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From an intensive week of broadcasting focusing on Milwaukee's inner core city within a city. W age 8 the University of Wisconsin presents a discussion of the problems of employment and leadership in the inner city. Today Ralph Johnson of WAGA radio talks with Mr. Wesley Scott executive director of the Milwaukee Urban League. Their conversation begins as Mr. Scott explains the history and purposes of the Urban League of everything everything in Milwaukee was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1999 in the state of Wisconsin. It was one of the first ever legs in operation after the initiation of the Evan league movement and 19 other content. So the movement itself is only nine years older than the no ark ever lay. And we were we became an agency because of our concern of all.
Of the participation of. Niggles then in the job market and the veil of the housing market. The consistency. Number of health and welfare services available. The degree of participation in recreation programs here and basically the aims have remained the same. The techniques and approaches as you would suspect have evolved over the years that the name and software of the league suggest to me that might have had something to do with the period of movement of negroes from the south or from rural areas to the big cities is this correct or not. This is correct. It was around the turn of the century that a group of Negroes and whites and New York became concerned about the kind of treatment that was being accorded to young negro women who had just come up from the south. They were being lured and I use the word advisedly to the largest
it is for a sensibility to work as housemaids etc.. And many of them are ending up in a house of prostitution. So it was it was basically an organization to protect the welfare and protect the lives of these in my plans per se and several years later so they wouldn't. The accuse of discrimination they form a similar lead of four men. Well I thought that was a great deal of duplications service and they've ended up consolidating the two legs of it and became the league concerned with the the welfare of all Negroes period in 100 20 they chains the movement to National Urban League and. The city is the agencies that were affiliated in other cities mirrored up national and put the name of the city before I ever live again so air go Milwaukee or been a
Cleveland Chicago urban center as the Urban League move through the years did its basic objectives change or are they basically the same as they were several years ago. The basic objectives are remain the same. The method of the resolution of some of these problems has changed. As you might suspect in earlier years in Milwaukee finance and a great deal of emphasis was given to the placement of domestic workers. Well this is an area that we are not concerned with at this point since the Wisconsin State Employment has a special section for this and we don't believe in duplications services so we no longer do the placement of domestic workers. We do have a still deal with unskilled and semi-skilled But on that and an industry per se. Has the league's activities expanded to include other minority groups such as Puerto Ricans or Mexicans with a national level a movement that has always a concern itself with the problems of minority groups.
However you can recognize and the city's The problem would be different in San Francisco for instance the heavenly deals not only with Negroes but with nieces Mexican-Americans Indians etc. and to a limited degree we do the same thing here. Puerto Ricans and some Indians from time to time but largely our clients are. Negroes. It seems to me than working in an urban situation you'll have. You must of necessity work with various groups of industry or other social agencies as a community organization. We do not so much deal in direct services as we worked very hard to see that the existing agencies make their programs all inclusive so that this necessitates them having the proper kind of a relationship the proper record with all existing agencies that give services to people. How would you say the Urban League has filled in or been a part of or has it been a significant part of what's called the civil rights movement.
