Special of the week; Issue 12-71 "Spread the Word: The Story of Louis Lomax" Part 1
NDE are the national educational radio network presents special of the week from W VH S. FM at Hofstra University Hempstead Long Island part one of spread the word. The story of Louis Lomax noted writer and lecturer and at the time of his death professor at Hofstra this program is produced by Kevin Riley and Elliot saw souls of WVO agency. While he was writing articles for various magazines he was assigned by Harper's magazine to go to Cuba to interview Fidel Castro. After applying for his special passport to go to Cuba Mr. Lomax was called to the State Department in Washington and he was told to stop there before he left. He was escorted up to the executive floor and into the imposing oak paneled executive chamber where the then Secretary of State Dean Rusk wheeled around in his chair to face Louis who tells us what happened. He looked at me and he said Mr Lomax you're going to Cuba. I said yes that's what my ticket says I'm going.
He said Mr. Lomax Cuba is a communist country. I said I know I read that The New York Times a couple weeks ago. He said Mr. Lomax we don't have diplomatic relations with Cuba. I said I know it's in The New Republic this week I read it. And then all of a sudden this man came down with the butt. He turned beet red and he leaned forward and he put his chin in his cupped hands and he looked at me and he said Mr. Lomax you're going to Cuba. Cuba is a communist country. We don't have diplomatic relations with Cuba. If you get into trouble in Cuba we can't protect you. And I said Mr. Rusk baby UK protect me here I know you can protect me. Mr Rusks offered to protect Louis in Cuba while he was unprotected in the United States was to Louis ridiculous. Now a sea of Dean Rusk of course is the fallacy of America.
They have not read Gertrude Stein as a result of which they don't know that a brick is a brick is a damn brick regardless of who throws it. And I assure you that your head will bleed just as proof you from a brick thrown by a white christian capitalist as it will from a brick thrown by an atheistic Commie as you can probably tell from that piece. Look we had an incredible speaking ability and just a vast bit of the Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences tells us more about this. But he knew how to how to reach an audience and two to hold it. And I suspect part of his success was that he not only reached the mine and. His audience but also the heart. This combination really.
It made it possible for him to hold that audience and literally in the palm of his hands the energy with which he spoke goes back to his days when he was a Baptist preacher as Dean Assman goes on to relate all of this boundless energy directed at commitment and involvement at communicating with people. And I think the communication communicating with people came out of it as it was journalism out of his initial interest in the ministry out of his teaching. But one of us pointed in the same direction. I mean communicating with with people who have a sense of vision and could these things together. And project the future in 1960. Professor Lomax published his first book The Reluctant African which won the 961 Alice felt worse award. He went on to write the negro revolt in 1962
when the word is given 1963 Thailand of the world that is the war that will be 1967. And to kill a black man. 968 in 1959 Louis Lomax became the first black television newsman when he joined the Mike Wallace stuff. From 1964 to 1968 he had his own TV show on K TV in Los Angeles. It was during this decade from 1960 to 1970 that Laura's master all the communications media. But when G while a professor at Hofstra University and a close friend of Dr. Lomax's describes this period from 1960 on I'm going to pursue an conceivable medium of expression and mastered it. The time of his death you have five books. You have introductions to historical texts critical additions. You have a three volume novel. You have screen clients you have the scripts you have you know you have television
shows you didn't show the paintings. After a short stories poems newspaper stories lectures classroom but is there any any medium that you want to mention every one of these he has participated in that decade having mastered the communications media has moved on to the classroom and Dina's been explains Well just exactly why he returned to teaching. For a base of operation he had been a journalist for years but he wanted to settle down and do some academic research essentially on the black man and his role in American culture. He wanted to write a textbook. And he thought that the best way to do this would be to have a university appointment. And he wanted a university in a large city. New York.
San Francisco L.A. one of the one of the big cities. And we were through a four that he was considering at that time. And the fact that we were part of the New York metropolitan area I think helped our cause. And he finally came to Hofstra. One of them is accomplishments while Hofstra was a workshop in the black studies for history's faculty conducted a workshop for our faculty in Black Studies. A workshop very enthusiastically received. By way if I can think for any young faculty participated. In that first workshop and in June a workshop that went on for four days. The key to the success of that workshop was a little Lomax. There's no question about it about the time.
