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Challenge 69 the urban crisis. The students respond. I observe that there are two problems that seem to be emerging. One is a generation gap. That is quite the Sanibel between the speakers and the young men and women who have come here to hear them. And also something of a communications gap. Comments were made by the men and women. Who came to hear a number of the speakers that we live in a competitive society which is all very true but they failed to understand that one must compete on something close to equal competitive grounds. It isn't fair for a 6 foot 200 pounder to take my young 10 year old son into a ring and propose to box or to wrestle with him. And I submit to you that the one fifth of all Americans who have to compete with the 80 percent of us that seem to have the full
measure of blessings of this society are competing not on a very very fair basis at all and I think that that's what challenge 69 is all about. The Wake Forest University is imposing on contemporary American affairs presents challenge 69 the urban crisis. The students response. This is the first in a series of nine programs that seek to focus attention on the problems of American cities. This program will feature the challenge 8:54 keynote address by Senator Edmund S. musky on succeeding programs we will hear speeches on the crisis of urban environment the crisis of inadequate education the welfare system and the crisis of unemployment and underemployment and speeches on the role of the church. The business community the university and government and meeting the urban crisis the speaker on today's program United States Senator Edmund Muskie is a
leading advocate of legislation designed to improve American cities including the federal modeled cities program. One of the reasons for his choice as a vice presidential candidate for the Democratic Party in 1968 was his interest in the problems of urban America a key issue in the 1968 election. For his keynote address in the challenge 69 symposium Senator Muskie discusses the role of the student as citizen and voter in meeting the urban crisis. Here now is Sen. Muskie. I parted Gys for being late but I found myself last night much in the situation of the out of state or who is driving in Maine and suddenly felt he was lost. So he stopped and asked a native How far is it to Portland. Well the natives said the way you are headed.
About twenty five thousand miles and there are several rough places along the way. We hadn't quite planned to cover the distance between Fayetteville Arkansas and Winston-Salem in time to meet our scheduled appointment here. I think of another tourist in Maine years ago. He was a Texan and he was a Texas rancher. And when he was in Maine he thought he might just as well compare Texas ranching with Maine farming. So he stopped at a farmhouse and struck up a conversation with the farmer. And said just how big is your farm. Well the farmer said you can see about all of it begins down there by the brook and goes along the brook to that fence and along the fence to the line of trees along the line of trees to the road and back
again. Well the Texan said that isn't very big is it. So you know in Texas if I were to get up in the morning. And get into my car at seven o'clock and travel all day by sunset I just might get to the other end of my ranch he said. What do you think of that. Well the farmer said I had a car like that once myself. I'm delighted to be here in Winston-Salem and at Wake Forest and to have the opportunity to meet with. All of you young people and some not so young like myself. And the representatives of so many other educational institutions on this most pressing domestic problems here in America today.
It would challenge is just exactly the right one. To use in describing the dimensions of the problem and its importance. I sometimes think that contemporary American society could best be described as a crisis society. Each day's news confronts us with a new or an escalating problem or crisis or even calamity it might be a faulty oil well whose sludge threatens our beaches or a power plant whose wastes clog and estuary and smothers its plant life are an unexpectedly heavy rainfall which washes away inadequately protected homes are a drug. Whose side effects we fail to measure accurately.
But know where our sensitivities touched more on that deeply than in a crisis that absorbs our urban areas. When I said he should be throbbing centers of commerce and culture they are loaded with tension and a conflict. When they should be laboratories of creativity and cooperation. They are filled with dissent and militancy. The recent follow up study of last year's Kerner Commission report tells us very bluntly. That things haven't improved. Since a year ago that the inner core of most American cities is still plagued with ghettos which are plagued by rats and cry and congestion and a
shortage of decent jobs good housing. And adequate schooling. That these hardcore slum areas are not shrinking. And that is urban blight spreads. Ghetto conditions continue to deteriorate. The whites are continuing to flee to the suburbs in unprecedented numbers. In 1066. The average annual for all and that's a good word to you of white Americans. From the city into the suburbs. Averaged one hundred forty thousand a year in one thousand sixty eight two years later that figure rose to half a million. And what do they leave behind. These new suburbanites. They leave behind a city with a
shaky and shrinking tax base. Without the resources to upgrade its school systems. To educate its police force. Or provide adequate medical and social service. And they leave behind. A said he was doing industrial opportunities which are the only hope of improvement that an impoverished citizen might have. This rapid disappearance of inner city job opportunities is shattering. It is central. It is critical. Between 1954 and 1965. More than 50 percent of all American industrial construction took place outside the core city.
During virtually This same time period between 1950 and 1966 86 percent. Of the total increase in nonwhite population. Was taking place in exactly those core areas. That industry had avoided. And meanwhile seventy seven point eight percent of the white population's increase was taking place in the suburbs. The location of the industrial expansion. That's the problem. And the result is clear. Job opportunities for blacks have decreased as jobs have moved to the suburbs. Where expensive travelling costs inadequate housing opportunities.
