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Comments on a minority. Well in the first place in the Negro church there is a freedom which does not obtain in any other organization in the south among us. There is a supreme respect on the part of whites for the Negro church and it is a recognized organization. Good it is a group of people who have already selected their leader. Moreover religion at its highest end bass carries profound respect in the heart of even even a nym for Dale and religion ought to be practical. It ought to be inspirational and talk about other worldliness and about immortality. Everyone in the same time it ought to implementing the tenets which it professes rather the voice is that of Reverend William Borders pastor of the Baptist Church in Atlanta Georgia in behalf of Rev. borders as pastor of the largest negro congregation in the South as he is also one of a number of Negro ministers rector size important I just have functioned with integrity has a responsible interview with him which
really caught up in the summer of 1958 and portions of what we heard today as a present borders speaks of religion and leadership because in relation to the struggle of the negro corporate It seems that the nature of the case for the church as an organization to make itself felt with reference to that problem and since integral preacher is the leader of the church it becomes his duty to the same extent to lead the people in the solution of that problem. Urban voters what do you think the. Basic problems of the negro. In the south today are. Well for one thing he is poor in the next place he does not have. The folks. At his disposal in the next place he's not as well educated as he ought to be in the first place he does not think as much of his race as he ought. Even though there are those among us who
are supreme you're proud that maybe a few who are too proud but generally speaking the mass Negro is not proud and he is an echo. This this is an interesting comment. Do you think that the. Supreme Court decision of 1954. And the subsequent. Incidence of events have in any way changed this apathy on the part of the negro towards being an equal. Do you feel that perhaps the this is stimulated the negro to think more in terms of pride in himself. Oh yes it's this decision has done a tremendous amount of good. It is agitated the public mind. And all of us are thinking more clearly with reference to segregation. And there are many of us who've been stripped of our prejudices and the improvements which come along educational lines and common carriers and otherwise have done a great
deal to make the negro think more of himself. And this was one of the results intended and you know you'd see in the implementation of democracy at its highest and best you know question in my mind about that. The reason I bring this question up is because there are some critics who will say well the time was an opportune for the Supreme Court decision and found and for the actions which have been taken by the end I will ACP that this has hardened the attitudes of your segregationist has has begun to close mines which at this point were beginning to open and that this was a negative result. And I was trying to get at the point which you made that. The positive result has been to simply raise the morale of the negro. Do you agree that. I heartily agree with you that point. The time to do right and
the time to implement justice is now and when ever it is implemented there would be some people who would object. So that the people who have closed their mind with reference to the die hards and so forth would have been with us 50 years from today and they would have reacted the same as the diehards in the closed minds are reacting today so that the time to do right is now the time to implement justice is now and I'm proud of the position which the federal government has taken and with that position haven't been taken and it has done tremendous good in the south where the problem is most acute and also around the world with darker peoples tremendous good. As we were speaking earlier before we started recording. You brought out an idea which was new to me and I'm sure will be new to many other people. That is that where we've been more or less come to the conclusion many people have come to the conclusion that the negro's destiny is no longer in the self but in the north and you
post you made the point that the hope of the Negro is not of the north but in the south and would you would you like to discuss this. Well I'm convinced in my own heart and mind that the future of the Negro is in the south. The south is the richest section of America it has. Over 300 minerals the climate is favorable it has more than the average rainfall it is undeveloped. The negro has a better opportunity to get the land the basic element in any economy that has a larger number of negroes in the south. There is improvement not perfection. Not only did we want all that we should have but there has been a tremendous amount of progress along all lines. Now as a South growing. The negro will grow with it. Moreover the fight in the south will be more difficult. Which will mean that the roots of freedom will be deeper. I'm convinced in my own heart and mind that the negro in spite of the prejudices of the South has his best opportunity here.
