Comment on a minority; Homer Carmichael
The comments on a minority low level is not a typical southern city but it does have a strong sun flavor. The voice is that of the late owner Carmichael the superintendent of schools in Louisville Kentucky. It was under Mr. Carmichael's administration sought in the Louisville schools began their successful program of desegregation because Mr. Carmichael described the Louisville situation and the school integration process as it relates to an address that recorded at a Race Relations Institute at this university or during the summer of 1958 years ago. You are listening to portions of that address at that time. This may sound strange to you at the time. Segregation was much more rigid and lawful than it had while staying in Lynchburg Virginia for example where I had been for 13 years before going to law. We had for a number of years six or eight
years. Had meetings from time to time joint meetings of Negro on high principles committees made up of Negro and white teachers. I felt quite sure in my own heart that I said nothing to nobody bothered by. That by the next fall I would have made one white French post meeting jointly. I didn't and I didn't for two or three more years because as I saw we were not right. And I believe that you make more progress by good and right and this for what you are to do than by trying to rush in and before you are ready. One other thing I'd like you to know about the local school which we operate on this ranch that we will do at the central office. Only those things that can be as well done out in the individual are scoops. That's another way of saying that we believe
you and dignifying the position of principle and giving to the principle wide response of our time and commensurately far. That's one very fundamental question. A fundamental principle of good ministration. If you give to an individual wide response of power to be sure. There goes commensurately farty or you are in trouble. That way of course there have to be some general things on which all of us are going to proceed in the same general. But we try diligently to follow other policy that we will do centrally only those things which can't be done just as well locally in the local school. Now. With that background let's come to May 17th 54. And I mention this because it emphasizes another which I think to be an important facet of a good
school administration. The school superintendent is selected by the Board of Education to be the lead builder responsible leader. Of education in the community I conceive it to be the duty of a superintendent of schools to take leadership responsibility on any question which is of an educational nature. That's his job. And I think he may not advocate it without weakening the system which he is responsible for ahead. So when the decision came on May 17th 54 I gave to the reporter over telephone an essential of these things as I recall that the decision of a court of law and supervisor of the schools in loco I shall expect to tear it up.
And to carry it out without undue delay. And I emphasize only to you because I knew that we would want to proceed cautiously and with our preparation and that there would be those who thought we were delaying too much. And so I emphasized to you and there would be no effort at subterfuge that in carrying it out first consideration would be for children for whom the schools exist next fall teachers teach and when those two had the convenience of parents as far as that would be consistent with carrying out the fundamental decision. Now that while this way there's one other thing I said. With respect to those most in need of. Help and understanding would be the Negro children because they will be thrust in new circumstances and they would need
understanding teachers. Now let me give a little bit more about your vote as a community and why we couldn't drag our feet. I could not have moved with the same speed had I been in Memphis or Birmingham or behind the storm in my home state. But there are certain things. That existed in low level that made it possible for us to move more rapidly than and some other places and want to give them. Had we not known wouldn't you have been in the way sleepy or in the other group interested justification in going to court to know why we weren't moving. Let me enumerate a few so that you receive the help which we had by accomplishment within the community. For example I'm told by the street railway people that they are that there was never any Jim Crow that always people were seated on buses and
streetcars heterogeneous. There was no racial preference. We had Negro policeman as early as 1923 and they didn't work just within the US. They work wherever she chose to their son. Our public marker the downtown branch opened its doors to all people. In 1948. 12 neighborhood cried to some of which were for new groups and some folk while I was in 1952 was open to both races for reasons of their own they made that station 4 years apart. The University of Norco and the Catholic colleges in the community. Method to graduate school both races in 1950 and undergraduate in the 1951.
