The Campus CORE-latorSpring 1965
P. O. Box 162
Magazine of the Berkeley Campus Chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality
EDITORIAL BOARD: Ron Levant, Jim Petras, Joe White
STAFF: Bryson Collins, Carl Griffin, Agnes Hahn, Dana Jensen, Gretchen Kittredge, Joyce Levant, Anita Levine, Pam Mellin, Shelley Nameroff, Reggie Siegal, Sharon Stern.
Drawings by Lisa Lyons
The Campus Corelator, Vol. I, no. 3, Spring 1965, a journal of civil rights, published quarterly by Berkeley Campus CORE. Address correspondence to Box 162, Berkeley, California. Copyright 1965 by Campus CORE.
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Kill and Forget
Editor's note: Floyd Hunter is the author of Community Power Structure and Top Leadership, and has gained nation-wide recognition as a writer, professor and lecturer. In this article he traces the life and impending death of his study, "Housing Discrimination in Oakland, California," which can be obtained from the office of Mayor John Houlihan.
This is a statement about the possible gutting and burial of housing discrimination in Oakland, California.
In the Fall of 1963 Oakland Mayor John Houlihan asked my social science research firm to study housing discrimination in his city and to recommend remedies if housing discrimination was found to exist. The formal request for the study came through the Committee on Full Opportunity.
We knew at the onset of the study that there were those who did not believe that housing discrimination existed in Oakland. Others knew the contrary so well that they were reluctant to spend research money to establish something already known. They were, however, interested in recommendations on how to solve the problem.
For an entire year the mayor's committee and my company thoroughly studied the question. In the Summer of 1964 I made a full report to the committee and recommended a large-scale effort to end housing discrimination in Oakland.
Among other recommendations we suggested that:
- Oakland must rebuild itself, devoting some $123,000,000 spread over a ten year period. The money would be spent in replacing dilapidated houses, reconditioning deteriorated ones, and relocating industrial nuisances.
- The income levels of Oakland's poor be raised through direct subsidies amounting to some $80,000,000 per year. This would allow these people to break out of the ghetto of poverty and racial bias which traps them.
- An on-going committee to investigate and recommend solutions to problems related to economic inequality, including housing prices, wage patterns, inflated land and property values, debt burdens and slum welfare housing.
- Minority ownership of businesses and homes be stimulated through creation of low-interest loans and minimal down payments. Loans to the lowest income groups should be included—i.e., to those on relief and to others generally considered poor risks by bankers but who desperately need homes and increased opportunities.
We also suggested that less emphasis be placed on "bringing industry into Oakland," and that noise and dirt producing industries be removed from residential areas.
These and a number of less urgent recommendations shocked the Oakland power structure and its civic machine.
However, we were and still are convinced that nothing less than accepting and acting upon recommendations of at least this scope will solve the problem of housing discrimination in Oakland. The solution requires imaginative and intense political action—considerably more than I believe the current Oakland leadership possesses.
Even before the housing discrimination report could be put into final draft form, word of its content had reached some of the civic leaders. These leaders, who act as voices of caution for the business-city hall power structure, attempted to persuade me to modify and reduce the report's recommendations. They sought to reduce the report to the piddling size of projects generally handled by the civic do-nothing do-gooders in the community.
Refusing to distort the research findings, the Committee on Full Opportunity finally accepted the report as written in August, 1964. Since then they have quibbled about it, hoping that as time passed it would be forgotten. Subcommittees have been divided into sub-subcommittees, and bushels of words have been spilled over the report—the civic ritual incantations which inevitably precede gutting and burial.
At last word the Committee has decided to remove all references to the economic betterment of Oakland's poor, in addition to references to political action necessary to make effective changes in the admittedly discriminatory pattern of housing. With these two brutal cuts, the report's guts will spill out, and it will be ready for burial. In other words, it may then be filed, and the committee will make a report of its own to the mayor—a lifeless, do-nothing report.
One might parenthetically point out continued existence of the fiction that the mayor of Oakland has not yet received a report of housing discrimination, even though the report in question has been in his possession since last August. The truth is that he has not yet received the substitute, gutless report which the voices of fearful caution on his Committee On Full Opportunity are preparing.
There is still time to demand that the Committee make a live, meaningful report on housing discrimination to the mayor. Interested citizens should demand that the Committee stop stalling in its deliberations and that full consideration be given to the economic and political aspects recommended in the original study report. Furthermore, if the Committee decides to omit economic and political recommendations from its own report, it should fully report the reasons for its decision and offer substitute recommendations which will accomplish the same ends—the elimination of housing discrimination in Oakland. At this moment, nothing is higher on the agenda for civic consideration and action.
