Special of the week; Issue 35-70 "Organizing the poor and oppressed" Saul Alinski
NDE are the national educational radio network presents special of the Week this week from Canada from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Own that I'm going to write a book. Basic universe however you want. You want progress. Happy happy happy. He's been called a professional radical a man who makes his living by storing up trouble. He is of course Saul Alinsky a social organizer from Chicago friend of the Black Panthers full of the establishment. The following program was prepared by Neil Copeland in Halifax Nova Scotia where Saul Alinsky visited recently at the request of Don how's the university and the maritime School of Social Work. He was there to discuss the problems of organizing the poor and oppressed. Another meeting he was given some background particularly with respect problems of the Halifax black community.
By most of your common Kemble an organizer of the Nova Scotia civil liberties and human rights Federation the Nova Scotia civil liberties and human rights Federation grow out of nowhere going to zation in. Halifax in 1960 for. Approximately at that time. AFAIK bill which was it. A. Community of black people black people were moved and the city took over the community. I'll give you the details later on. And there was a white one and there were more where they moved around. They were in the north end of this city. You know in a community without services without public water services and so on. And the city hired the right development and I presume in the back. I remember that without water. Well like.
OK now it's not a and so the city hired a legal case an officer whose job it was to relocate the black people of this community of Africa built in the larger Halifax community. Or what do you mean by the larger our park. I mean to get rid of one more open way out where they moved they were going to into the city itself or out into the suburbs. Septembers I am. Where they move within the city itself a good number went into public housing. Whether if they were good. You know. I mean. I mean blacks were Balo.
I mean they moved from one ghetto to when other ghetto where they relocated from one you know. Oh no no no yes and no and certainly there are. I mean yeah I am when I was somebody help me out somehow I figured it out. I am I right. I really don't know because I don't exactly know where the residents went and I know that a certain percentage went into public housing which is not. To. Get allies to cover. The fear I get are from how far. Yes if you haven't upgraded your news from the house or. In. The fringes of the
the fringes of the ghettos or integrated or are just starting with you you gotta serve somebody one of the problems is that in all these organizations like the AC. Civil liberties and human rights Federation is that you meet the same people who go to ten other organizations 0 to 20 other meetings and put on another set of ads to do the same things. I'd be pleased to hear any comments you think on that I'm sure that's probably a universal. I've been thinking in terms of power seeing their family on the street and I'm probably one of the landlords can I be of the political parties that are aware that what the power pattern actually was what your example landmarks are your chapeau my what goes on. How many votes are Brown vs.. It's an action that's come. Conference over the net. Let me tell you something.
The biggest problem that an organizer has and developing a band organizing as that he never has a chance to step down and reform and Frank. Aren't sent the size of any of those I'd be over develop any concepts. Europe's in action the pressure of action is so on stocks and so on us. That you have to depend upon your most faithful ally which is the establishment which always does you the favor of reaching out arresting you know anyone in jail and for the first time you get a chance to Frank you know you can talk. And actually this is where the really the bad news. Of the one big thing that brought to a Mike Muth the caring route. There was a letter out from the day our one chance they're going. To have this is something a farce that was unorganized you already have us a freshman. A. Dangerous reputation so that you get a jail cell fires now.
You know if they want to. That somebody else put up your airplane empires. What happens of our offspring flying. That's probably one promise they say of ours physically. So the only way out of that with my daughter would call retreat. Oh yeah now you're began. Oh I begin to think that Saul Alinsky is message. Think think yourself into organizing. Because in organization there is power. And he considered the example of Bridgetown Nova Scotia where meetings with the townspeople had failed where boycotts had been tried and failed where the blacks had been told almost literally that they'd better be satisfied with things as they were because they weren't going to be any better. When you get to our organization movie when you can communicate to people that they can do something about it by organizing and having it power
then what was up. Bad rotten scene begins to fragment into a specific issues. You know here was a definite issue on the plane and these people are. Sitting around they can organize to get it right. That's where you're going to start up. But I just think if you know where your first born. Buy bread in a stinky rapist operation over there and start going to jail. I don't believe that. I've never seen a pic. Every community I've ever been in that's always one of the first things always that is would were different there than anything I saw out of the first thing you get at people Martin Act that different people object to Bangs shan't that no matter where they are in Brad's town or broken.
If you can communicate and show them in an organized way they can have the power to do these things not only will they do it but there's another very important thing involved here. And that is that I'm working on an organism and in an organization you're opening up an opportunity for people to have a little bit of living apart from the bread apart from the discrimination of or from anybody. Let me give you an example. Back about six years ago three years Chicago papers have nothing else on the front page but a mass in Beijing that we've gotten on with blacked out. 15000 blacks took over the city. Now the papers are about man's terms of schools community control of schools. Quality of Haitian options and one of the
opportunities afforded here was of this guy that nobody knew was a line. Finds in step across that that's when the mayor of Chicago saying look this is that you understand and the mass media around them shoving their microphones up to us saying you know what's your name sir or my name is Bob Smith. What's your opinion of such and such Mr. Smith. Nobody ever even asked him what his name was before now. Do you ever ask him appear to be going to anyone anything I understand he was used to it was the person he was in Libya. No there are no people nowhere in the running. Putting Bridgetown Nova Scotian didn't want to do that a little bit of lobbying and I don't think people are going to think you know I just think they're having a real opportunity to really organize and get turned into MO.