I am bad for any chances which come to Negroes anywhere in the world I'm glad of what is happening in New York in our favor in Chicago and elsewhere. But we need we need in the end to build a solid economy and to also expand our home life and that sort of thing into businesses and schools and the like. Private within the race. I had to grade it otherwise and that will come. Best in the south in the long run. In my judgment in spite of all the prejudices and by the segregation and ostracism and the Jim Crow the opportunity of the negro for the most part is in the south. I have a question which we didn't bring up earlier. Just come to my mind. That is that you preacher a Baptist preacher in the south the largest Negro church in the south. I have a great deal of power and prestige
in a segregated South. But as you your church is this negro church white people go where they want to I'm quite sure. But still it is it is one of the facets of segregation. And yet you are working against segregation. Do you find that this ever poses a paradox for you. Well there's a seeming paradox on the surface. Now my membership is essentially negro I have several white persons as a matter of fact a white man joined my church four Sundays ago and there's hardly a Sunday in the year that I do not have white persons worshipping with us and we have from 1 to 100 and we open the doors of which street is has have been as low as hell and as wide as a war and say Whosoever will let him come in spite of that worldwide invitation they have a major portion of our membership is negroid which we do not regret for which we do not apologize.
We do the best we can with whoever comes and if there comes a time when our congregation will be more right and black it will be all right with me. There may come a time however when it will become so completely whited they want to have a white preacher but he better be a better prettier than I am. Well one of the indirect I was laying around. Fellow named E5 Frazer whose book The Black World was a I'm sure you're acquainted with. In this book and in private conversation which I've had with Dr. Frazer he feels that there are a number of negroes who have a vested interest in segregation and don't want to see it let go. How do you feel about this do you think this is true. Well that's true in different areas with different people. Now. Money and capital and laying a powerful there's no question about it even though it be ascribed power is
power nevertheless. And there are some people who prefer segregation which will give them that power rather than integration which will take that power away. I was perfectly possible for that power to be achieved in integration as it has been done. Maybe not exactly as it has been done in segregation but it's perfectly possible for the power to be achieved. Now for my part I want I want the advantages of integration and somehow I want the advantages of segregation. And I can't have both. I believe that the advantages of integration are greater for all of the people. Therefore I say that we should have democracy for without reference to race. Very well made point. A while ago again going back to our discussion before we started recording you made an interesting point about the so-called purry already of the white man would like to
repeat that I had an opportunity to travel around the world. The church which I saw made that possible and most of the people with whom I taught him from me that the white man in their minds was the most conceited person on the earth. It is very proud more proud than any other representative of any other race. And I begin to detect that and I think that's true. However there is no fact from any area of science which substantial weight the spirity of any race. There are advantages mediocre and delinquent people in every race by examination of brain skeleton. Culture background instincts instinctive tendencies people
are basically the same all over the world. There's no such thing as a superior race. There are advantages mediocre and delinquent people in all races and I think the Negro has done a good job good job where he has had an opportunity. He is an outstanding athlete. He's a good dancer he's a good singer he's a good preacher he's a good businessman. He has done well not not perfect by any means but in accordance as he has had opportunity. He has fulfilled the requirements of all around manhood and God bless him as he continues to grow. If the right man is superior as some of them plain he need not. I get that he need not broadcast that to the end. Let him prove it by what he does by the quality of his life by his achievements by his willingness to help others by buying actual
concrete implementation obvious appear out there rather than by verbal statement. There are seven borders. Some people are inclined to say Well first of all Negroes don't really want us. Desegregation they have good schools they have nice churches look look good there they can play golf in the public golf links. They have a really great number of advantages in the south. What would you say about this kind of these this type of comment. Well this type of comment is almost fallacious. For indeed Negroes have not met in a place in the south and agreed for white people to state their position on things. The negro can very easily say what he wants what he ought to have he can give the white people credit for what they have done and agreements and concessions which they have made. But for white people to
point with the finger of pride and do anything which is come to the negro as though they have granted it is slightly on the hypocritical side. The improvement in schools has come not because Southern white people deep in their hearts wanted Negroes to have better schools but they did it because they were forced by the courts and by public opinion so to do. So that I think in their saying these things that they take a right which is not they as to state our position. The white man in the south that is a prejudice white man has proved that the negro wanted to be a Saleen. He has proved that the negro was satisfied with his status. He's proved it and it was satisfied and in Sloan's we prove that negro satisfied as a second rate citizen that as long as he's satisfied don't bother him. But as a white man stating the position of the negro and when you as a negro what his position is he will tell you that he is dissatisfied that he wants improved
conditions which he ought to have. To make this point even sharper Lincoln once said that no man is good enough to own another man that the white South has talked about the advantages of slavery that the negro left alone would still be under some Bush in Africa which may be true but the white man in the south attempting to state the advantages of slavery has never kills and to be the slave you always want to be the master. Reverend borders would you like to comment at all. What it's like to be a Negro in the south. Yes I was born in bip County I care the newspapers in make and carry letters on the streets of Macon. I work my way through college at Morehouse and went to seminary in Evanston in the Western University. And I find it delightful to be a
