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At the conclusion of the following program we will hear a special message from the vice president of the United States. My life's work is undecided right now you know I have gone through being an engineer and a lawyer and different other things. But I sort of feel that maybe I fit in here being some kind of social worker working with these people. I've gotten tremendously involved and their problems are my problems. They say they can't hit the road because the Charleston I have I resent the city of Charleston. Now I'm mad. So maybe it will change my life if I decide to go into what I think is a very good chance of going to this kind of work. And even if I never do at least I'm going to know a little bit more about poverty than I ever did before and have some concept of what these people need that it is not just dirty faces they need they need to work they need a road to man. London Bridge is falling down and London Bridge is half built up. The
song is a favorite of children throughout Appalachian. It is historically a song of protest and it was brought to these hills where we are know by the fathers fathers fathers of the people to hear. The English and Scots Irish who fled the tyranny and persecution of the Old World for the freedom of the meal. As London Bridge is falling down we know it well. It was historically from its 10th century origins on a bridge with a tendency to fall down but somehow still stand up. And partly for this reason we chose it to punctuate the final programme of the series. The sounds of poverty. I'm Brooke Baldwin the executive producer of this program series and I've been asking Mary because I participated in an educational experiment. One which brought college students from 29 Appalachian colleges to a conference center in Ripley West Virginia earlier this year.
And from there by pick up truck and mud spattered auto into the other America poverty. The meeting was sponsored by the Johnson Foundation of racing in Wisconsin. Action for Appalachian Youth Community Development Incorporated the Appalachian volunteers and West Virginia State College. The students were briefed on the problems of the area and the problems of being poor. And then were given the opportunity to see for themselves how the vitality and energy and the stamina of youth could play a vital role in solving the problems of the poverty stricken. For two days and two nights they lived with poor people up hill and holler creek and branch so that they could determine what they helping poor people to help themselves would provide a constructive outlet for their own energies. Actually for Appalachian youth a wise you will hear the students refer to it is an organization dedicated to self-help. Through local organizers they teach the poor that in unity there is strength and that community organization is the road to self-determination. The student reactions to
their experiences are as varied as their own backgrounds. Since the 100 students represent a wide range of those experienced in dealing with poverty of those who have never seen a poor person. Those accustomed to self-help organizations. And those who take that self-help as something one does in the supermarket. There is no unanimity just as in poverty there is great individuality. Oh However both the students and the people with whom they lived were touched by this experience. The students are on their way back to the conference center where on the bus with them thank place at the things you think most people remember standing in their homes also. We want
to know what he was saying this man says. Perry recently expressed embarrassment it's serious. Christians are all cases. The. Very boys I mean it was a boy. I think.
That's a good one and any other in the middle and in the middle they want a garbage collection they have to bring it down. People have any idea why it wasn't paid according to the records. And they have to get a better time for it. Right now I think these two have made a difference in your own plans with a plan to do something now but I know there's a there's places where
I just didn't feel I was aware of this. How was the shot. Probably noticing that you know where it is but I'm certain I did I am a commander while I was around but I can tell the ozone. Sorry I just can't accept the fact that it's a thing you have to see for yourself. I was in the Triangle area of Charleston right out that's from a sort of right almost within the city limits I guess. What did you think of the place you were and would like to keep away from me. Thank you know all about it but. Well we were certainly shocked by some of the things we had said earlier there is no unanimity. What follows is proof. We took a small group of students returning in a car literally omnipresent tape recorders on. The extent of the students
reactions range from total comprehension. To total lack of it. Some came away convinced the problem was in the people. The majority saw beyond the occasional defeatism apathy contentment to what the issues really are. They saw the need for the potential in the work of the A-Y and Levys the painstaking lengthy demanding process of helping people organize to help themselves. The main thing the body me and the rest were just kind of sat there staring at each other thing like nobody knew what to say and I know they just bouncing come to us we did if not more so. And later on chemist. Me funny because in the community meeting they had a big bonus an argument so if you have write out anything about how they didn't like the word poverty and they didn't like to be called point people in and then all the time you were there they kept apologizing. She was actually at first afraid to meet with us because she thought we'd be snobbish and she's always lived in the