They've been given the chance to deal elsewhere out of town take feels that they have won they have built a child's caps they have their own culture charge cost and if they want to buy Let's go to another town. But so far not. What is seen I mean nobody right. That's not good let's say what you feel opportunity. That's not a map autonomy. What is their next step. That's kind of organization. Let me give you an example. We have a great big department store in the city that as a. It's a start of a status symbol. They never hired any blacks. They did hire some way down the third level along the work and wrapping packages
someplace but you never saw any black sales or anything else. And whenever there was an attempt going by there and so what people want their own I mean the number of black organizations that try to buy from them more. When I say really moving and I mean something like this you get together in this case we got together while the organization. We're going action on balance that it was with on Monday and Saturday we're going to ask a thousand forms a star you've got a room as a sub block that man and I were out going shopping. And there are going to wherever one good Sunday you know their church dresses and this wasn't going to be a set of nothing out of place if
they're shopping for themselves up in timing for I would just go with anyone going through the revolving door because one lucky figure the barrier anything any day there's nothing being bought and scarred because damper on it. I mean for me low income growth you know I've heard happening anywhere. Powers to carry us with this and that and then around if not for very far because far because we bought the whole damn store our COD cash on every line. Time's up they're not trapping operation for the next three days. Now this was the tactic offset one of the things that got our guys in I was too is that the threat of attack because many many times more effective than the tactic itself.
So then we now have six or seven Uncle Toms that we cherish and protect very carefully because they're important was the lines of communication over the establishment you know we count we know whatever we do nothing about right. Japanese then a male sprite becomes even more important star. They were told about they were but they were brought in on a committee given their assignments and a very brief the very next day that star was on the phone. They had a emergency policy meeting and not talked about. We were going to do you know that and know it. But that they won. They were not going to hire blacks for salesgirl Jr. and him so what they wanted to meet with the black organization. Disgusting. So out of that but when he sang again we said OK we'll meet with you next Monday. Then we get the message that this is in the
U.S. everybody and. Punitive. My name is Sheila Armstrong and I'm on welfare so I should either be at the bingo at a tavern because they check day. And I take it out in. Well I'm trying to raise six children in less than $300 a month. There's so much for like so much for fuel it runs over what it should we don't eat another day of the week. Yet you go to the welfare they say we give you what you can but you're right a set. And the man who sets our rates Starkman that Welfare Council there's not one member on that's ever been on welfare. What they give us to live on a year they
spend on entertainment. But when your first steps on the line one bit. I didn't hear about are they're lazy and shiftless but we're not. We want to work we want to raise our kids so they won't be welfare people in 10 years time. But where do we go what do we do. Can you help us. Welcome back to the old burning all over. And over and over again. Organize organize organize. Now we're faced with organizing welfare clients. We're up against. The side of a couple Rob that is different. It isn't so much. The fact that whopper clients are so scared of punitive action. Because every kind of organization that has ever taken place in any field in any country and has always faced a threat a punitive action. From the establishment in that particular area. When you argue for labor unions and you organize and so forth
when I'm waiting on one that's over a lot of problems or just doesn't want. A problem with the organization I want for. People on welfare is one you've got. The. People. That to a large extent. Believe that being on welfare is a very temporary thing. At some point they're going to be getting a job and moving out of welfare. And therefore they do not identify themselves if I can use that term on a class conscious basis with their whopper recipients. They hide up front of you you even get to the exchange where there are people on welfare that believe that other people on welfare come check they are out brb ignoring the bar but they but they are different or not they're not like the others. Are. They still suffer from a form of feeling erroneous. The fact the feeling is wrong. It's baseless as a reality the fact that they feel is all that is
important here. But there's a certain stigma to being on welfare and they like to hide that coming out. Organization means publicly admitting it now. It's only after a period of of some time. And only after. You get that kind of organizers who are really competent in their. That you can start getting mass action of welfare recipients. You're doing their job in the field of social work today. A small number a number that was growing just as I was talking about education before you getting the same thing in fields of social work. Where the kinds of people who are now studying social work. I doze his commitment there over to the POR and not to the established schools of social work should be changed into skills for radicals that in order to be a social worker you should be trained to be an agitator and
organizer. Thanks. Go out and start. Start actually going. But Saul Alinsky is main confrontation with the people of Halifax was yet to come. On the last night of his stay at the best attended meeting you ran headlong into Burnley Rocky Jones a strong and articulate black who heads up the militant African Unity and liberation movement. Rocky himself is committed to a violent solution for the troubles of his people because of your analysis and your seeming acceptance of the American democracy and how you would like to see it instituted. I'm asking you how can you in fact expect black people especially not not talking about working or poor class whites but how can you expect black people to try to get involved in bringing about