New Targets for Civil Rights
Rx: Democratize Medicine
Two major evils vitiate American health services. First, low-cost public agencies do not provide adequate health care, administered by well-trained physicians in well-equiped, sanitary facilities. These include part-pay clinics, public hospitals, and the various public health agencies. The poor in this country are forced to rely on these low-cost public institutions for their health needs. And one finds upon inspection of such hospitals as Los Angeles County General Hospital and San Francisco General Hospital that it is difficult, and at times impossible, to see a physician unless one is classified as an emergency case. Even worse, these hospitals are staffed either by interns and residents, or by experienced but inferior physicians. Moreover, the inadequacies of the technical facilities are more than matched by the dreary interiors in which the patients are forced to remain.
How is this possible in the Great Society? Simply stated, there is currently not enough money and competent physicians for these public institutions. Medicare, and stronger legislation which hopefully will be passed in the future, can eradicate part of this evil by channeling funds for the improvement of existing hospitals, and for the creation of new ones. Moreover, such legislation may ease the burden on public hospitals by making it possible for more people to have private physicians.
However, this legislation will not solve the problem of finding competent physicians—not interns—to staff these hospitals. This problem is actually a symptom of the second major evil facing health services: the predominant attitude of physicians toward the art of healing as a proven path to riches. They subordinate humanitarian ideals to a quest for profit. They view their patients' problems as articles of commerce rather than as human illnesses which must be cured by responsible treatment with a view to the patients' psychological needs during convalescence, and to the patients' problems when the bills arrive.
This pursuit of the dollar sign has wide implications. First, it underlies the scarcity of competent physicians in low-cost public health institutions. A well-trained physician with an eye to profits finds that a private practice, or a private hospital, is a much more lucrative proposition than the public hospital. Consequently, hospitals are forced to rely on interns and residents for the bulk of their personnel.
We need not belabor the callousness of the notion that persons who can't afford a private physician should be subjected to inconvenience and inadequate care, or, worse yet, that they should be guinea pigs upon which the young doctor can make all of his mistakes so that he won't repeat them on his rich clients after establishing a private practice.
The second implication of the physicians' crass materialism—the main point of this article—is that doctors, by some incredibly asinine and vile reasoning process, have concluded that there are two classes of patients in this world: an upper class which must be given the best possible treatment, and a lower class which must be sacrificed for the welfare of the first class. Physicians, for all of their individualism, are incapable of treating patients as individuals (except for those who can pay). The doctors' ethical code is in fact a double standard; the Oath of Hippocrates is now Evidence of Hypocrisy.
In practice this means that the exploited and subjugated groups within the vicinity of the hospital are the sacrificial lambs for the health care of the upper classes. In the South these exploited classes consist largely of Negroes; in the North, they consist primarily of Negroes, unemployed whites, and miscellaneous minority groups (mainly Puerto Ricans and Mexican-Americans).
Los Angeles County General Hospital is a good example of what goes on in a northern hospital. The patients are predominantly Negroes and Mexican-Americans, the hospital being located in the East Los Angeles ghetto. Almost all of the full-time medical staff are residents and interns, the less experienced latter group comprising by far the greater number. Their attitudes are typified by the remarks of a particular physician with whom I had a conversation. When he
Absolutely not. Look, these people are no better than animals. If you give them something nice, they won't appreciate it, and in fact may destroy it. It's better to spend the money on people who are used to comfort, and know how to appreciate it.... I had the same ideals you do when I first started here; but after you've been here awhile you learn that these ideals just don't apply in reality.
I later found that this profound analysis was based on all of six weeks' internship.
For a moderate example of health care conditions in the South we may turn to the federally financed Charity Hospital in Bogalusa, Louisiana. The authorities of this benevolent institution put into practice their dearly held belief that Negroes are subhuman. When a Negro woman gives birth, the nurses will not bathe the child. Instead, the mother must go to the laundry room in another part of the hospital and do it herself. And all this goes on while white mothers have their infants bathed by nurses under the aseptic conditions of the white maternity ward.
Both the northern and southern examples concern conditions after one gets into the hospital. Most Negroes and other exploited groups don't even get this far, or if they do, they must go through interminable red tape and waiting lines. And when they leave the hospital, the red tape follows them. The following sworn statement by a 74 year old Bogalusa Negro woman testifies to this:
Today I went to the Charity Hospital in Bogalusa. At the... Hospital whites are served in the morning until 12 noon, and then Negroes are served. I went at 12 noon and there were about 25 whites who had not been served waiting.
There were about 100 Negro patients there, but they had to wait until all whites were served, even though it was the time for the Negroes to be served. The first Negro was served at about 1:20 p. m.
If a Negro goes before noon he will not be served. If a white comes in the afternoon, he is always let in without waiting.