There really have been a significant part. If you had no other time and this is not true but if at no other time communication between the various segments of the community was important it is almost more important than the time of crisis and this has been the role that we have played in terms of maintaining the lines of communication between those polarized sections of community and I think we have done this effectively. Has this began the new movement largely in the south. Was the lead being an urban oriented group less active perhaps in a time when they are now. No. You know many people believe this to be true and I have to because I never make not big by any wish on their own part but by some regulation that the Infernal Revenue Department puts down cannot lobby cannot demonstrate this does not mean that we do not participate. We may not lobby for SS but there's nothing which says that we
cannot. Be invited to give expert advice at a hearing on any particular piece of legislation. And as long as we have a letter of invitation from a legislator then we are exonerated from being tapped as lobbyist. So it isn't a question of not having been active. That's how we have been active that has had has not been as visible as some other forms of activity as far the civil rights movement is concerned. I see that you then operate on and on a tax exempt basis as a real charitable organization and we must abide by the rules set down by the government in this regard. And this to a certain degree determines how we may do certain kinds of things. But if you are imaginative and creative enough in no way limits what you can do. Now the end of lazy Pete for years and years had a. Method of operation which is very largely through court cases and as I see it. Could you
characterize the league's operation over the last several years. Well I believe always has been a social work agency. Basically a social work agency doing a special kind of social work or community organization and community organization is not meant to be geographic but it describes a technique which for us is finding the resources in the community and making these resources are available to meet the needs of people and I resources of people places and things you have not done the league does not get involved is the Annabelle ACP has and court actions. But you know here again you say if it were a legal matter then double ACP would be that resource which we would look to to do the job and in the same sense that we don't hire people per se. We look to the industry to provide the jobs and so this is our ro find a resource and find that individual to fill that resource have either the problems that you face or the ways you've attacked
and changed over the last Very few years since the disturbances in the big cities. I would say that would say in terms of just volume that volume has increased in terms of what has to be done. The things that we've been called upon to do and to this degree they the kind of agitation that has existed in large cities has been helpful in terms of implementing some of our programs to a certain degree it has had a salutary effect upon the resources in the community. They have been more agreeable for instance to a financing specific kinds of programs have been have been helpful. There has been more acceptance in terms of some of the suggestions and recommendations which 7 has been making for 20 30 40 years. So to this degree our program has him group but to another degree it has become more difficult where as the larger community is
inclined to think in terms of. The the acceptable goal that's being housing jobs and education. Other people who are agitating looking for other kinds of goals late. I don't hear them chanting about jobs and education. I hear them chanting how I hear them chanting self-determination. I hear them chanting upward mobility. I hear them chanting leadership. I tend to do and the problem is become more complex because now we must begin to think and terms of programs and that will make the goals of the larger larger community namely housing jobs and education the means to an end. For those who have not yet to achieve those intangible goals which they're chanting for I know.
These intangible go seem to revolve a great deal about. Shall I say this is not the right word but the smaller things and the way in which people treat each other and working in the core of the last three months I found so many times very emotional grievances by people. And when you get right down to it it's rather not such a thing as say a great brutal act but a continuous feeling of being put down over a long period of time that's cause some Seems to me to have caused some of this feeling. Well this is not a small thing to the person who is directly involved. To use the vernacular nobody's corner hurts like Michael and it's been stale and to the individuals who are emoting and who are chatting and clamoring for recognition identity and self-determination. This is as meaningful to them as anything in their lives. They're not playing games. They're serious and I think if
those of us who have some skills and some expertise do not recognize this then we've missed that part. Being here in the first place. But it's important to them and it might seem insignificant in terms of the overall challenges of our job to be done. But for the person directly involved this is the biggest thing in his or her life and we ought to recognize that. In that same connection I find a very distressing amount of distrust and fear and even hate by people of all kinds of social governmental agencies who do not trust the Department of Public Affairs they do not trust the police department working in a urban situation. Do you have programs designed to alleviate some of these tensions. No and I don't think anybody can develop any kind of programs in about outside of the agencies that people allegedly distrust can develop to overcome this. What needs to happen
is that those agents is that seem to be distrusted by the poor black and white need to do a self assessment in terms of the kinds of services which they're rendered and the method in which they render these services and what it does to the dignity of people and began to rethink and reorganize in terms of these programs but nobody outside of the group. That I distrusted and do this kind of thing. During this project in the kora talked with a number of people who have very deep feelings about the activities of the Milwaukee Police Department. There certainly seems to be unquestionably a degree of tension and poor relations. What what is your estimate of the various causes of this is. Oh I was part of it or a large part of it magnified out of proportion and what's the solution to the problem and began
by making this observation that there is more police brutality than the police are willing to admit and that there's less than the police department is accused. And I think this is par for the course. But I think the reason for the lack of understanding of might be several fold. Number one that is no police communication no communication between the police and the community very little. And this in itself needs to leads to this lack of understanding in this whole area of police brutality. We have discovered in terms of the kinds of reporting that has been done to us that there's more discourteous this impoliteness and contemptuousness and his brutality. However I do take the position. That that is such a thing as verbal brutality and no
human being ought to be subjected to such as name calling and this kind of thing. Now the police answer will be on that I'm sure that they are subjected to a good deal of name calling too. This is not a patient has it for them. But their responsibility is to the community that hired him in the first place. And more than this. They have the responsibility to be cognizant of the conditions in a community which makes our jobs easier or more difficult. And I submit to you that the conditions that exist today are quite different from the conditions that existed 20 years ago when our police force was considered to be one of the best in the country. It is still of the police force but it still has much to do in terms of bringing itself up to date in terms of the causal causal factors relating to why people react the way they do. If they do this I think that we a better police force for it.