As a matter of fact one a faculty member compared the impact of that workshop. To. The impact of George Whitefield. And the great awakening of the 1740 he's the great awakening and here are four members of our faculty. And it was a little Lomax who was really responsible for them those Yasm generated by by that particular workshop. Carried over into the phone. And we had a continuation of the three day workshop. With some of the same faculty participating again but meanwhile they had had some readings to do so this was built on. A higher level. And in addition to that we have a lever again for other faculty members who want to get involved
in Black Studies and learn more about the black man to see the tremendous success of the faculty workshops. Louis priced out into the community and held them for high school faculty. I think he did more to tear down the other so-called university worlds than anyone else and that really began to become. A university without walls were really going out into the community in the fall. This is the first well he was this is last fall on September 16th. I'm. About to enter 300 faculty members from five North Shore High Schools in the Manhasset area attended a workshop for eight weeks a workshop that not one night a week. And. He repeated that same program. Again during the winter for a group of high school teachers in Central Nassau
in the spring he did it again with four teachers in western Suffolk. And I know that every large lecture hall out of the South was filled for every session he drew people in. And as long as they were willing to listen he was willing to share his design ideas. Do you know it's been muses on what Joe Louis back to the university campus. The concept of the universe or thing was right or wrong but he dressed in increasing the environment with the community that the university could not build walls between itself and the community. Some songs. The universe was going to be the place where the action was I mean I really wanted a piece of the action. I always wanted to be a part of it.
Think that's probably right. In addition to wanting to write. The textbook I think that was probably the reason why he wanted to return to the campus. He could see that the College of the university was going to be a center for the action at this period in our country's history. The university was indeed where the action was. In his famous 1968 speech at Hofstra on the history and culture of black people described various black movements to effect social change. One of them religious and one of the things that's probably written about in American history and tradition today is the fact that following emancipation the American black man goes on this tremendous being involved with the Christian notion and this is why if you go into the black ghetto today you will see two things that stand out in terms of their
frequency. One church the other one is a bar and they're both there for the same reason. You can face this thing head on when you have to get drunk or run to Jesus you got to hide somewhere. So the American Negro becomes a total Christian product and he does it in the total belief that by are adopting the Christian faith he will become law into a little part of the American mainstream. But he does it only to discover that white Christians are in no mood to accept black Christians as their brother. Indeed the black man discover that there is no greater citadel of bigotry and of hate than the organized church itself.
He warned his audience not to confuse Christianity with Christ saying one is a white country club that meets every Sunday morning at 11 o'clock. The people who are not can smell the same get together to look and smell each other. When I was crying this is one of the great moral prophets of all times but he has no relationship whatsoever to this thing that is built of brick and mortar. And that opens up its doors on the 11 o'clock on Sunday morning. He relates an afternoon in Paris after lunch with an old friend and I had lunch with a great late black writer Richard Wright. And as we were walking back to my hotel room on the east bank of the saying Richard said to me Lomax. Wherever you go in the world and you see the cross of Christ. Rest assured somebody is going to call you a nigger. And tell you to go around to the back door.
But wherever you go in the world and you don't see the cross of Christ. Rest assured you will be treated like a man and you will be called a brother. He summarizes thoughts on Christianity and social change in New York history. So the black man's assumption of Christianity as a movement that would get a member of the American mainstream turned out to be their involvement with them in the last years of higher education for social advancement was a folly said Lewis citing the example of the late Dr. King gets his Ph.D. from Boston and at 24 he goes home and he can't go to the bathroom. That to encapsulate the notion. That education as a tool of social change turned out to be yet another myth.
He next remarked on laws as a tool of social change in how law and order meant for white only. And I remember that great day when behind for good marshal we all came out of the Supreme Court building with tears streaming down her cheeks saying in Free at last free at last we take an Anglo-Saxon law and wrapped it around their necks. We've beaten them to death with their own civilized tools and the law says now we are one. The one thing we did not anticipate was that the American white man would turn out to be the most massive law breaker in the history of Western civilization. The one thing we did not reckon with was that the American white man had no respect for his own rule and his own order. When that long and that meant my freedom my liberation. Dr Lomax then commented on violence in the negro's effort to achieve social change.
