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What are we going to tell you did. You know it was an object counter and see peers not go out here and you are not going to hope. You know of Chicago so you would just as well go and get your name oh no. You don't you're not going you're going to be put out a bid for. The story of the intimidation of the Negro is a long and varied one. Harassment by mobs anonymous telephone calls beatings killings and bombings threats of economic and other reprisals have all played a part in this story. Listeners we tell part of the story today as we continue to explore the world of the Negro in America the last citizen. Last August in the new year when 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 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 W. Rector and Dr. Louis Schneider a professor of sociology at Purdue University. Today's program intimidation. Here now is Mr. Richter. Today we begin the first of a series of three programs devoted to what we are terming intimidation protest and defense. We understand by intimidation roughly any activity involving violence or a threat of violence that will tend to prevent the negro from asserting rights or exercising privileges to which he is in some sense entitled for instance by law the intimidation may be consciously undertaken by whites who deliberately act to prevent the negro from obtaining something that something may be segregated education equal status in a court of law the voting rights. So on. On the other hand intimidation may be directed to no special purpose that those doing the intimidation have in mind when you go along with this Will.
I think so. When you say that intimidation need not be directed to any special purpose I'm reminded of a verse a certain pattern of relations between Negroes and whites in various communities has been noted by a number of investigators. I think for instance of the study of deep stuff done by Allison Davis and others we find according to this work that negro white relations can take on a certain sort of cyclical form specifically in a southern community lots of Negroes over time become gradually less deferential to whites. They begin to mumble. So far in addressing white men perhaps they even experiment now and done with leaving out the sore altogether. They refused to give way on sidewalks they are insufficiently self-effacing. One day a white service in stores along with white customers. But one day some white person decides in a boiling up of temper that things have gone far enough and administers a public beating to an opportunity to go out. Then there may well develop a renewed tendency for Negroes to
become deferential. Perhaps the Saar comes back plain and I'm Feyerick and there are corresponding changes on the sidewalks in the stores and so on. A certain equilibrium has been restored. Nor I suppose one could think of this kind of thing as involving intimidation for its own sake. And yet there could well be in it elements of conscious thought on the line that a general subordination of the Negro community must be restored. I suppose too that even when there are conscious elements like this you might still want to call this general purpose intimidation. I think too we should note that in immigration as in the way of the few first. By this I mean simply that there are many anti negro activities in which intimidation is a more or less incidental ordinary instrumental flame. It's one kind of activity undertaken among others to achieve certain results. You may for example want to prevent negroes from going to white
schools and let's say this is your primary purpose. Then virtually any usable tactic that comes to home may be valued and you may turn to intimidation when promises persuasion ridicule and the like have failed. So also intimidation may be part of the armamentarium of those who wish to prevent the negro from voting or doing any of a number of other things. Well I would like for us to go out in this vein but our primary object today is to achieve a very concrete understanding of how intimidation works. Most of us are aware that the negro in the south is frequently intimidated when it comes to exercising his voting rights. But how many of us really know what intimidation means in the concrete if I may so put it in the flesh. What exactly does it involve. It is I think illuminating for us at least at times to get involved in detail. And this is again what we want to look for today the impact of these abstractions upon individuals. What intimidation means to this and that particular negro. And also how intimidation
works in various particular areas in which the Negro seeks to assert the rights or exercise the privileges mentioned in our initial definition. Let's turn to a statement therefore pertinent to the very important area of the Negro vote. The statement perhaps brings out more than the sheer matter of intimidation in connection with voting in the south. But intimidation is a centrally important part of it. Here then is Dr Herman law director of the race relations department of the American Missionary Association at Fisk University. I suspect that I rather strongly believe that the major factor which reduces the number of negroes who are registered and who can vote is the fact that operate directly upon him in the act of seeking to get registered. Let me try to describe what I mean. Registration in the average southern community takes place in the court house.