country and never been in the city or thought she could live in the city because of her upbringing. I think when you talk about college students you get this general impression you know their families are very well-to-do and they've had everything they pointed to and they're better educated. Things like this have not my experience has and this is probably the impression that she had when all these people mentioned that the major thing in their lives is rolled conditions. Well this is true. The roads on that are tractors to me. But no one seems to mention housing conditions even when you ask them about it. They're satisfied with the way they live which to me was another major problem. Of living with the constant ventilation so to speak and no hot running water. No bathroom facilities in the house and just little things like this that add up the housing conditions are things that they can take care of themselves. The key to this is solving all their problems seem to be the roads because as soon as they have the roads
they can get the school buses in they can get the education they need a better transportation to get jobs in the city. And I think once they have the better roads which are provided by someone else which have to be provided by someone else then they can get the money and things that they need to fix with the houses as they want as they see fit. Many of the children drop out of school because of the mockery and the teasing about the clothes they wear where they live and what their fathers do as an occupation. This to me is a great pressure on a child and I wonder if maybe this is another reason for dropping out. And if better roads are not that much of an important solution to education why not to that. When we were discussing things about community action in one of the people in that hollow get together and go down and protest he said that well he tried it once and hardly anybody showed up so they'd given up. Well now this
this to me because they failed once they're not going to try again it's almost the defeatist attitude which may be brought about by all the promises that have been made to them and then broken and anything it's just me. Today we start talking about the first the services offered by a rye in the neighborhood council on everything and I've only I've only been here about two months now the last six or seven and so I've have very limited knowledge of what's been happening in the area. And yet I knew the services were available at certain times in certain days and seems like that these people should have been made aware of them because they're the ones they're affecting and this is one way of solving their problem hopefully. And yet he knew nothing of the legal aid that was available to these people right there about three miles from his hotel site. Do you think they're going to act in any way as a result of your being there and the
discussion that I witnessed yesterday. I think that as college students going in several of them living with different families by the two days that I perhaps we have inspired them to show them that since the students have come from many different states and not just this area that people are interested in their problems and I think that before we arrive they imagine the college students to come in and had a poem so to speak a picture of what they'd be like and what would happen and I think that the picture in which we form for them was much different than the snobbish college students that they expected the proof of the experiment of the college students can be termed by a vital and valid cause was in the reaction there too. We're back at the conference center. If involvement was a basic purpose of the meeting you can hear it in the excitement of these voices. Chaotic perhaps but in the midst of the noise they are seeing the light of understanding. The beginning of the realization that the only gap to be bridged is allegorical. The
people who are poor are not people who are different. But are people who cannot control their environment. Are alienated from the political structures that govern them feel the sense of powerlessness and need the strength of the UN to help them help themselves. It was this was the number. This is what we talked about the role. Yeah I mean I was in every room. It was the issue of poverty was not an issue. This if we we can take care of ourselves we can't develop this so directly poverty was because they thought that perhaps because of their status you know that they didn't get developed because because they didn't have any political pull on our money or anything that they were put last on the list you know to get anything in and they only got the road which is integrated at election time or that they can keep being put off. Well when you arrive in our community we attend the first thing we did as soon as