Negro. I always try to be completely elite in every situation anticipating as much as possible what is in the other man's mind especially if he is white. I approach him with kindness with thoughtfulness and if he is negative I try to be positive. If he's unkind I try to be merciful and understanding. And if there's an opportunity to do him a favor of any kind I always use it without his asking. And in most instances he finds himself completely disarmed absolutely disarmed and he forgets he seems to forget that I'm a negro. And I try to act as a gentleman under all conditions at all times. And really I have. I have enjoyed being who I am and I apologize to no man in the world for being a negro. I did not choose the race into which I was born as
no other person in the world has chosen their racial identity. And if anybody has any quarrel with me about being a negro he'll have to see the mortar mix and not me. I'm satisfied and happy. And yet something that some people might question their attitudes by pointing out here Reverend borders and has a beautiful home has a position of prestige. But what about the plantation Negro and we still have plantation negroes in the south today sharecroppers. Well I can conceive such a person feeling chagrin feeling inferior and almost wanting to apologize for being who he is. But what he needs is understanding sympathy inspiration guidance and help and whenever I find a person like that I try to give exactly what I have mentioned. Now in so doing I can see in the facial expression a light. I have worked with people
along these lines and seen them grow. I have been intimately associated with many persons who have had and added to what you might expect to find in the sharecropper land of inferiority. And I have with all the power of my existence caused them to believe in themselves because God loves them and because they are somebody. And in instances where they've come through they have become as happy as I am. And I said they have been happy in sharing with them the insight and the wisdom which my experience has taught me. I'm interested in the question of segregation in churches again. And there we have a Baptist negro Baptist Church which is the National Baptist Convention is that correct. We have the Southern Baptist church and then there's another Baptist church and there was a national The
American Baptist Convention here. So there are three is that correct it needs to be. Well anything else. Well there are several divisions among the Baptists more than several As a matter of fact. There may be dozens. And these divisions have come at different times for different reasons. The seven Baptist Convention split from the north. Part of the Convention on the question of slavery. All of the major denominations in the United States had similar splits and the negro Baptists split in 1915 in Chicago over matters which they could not settle. Now some of these bits are legitimate. Some of them are illegitimate. No one can justify a split on the basis of segregation on the basis of slavery. Happy and glad that
there seems to be an effort at unity with reference to all Protestant ism. For indeed in that unity there will be strength and we will discover to an increasing degree that those things which bind us together are greater by far than those things which we have allowed to split us. Well do worse than the Southern Baptists consider the negro Baptist as members of their own church or not. I mean you are supposed to be the Baptists. Well the Southern Baptists do not have negroes in their convention. They have done many friendly and many fine things for Negroes. They have been. In a sense and along some lines very brotherly. They have done some things for Negroes which they have not done for each other. And their kindness is have been wonderful and marvelous. It is too high
about that. As far as the Negro race is concerned and we are not admitting it in their convention a fact which interests me and I was yours interested many other people to raise questions in our minds is the fact that the negro when he was discriminated against in the white churches in the Baptist Church the Methodist Church and what have you. I did not reject these churches but I simply adapted himself under new circumstances to these churches and continued being a Methodist or a Baptist or what. Whatever it was why was this why and why didn't the negro actually set out and organize a truly Negro church a church of his own and. Rejection of the policies of segregation in the other churches. Well he had to work according to what he knew and he knew something. The Methodist Church and something out of the Baptist church and when he started organizing he had to organize out of the
background. Which had been developed in the light of the churches which he attended and of course most Negroes have come into the Baptist church because it's the freest thing about which he knows and that freedom is what he wanted coming out of slavery and that freedom is something that he can use most advantageously freed to work in politics free to work for a school for a hospital he can use this freedom which is in the body politic as he chooses and according to the wisdom which is he has without any outside reference. He doesn't have to go through anybody to get to God. He is taught to believe that that freedom gives him access to the tunnel without any intervention of any hierarchy of any kind. So that the Negro church as far as the Baptist is concerned said there has provided opportunity for his spiritual
development for the time of this recording is being made. Violation of the bus segregation laws in Atlanta which occurred I believe in 1957 as slowly grinding its way through the courts in an effort to see what will and no one really knows for sure although we have strong ideas what is going to happen to segregation on the Atlanta buses. I rever borders you've been in Atlanta for a long time you've been close to the same as Matter fact you were one of the people who tested the segregation law on the buses. Would you like to describe for us the situation and the public transportation of Atlanta say ranging back over 15 years what what was the situation 15 years ago or 15 years ago to situation was rough. It was terrible much worse by far than it is today. As a matter of fact. A negro was
killed on a bus once every two months at least. About relatively nothing. Well who did the killing. As a rule the motorman the person in charge of the bus at that time these Morman had police power and most of the time they were armed and any trifle might arise. And if the motorman took over and there was in the discussion no and the resentment on the part of the passenger which passion there was a Negro he might be killed and if he were killed at just about 70 if you went to court with it the judge was white the witnesses for the most part would be white and everything would be against a dead man and that would just about end it. But as of now the situation has greatly improved. It is not what it ought to be. There is a state law of segregation which is supposed to obtain on the buses that is. White sit front negro sit rare.