If this quote house is in a small town it has about had an average number of hangers on of small politicians police of sheriffs. A dead beat is AV people who in some measure are associated with the policy structure of that community. And of course many whites in the South who believe that they are then selves of all by the very fact that they happen to be white persons. When a negro goes into this unwelcome atmosphere of the county courthouse to register. He has not only met with this situation which is a is which is all inspiring to him but he has met at the desk of the registrar with a person who whose attitude is against He is his actual registering and who proceeds in the
conversation which would ensue to place all sorts of hurdles. In the way of the negro seeking to get blanks to fill out or even in the way that he would interpret the questions on a blank and so on. And then in many cases he's met with an outon out attitude of refusal. Boards of registrars have expressed themselves on individual registrars as saying that I will not register a single negro in this county. Negroes don't vote in this county and many cases they will tell negroes that you know Negroes don't vote in this county. Well this is this is a threat this is. A veiled threat in some cases it's a direct threat and so they the process is just blocked by this kind of informal but nevertheless awfully powerful effort on the part of the white public to put every stumbling block in the way of the negro. I have an ego that
still persists in his effort in the small town and frequently in the large community to vote and makes a demand to do so. Then he is frequently if he seeks to rally other negroes in the process and some type of mass effort to register you he may have direct forms of intimidation placed in his way. The shooting of Negro leader in Mississippi about two years ago I think is an example of this kind of direct act of violence out of my own experience I remember when I went to the courthouse in my hometown in Birmingham Alabama to de-register. This time I was teaching in college. It took me about an hour and a half to go through the process of filling out a single blank simply because a clerk at the counter did not agree with the interpretation that I made of the items on the blank that I had filled out. Now I understand that no directions were given me as to whether or
not the items I had filled out were correct that not the blank was simply given back to me and saying that's not right. So I would scratch my head and I would try to give another interpretation and give the blank back. It would be returned to me just as curtly. That's not right yet. And yet beside me here was a clerk not only interpret ing the items to whites who was seeking to write but in many cases actually filling out the blanks for them. Why this act for me may have took a good pot of a day a half a day. It was a it was an act insofar as a white public was concerned who were in process of registering it took on a pot of 15 or 20 minutes with all kinds of assistance. Now if you multiply if this was difficult for me. At that level with it with a degree of education which I had at that time can you can conceive of how difficult it would be for the man who has only a fifth grade education.
And who is not knowledge about knowledgeable about what his rights are in the in there in this kind of kind of situation. This explains more than anything else I think why you have only about say a million and a half probably of maybe 2 million negroes voting. Actually you get to devolve into each day at the present time. Perhaps we might extend this statement by Dr. Long. As you look over our wealth of materials on this entire matter of intimidation what seems to be appropriate to you as something to add in order to piece out again in detail and vividly and concretely the story of intimidation in regard to the negro voting in the south. I think perhaps the story of Gus courts as vividly a lost art of intimidation in connection with voting is anything we have. Let me explain this much. In the spring of 1956 the National Leadership Council on civil rights was told about what had been happening to one negro citizen in the state of Mississippi. A man named Gus
Cortes in connection with his efforts to vote Cortes lives in a county in Mississippi in which there are about 17000 negroes and less than half that number of whites. Courts assume the role of leadership in the effort to have negroes vote in his county when he himself first attempted to vote no negroes were registered to vote and courts tried to register in 1953. I think at this point we might let him and his questioner at the council in 1956 take up the tale. Well A. We we started nineteen hundred in 53. We went to the sheriff's office. And try to pay our pool tags which we were a few. Out of we would if you. Few of us got together. And got up about three reels about three hundred dollars. And had to navigate is brought against the ship and head and behold the level of grandeur. To make him caused him to open the book.
Another way to live as pay poll tax. And upholds myself. And revel in the joy double E was one of the leaders and several others. Was some inch. Hole that grand too. And the shed goes up and makes his apology. That he would if they didn't indict him he would go back and open the book. And let us pay poll tax. And also let. See that the negroes that would reduce how many of you paid the poll. Well when they open up the gun when we got the books opened up about 400 we've succeeded in getting about 400 negroes and up to now to pay that poll tax. For a hundred who paid their poll tax. Did you get any of them read just the succeeding gadding about 94. Reddest in line with that and that
is in 19 ads in 54. And then the legislature. Passed a law and made a sole rehat you did. That the negroes and nobody else couldn't read this into state of Mississippi. Unless the ridge that wanted them to do so. Their word requirements were applied only to the negroes and not to the white is that. Well the way that it was. Put out this is for the Negro and some of the questions said well if you make it that rigid. It will cut the white people out. Well the reader still understands you know what how to do that. One of the Ninety four people who registered in 1954 when did they try to vote. 90 in 55. What happened when they tried to vote in 1955. Well just round to that most how to help to make this statement. In
