South Carolina found no discrimination directed against him on railroad trains or in general when he was prepared to die. He was impressed according to our historian with the ease and frequency with which white people entered into conversation with him for no other purpose than to pass the time of day. He is reported as saying I think the whites of the south are really less afraid to have contact
with colored people than the lights of the north. It would be foolish to argue that this and other lines of testimony establish it as a thought that the negro enjoyed anything like full social equality with whites in the south at this time. But the important matter is that within a short time after Stuart's visit the South began to exhibit an extreme in racism that had not been manifest before roughly about the year 1890 when the Jim Crow car movement gathered for us. The Supreme Court had already begun to weaken its resistance to the racist outlook and in a case decided in 1996 as spouse the doctrine that legislation is powerless to eradicate racial instincts and does see than would have anything to say about images. Yes he points out that in literary materials such as the popular novels of the time there also seems to be a rather sharp shift before the last decade of the 19th century according to his review of relevant material. The picture of the negro that emerges is one
that inspires a kind of respect sympathy and even an indulgent tenderness and affection. He refers I suppose to the Uncle Remus tales and similar writings. Yes that's what he has in mind but by the end of the century the picture has definitely begun to change Anglo-Saxon superiority doctrines were finding much favor outside the South in connection with American enterprises in the Pacific and the Caribbean. These doctrines fitted in neatly with some convictions about white superiority and the need for white supremacy. By nineteen hundred and in the years immediately following well-known titles had begun to appear. Such as Charles Charles the negro or beast or specifically fictional items such as Thomas Dixon's the leopard's spots or romance of the White Man's Burden 1865 to nineteen hundred and the same right as the Klansmen and historical romance of the Ku Klux Klan and the traitor. A story of the fall of the Invisible Empire. As one might guess from the titles of these books popular as they were did much to create a distinct
and distinctly unfavorable image of an equal. When you say little that there was much change in this negative image of the negro in the period following the turn of the century until say the outbreak of the First World War. Well until apologists like Franz Boas were in this period giving little comfort to racialist theories that would impute inferiority to the negro. On the other hand there was much rather popular material which was clearly in the racialist vein. I have here a copy of a famous or perhaps a but I wore it as notorious book by Madison Grant. Originally published in 1916 entitled The passing of the great race which made something of a star in its day and which scholars at least have not forgotten. Grant wrote in an easy fluid style that very probably persuaded many readers who could not evaluate his arguments properly. Here are some of his choice words about the negro. One of the incentive to imitate the dominant race is removed the negro or for that
matter the Indian revert shortly to his ancestral grade of culture. In other words it is the individual and not the race that is affected by religion. Education and example Negroes have demonstrated throughout recorded time that they are a stationary species and that they do not possess the potentialities of progress or initiative from within. Progress from self impulse must not be confounded with mimicry or with progress imposed from without by social pressure or by the slave of the lash of Grant's ideas seem to be pretty much in line with the pro-slavery thought we talked about in our last program thought that impeded progress to the negro under the system of slavery. That's quite correct then as if to confirm what you have just said my eye falls on another passage which is most important. Grand says the Native American has always followed and finds now in the black man woman followers who ask only to all day and to further the ideals and wishes of the master race
without trying to inject into the body politic their own views whether racial religious or social. Negroes are never socialists or labor unionists and as long as the dominant imposes its will on the survey and race and as long as they remain in the same relation to the whites as in the past the negroes will be of value of the element in the community. But once race to social equality their influence will be destructive to themselves and to the whites. In other words grad completely ignores the many slave revolts and which slaves showed that they were anything but satisfied with their situation. He ignores such political leaders as Stephen Douglas who was a power in the abolitionist movement and in fact he ignores and pushes aside whatever might interfere with the thesis that actually amounts to that good old bromide the Negro is all right as long as he's kept in his place. Grant's work then is as racist writings seem to be an extension of the popular literature published in the early years of the century.