we left the church we went to. One. Sunday. And we attended a community organization meeting. And you know the first one of the first issues that talked about. Was one of shock. That. Students. Were going to live in poverty areas live with people who are poor people. And this was in the newspaper. The poor people were talking about the residents she had an article here in the House and this morning she was shocked. And she was you know I don't want this. I can remember. Last summer. One of the worst community of my kids was working it was just a terrible community and these people really were poor. The newspaper did an article on the community and used the names that newspaper news and. Talk about of. A big upset. These people just did not like being called boy. And even though their children did not have shoes and clothes they just didn't like this
in the news but they don't work with your houses did you come out and talk about poor people. No. We did neither. We did. We did we talk about their problems and what they want to talk. We never directed in the sense that you know you're poor Don't tell me what's wrong with you but they they themselves knew that they didn't have the things you know why we stayed in people's homes and they said they were poor. Damn boy they're not what people tend to call hillbillies. You know the stereotype of a hillbilly I think seems to be of a person who carries a jug in one hand and a gun in the other. They're not these kind of people. Then then I think I think the second most moving experience was when we went to every revival meeting last night. During the meeting the woman that we were staying with got sick and had to leave very abruptly. Well at the end of the meeting people that had never seen us before didn't know anything of us except that we were university students. There were two of us came up and said Would you like to stay at our place and I will
be glad to put you up. Even the worker the community worker that was working with us was surprised that the people were so friendly toward us even maybe more than they would be toward their neighbors and we the people are really sincere in their belief in their religion. They stood up in the church and they could they would tell about their experiences get very emotional many of them cried. And to call be people ignorant and riotous. It just isn't just what these people were we were needed most was a robe was a symbol is that if they got the road I believe that you people were low income would probably move up to middle income because and there be more industrious besides a surprised back community I was in had about 50 people. Community mind still very active
in this community. Some of them. Evidently everyone in. The family. The man is paralyzed. I expected. That. But I think you need to bag. Work on the work. Community.
But barely warm enough. To finance in the. Day. And up to three locations with a god family. I didn't bring up the initiated conversations on the subject. Of
the occupation. He is to get a rose in the sky. The old one I knows you have mud on your trousers and shoes. I've got my boobs fact camp and I so like to use them because they need a robe very badly to have a very muddy whether it was feasible or walk on it died getting really muddy was. It was cold last night in a snow day. The family I lived with they were in economic straits. The man was 76 years on the show. His wife was social care of his from the primary income. His wife works at a local school in the afternoons I noticed it in the room I stayed in they did have an encyclopedia and a few other books they read a little bit and they were reasonably well informed on issues and so were concerned these people Quest was a run
down situation where they had a lot of trash around cars they didn't like that had a wise tried watcher man to clean up. They have been only fairly effective. They did get some of the trash taken away and they did have a truck come in at one time I have a man who was picking up stuff and people were helping him. Had to have so many refrigeration heavier things that it really discouraged they walked more US walked out on me. Which ended a tutor session last night with the kids I used in writing well they must have 20 kids there and they could probably have them What have they got and all the people are concerned about having someplace where they have a larger active community center was large enough to do something yeah. So it is not as if there are any size for a brighter future in the immediate future. If they
get there rather than trying conscientiously for the last two years to give them a try actually longer. But even that that they haven't got a bill in two years with despite all the promises they say that when election time comes up what happens in committee is that some of them great a little bit with all of us a few stones around but nothing seriously has done. The people a lot more concerned at least some of them are a lot more concerned than I anticipated. As by life as most commuters in the suburbia downtown districts of cities. This is characteristic of American society. There are people that are concerned this is probably due to the efforts of organizations such as a drawing. To found out who are the people that are asked of them and us for their answers they see the West Virginia laws and say that no person no private citizen they work on is you know a state road which this is.
