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A. The view from urban America. A special documentary produced by the North Eastern information network. Your program narrator is Joseph R. Bader Director Department of radio production in. The American city is in deep trouble the enormous tide of people flowing into our cities has been paralleled only by the increasing severity of the problems that our cities face the quality of city housing declines as the incidence of big city crime rises. While the job opportunities for the ghetto dweller are scarce the educational opportunities for his children are meager and
as if this were not enough. The cars that urban workers drive congested highways and pollute our air and friction between blacks and whites and rich and poor is compounded by the traditional alienation of young and old. As more and more youth regardless of race are well turned to drugs. If the deterioration of our cities is allowed to continue the question may soon become a county urban society as we know it survive at all. Clearly neither are the experts the organizations that employ them nor the people that these experts serve can accept the continuing decay of urban America. The American city is in deep trouble. Solutions are few and as the saying goes far between However one thing is clear the people who live in cities are alienated alienated from their government alienated from their environment and perhaps most seriously alienated from one another. As the American city is in deep deep trouble that a person should
have every person in this country should have a decent place to live. Is that such a simple request one that when you talk about the American dream and cultural centers degenerate and we are going to be in deep trouble the federal poverty level so-called is what put thousand four hundred fifty four. But the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics that it cost something like $6000 for a family of four in the country to survive to live well and $8000 for working class family with a minimum wage for everyone. And I guarantee that it will come taxes are a way of describing this but no family should be allowed to follow the suggested by family size for $1000 as a more reasonable figure than 3000. So if we continue to build American surveys. Like we're building them today you know we try to create 50 60 70 Manhattans all over the United
States. Then anybody is an idiot to think that we can solve our problem with automobiles. Nine billion of them fat I mean some by better words were legally manufactured in this nation last year. That's over $100 for every adult male and female in the country. First of all I think that an enormous percentage of the people who tried heroin are not addicts and never become addicts. The truth of the matter is that we haven't made the American city a livable place on the planet. And it's our contention at this point in time that human rights come before property rights like Contract bridge construction. That's a fact that the school system has ignored its black population. You asked me what was the major problem American polices that they're really too isolated from society or much too much apart. So now air pollution means the presence in the ambient air space. Why no more air contaminants or combinations thereof in such quantities and of
such duration as to a cause a nuisance b. be injurious to a baby on the basis of current information potentially injurious to human or animal life to vegetation to property and say unreasonably interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property by the conduct of business. Their jobs particularly as far as ghetto and minority people are concerned are one of the most if not the most important problems. Merely saying that you know automobiles cause congestion just simply ignores the whole problem of how we utilize our land and how we utilize the space adjacent to that land. Don't tell me you know that a housing inspection dept. because I work with who have so many code violation there are apartments now that aren't getting it that they get an inspector out there. Nothing happens but there's a deep seated alienation that exists between the people who live in these cities. And the governments which serve them.
This is the view from urban America. I'm Joe Baylor. Not all city problems are new or unique to America. Even ancient Rome was clogged with traffic congestion and urban smog was seen in London long before it ever blew across Los Angeles or Detroit. The interesting point is that if some of the problems are age old some of the solutions are as old as the problems. So while city complexities have grown enormously in recent years the solutions to city problems have failed to keep pace. In some ways archaic answers to modern questions create new and more complex problems themselves which leave the old clinging to traditional concepts and the young clamoring for change. Realizing I'm right in society that demands immediate responses. The structure of government under which we operate is I K How can we afford 47 billion dollars in the space industries. How can we afford for one million dollars just for highways. What is the value to the society what means more. Some
rocket to the moon a highway a people ride with their sort of two different images a policeman can take. One is a sort of social worker the other one as a sort of cowboy and I think the European policeman tends to take the social worker image of the American policeman in the direction of the cowboy image. That's a fact that in the first century A.D. banned all chariots from the streets of Rome during the daylight hours as a way of solving the congestion problem. At some point some American city is going to be smart enough to say within a certain number of square blocks of our downtown area we're just simply going to ban the private automobile in the Rome of the Caesars. There was traffic congestion. And the principal means of transportation at that point where sedan chairs and chariots and the way it's mock was invented in London.
Now the last figures that I heard were that 30 percent of the rental units in the city of Boston were substandard. I can understand we're going to write off a good percentage of black people 13 years ago and just say it wasn't a social problem because to them certainly the problem was just as bad as it is to the rich get all their family 30 percent. That's a pretty high figure right as he is called is living in a dream where everybody thinks that he is constructively solving their problems and rightly things that he cares whereas they know that while he doesn't care it's our contention that this ice shortage. In the housing situation that we feel that working people have been socked enough with taxes. The answer is always been that you the working man are going to have to pay for social reforms in this country. There is the presence in the area of Kasson regions and these can potentially cause cancer under certain conditions.