You can certainly look at it that way at the same time we should note that Grant's work definitely how it had foundations in a European racialist thought and in his advocating of the superiority of the so-called Nordic race which he extolled as a race of rule as organizers and the rest of crowds grandes thinking has definite effect of these with Nazi racialist theories. But no. Let me give another example of a piece of work purporting to show negro inferiority in this case using materials from World War One Army intelligence tests the work I have in mind this by Carl S. Brigham and doesn't title the study of American intelligence. It appeared a few years after World War One the opinion of Brigham held of the negro as suggested by this sentence which I take out from his concluding statements. We must face the possibility of racial admixture here that is infinitely worse than not faced by any European country to day for we are incorporating the Negro into our racial stock while all of Europe is
comparatively free of this taint. It's only fair for me to add that Brigham completely repudiated his study some years later. Nevertheless works like those by Grant and Brigham had a certain definite Vogue around the time of World War 1 and its immediate aftermath unquestionably helped to shape the image of the negro. Well that certainly gave us an idea of racist theory of this period up to the end of World War 1 and even to a few years beyond that but what events of this period could we describe which would bear on the image of the negro. It's a very eventful period as we all know precisely what events to choose as bearing on images of the negro I'm not entirely sure. Let me take a stab at how historians emphasize the bloody aftermath of World War 1 for the negroes in the year 1919 as especially highlighted. It was apparently quite a gruesome here one in which something on the order of 25 race riots took place. There were riots in Washington DC and
Chicago Illinois and Omaha Nebraska in Longview Texas Knoxville Tennessee and he lay in Arkansas and in other places. One historian remarks from June 1990 to the end of the year racial friction was more violent than it had been at any time since Reconstruction. Just what the causes of this may have been of these race riots in this terrible year of 1919 and certainly not entirely easy to say. Perhaps negro served as targets of the accumulated discomfort Warry and anxiety that had been a building in numerous whites because of the war itself. But it is the case also that World War One had for the first time brought Negroes to the north as well as to urban areas in the south in large numbers. Negroes were making one might say their first real threat of entree into modern industrial enterprise and into the great cities that are the homes of that enterprise. IQ problems of housing and problems arising from the proximity of settlements of Negroes to white residents of cities
came very much to the fore in this period. We might make the inference then from these various things that there was in the minds of many Americans who were not writers or even readers of books of racialist theory a conception of the negro as an unwanted intruder a menace to their way of life from the white man an alien who threatened to taint the communities in which you came and all around undesirable. Yes but we have to remember too that this represents the development of Northern conceptions which is as it were piled on the top of the continuing generally unfavorable image of the negro and contain the white south. Well so far it seems that we have a pretty unrelieved negative image of the Negro in this period from 1890 until after World War 1 What about favorable images of the negro during this time. We often have to infer the existence of favorable images just as at least in some cases we had to infer the existence of unfavorable lines one line of evidence that's pertinent as the evidence that comes from Supreme Court decisions from about the time of World War
1. I think it's fair to say that in general the courts has proved friendly to the cause of the negro during the past several decades. Not all Supreme Court decisions during these years have seemed satisfactory to those fighting the battle for Negro civil rights. But it certainly appears fair to state that broadly the court has acted during the past few decades. You know accordance with equalitarian democratic notions that imply the image of a negro of the negro as a man who is under law to be treated as any other. For the more we can say that while the general image of the negro was an unfavorable one in this period more informed groups in the country will beginning to develop or had all along a favorable image. For example the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was formed in this period and formed primarily by whites liberal educators publicists and others like John Dewey William Dean Howells and Boswell garrison of the lot who helped organize the NAACP and to kind an image of the negro based upon