You never know to look at it now. There are many people you know who complain about the lack of the nation and so forth among people in the society who are you know an adolescent south in the winter when a state law forbids a man to work on the access and the only access he has to his own home in which he takes pride in and forbids him to work on a road in which he would like to take private. This seems to me that in many cases the same people who complain about this are responsible for this who complain about this this lack of initiative inbreed this initiative among among the people of the area. Because Mr Schaffer is an experienced heavy equipment operator and I feel quite sure he could do an excellent job. It is an indication of what's been done and of what the community's tried to do about this road. Maybe they've gone to just to state or county officials I know exactly who they've gone to and I can officially say you have to get your own
rock so they blasted the rock out of the hills. Then again officials say you have to get your own rock rock crusher is easy is to mean it did what it did to ask these people to get equipment like that which is hard to come by and we say don't have after they've already offered you know using use of a bulldozer or greater or something like that as they've done troll blasting the rock of the hills. You know it is it is a sort of an indication of the reluctance upon the part of the various officials and people in power to to perform functions which seemingly I'm not going to say are definitely the which which seemingly and which the people believe should be performed for the amount of taxes and for the amount of you know and as as time correlate to their citizenship. You know I I've been in poor places and I've been in Wales very well and
certainly many wells pro-ISIS I've been in places with with worse roads. Yet all the yet though the route will speak road is to me a living symbol of some of the some of the problems of the Appalachian sounds and you know to get the will is great if the will's Creek Road is fixed tomorrow. It won't mean an end of problems for the Appalachian south it will mean I mean I don't leave a show and take it a problem for the people in Wales Creek community but so long as as a set of veils in which people are dissuaded by law from doing their own work and where there's there's a tremendous new sort of. Apathy on the part not not of the people and in many cases but on the part of responsible officials and on all levels you know that you don't I I don't see where
where where real progress is going to be made. The conference was carefully planned by educators by social issues by community organizers by the local people who are poor. Let's take a fresh look at it from their point of view and restate the basic purpose. We asked Jerry phir deputy director of action for Appalachian U. What's it all about. Why are these students here. What does he hope the value of the conference will be when these students return to their colleges. Well. There are really two aspects. What will you help. Well I. Can't see. Some purpose. This was. On a university or. General including. The. Audience. Well they. Represent a tremendous resource for one thing brains. Secondly man are. Certainly. Somebody implied. Earlier grants friendship. Or a source of money to marry and doing
things. And. This resource is really. Not being used as a cyclist. Today. Or. Neither an anti-poverty this is only one part of the. Right. Thing. Being uses Idol is a good thing. All kinds of purposes for our society has a tendency to think in the university in terms of research only in terms of. Iraqi history. Training. And. As many other. Uses. We feel. Secure in an area like Appalachian where. The bright young. People. Are such and the. Leadership. Magination. Intelligence and. The intellectual capacity to. Effect change. And they. Are interesting and. Are. Being in the lead
in the institutional system. Change. There. This is one answer. Second is where. I think. The media conferences and the kids learn something of their society is an indication of higher education. For yelling. Job of education. Churning out training. Are going to. Be Turned out to. Deal right. In the social sciences and professional way with very basic exposure to a. Very basic story and. Part of learning. They can't escape it. And I. Mean or worse is not provided by a lot of cases. Before I can even. They're going to be a physicist or a chemist story. Despite some of the physical sciences. People be
assertive citizens. Are seeing states and saying they know. What life. Here. I mean. A. Society with rather a. Very fact. Reset. Building. Idea of exposure. Patients. Are citizens are hiding. Out eventually. Many more schools. Are active. Credit. For actual seal writes. This this anything but. Health. Sponsored life cycle. Is really going to help them use their
experience. Learning.
Sounds of poverty
London bridges, part one
Producing Organization
Johnson Foundation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the first of two, presents a conclusion to the series.
Series Description
A documentary series featuring interviews with rural Appalachia residents by one hundred students from twenty-nine colleges, meeting at Action for Appalachian Youth Conference at Ripley, West Virginia. The series is hosted by Bert Cowlin.
Social Issues
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Host: Cowlin, Bert
Producing Organization: Johnson Foundation
Speaker: Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-Sp.18-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 05:40:00
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Chicago: “Sounds of poverty; London bridges, part one,” 1967-11-07, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 23, 2024,
MLA: “Sounds of poverty; London bridges, part one.” 1967-11-07. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Sounds of poverty; London bridges, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from