Last citizen; Journalism and art
It was segregation deprived negroes of a developing life experience. The journalists and negroes of most professions requiring the skill and knowledge to come from experience and association suffers from this segregation. The neg road where I was starts off with the odds weighted against here. I hated Ali. He did not want to ride and die but the public expected that and they felt that that that was the kind of Negro genuine style and if he did anything else it was entirely imitative. Our guests today are the publisher of a Negro newspaper and a professor of English author and editor of a number of books of interest to students of Negro literature. As we take up the matter of Negro journalism a negro art in our continuing discussion of the culture of the Negro in America 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 edition is produced by Radio Station WBA 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 Richter and Dr. Louis Schneider a professor of sociology at Purdue University. Today's program negro journalism and Negro art. Here now is Mr. Richter. Today an examining Negro culture. We want to look into the specific fields of journalism and the arts. We'll spend most of our time on journalism because it together whether it's arts such as the art of cartooning is so clearly something designed for widespread popular consumption now and any of the things we'll be speaking about today discussion could go on indefinitely.
Our only hope of getting some sort of necessary limitation is to confine ourselves to particular themes. What theme might we address ourselves to would you say Lou and discussing journalism. I think it would be most advisable to address ourselves to the matter of segregation. This it seems to me is absolutely fundamental in understanding both the general form of Negro journalism and the content of that journalism. Well if that is the theme which we may most profitably pursue. I can think of nothing better for us to begin with than some extracts from a speech made by P.L. Prada's editor of the Pittsburgh Cori or one of the leading negro newspapers of the nation. Mr. Pratt has made this speech from which we will hear some passages in a moment at Fisk University in the summer of 958 at the annual race relations Institute. Let me say that Mr promises speech directly at cogently on the theme of segregation. But we think it worthwhile to allow him rather more time than we have usually allowed outside commentaries here that as
Mr. Pratt has addressing himself forthrightly to the ways in which segregation affects negro journalism. What about the prospect college student of journalism before anything else. He must consider economics. Can his parents afford to send him to school of journalism there when he looks over the list of the schools he finds it much more restricted for him than for the white boy. Sally attended Nigro School of Journalism. Well maybe perhaps it will cost less. Where can he obtain as much in relation to the whole field of journalism. There is room for doubt that segregation deprives negroes of any developing life experience. The journalists and negroes of most professions requiring the skill and knowledge to come from experience and association suffers from this
segregation. The degrowth journalist starts off with the odds weighted against him. He can go so far and no father when segregation cuts off cuts him off from normal assimilation of the dominant culture in his own field he reaches a state of experiential paralysis. You may reasonably ask why does the negro go ahead and set his own standards and are if as you say he has ability equal to that of the white man. Why within the limits of segregation does he not perfect his own notions. The answer is that the dominant culture will not permit him. The dominant culture is bound for better or worse to be the chief and decisive influence in the
next grows life. It tells him in devious but very certain ways that almost everything he does is wrong. It makes him hesitant. I'm certain it turns him upon himself when he would carve out a way for himself like us ball plant trying to grow beside a larger one. He has crowded out from the life giving sunlight. Imagine the sturdy larger plant bending over am blaming the smaller plant for being pale and wan that is what happens to the negro except in exasperatingly few instances in the imprisonment of physical social and cultural segregation.