Negroes in the front door and pay their fare but they go out of the back door. Now even that is going to grow. For indeed the Bund Gummer a Supreme Court decision handed down by Ohio's Tribune tribunal of Justice will eventually obtain and these move them on much better now than they've ever been. Different leaders have gone sometimes in groups to the president of the company and to persons in charge of personnel and have explained our position in toto from the ground up and we have shown that there was no sense no humanness in killing a person for a trivial matter. And that has completely disappeared and in some instances motorman really kind and understanding. Only yesterday I saw a motorman. Wait for a colored lady to come almost a third of a block she was coming as rapidly as she could.
But he waited and he didn't have to for indeed he would have been within his legal right if he had drugged or had driven on and left up. But he waited until she covered the distance and graciously accepted her as one of his past by one of his passengers. I thought I was very very beautiful and very kind. And as far as Atlanta is concerned eventually we're going to have democracy on common carriers. The level of intelligence in Atlanta requires that democracy requires that Christianity requires it. The scene persists. The Supreme Court requires it and it's going to happen. There's no question in my mind about it. Absolutely none. He was a Negro leader. I don't they are exercising leadership within the church to see to it that various social. Care. The steps are taken for the care of your flock so to speak. But you also are working in the area of desegregation. What form does your work in this area take. How can you be effective in
what and what way do you try to be effective as a leader who is fighting segregation. I look around to see what the need is and I look at an unfair. Segregation act. I go to the mayor of the town I talk to my alderman. I preach about it. I mold sentiment in behalf of democracy. And if it is a question I've actually violating the law of segregation I sometimes go and do it myself. For example in the courthouse they hand a sign at the drinking fountain quite and then another fountain. They had colored it. And I have gone to the fount with the sign of right on it and and drunk right off from it and I said to one of the persons who seem to be an attendant on it is this one of that you have for white folks taste just like the water that
you have a colored people to me. Thank you Reverend borders you have been listening to Reverend William Borders pastor of the Street Baptist Church in Atlanta Georgia as he spoke about religion and leadership among the Negroes of the South. Reverend border's remarks were taken from a longer interview recorded with him by our producer E-W Richter during in the summer of 958 in Atlanta. Mr. Ritter made this interview in connection with the production of the radio program series the last citizen the Negro in America but used under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters were invited to be with us again next week when our guest will be an outstanding leader within the Negro community Dr. Benjamin a maze. President of Morehouse College in Atlanta Georgia. Dr. Mays will comment on the gains the Negro has made toward a first class citizenship comments on a minority has been produced and recorded by radio station WBA a Purdue University. This is the end of the
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Comment on a minority
William Borders
Producing Organization
Purdue University
WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features an interview with Reverend William Borders, a civil rights activist and pastor.
Series Description
This series explores minority issues in the United States in the mid-20th century.
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Social Issues
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Guest: Borders, William Holmes, 1905-1993
Interviewer: Thompson, Ben
Producer: Richter, E.W.
Producing Organization: Purdue University
Producing Organization: WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-51-9 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:35
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Chicago: “Comment on a minority; William Borders,” 1960-10-31, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
MLA: “Comment on a minority; William Borders.” 1960-10-31. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <>.
APA: Comment on a minority; William Borders. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from