You see those of us who were involved with Dr. Martin Luther King in the nonviolent movement we never for once stated that negroes by nature were nonviolent. We were saying this is a tactic that we're going to use to get something done. But anybody who's been in Harlem on Friday and Saturday night knows very well. You know there's nothing nonviolent about Negroes. And we're not violent because we Negroes were violent because we're mere. And all of mankind is by far the reason so many of you are white uptight about this question of violence is because you refused to come to grips with the fact that everything you have and everything you are is a result of violence. Louis elaborated on the apparent hypocrisy of violence Americans being opposed to violence by blacks by telling of the example of Ronald Reagan and what he must do to black children. In a recent issue of The Los Angeles Times Richard Burr called to interview the governor of my state. Ronald Reagan let me give you two direct quotes from that interview. Governor Reagan
What about if you had no answer. Turn it into a parking lot. Governor Reagan What about the PR blow. Answer. Give him a month. If they don't give us our ship back go in and kick the devil out of him. Now a little like Johnny in Oakland is sitting at television and he sees Governor Reagan solve his problems in this manner and he says no governor I know how to solve my problem and therefore little black Johnny Can't wait to grow up so we can go and turn Sacramento into a parking lot and kick the devil out of the race. He paraphrases thoughts on violence by saying what I'm talking about is the duplicity inherent in America's preoccupation with violence. We cannot as a nation of the whole resolve our problems as a whole in one manner and then not expect other people to resolve their problems in the same manner.
Lawyer was involved in civil rights before it became popular and he wasn't very well known for this because he was always behind the scenes. One of the great organizer and press agent. For Martin. The one that would tell you want to say at the lunch counter what lunch counter to be. And then turn around and report the story. I mean he is the one that realized the power of the media and brought me here and brought all of the movement through the media to national attention. I think he is perhaps the one people in this room and. Unifying. Black people in the country what he succeeded in doing went to first the riots the self-employed would have to have the fit in and no one on the national networks. And Ron Klain became national. Created the
possibility that somebody would ask why that happened. Why didn't the average the average crime the brief story usually localize what he did was to bring and mind a national law to ban people without question as to what was going on and I think the importance of the media to give the problem I expect in the in the public mind long enough so that they will go beyond the surface. One of Louie's early protests took place on a road 40 between New York and Washington and involved his influence in the media as the sudden president of the parliament had relates in those days black people could not drink water. I could not eat could not stop to have a meal at a diner or any eating accommodation operated along for me. I was heading a group of people who were very anxious to break down this discrimination because we thought that of all of the symbolisms of what America was like the
coolest symbolism was that which existed between the largest city and most powerful city in the world which is New York City as far as finance and culture is concerned and the capital of the world which was Washington D.C.. In between these two cities black people in this great bastion of democracy called the United States could not enjoy democracy. We had to go hungry we had to go without sleep because there were no accommodations and we could use white people could get thirsty and get water and get coffee and get beverages and get food at public restaurants but black people could not unless you were prepared to go around the back door and be served as a second class citizen or I as an animal. Louis arranged for us to go to the Double T diner with a double t diner and a young man who was the owner who in coloration was quite dark I don't know whether it was a Greek Syrian Lebanese or
Arab whatever extraction he was I am still vaguely wasn't back great but. The interesting thing about his color was that despite the fact that it was quite brown he didn't want brown people and black people like us coming to eat at his diner and you had arranged this. We sat down to eat and I was leader of a group of people from New York who were high people in communications we had one writer for a black newspaper we had another person from communication media we had Louis Lomax we had himself. We had a president of the NAACP statewide I was then president of the CPA here in New York so there are five of us who stopped to eat at the Double T diner and we sat down to eat and the man was so outraged you said niggers get up from my table. And when he was angry at his little brown man who was the owner when he was angry he seemed more brown than ever man instead of getting ready got browner and. He said How dare you
niggers to eat at my diner and. Lee was standing behind me and said Tell him tell him tell them which was pro-se tell him what we're supposed to say. So I went through my ritual of saying that we are travelers and state commerce we are hungry. And. We wish him we're thirsty and we wish food and we wish beverages he said niggas you'll get players and and we didn't come here for poison we came there to break down the barriers and when I said we didn't come here for poison we said tell it wouldn't come here for boys and Percy jelly with incoming for boys of color we want to be like other people and not too sure I would want to be like other people we had a superior intellect and I think you want to be that which he was superior to many people in the sense he had great intellect great awareness and great ability but we were arrested despite Louise telling me what to tell them they arrested us and but little was certain. Because people had told him we would have a fair trial and things would be. Things were changing the way said because he