Why don't the gross have daily newspapers some of the answer to that question is found in the problem of organizing capital for any enterprise in the first place the Negro is more or less impoverished is a more or less impoverished segment of the American community. Whites who represent the growing culture the culture that flows freely among themselves and other similar peoples have the money the counties by any standard of measure. The negro is poor very poor. If he determines to go into any kind of business undertaking he must depend upon his all means and those of his fellows. And as much as he doesn't have much and his fellows don't have much he can never assemble much capital with a small capital investment coming from within his segregated
community. Any business undertaking he's not must be small. It requires much more capital than it grows can reasonably be expected to provide to start a daily newspaper. But even if they got together sufficient capital for such a venture the risk would be great. Any such promoter would be in competition with the great dailies. He would have projected himself into the larger field and then he would find several things happening. All the result of segregation the negroes would be slow to purchase his paper because segregated as they are they have become accustomed to expect the product of the dominant culture to be better. The whites would not buy his daily because it is natural for them not to expect a product produced by a negro to be as good as a similar product produced by
whites. Thus the negro daily newspaper publisher if he chanced to find sufficient capital to start a deli would soon find his circulation and circulation incom jeopardized by blight full mind sense which are characteristic of the pattern of segregation this negro publisher of a daily newspaper would be even worse off when he tackled the problem of revenue from advertising. Most think grow businesses are so small and of such a nature that they cannot afford to advertise in a daily. Therefore our negro publisher would have to turn to whites. But they advertise in their own papers. They have only so much money to invest in advertising the negro publisher would become a competitor of white publishers. With that on expand the book maximum when the white publishers got through with it and joined the benefits of social and other
equality that they do. There would be precious little left for the negro publisher. The Negril publisher would fail the whites would say that the Negril publisher did not have the know how and which they would be partly right. I have the negroes who had lost their money. Dubious from the beginning we're inclined to agree with the white few Negroes or whites with think through the basic fact that segregation deprived this ambitious Negro of the chance to grow through experience and the of the opportunity. To obtain sufficient growing capital the foregoing which would be tragically true with a daily newspaper is sadly true of weeklies also most aggro we place even the largest have been started with very small capital investments. In fact it is greatly to be doubted if sufficient capital could be obtained
among Negroes today to start and maintain a weekly newspaper of the size of either of our three big weeklies. Lack of capital is a major of the Terran to the expansion of so call negro journalism. This is true not only in respect to capital investment but also in terms of income revenue. At this point in his speech Mr promise turns to the question of income. It is perhaps well to remind ourselves and understanding his further comments. But the bulk of income of newspapers such as most of us are acquainted with white newspapers so-called as income derived from advertising. But this is not the case with negro newspapers. Mr. Pratt himself says this but I mention it too because it is very important to bear in mind. Now Mr. Prada's continues. Why is it necessary to pay the same price for a 24 page Negro newspaper as you do for a ninety six page New York Times.
Why does a Negroni newspaper cost more than the white newspaper. The answers to these questions lie in the fact that Negroes and whites live in separate worlds. White newspapers of 10 Most of their income from advertising that comes from white business in the past white publishes have definitely chosen to make average ties in Cary most of the burden and to keep the price of the paper cheap even be low cost white newspapers are one of the few commodities in Western civilization which are sold for less than it cost to produce them. Advertising is made to bear the burden of costs which normally the purchaser would pay but the doors to the advertising which their white newspapers receive are largely closed to dig grow publishers the white advertisers living in another world. I see no need of
advertising in media publish for the benefit of a set off segregated poor and in the earlier segment of the population. Therefore the chief source of revenue for the white newspaper is almost non-existent for the Negro newspaper. As a consequence the Negro newspaper must stop paying its income from circulation and from such advertising as it can get. The negro publisher is forced to start by charging a price for his product which is more nearly in line I'm with its actual cost. The right publisher because of his large income from advertising can charge much less the Nigro publisher because of the paucity of advertising income as compared to charge the purchaser not an excessive price but one more nearly in line with what it costs. Now Mr Prada's goes on to point out that insofar as the Negro newspaper can get
advertising at all. It must rely heavily on Negro business or business conducted by whites. That especially cater to Negroes and hear the Negro newspaper frequently must carry advertising matter which its own personnel may not approve. But Mr. Prout has put the matter very well and a few final words. His first resort must be negro businesses or businesses conducted by white which cater particularly to nigro. Here he collides with the segregated culture pattern with inventions many so-called Negro businesses which prosper in a third rate sort of way are rooted in the prejudices responsible for segregation the Negro has been made to suffer so much because of a difference of skin color and hair texture by members of the dominant class that
many Negras have adopted the understandable course of trying to escape ridicule and proscription by identifying themselves with the mass of their white tormentors the armhole only pressure from the outside white where it has begun. Many Negroes want to change their skin color and have the texture of their hair. What do you want with Freyr implies is most clearly seen in this tendency. You would expect any people to be proud of the physical characteristics God has given them but just as a set off group loses routine and a sense of cultural direction. So it doesn't lose a sense of values in respect to its characteristics dangling in a sort of cultural vacuity. If you only ask Christ to tie in with the stronger dominant group what