1954 a citizen Council. Was August when we place. Had to show. Up to before the federal grand jury the citizen Council was not going to county but they got organized in 54 and it suited lately OG and I like one day. The next day. They had me up before the citizen council committee. They sat down got me and hit me up with fully committed to tell me what they had done and they told me to say we have AGA Knight as a citizen council here and I want to count it we understand that you are leaving these nigger and teaching them and trying to get them to vote. Not only that what you the president did tell us that you are the president of the NWC peabrain and we are not going lady had operative operating in a county that has me ones out. I'm saying now. I'm the prudence of the NWC say well. How
many members do you have belong to the NWC P.. I can't tell yet. Why aren't you to prayers then sat down the prudence of it but I can't tell you how many members of our law no just me I said I'm the president. They said they asked me say well how am I going to get your books and turn them over to the miners come out say all you want to me to do that no no we're not. What would you do as a well law if you were to do it so well that way nothing we can do about it. But we don't tell you this. You niggers enough to counter the endo and the CPS not go operate him and you are not going to hope. To come out and say you just as well to go and get you in a moment. If you don't you're not going you're going to be put out a bin as I was operating the store ABN is going about. $25000. Been missing here. What did they do a bad here still are when you told them you wouldn't get off the
register. Well. And when I told him that I would go get all they said thing represented down they had to act then had me back before they committed this time. This prolonged he was a member of the service and co. told them that they would be able to back me in. And he would go down and get me and bring me back before him and they could just back me in and that will stop the whole thing. Well he came down to me said well a citizen Council won't you be back before the committee. I said For what. Well they have to tell you so I got in the car with him and we went on but we got back up. Then they sit down and told me what they wanted to say now you want to make some money. Says you you will you just drop that in WCP you go up there and take your name off is good and if you take your name off the rest of the niggers to take then Emo. And say if you do that we're going to show you to get all the money you won't. I
went out on loan and. I said that's the way I've got to get it out ideas don't loan. So well you. You don't mean to tell me that you would if you and I soldered you money I'm not going to say all my rights for money. Sol after they couldn't get me to do it he said all right then say we're going to close you out I say about clone me out. So in the next day. This same group of rebels at a came down and this was just three months three days before I was to pay my rent. He said Well it says are you still holding out still holding up the weather service and council said. That. If you don't go in take you'll meet you'll name off the roof ration book. They take all the clothes you are going to have to get out of this. That mean me angry and you know when I spoke a little to pay it I rang but I've only got out the cold out of the car and told them I said you go back and tell the citizen count I say go to hell.
The tale thus far gives us a portrayal of unmistakable intimidation and one a girl's courage in facing up to it. But the tale isn't quite over. Let me summarize how it continues. One of the other leaders in the effort to get the Negroes to vote in this Mississippi County was a Reverend Leigh who got a threatening note about his activity and was subsequently killed. Mr. Cortes was told that he would be next as the Citizens Council had threatened Mr. Cortes lost his store. He was told that the store would have to be used for other purposes than those for which he was using it. Mr. Cortes made the point that up until this time he had had good relations with a man from whom he was leasing the store. But there was nothing for it he had to find another building which he did according to his story then and I quote They fixed it up with the wholesale houses that I couldn't buy anything that I couldn't buy anything for the wholesalers I had been buying from. I was sitting up there in the store with the shelves empty. Well let us leave out other events and simply say that according to Mr. Cortes the statement he was shot
and badly wounded. But let's hear the very end of the story. While the court how many Negro did you say there were in the county where you lived in Dallas County. Seventeen thousand one hundred ninety four. Read you very well on me. Right I am. We shouldn't altogether let ourselves be intrigued or even distracted by the story of Mr causes personal courage. There's also the pretty clear fact that all the Negroes in this community were rather effectively intimidating. Well of course this is an example of what happened in one place in the south. It does not happen universally in the south but it and approximations to it occurred with sufficient frequency that we are. If I may be ironic given food for thought. Now let us turn to intimidation in the field of education here surely the story isn't entirely familiar one. But the concrete details can still be brought home to us with powerful
effect. Here's a small item picked out of the big tale of Little Rock which we take from the little volume tender Warriors done by Dorothy Starling with the aid of Donald Gross in Little Rock Arkansas. Elizabeth Eckford a slender 15 year old walked across the grass to the entrance of Central High School armed National Guard Guardsmen barred her way. Orders of the governor they gruffly tell her. Turning from the guardsmen she faced the yelling crowd. Men and women how. Don't let Aryan teenagers screamed. Go back where you came from. For two long blocks of the school the mob pursued her at last frightened and for long she sat down on a bench to wait for a bus to take her home again from the same source. David J Britton Jr. principal of Clinton High School in Clinton Tennessee is quoted as saying the following in the course of Clinton's and aggression endeavor it looks quiet but