that type of a democracy based on competition and exploitation when in fact we know from past history from our experience in North America that we black people become the whipping boy. How can you justify your position. I'd like to know. Look I said at least three or four times with him some very fair about the West finds that a paper can do all that we have down in my possession for example on violence and my country has always been I could never understand why society should get uptight about riots there and riots there in the light of what the because that violence really is and has hasn't been violence has been violence primarily against property as over against the years of lynching
of violence against the spirit against the against the very life meaning of every black person we had in our country we have been. You had to completely first degree second degree third degree of satire. But now we're faced with the world that we're living in and what we want to change. There's no point we don't want to honor a lot of you get about this business a lot of that's because I'm nothing but sex solutions. Now we know we've got to live together we know we've been wrong. And now or this is the thing to do is to be able to first set up communication between you and me because it doesn't matter what ideas I've got it doesn't matter what ideas you got. If you're going to always look at me and say why do you two timing rotten louse I
don't trust anything you say and I'm going to love the deal and say That guy doesn't trust me and he's just up to me and and he says that I'm a louse So the hall with a mock up my own business. We're going you're not thinking your way out west in about why you would expect me to accept the same society that historically has its rules and it's a changing society. It has been changing enormously and let us think you know black people in that society has not changed one iota. Black people in the United States over the last 10 years has changed a hell of a lot. Now. What about. Look at the sound of what the voting what the changes in voter registration. Mr. Lynn what do you say that there has been any difference between the position that black people have occurred in the have occupied on the social ladder now than what they did 200 years ago. That we are no longer on the bottom is that what you're saying. I am saying that up until 10 years ago
until 10 years or 12 years ago that the United States refused to face its race issue. Everything that was going on were sweeping under the carpet. I'm saying to you that it would not confront that in any way. That any time any blacks stood up and acted like a human being he was immediately denounced as an agitator and the problem is it was down all down. If I was down south it was lunch. Verity was tarred and feathered. Any white civil liberties guy who went down south even opened his mouth. Got it right off the bat. I'm saying t o that and that as recently as then when a Black was a college graduate or master's degree it looked forward to a job as a doorman at a hotel and all that other kind of stuff. I'm saying to all of the blacks that went into the entertainment field had a play
was like Stepin Fetchit and all that kind of stuff. I'm saying teal that the idea of school desegregation policies being pushed even where what doctrines of crappy stuff about the ideas riots the ideas that the white society and the government of the United States has had to face the issue and no longer be able to kick it under the carpet. I'm saying that the idea that any black today with a master's degree. Not only gets higher but he has every damn college in the United States let him form because they want him on the faculty on the because of the changing times. I'm saying that the situation has changed drastically. A farce not and nowhere near enough economically of course you're right but I'm saying that the situation has changed and we're on our way without trying to prolong this but he knows I want to get there.
I really don't want a lot of this discussion I one other thing and I don't mean by I got to say this before you change on to another point. You see that all of the things that you have just said are related to black people joining that same society that eventually they're going to have to deal with. That's right. Let me ask you this what other society kind of throwing up. Saul Alinsky in Halifax. Did he accomplish anything while he was here. How does he feel about it himself. You're not going to come out. Are what are going to station us to smash that that anybody would have known before I came up here. Nobody is going to come up there and perform a miracle and go ahead and to educate people and overnight there and chill days aren't chil weeks. Get them to change one show we have never found
that you'll get people moving on the basis of just talking to them. Three I haven't been able to talk to their own specific stop and first if I were organizing here because I don't know that stop and frisk I don't know nobody. For the most important thing that has come out and I think has been worthwhile and the only thing we that I can open to hold up a mirror. We saw that people want to stop kidding themselves that they were doing things when they weren't doing things and they had it go ahead and face themselves on it. I don't ever ever if you ever expect to amount to an argument. I remember when I was pointing out that sense of humor don't ever confuse laughter. What the starkest laughter
and ridicule are the most devastating weapons that an organizer can use any RS special of the week. Thanks to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for the recording of this program. This is any arm of the national educational radio network.
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- Chicago: “Special of the week; Issue 35-70 "Organizing the poor and oppressed" Saul Alinski,” 1970-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 5, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-901zhq06.
- MLA: “Special of the week; Issue 35-70 "Organizing the poor and oppressed" Saul Alinski.” 1970-00-00. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 5, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-901zhq06>.
- APA: Special of the week; Issue 35-70 "Organizing the poor and oppressed" Saul Alinski. 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-500-901zhq06