talked to other people he saw a sense of change were Lou it was very disappointing because after that trial which took only five minutes of deliberation by the jury they convicted all of us every one of us. We had not been arrested but we had heard something he thought most interesting and that was when they were taking me out. I leaned over and whispered to the owner. And I said tell me your color doctor. Come on tell us your color dodge with this house will outrage him to think that he would have to be identified with these people that he would wish to treat of animals. He just jumped up and down screaming and really like to remember the expression on that man's face when I was saying to him that he was a part of the black community as well as us and I said to him you're really passing on to a passing is a term that we use in the black community for those persons who. Do not wish to be black and who by their hair or their color or their
features might. Pass into the white world. And this guy didn't. Do anything but just turn into a raging dark color. And said he would kill me in front of the police this amused you a great lady and he like to tell that. That which it happened about when we found the soul brother was discriminating against us. I think the guy really was Greek but he kidded about calling him her soul brother Lula Maxie outspoken man was ahead of his time and I pointed out the strength of blacks and other minorities as well as their weaknesses in order to perfect them into a united uncorruptible force Percy Sutton voice is this you know Max was a man ahead of his time and I really mean this because Louis was able to see all of the strengths of black people but he was also able and careful. To enunciate the weaknesses. Louis did it at a time when some people might have objected. Some people thought that we ought to only give back which was beautiful about black
people not all black people are beautiful. Not all white people are beautiful. And Lou was able to see it and he said it in beautiful language you know I was in need greater for unity than among students according to Louis. If a revolution were ever to effect social change. Revolution belongs to all of us. And as you were then as young students move to the center of the state. Are you Agent of Change reformation in decency. Or are you just like that. As I go on university campuses and I look at some of you young white radicals I say to myself Is he for real he's just dumbing his nose it is that way. And I look at some of the young white radical girls and I say to myself now that you really mean this in a matter of four years graduate to suburbia take on a
split level home and try to level morality speaking to his audience of Hofstra students exhorted them particularly black students to be aware of racism. White racism has produced white America at a point now where you'd hardly have a friend in the world. If the cans of racism had laid them low don't you know that the cans of racism will lay you low. Never let a man drag you so low as to make you adopt his hate. I hate destroy us consume so debilitate us. Louis Lomax the man whose first reaction to the persons troubles was to say let's wrap criticizes coverage on him for not talking with themselves and voiced his hope for unity. You young people want me of my generation to believe in your revolution.
I want to see some dialogue. I am disturbed as I go on every campus that I go into the cafeteria. I see all of the black students right here in all of the white students over here maybe Hofstra is the exception and I hope so. It's not is it. Well if you can't talk to me you talk about how you're going to pull off the revolution. I want to see some dialogue. Because if you really need both of you up to the same thing. I want to see a black world I don't want to see it right where I want to see it was world I don't want to see a Catholic world. I want to see a human where the man who's most famous protest took place in a diner I wrote 40 and Marilyn was killed in a car at 40 in New Mexico on July 30th. When he lost control of his vehicle Louie Lomax The man was Louis Lomax. The memory the torch must now be
the new generation as of 70 to those of you under 30 will inherit the Republican boat as I pass the torch to you as a member of the generation of 45. You know I don't give it back. Rather I share it with you. Spread the word. The story of Louis Lomax Part one was produced by Kevin Riley and Elliot Suttles for double duty eight seated in a cast. Spread the word can be heard next week at the same time.
On the special of the week from NPR of the national educational radio network.
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- Chicago: “Special of the week; Issue 12-71 "Spread the Word: The Story of Louis Lomax" Part 1,” 1971-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 10, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-9z90dj4h.
- MLA: “Special of the week; Issue 12-71 "Spread the Word: The Story of Louis Lomax" Part 1.” 1971-00-00. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 10, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-9z90dj4h>.
- APA: Special of the week; Issue 12-71 "Spread the Word: The Story of Louis Lomax" Part 1. 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-500-9z90dj4h