Sprint said when we began today. I made the comment that segregation is fundamental in understanding both the general form of Negro journalism and its content. Mr. Prado so sought a good deal that I think bears largely on the form or structure of legal journalism not his turn to content here one must have the expectation that segregation will be directly on powerfully influential. Segregation along with discrimination and prejudice. Inevitably these things will be themes for the negro news editor. Columnist and cartoonist in my experience the front page of a major new Negro newspaper usually gives one the impression of a kind of sensationalistic journalism which combines an effort at Vivid appeal with stories specifically slanted to Negro interests often with a special emphasis on injustices visited upon negroes. My own impression would be much the same. But no. Can we learn something about specific content illustrating preoccupation with segregation discrimination and prejudice. Yes let me begin with a few cartoons from one of the leading negro newspapers The Chicago
Defender on December 20th 1958 a Southern whites sits in a chair watching Eisenhower on TV and says to his dog we don't care what that constitution says there ain't going to be none of them niggers voting round here. Here's a slightly more subtle item about three weeks later. I'll call Sam a show on hard work and dressed in an apron. He is seeking to make a growth formula while a baby symbolizing the 1954 school decision sits in a high chair on April 4th 1959. A negro man is represented as opening an empty box labeled civil rights while chortling white man labeled Congress cries April Fool from an open window. Incidentally I haven't made a systematic analysis of the cartoon content of the fund or of other leading negro newspapers but it might be of interest to give two or three impressions I've derived which I think are relevant to the whole matter of segregation. For one thing Uncle sume seems never to be depicted virtually never to be depicted as being directly
responsible for racial trouble. On the contrary he has represented us trying hard to improve matters and are suffering difficulties in the process. The best hope for a brighter future for Negroes tends to be shown as lying within the province of the American government. Eisenhower is represented as doing his bus to help in the field of racial relations with such tools as exist however imperfect they may be. This is of special interest since much reported by the white press and by highly capable contemporary white journalists depicts Eisenhower as remaining aloof from and rather one interested in racial issues. Let me add that there might be a variety of explanations for this. A plausible one is that there was so much negro hope invested in the federal government and its agencies that any major governmental figures such as the president is likely if it is at all possible to be presented in what is from the Negro standpoint a favorable light. Well this does seem like rather interesting material can you give us some more on these lines. Aside from
cartoons. Well there's Langston Hughes the famous negro writer with his perhaps equally famous creation simple who has in life I'm the defender. Here on November 8th 1958. We find simple discussing the subject of cats and dogs. Here's a resting theme is that Harlem has hardly enough room for humans much less for cats and dogs. On March 21st 1959 simple tells us what he would do if he were president. And here there does seem to be some implicit criticism of the administration and perhaps also a tinge of provincialism. You know Nick a simple would pay some attention to home race problems instead of talking about a conference at the summit how about a conference at the bottom which is Little Rock. On another occasion simple contemplates becoming Muslim. He thinks to progress from end to end stands for Negro M for man but there will be practical difficulties which they difficulties like getting his Baptist wife to accept the change. A novel writer whose material has
appeared in the defender is Enoch but he was under the title Adventures in race relations on November 8th 1958. Mr. Waters notes that with schools close Negro and white children are finally getting the same thing no education at all. On February 20th 1959 Mr. Waters discusses the forms of rationalization Negroes have developed about their race to help themselves accept the fact that they are black. On April 4th 1959 it appears that the only though no Negro fighter has been known by a color nickname in recent years. Rogers expects in keeping with the times for one of mixed parentage to be named integrated Rocky Johnson. On December 6th 1958. Mr. Waters tells the story of a negro U.S. Marshall story intended to show that if you are a Negro you have a racial problem no matter what your job. Well I don't doubt that you could go on a little but I think we now have a pretty good notion of what the material you've been discussing is like would you care to give us a brief statement of how you think negro
newspapers function for their readers. I'd love to be able to answer that question with fullness and precision. I can't do so and I limit myself to some of the more obvious positive kinds of things. Evidently newspapers like these constitute a medium of expression they present symbolically significant figures like our friends simple to speak for the Negro. They fight for the negroes rights they sharpen his understanding. They rally him to the support of agencies that are helpful to him. On the whole I'd be inclined to say that they are effective in building up negro morale in the fight against segregation discrimination and prejudice. We all have some understanding of the limitations placed on Negro journalism in terms of structure and content and starting from this what we might call practical art form to the fine arts. What can we say about the negro's contribution in the latter area. What sort of limitations have been placed on the negro and how have these limitations affected his artistic efforts. The negro has made significant contributions in the sphere of the arts. He has shown definite poetic talent. His contribution to music as is well known is distinctive