it's just like sitting on a powder keg. As far as its being an integrated situation it's not an integrated situation. When the Negro kids came in the others were real nice and friendly until the white youth council was formed. Then any student even walking down the hall with a negro They called him nigger lover. Now the Negro kids don't dare be a part of school life. They're the most humble kids we got in school because they know they've got to be. If we hadn't had any trouble some of them would have been accepted and others not. Just like with all students. But the way it is now nobody even talks to them. That white youth council was the most damnable thing in this whole business. They took those young kids ninth grade level gave them money and told them to jump the Negro kids. We've had more juvenile delinquency this year than in the whole history of the community. We could go on indefinitely documenting demonstrating intimidation in the political sphere and the educational sphere and housing and elsewhere. But as a
kind of conclusion to our last bit of material we would like to hear Dr. Clarence Jordan who participated in the founding of a little known religious community in America's Georgia a community called Carney a farm which was started in 1902 and which ultimately became an interdenominational and a racial settlement. Based on Dr Jordan's interpretation of Christian principles and adhering to ownership and common the following is a small portion of the story we elicited from Dr. Jordan and the summer of 1958. But because we did enter Sam's whole all things common as the early church did we were immediately accused of being communist and for people who could not distinguish between the more and the teachings of core marks from the teachings of Jesus Christ. We were one in the same and we had a lot of better opposition because of that but never did the
opposition due to our non participation in war and now. Common ownership never did that opposition break out into violence like the opposition from own the race viewpoint. As opposition of relatively recent origin. Yeah as well all along there was a little bit but nothing nearly as severe as it has been during the past two years. I might go on and say that after the more or less after the communist scare subsided. Then came the Supreme Court decision ruling against segregation in the public schools. Well a year later the white servers and council were formed all over the South as a resistance move to that decision. And quite naturally Cananea came in for its share of a tag. And in knight in the spring of
1956 the opposition became so severe that it erupted into violence which we've been speaking. What about the children of those there are many children here are quite NEA far as the situation here affected them in any way. Yes it has. Quite naturally it has affected affected them. They have been shot at on one night while they were out playing. To cause came down the road and 12 blasts of shotgun pellets were directed toward the community and many of them for a long time. Children Well quite naturally that frightened them. And then at school I have been called all kinds of names and have suffered actual physical violence like yeah. And it became necessary for us to take out of school. They children that when high school and to send them away.
For the past two years we have done that but now we want to make another attempt to send our children to the local schools and we're planning to do that this fall. Time unfortunately makes it impossible for us to present more illustrative material. Our object today as we've indicated has been to bring home the concrete. They have a human meaning of intimidation. If we have succeeded at all in doing this. The point of these several stories surely has been made. Is there any overall comment you'd like to add Lou. Only a few necessarily rather general things. Intimidation is to be sure a basic weapon against the negro in a way it's an ultimate weapon when all else fails violence or the threat thereof can be called into play. It's pretty clear also that in from Ed. frequently has to spread itself. That is in order to be really effective it must often be applied to whites as well as Negroes. The school desegregation crises to cite just one germane thing has illustrated this very neatly.
I might also comment that the use of intimidation tends to reaffirm and reinforce the historic tendency more particularly marked in the south to employ violence to override the law and to reduce respect for the law. A point we might keep in mind above all is a very simple one. Namely that whether deliberately used with this object in mind or not intimidation works toward the result of preserving the subordination of the negro economically politically and otherwise. Mr courts is evidently one of numerous negroes who are entirely clear on this vital point. Inevitably the negroes attitude toward intimidation is influenced by knowing that this is the result toward which it does work. The hope of success of intimidation ultimately would rest on a willingness to employ really massive repression of the negro. I would guess that this will not come about in the United States under any immediately foreseeable conditions. But this doesn't mean that intimidation will not continue to have for some considerable time its day to day and sometimes rather
sizable successes. Next week we take up the topic of Negro protest. It's history. The changes in the forms it has taken at its current manifestations. Join us then as we continue to explore the world of the last citizen. Those are the realities. Yeah and good luck w the. Greatest. Citizen. Program World produced on record. Might I WOULD YOU were the Universe. Underground from the educational television and radio show. I mean you're good you're good. Now you'll feel like you're right.
Last citizen
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 focuses on the ways that whites use intimidation to subjugate African Americans in mid-20th century America.
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A series of programs devoted to exploring the problems facing African-Americans and how these issues impact all Americans.
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Social Issues
United States--Race relations--20th century.
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Guest: Long, Herman H. (Herman Hodge), 1912-1976
Guest: Courts, Gus
Guest: Jordan, Clarence
Host: Schneider, Louis
Producer: Richter, E.W.
Producing Organization: Purdue University
Producing Organization: WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-50-15 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:25
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Chicago: “Last citizen; Intimidation,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 24, 2021,
MLA: “Last citizen; Intimidation.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 24, 2021. <>.
APA: Last citizen; Intimidation. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from