The nurses nurse training program in the general hospital which is supported by the city and kind of a joint and I. Took both Negro and white in the same classes and in the same residence hall in 1953. The Greyhound bus station. The fire station and the lower hall and the theater which is a publicly owned. Theater in which a summer program for the other for six weeks was conducted and had been for whites only those three just informally in the summer of 1954. When open to all. In 1955. The negro parks all parks but the parks which had been for negroes only was opened for. Bi racial You saw for
years in 1955 all cars of all peoples. In 1956 the swimming pool was to fall. Now some of these things you see came after the court decision some good for. Now to be completely fair. I want to call attention to the fact that two or three of these hints came by court decision. The opening of the publicly owned golf courses to legal hoops came as a result of a court decision. But in general the things which are the numerator they are have come through good we hold good relationships toward the Negro people on the part of. White leadership in the community. There are other things of a political nature I could go and tell when new and white met together to do
political planning. Both Democrat and Republican the Negro has traditionally voted with I think. Pretty complete freedom. And low. Now all of those things are reasons why. We had in fairness and integrity to move with reasonable speed. As we move from 1945 to the period when the court made its decision in 54 though we were doing nothing specific. In terms of racial desegregation much of what we were doing in good human relations watched good foundation work for. Desegregation. When you place desegregation in a broader. Picture of good human
relations and treat it as just a part of good human relations you get a kind of a different kind of concept of it on the part of a lot of people. For example I'm often asked what the churches do to help. But we had some ministers who preach the sermon she writes right on the line and one or two of them not only preach their sermons but many are graphed them and distributed them to the congregation so they could be read. Some of them paid some prices for it in terms of very severe criticism from some of their more conservative members. But there were other ministers who didn't feel secure in doing that sort of thing. And I'm not critical. If they feel that they know felt if they knew their congregation but from the way we were say desegregation is just one facet of good human relations and we use ministers less related to be specific could preach sermons on good human
relations which want to see you kind of tie the two things in together with out specifically naming it in this song. Many a minister priest or someone very rich for what we're doing without ever using the term desegregation of thought. I don't think there's anything dishonest about that I don't think there's anything lacking of heart and courage I think it simply represents good order and they're everywhere common sense and I'm grateful for every bit of such as if we were not. Moving at the community level. During the first semester. But what we were doing was getting a tremendous read in this in the community and in August or September. Each PTA president was I. Just to say at least one me either January or February
for a public discussion in that school will be of the question of desegregation. I do see that interest which 50000 children build up in four and a half months time in the community was pretty pretty large and we never had problems of attendance I spoke to groups as small as 100 News largest six or seven hundred and I was one of perhaps 25 different persons who spoke. Every member of the Board of Education. There are five members several of our supervisors some of our directors a principal or two or three a teacher or two and a minister or two. I would never come to my practice but we couldn't do the staff 8 or 10 meetings on the same night at different times. Now out of those many in use came values that we didn't anticipate a toff. I had had a little.
Concern as to how. We're going to get to Rotary Clubs and call on this church groups. The woman who's the woman she saw but when members of these clubs in attendance at a PTA meeting and feeling at an actual meeting said went back to the program committee and said get so-and-so to come. But on no program Forrest Rucker colognes and so we were just in the hacker position of accepting invitations instead of seeking opportunities. And we had half of the patients to feel that we had reached the community pretty completely. Much. Quite a bit was said this morning about the importance of reaching the young people themselves who are much more pliable and more flexible than those of us who are older. We have an organization called Youth Speaks and local It has no
representation from junior and senior classes of all of the high school Negro and private public and parochial city and county. And that has been going on for six or eight years and out of that came a great deal of experience of these young people of both races each with the other that had tremendous by us for us. The National Conference of Christians and Jews sponsored human relations institutes in the late forties that were tremendously valuable and background. Contribution to the writer ness of our community. If I may comment of moment on these public meetings the parent teacher association we decided those of us who worked out from the central office at school and we encouraged all of us to do likewise to let every
review. Close We have an opportunity for those present to answer questions. There was pressure to ask questions and the speaker to actually a few of our speakers were a little. A little doubtful of the wisdom of that first. But as we moved into it I think all of us became convinced that it was the best approach. It had this tremendous effect as I see people began to feel identified with it. When a group of this kind or a group of five or six hundred asked questions for an hour or two and have their questions answered with no evasion no matter how tough the answer may be it was answered. All except this kind of question. If this question were asked most comical. When you begin or you want to begin in first grade and work up to 2nd grade next in third grade next year. We never answered that kind of question. Why because
we had hope. We were saved too. All our people help us in making a plan by giving us the benefit of your thinking by your questions. So they began to feel a benefit cation it was the superintendent's problem. It wasn't the board of education and it began to be the communities. And that's one reason why the White Citizens Council has never been able to give us much trouble. We just have a public which by tens of thousands of them having protested pated in meetings of that current that they just couldn't do a feeling of joint responsibility for it. I would pay a great tribute to our. Mass media. Communications Press TV radio was open to us. So it it became a tremendous community affair. Then there's one other group and then enough I'll be here to know
something about Kentucky and Kentucky politics to marvel when I say it I guess. But we have almost no political mad with us. The politicians gave us hell rather than heard. At the time on May 17th 54 that I made my statement I supernovae schools Mr. Weber then governor of the state made almost an identical statement on the first phase of that for decision of the court of law and can talk to you will carry it out. Now remember he had no response to both. The responsibility I have not to the time and specifically located but it was a school question and yet he was governor of the state and others one after another followed him pretty quickly came out with a statement and Republicans. He was a Democrat and a republican much through comparable leadership. A similar type of support and that made it very