and very highly provocative. Almost any comprehensive review of the work of the negro in the arts would also feature contributions in the novel the drama of the dance folklore painting sculpture. But I have without question been limitations. One of the outstanding ones I'd say is simply this. The negro in the United States has been by a kind of social necessity so preoccupied with the racial problem as such. There are very very great deal of his work in the various fields of art is concentrated upon specifically racial themes. One might say with regard to this that there have been many talented men and women whose abilities might have been concentrated upon matters of interest to all artists and all consumers of art but who were somewhat tragically confined to racial subjects alone. Partly the preoccupation coming out of social necessity which I've mentioned is responsible for this partly also it's been due to expectations on the part of whites who have tended to think that the negro should be exclusively concerned with the things of an equal partner that has been bound up
with the attitudes of Negro publics which constrained and pressured by the same general Miyu which has constrained the artist have also expected or even demanded that the Negro Artist confine himself to the vital racial themes. Well you speak about quiet expectations low and I notice also that one of the first things you mentioned was poetry now. Some time ago I had the opportunity to speak with Nick Aaron Ford head of the Department of English at Morgan State College in Baltimore Maryland and author and editor of a number of books of interest to the student of American Negro literature. Dr. Ford shows us how in the particular case of one negro poet of ability to stereotype expectations on the part of others led to a deep personal hurt. Well and do the personal work to it. Let us say up to World War 2. I think we might stop there because after World War Two things changed considerably. So if we said a post civil war period after World War 2 or one other
major limitations on the negro's artistic contribution was the refusal of the American public to accept as genuine any artistic creation that did not come from to the negro stereotype. The tragedy of Poland's Dunmore a talented negro poet who died at the age of 34 the good example. Doing the 12 year period from his 22nd birthday to the death he wrote four volumes point four volumes of short stories and four novels. But despite the high quality of his intellect and his craftsmanship the critics and the public insisted on judging him exclusively by his dialect pieces. I hated Ali he did not want to write in dialect but the public expected that and they felt that that that was the kind of Negro genuine
style. If he did anything else it was entirely imitative and fact. Louis Untermeyer and his anthology of American poetry since 1900 says and I am quoting I like to call him hero because I think it's very important to see how they use these attitudes have persisted Untermeyer says that in purely creative way the negro seems to suffer from an inhibition that prevents him from expressing his own emotions instead of giving free rein to revision Shabwah differentiated from that of his white compatriots. He is too often content to ape their gestures their inflections too anxious to imitate with a stammer incompletions they own an imitation instead of being proud of a race conscious he is too often mellow self-conscious unco that mounted to illustrate his point of view under my praises as native and genuinely
emotional. A death song by Dunbar which is only a rhythmic jingle in dialect overburdened with sentimentality. While he condemns as modern and imitative ships that pass in the night by the same port a point of universal appeal and makes a powerful application of ideas to life but one which is written in literary English rather than ballet. They had broken part dying from to buy the roses expressed his feelings about such an attitude in the firing lines he sang of life serenely sweet with now and then a deeper note from some Hi Pete Nye yet promote He voiced the world's absorbing beat. He sang of love when Earth was young and love itself was in his lays but all the work out it time to praise a jingle and a broken down you see that was his reaction to do that too. To being forced to write in die I know that Dr. Ford is well aware that there has been some mitigation of the situation he and others might
mention cases like that of Willard motley a novelist who has broken quite free of a limitation to Negro themes. Cases like that of the writer Frank Yerby also a novelist who has broken free of racial themes and whose novels incidentally have been enormously popular. These are fairly obvious cases so there has been some breaking of the models. Still I would say it is the case that the old constraints to confine oneself to Negro themes are powerfully operative. Of course to stress the tremendous pressure upon the Negro Artist of the peculiar American move here is not to say that he concerns himself with nothing but negro limitations on the American conditions. The poets for example sing as poets generally do of love. Venture in the beauties of nature. Well without necessarily making any racial reference. But we have very little time left. But I think we should have some notion of the negro style and feeling and in the moments we have left
I'd like to read Claude McKay's famous if we must die which I want to read because it so nicely sets the stage for next week's program of the last citizen which is a negro protest. If we must die. If we must die let it not be like hogs hunted and penned in an inglorious spot all round us back to the mad and hungry dogs making their market are a curse at lot. If we must die old as nobody dies so that our precious blood may not be shed in vain. Then even the monsters we defied shall be constrained to honor us all dead. OK we must meet the common foe the far outnumbered Let us show as brave and for their thousand blows. Deal one death blow what little before us lies the open grave like men will face the murderous cowardly pack pressed to the wall dying but fighting back.
- Last citizen
- Journalism and art
- Producing Organization
- Purdue University
- WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program focuses on African American journalism and art.
- 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
- Media type
Guest: Ford, Nick Aaron
Host: Schneider, Louis
Producer: Richter, E.W.
Producing Organization: Purdue University
Producing Organization: WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
Speaker: Prattis, Percival Leroy, 1895-1980
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-50-14 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Last citizen; Journalism and art,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 24, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-cf9j7s72.
- MLA: “Last citizen; Journalism and art.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 24, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-cf9j7s72>.
- APA: Last citizen; Journalism and art. 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-cf9j7s72