One of the big things that have changed in the last 20 years. Well for one thing one of the things that is most obvious is that the population Negro population other minority group population has increased about three fold. This is in the last 15 20 years from FAA for fall as a matter of fact about 22 and a half thousand to about 90000 know this is a factor to be considered in terms of the have visibility of this group. Some of the disadvantages which they bring to the community. Reaction to whatever living as a guest room living and reaction in terms of the past experience to a police. And these are matters of which change the picture entirely from what it was 20 years ago and these need to be considered in terms of the keeping of the peace and the insuring of justice. Returning to an earlier point of the movement of people from the rural area to an urban area
a number of people I've talked to who have moved to Milwaukee from the south expressed great delight with it they like urban living is this a general feeling. Only to the degree that there is more opportunity in the urban area for members of minority groups as that is for everybody else. You see the complex of industries located around 11 areas and to this degree the increased opportunities suddenly will be pleasing to anybody. What other major problems. We've spoken of. Jobs at the beginning and now police community relations one of the other big areas that stick out as problems one of the most current thing is housing. You know housing is suddenly a bone of contention for the total community not just Negroes and not just on the north side but also on the south side the question of adequate housing. This is tied in of course with our public improvement projects and displacement of people and the lack of adequate housing particularly for a large family.
The whole question of education needs to be explored because this has a very deterrent effect on the picture of jobs. We have organizations that are committed to. Improving employment opportunities for members of minority groups by lies our job or self or to. Educate individuals have been miseducated undereducated. These are two of the current major problem right now. There is often an allegation that teachers come to the core schools to teach completely unprepared for the kind of Children and situations in which they find themselves. Do you feel this to be true. I'm not in a position to to support this I would merely point out that a study done by the State Department of Education implied as much in terms of the tenure of school the places where they were educated.
These are two of the factors that they pointed to. They were in each instance and there was much to be desired as far as teachers in the center city it was concerned. But here again this is an a kind of average kind of statement which does not take into consideration the hundreds of dedicated teachers who stay in the corps because they want to they want to be helpful and darn good teachers but like every system that has a seniority every has seniority system you may expect that those with seniority are going to look for better positions in the better locations and so it naturally follows that the youngest teachers and the poorest teachers are relegated to. Section of the city where this is a central city or someplace else as least desirable. So this is to be expected in the job area there have been some suggestions of. Magazine articles which. Strongly favor
the creative imagination of industry to solve a lot of these problems and a way of retraining and changing their recruitment and application policies. You get into this area you know. Yes we discuss this whole business of the effect for instance of testing on individuals who have experienced poor and I'm happy to say that some of the local industry has begun to happen. Some have begun to reexamine testing methods in terms of the job that needs to be done and I envision that more of this will be done by other industries in the near future. Do you think I should like to tell me about the Urban League operation. Well me. Some people make the accusation of the overlay that it is not a direct service agency. And I would merely like to point out in closing that nothing can be no program can be more direct than putting
bread directly on a man's table putting money directly in his pocket and putting him directly in contact with scholarships and increased educational opportunities. So. It isn't a question of us being a direct agency and not a direct service agency. It's a question of difference in technique and I think that. The complexity of the problem justifies if the existence of all kinds of programs designed to enhance the opportunities for people. If I can paraphrase it a different way I could sense that maybe your answer there was related to. What we might call an accusation of Uncle Tom ism by more militant black nationalism is that what you're getting at with this being called names doesn't bother me. Does it bother any other individual who is attuned to
The inner core: City within a city
Employment and Leadership
Producing Organization
University of Wisconsin
WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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For series info, see Item 3596. This prog.: Interview with Wesley Scott of the Milwaukee Urban League dealing with employment and leadership in the inner city.
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Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-34-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:22:54
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Chicago: “The inner core: City within a city; Employment and Leadership,” 1968-11-18, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 26, 2021,
MLA: “The inner core: City within a city; Employment and Leadership.” 1968-11-18. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 26, 2021. <>.
APA: The inner core: City within a city; Employment and Leadership. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from