very great deal. Also later on when the White Citizens Council was trying to get on its feet we had. As fine cooperation from the police department as anybody could possibly ask for and that had a great deal of meaning for us. Well it may have started first 55. The decision came down saying how the program was to be carried out and whim and the Whim washed with all the deliberate speed. And I still say person exceedingly wise way to put it. That was on Tuesday on the following Monday the Board of Education met. Not because of that decision is just a regular meeting. Without this statement being intended a call to be critical of any
bother. I would say to you that I tried diligently at every step to be ahead of in Double-A CPR in about a year. I conceded to be my duty our supervisor schools to take leadership and I didn't want to be under pressure from anybody. You could have been raised in the White Citizens Council long in about a year and so I tried to let no grass grow under my feet on the question I made. On May Day on Monday following the final decision which came on May 3rd. First I gave a one page report to the Board of Education which was the first official report to the board on the question of talks. I don't mind all that. Every board member had been speaking in the communities so individuals were barred by this a patient committed. And I knew from an informal discussion where the board as a board stood on the question but on June 6 I
submitted a report in which I described very briefly what we've been doing reported my purpose to continue that type of preparation and made one sent over the recommendation that the board instruct the Serpentine no later than November mid November to submit a plan of desegregation which would say when it should begin to tell you I was trying to teach. He had it hidden but didn't want to make any demands on wish and that was the first official action of the board. Then at mid November meeting of the board I submitted the plan which had been very tedious worked out over. The intervening months. Asked but it lie on the table for 30 days. We said because of the play on into every PTA pledged to all principals school or supervisors to presidents of clubs that had
assisted us in the speaking program and all that we knew definitely had to have a very keen interest in finding suggestions for improvements of the proposed plan. The newspaper skirted two or three times complete during that month inviting suggestions we insisted on the one thing that suggestions must be in writing to my utter amazement. We got one and only one suggestion and those are the dangers and that we turned down because it was on it was of something that we had very careful study and had rejected. So the plan as a relation of theirs and it was adopted. Then we went to work. Redistricted the city without regard to race giving to each school its load of pupils who were most convenient to it. Then we sent to the home of every child
except those in the senior class who were going out of school you see. We said to the whole for a quarter for 2000 cards or letters in which we said they read this due to an upcoming cultural or racial segregation. Your child belongs in blight school. If you prefer another school and dictate below your first second and third choice of schools your. Request for transfer will be granted and your charset school is respected. With due consideration to other similar. Request and within the capacity of the bill. When they understand that no child who bought a residence belongs in the given school can be displaced by a pupil who wants to come in from somewhere out of the white choker and who by
redistricting fell into what had the Negro school 85 percent asked to go back to their former school. Of Negro children who by redistricted fell into what had been white school years 45 percent when asked to be permitted to go back to the schools which of which they attended together for neither percent of our first choices were right. Now what happened in the fall when schools opened in the fall we had this situation seven to five schools. Of five who are mixed this peoples of both races. I'm often asked well don't you just have tocome desegregation. There actually was No. We had. 55 all of the sudden the five schools had next to us and those 55 schools in rhode roughly three quarters 73 and six tenths
percent. So there were 11 schools that were all white. Even Because that was a neighborhood that was all white or in the Negro children who belonged by residence at the National translation they were 12 and a half or so of the top top of the room and then one mind schools that were all negro for the same reasons and they were 13 and nine tenths percent. Now this year I have to say. In their program. In the fifth to six next Tuesday instead of 55 and they are over seventy eight percent of all the job rooms of the three person has. Their own war this year more white children and former negroes and more than equal job room in the form of whites which last year in other words desegregation in each direction is higher than it was.
That's about all I would say to you but let me approach two or three things together for him versus if the job is going to be done then I must be on the par. Of those to do it. A determination to do it. Now that's the thing that is so lacking in so many places. That's another way of saying that is so. None of the stores has to take leadership. Also we better select a board of education that will match in some way or other you got to get a board of education and picture there that's going to support and the superintendent and the board will wisely use leadership at all. Come nearer to love which the place where you will find your leadership most difficult to get is your less privileged those of both races
where you have greater difficulty getting the leadership you can be to get the community identified with the program. Make your plans with a great deal of care and don't you. White people for the need why I need you to go for oh this isn't just for me good people this is for this country and it's a joint enterprise. And you you do the need grew and on and in justice if we white people try to plan for it. Let it be John and have all worked together for the good of all. Get your wire others so completely worked out that you're not going to make any changes after you're not.
One of the things that helped us enormously was we laid this plan on the table for 30 days that invited everybody with an interest in it to offer suggestions. We got one. Then some time later when somebody comes in and said if you had just done so and so I said all right you had from November 14th to do so on the 13th. Why didn't you tell us and you can say it just. Emphatic sort of way I guess but very kind. But in further help people to see you. They had their chance and. It was very good. Well you have been listening to comments on a minority heard today were portions of an address by the late owner Carmichael superintendent of schools in Louisville Kentucky. This speech was recorded in the summer of 1958 at Fisk University in connection with the production of the radio program series the last citizen the Negro in America produced by E. W. Rector and radio station WBA under a grant from the National
- Comment on a minority
- Homer Carmichael
- Producing Organization
- Purdue University
- WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program features excerpts from a lecture given by Homer Carmichael, superintendant of schools in Louisville, Kentucky.
- Other Description
- This series explores minority issues in the United States in the mid-20th century.
- Broadcast Date
- Social Issues
- Media type
Interviewer: Thompson, Ben
Producer: Richter, E.W.
Producing Organization: Purdue University
Producing Organization: WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
Speaker: Carmichael, Homer
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-51-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Comment on a minority; Homer Carmichael,” 1960-11-12, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 17, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-r49g8p4c.
- MLA: “Comment on a minority; Homer Carmichael.” 1960-11-12. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 17, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-r49g8p4c>.
- APA: Comment on a minority; Homer Carmichael. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-r49g8p4c