And hostile suburban attitudes have further compounded the problem. Is it any wonder that students question I've asked that blacks question our priorities. And that whites feel threatened. And challenged. Is it any wonder that mutual trust and tolerance are undermined. And that confrontation threatens to become a way of life. Because all I've given you are plain facts without any embroidery. Or any rhetoric. The most disturbing aspect of the crisis is the temptation either to look away. Or don't look for easy answers and simple solutions. Some citizens have chosen to escape. This explains the movement into the suburbs and to settle
down into my present niche of serenity and watch the rest of the world struggle along. Others have taken to the barricades to protest against a society and a system that has been stacked against them. And so gradually we witness a polarization. Polarization of society between those who choose to cuddle in a corner. Guided by their own indifference. And those who choose to throw rocks. Guided by their own frustrations. Those citizens on both sides have chosen the easy approach. In the long run it's the least effective approach. There I better alternatives than opting out or throwing rocks. A society is ingenious is this one. Built on
a form of government that is fundamentally rational and just. And inhabited by citizens who basically compassionate. Has not shut its doors to change or closed its institutional mind. To progress. But nevertheless. We have not come to grips with it. And the solution of the urban crisis will require. The. Total involvement. And the total cooperation. On a continuing ongoing basis. All of the social force. For understanding. Cooperation trust and effectiveness that we can mobilize. It will not come with a government. That is indifferent. Or a
private sector that is inactive or a student who is smug. It will not come with retreat which is advocated by some. Nor will it come with ribet. It will come only when all of these forces government. Private enterprise and the individual mesh their energies and their techniques and apply them vigorously to the problems that must be face. The European crisis is of our making. This has been a free society. For 180 years governed by policies based. Upon the current will. Of the American people from time to time. And so it is. A crisis of our making. It is therefore capable of a solution. But only if we have the will
of the Spirit. For its part government. At all three levels must act to destroy the conditions. That breed poverty. Must act to upgrade the quality of ghetto education. Must act to open up opportunities for urban employment. It must act to increase the distribution of food medical care and other social services so desperately required by inner city residents. It must act to establish the regional and intergovernmental mechanisms and cooperation which are essential. To mobilizing resources. For the purpose of relieving urban pressure. And while doing all of these things. Government at all levels must look beyond. The contemporary
crisis and develop long range planning. That will make better use of our natural resources were offered greater opportunities for our human resources and whatever government does. It must do from a sense of justice and equity. Producers of goods who deceive the public and especially the poor ought to be regulated. A draft system that violates basic fairness ought to be overhauled. A police force that does not comprehend. The complexities of Justice needs to be retrained and restrained. A sense of justice and equity. The private sector for its part.
The shore's is constantly the private enterprise private initiative has made us great. And enables us to solve our problems. Well let's challenge the private sector. That to prove its point. And to prove its point it must plunge into urban action. With the same kind of determination. It's ad man plunge into the promotion of a new product. It must take more initiative. Must apply resourcefulness and ingenuity. To human problems. As skillfully as it has two marketable one. The scope and potential for voluntary private contributions. In the city's struggle for survival is limited only by imagination. And imagination is what the private sector tells us it has. In
abundance. Direct assaults on local cattle problems can take the shape. Of privately funded and privately operated self-help projects designed to turn vacant lots into parks designed to turn abandoned homes into livable rental units. And deserted stores into recreation centers. We have a right to ask the private sector why aren't you doing these things and if you're not. Why do you object when somebody else does. Through public institutions. The young people of the ghetto need outlets as well as our own young people. Out much for fun for growth for challenge. How many private pool. Or voluntary clubs.
Or swanky hols continue to go on use or remain closed at nights or on weekends. That could offer exciting outlets for the youth of the inner city. The private sector's major contribution however must focus on the creation of new job opportunity. We all know that no job is better than one strongly base in our private enterprise system. Government cannot create those jobs but no one else is in sufficient numbers. No single issue. Plagues the Cylons as persistently as the lack of jobs.
The unemployment figure reaches. The appalling figures of 20 or 25 percent. Those citizens must be put to work. They must have adequate job. There is no choice for them or for us. And so it is for the private sector to supply these jobs. If our system of free enterprise. Is to survive the rebellious mood of our era it must serve. As the vehicle for diminishing human idleness. Not enough major business leaders thoroughly consider the social implications of their employment behavior. And this is particularly true of the industrial exodus to the suburbs.
If business continues to expand to the suburbs at the rate it has done over the last 10 years then it must accept. The essential responsibility. Of using its vast political muscle to break down of the hostile suburban barrier. Counted by every negro. Who has ever set foot across a city live.
Challenge 69: The urban crisis
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#1 (Reel 1)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Identifier: 69-30-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:21:30
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Chicago: “Challenge 69: The urban crisis; #1 (Reel 1),” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 20, 2024,
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APA: Challenge 69: The urban crisis; #1 (Reel 1). Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from