Community control means that a selected body from the community will control the schools that make up the curricula. Well I also have the ability and the hiring and firing of teachers and all other things that will do with the educational process being carried on in the schools of the American city is in deep deep trouble. It is difficult to begin the enormous task of sorting out city problems. Survival may be a foregone conclusion for some people but not necessarily for all of the people and of what value is survival. If all of the people cannot share in that survival the American city in the last third of the 20th century is almost like the engineer on the proverbial runaway locomotive. America usually in control of all situations finds herself running hopelessly alongside the trucks as the train rumbles by. The point is that increasingly more and more Americans must hurry up just to keep up.
Being against welfare is like being against motherhood. The practical thing I think is for the American middle class Americans in general understood that in order to keep the train on the tracks and strictly practical it's selfishness can get a new coach for her child. A new winter coat for a child every year. When my daughter for example she has to work two or three years before. Depends on who's receiving welfare or welfare recipients. The role is to keep people down. But certainly that is a problem of jobs rather than the unemployment rate about twice that of what the residents are experiencing the frustration builds up to the point where in a way you have to forgive is throwing the garbage out the window he is so frustrated with his inability to get things done that he throws it out. He kicks a hole in the wall. He knows that the rich man called his landlord and say look at down here and
fix that leak but the poor man he just can't do it he has no clout he has no leverage to get it done. Housing is not being built. That rent control is the only answer to protect the tenants pocketbook with rent control coming into effect within the cities or anywhere else things will get much worse. This will not help the solution to TAWAR housing problems the only way you going to eliminate poverty and help this country help the city is if the children and people in this country are fed decently and given a decent amount of money to live on. The older people are taking it from every angle. And today we do have things that can help these people before it runs a very basic police problem 10 years ago is an enormously complicated social problem today. These may represent the right community the policemen are not responsible for the slums nor are they responsible for the rats and the people experience the slums and the rats. The police may act as an extra last drop but by
themselves without changing the living conditions without changing the opportunity structure and changing the nature of police tactics by itself is not going to change the situation much. Everybody seems to be speaking with a fork a tongue. We need a better crop but we've got to get a more intelligent are paid and what do you get in your body and mind. I don't think there's any question about the survival of American cities I mean this is the era of the great city and of course it'll survive the real question is not survival as the quality of life that is going to survive. And they evolve in the cities of the American city is in deep deep trouble. While urban sickness may be an ancient and international disease a biracial country such as the United States has the additional problem of the friction between the races in this dimension. Racism adds the cars of segregated housing an equal job opportunity and poor education to the already troubled urban scene and so the racial friction increases. Blacks are often
angry where whites may be apathetic blacks are eager to condemn where whites may come down. Blacks lash out at white institutions where whites law John do what they themselves have built what can all this conflict mean the result seems to be mounting tension on both sides touchin Which begs for immediate release. The fact is sometimes violent often destructive. My principles only like nearly 200 I feel that welfare is obviously good or very few people in this society that I guess welfare being against welfare is like being against motherhood Department. The vast majority of people in these areas do not. With this kind of violence because they like to hear it somehow they feel that any other activity has something that they have lost faith in like 1000 20 less than 5 percent.
I never met one of them at your side well I'm a derelict. I'm a junkie and not stop playing and I can see that I don't know any drug I ever met that wouldn't like not to be a drug addict after they've been affiliated with drugs for a long time. Well Dr. attendants on the phenomenon of the moment to the cities is a national phenomenon. Spare fact this is an international phenomenon. Even in Russia they complain about people wanting to move into places like Moscow and Leningrad superintends And while the rioting in Los Angeles was very bad and in one case it actually helped me get a program through that I've been trying to get to the city council and couldn't tell the rioting scared of me that I got to throw like you know the first union. The average right individual is perceived by the typical youth in the ghettos and it's sort of misled misguided have to live with the professor. ST I don't know either. Per serving and our son there is a fear of rights per se but they fear certain kinds of forces which
why it's going to mobilize against them such as the police the national the federal government those things are feared. Like to concentrate on three or four high schools and I'm sure Hitler had enough sense crazy world to realize that any time he ran a concentration camp or more than Jews smelling that was Nazi ism smelling in the time America's dirty filthy property depreciated niggers and looking at democracy man whether they like it or not and the day they changed that. And now they want democracy to work so right they keep saying I want you gotta clean you get on up. Why don't you clean up democracy and will give you your ghetto but if you want to get away before you can do the marketing thing you're really telling me let me cut you bleed and I'm going to do with it as nature's reaction. This is the view from urban America. I'm Joe Baylor. While it is true that the ghetto does have problems on loan to other areas it is also true that
what were once the exclusive problems of the inner core have now traveled to the outer belt. In short what was once a downtown characteristic is now a suburban characteristic as more and more cars crowded highways traffic grinds to a halt. These same automobiles and factories grind out more and more air pollution. Drug abuse once a problem of the poor is now a sickness shared by the wealthy and the near wealthy. And through it all the middle class rejects those taxes which will pay for programs which bring aid to the middle class and assist the poor. The result is a new kind of tension in America a tension between the urban dweller and the government he has chosen to serve him and it may well be that this tension will only be eased by a coalition of all of the fragmented groups that are urban America a coalition that flows from a commitment on the part of all citizens a commitment that is thus far noticeably lacking.