equalitarian undemocratic pre-suppositions in the sense there is was a decidedly favorable image. Well around the time of the First World War. Were these favorable views as suggested by the actions of the Supreme Court and as demonstrated by the group of whites you mentioned and not to convince the negro that he could feel secure in a generally approving climate. I would think not. Remember the background of such things as the race riots of 1919 the general image was still far from a favorable one but at least we find in this period the elements of a more favorable image developing. Yes but let me remind you that throughout the history of the Negro in this country that had always been elements of a favorable image. We might recall the early Quakers and abolitionists as we found earlier today. These are elements were pretty well toned down around the turn of the century and the beginnings of a new favorable image often have to be in Florida in the period before World War One. But if we may now move forward in time the period of the 30s provides the background for a
real change in the image of the negro. During the Depression the negative image was still manifest in the all too frequent applicability of the familiar phrase last hired first fired but the depression also in part at least had what we might call a kind of reducing effect and making times tough for so many. Both Negro and white it helped us trust the common humanity of all who were in the same boat and needed aid and encouragement. I'm old enough to remember vividly scenes of Negroes and whites sitting together in the same public places in large northern cities waiting to apply for relief. The rise of fascism abroad particularly of our Nazi brand of fascism showed Americans something of the consequences that might be expected of systematically putting into practice ideas of the inferiority and wickedness of various minorities. There was a star in people's minds and I think at least some fairly widespread recasting of the image of the negro the Cold War finally with its
virtual forcing of our attention on the interrelationships of peoples throughout the world has inevitably made many of us who previously ignored such things are aware of the aspirations of colored people in our own lines and of the way in which they must regard unfavorable images of the negro entertained in the US and the discrimination practiced against him. Well I think that the change in image in recent years can be fairly clearly seen low motion pictures for example no longer present negro caricature as they once did. And there has been a rising respect for outstanding Negroes like Ralph Bunche and Martin Luther King. Yes but one mustn't minimize the fact that the negative images we've been talking about still exercise a strong influence on many of us. Negative images and expectations based on these images we do not expect to find the negro even today and certain kinds of positions the experience of the Frederick morrow administrative assistant to President Eisenhower with whom we spoke in Washington would seem to bear this out.
There is always a great shock. Most Southerners or even to most whites who come to the White House to do business with me we have not publicized the fact too much that I am here on the staff of the president and the very fact that my responsibilities are the sum of those of any presidential assistant. People know me merely as a name and when they have to come to the White House to transact business it sometimes it is humorous and sometimes almost tragic when the secretary opens the door and the person is escorted in to see me. There been times when we have had to quiet people down with a glass of water with an aspirin. I merely tell him to sit out and get their breath thought to relax because the shock is so severe. Whenever these people have an opportunity to see me in action and to talk to me at length why there is generally a a friendly a feeling when they leave
and when they arrive. Yes and I imagine that Mr morrow's experience is by no means unique. We are now entering a new era in which the situation of the negro in the United States is dynamic or change for within an unprecedentedly dynamic world. It's a virtual certainty that the present time of change will be followed by even more change the shape of the Negro Problem is a revolutionary transformation and without question a significant part of the transformation will have to do with very radical changes in the image of the negro during the first programs of our survey as we have repeatedly touched on the question of race. We have spoken of racialist theories and have to some extent even explored these theories next week Dr. Schneider and I will be joined by Dr. Adam Bede Burdick Professor of Genetics at Purdue University. For more complete exploration of the matter of race as we continue to delve into the nature and problems of the negro and
- Last citizen
- Changing image, part two
- Producing Organization
- Purdue University
- WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program, the second of two parts, discusses the ways in which white views on African Americans have changed over time, as well as how they have persisted.
- 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
- Racism--United States.
- Media type
: Morrow, E. Frederic (Everett Frederic), approximately 1906-1994
Guest: Logan, Rayford Whittingham, 1897-1982
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: 59-50-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “Last citizen; Changing image, part two,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 23, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-7m042m42.
- MLA: “Last citizen; Changing image, part two.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 23, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-7m042m42>.
- APA: Last citizen; Changing image, part two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-7m042m42