Whether you talk about it in terms of the love affair of the American public with the automobile and some other terms by the year 0 roughly 20 25 or 20 30 we will be double the population which we are now we will have more than twice as many vehicles that motor vehicles presumably that people are using. And it's obvious that these can't be used on our present highway system. That's a fact that the rocket making the bus system operationally effective through such things as priority signaling systems that would give buses priorities over automobiles and letting them through signals oxides of softness of ice from combustion of fuel on to mating the signal ization systems all of the. Central City is far more than they have been so that elements of directionality can be introduced
nitrogen oxides which is from combustion also but more specifically from combustion an internal combustion engine trying out bus streets that is streets which particularly at the peak hours are used exclusively by busses to move very large numbers of people quickly and effectively. We have carbon monoxide which is also a way to you know build combustion we want our President to what is good for our customers has to be good for Boston Edison and by the way they are looking for college grads to come on the bus and apartment and the starting pay is one hundred twenty two dollars a week now in this day and age. Lets face it the following may be better off in having four or five illegitimate children going rough if we are measuring the levels of sulfur dioxide in the Boston area so we know what these levels are the one that many cities is facing and we have a law saying this too is a nice Mac that better than 50 percent of Boston is tax free. You know what's really incredible. When I when Lloyd wants to evict a tenant and
he takes from the court I don't see the court giving the Winward too much trouble in being able to evict that tenant was once a black or a ghetto problem they were the problem. Has leaped from the Ghetto into middle class sections of the cities into suburbia. But when a tenant brings a win what's a court for violation of a housing code I don't see the court putting too much pressure on that landlord to alleviate the condition. I don't know about any speed problem is very large in light of the code it only speak for myself but my feeling is that whether it's business whether it's a national government whether it's American public there isn't enough commitment or acknowledgement to the problem the American shouldn't think or small. All of the people who are part of the urban crisis sense America's failure to commit herself to city problems. The poor see vast bureaucracies gobbling up money earmarked
for themselves. The crime rate increases as citizens and police alike buy new arms for self protection. City planners make ad remake meticulous studies that define and redefine city problems. Giant corporations try private enterprise solutions while transportation experts design systems to facilitate the rapid movement of people. Yet there is no cohesion to the efforts. No coalition to the people. No unity among the organizations. There is no overall guidance. We citizens of all about America have obviously got to get ourselves together but we have not done this as yet and in the meanwhile some people feel that the coordination of money out of manpower of the federal government is the only immediate answer as to what might constructively be a combination of government and private activity and activity directed toward the cause of employment and improvement of housing.
A commander of the Chicago police told me that I one third of his men carry these Magnum revolvers. Nothing is done well and the violence and the kind of reaction on the counter-counter reaction will increase to the point where the only thing that is possible is a change in the nature of the authority structure of the society by clamping down or objectification of the social structure. The imposition of possibly a part time constant and prevalent of troops in the slum areas of every major American society towards a foreign military dictatorship. So we see fellow 40 years old sold 2000 Benzedrine tablets to a boy 14 on the street. We don't have a legal right of arrest in most American cities they no longer have any place to go because it's all been eaten up and given over to this form of transportation while for intercity travel I don't think we're going to get the job done. The trips accomplish more quickly than by any other system with the vehicles can travel 200
350 miles an hour and literally we can go from the suburbs of Boston to downtown New York and in half an hour which is we're never going to match any of the other systems public transportation other than the automobile. Yes indeed. An answer and probably the most important consideration that we had throughout this country at the moment that the usual stereotype of modern American big business is that stick in the mud it's conservative it's fashion and in fact this is not the case IBM Xerox Corporation these people have been very very actively involved with a poverty program. I certainly one would want to tax our procmail scores if they dumped all those kids on our public school system we will have a problem. More than 50 percent of the costs go to keep out the bureaucracy if not of the people that are now not responsive to their needs that the education that they were getting the kind of treatment the kind of responses they were getting requests for curriculum or requests for principals was not was not received favorably by a school in Mississippi it paid $8 a month per child.
So it isn't even uniform throughout the country. You've got this movement to the set is partly a question our country by the mechanisation of Agriculture the subsidization of American industry through I'd sums of money for the purpose of training presently unemployed and considered unemployed people youth should be done rather than the present policy of spending large sums of money for training programmes which they then dump large quantities of trained year with a market where there are no job openings. And we found in every single instance that the banks have not lived up to their responsibility in terms of lending institutions to force the landlords to live up to the mortgage tribulations. That's a national phenomenon and I think the national government has a responsibility to help the cities in which these people are moving to take care of them and get them trained for jobs that get their children
educated. However if the government takes the proper approach and gives us new zoning makes monies available in all I'm sure that a better America better cities can be developed and a very very short period of time deep deep trouble. This is the view from urban America. I'm Joe Baylor. People argue about solutions to the problems got worse and worse. So illusions become more and more radical. Some say the American city is becoming the nightmare ending to what started out as the great American dream. The city once a proud hope for American economy and culture is fast becoming a focal point for American fear. The fear has built a megalopolis which can only bring him a misery so deep that he will be unable to cope with it. How can we afford for one million dollars just for highways. What is the value to the society what means more. Some rocket to the moon a highway a people who take the same kinds of elements that occur in Times Square
and color and noise for example and spread them out on every street. Then you have a gigantic visual and acoustics with knowledge. But there is not sufficient money in the American city to meet the problems that are being thrust upon it. And this means that we can no longer look to the kind of piecemeal approach to employment there has to be a massive type of program in order to deal with this problem of unemployment and related social problems in a completely abstract sense. I demolish about half of Manhattan and move it to Wichita Kansas right establishment has a vested interest in the black community. That's the interest they have there. Then you can imagine those blacks would be bussed all talk about term time in the curriculum all the hiring and firing of staff. Place community relations especially with the minority areas is one of the difficult problems we face.
I do think people now feel that they are more able to openly express their anger against some segments of the Negro community indeed this might be healthy if at the same time they're able to establish their affiliation with other elements in the Negro community. The only way you going to eliminate poverty and ever help this country or help the cities is if the children and people in this country are fed decently and given a decent amount of money to live on. And if the bureaucracy is eliminated more than 50 to 60 percent of the costs will be eliminated and the money can go directly into the hands of the poor up along buildings were so rundown I sat very tense there would leave lights on down on the floor all night long to keep the rats away. Very often I'd sit in the people's apartment I'd see a rat dash across the apartment. It was terrible. They've been into things from the time they were small kids they were smoking and drinking. By the time they're 10 11 perhaps would use marijuana but also being
petty thievery prostitution and so on. And often hard drugs by the time they're 14 15 16 and they usually did come from low skilled working class backgrounds. I think you better realize that air pollution control can in many instances damage I don't believe it can damage by magic can cause crop damage. And if the bureaucracy is eliminated more than 50 to 60 percent of the costs will be eliminated and the money can go directly into the hands of the poor up alone. If we talk rather liberally I think that we can proudly say that we could build an automated highway demonstration system for something in 10 to 15 million dollars a mile complete you know. We will reach the point where we're going to abandon Susan unless we intend also to abandon the civilization of the city as a stand for the American city and I think it is in deep deep trouble. The American city is in deep trouble. Homes dot our suburban landscape
while the city inhabitants spill out into the streets unable to find sufficient housing. Cars spill across the highway without end. The waste materials of our opulence and industry spill out into the air and water and social tensions spill over into anger apathy and defeatism. In short the problems facing the American city spill over into every area of life city problems threaten everyone. They beg for attention. They can no longer be ignored. The views and opinions expressed on the preceding program do not necessarily represent those of the program narrator. Those of our Baylor Northeastern University for this station. Northeastern University has brought you the view from urban America a special documentary produced for the office of educational resources at the communication center of the nation's largest private university.
Urban Confrontation
Episode Number
The View from Urban America
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Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Urban Confrontation is an analysis of the continuing crises facing 20th century man in the American city, covering issues such as campus riots, assassinations, the internal disintegration of cities, and the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation. Produced for the Office of Educational Resources at the Communications Center of the nations largest private university, Northeastern University.
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Producing Organization: Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 70-5-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:30:00?
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Chicago: “Urban Confrontation; 12; The View from Urban America,” 1970-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 4, 2021,
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APA: Urban Confrontation; 12; The View from Urban America. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from