Moreover, the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights has found that "Hospitals constructed with Federal funds have refused to admit patients because of their race...." (Civil Rights Under Federal Programs, An Analysis of Title LV, U.S.C.C.R. Special Publication Number 1, Jan. 1965, p. 4, (emphasis added). Such is the situation of the health care for the exploited classes: inadequate treatment administered by untrained, unfriendly physicians, which is difficult and often impossible to obtain.
We have shown how the greed of the physicians leads them to divide their patients into two classes. But one must remember that this attitude is rampant in the society from which they came; in fact, medical schools carefully select out those individuals most likely to possess this attitude in high degree.
Thus there are really two forces producing this situation: the attitudes of physicians, which is fostered by the medical profession itself in its selection and training policies; and the attitudes of the economically powerful classes in the community.
On the one hand, then, the inconvenient, inadequate, and even dangerous treatment of the health problems of the lower classes is a product of the medical profession. On the other hand the forces in the power structure are responsible for the general condition of the lower classes, including the composition and extent of these classes. For example, Mexican-American farm workers are one of the more exploited groups in California, while Agribusiness constitutes a dominant part of the California State power structure.
Since this is the case, a struggle to make adequate health services available to all must be fought on two fronts; both forces responsible for inadequate health care—the power structures and the medical profession—must be attacked. On the one hand, the lower classes of a community must include the issue of health care when organizing themselves around their grievances. This organization would be relatively simple in the southern towns in which SNCC and CORE are active. In the North, however, organization would be more difficult since the hostility between the different minority groups would first have to be overcome.
The second battlefield is inside the medical profession itself. And, regardless of how reactionary the American Medical Association is, the fight has already started. During the last year liberal medical student groups have emerged on most of the major medical campuses in the country.
Quote by Robert Moses
Life magazine had a picture of the people who did the murder (of Goodman and Schwerner), and they pictured them eating and laughing and joking and talking as though they were morally idiots. And I think that most people in the country reading that got that impression. But you don't put yourself in that classification so they're other people—they're not like you or like us. The Saturday Evening Post had a picture of the Klu Klux Klan on the front page just recently and at the end of the article talked about them as outcasts, as people who are in no way like most Americans, as rejects from society. I think that's a false interpretation which people are getting and therefore, they analyze the problem wrongly and, therefore, they look for the wrong solutions.
The problem is so deep, all you can do is raise these questions. We feel that if we're going to get to the bottom, if we're going to go down there and try and create anything new, then we have to do this because it seems that right within our country you have that problem where everybody can focus on it and say what are the conditions which create a society in which people sit down and plan and kill and then pat themselves on the back as patriots. Because they're defending their liberties and what they hold most dear and their civilization?
Robert Moses at the 5th anniversary of SNCC
Farm Labor: new focus for civil rights
When I went down to Tulare County on the Student Committee for Agricultural Labor's (SCAL) Easter project and saw men working at stoop labor all day, people living in tin one-room shacks with no indoor plumbing, and families applying for welfare, I realized that the arena of the Civil Rights Movement must be broadened.
The dilemma of the farm worker is much the same as that of the Negro. First, the workers are victims of racial discrimination. It is no accident that a large number of farm laborers are Mexican-Americans, Filipinos and Negroes. Negroes are even segregated from other workers in the fields. They pick cotton just as slaves did in the ante-bellum South. One Mexican-American told me that the work is very hard and the pay, very low. He said, "It is Negroes' work."
Farm laborers are also caught in the trap of poverty. Wages are pitifully low—as low as 10 cents an hour in Texas! Work is only available part of the year. Housing is deplorable and expensive since much of it is owned by growers. Education is not valued because such conditions subvert incentive.
Politically the workers are unorganized and inarticulate. National unions have failed to organize the workers because they have used SCLC-type dramatic action. They stage large strikes and then pull out completely when these strikes fail, leaving no organization committed to long-term unionizing.
In some respects the farm laborers are worse off than Negroes. Although there are many factions: SNCC, Black Muslims, NAACP, enough co-operation exists within the Negro community to build a movement. Farm workers are a much more fragmented group, because of ethnic and racial divisions. Each group—Negroes, "Anglos", Mexican-Americans and Filipinos—keeps to itself, and each bitterly hates the other groups. SNCC workers can go into a Southern town and organize the Negro community to resist the whites. Organizers in the valley will have to reconcile internal conflict which could lead to violence before they can prepare workers to resist their external enemy—agribusiness.
The Negro does not actually enjoy equal protection under the law, but it is at least nominally granted to him in the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and in civil rights bills. These provide a legitimate basis for gaining equal rights in practice. Farm laborers, on the other hand, are specifically excluded from major social welfare legislation. They are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, federal unemployment insurance acts, and California's FEPC law.
Finally, the white liberal establishment at least gives lip-service support to the Negro's struggle for equality. Newspapers give wide coverage to civil rights news. A strong, organized Negro Civil Rights Movement is actually working to solve the Negro's problems. But there is little public commitment to improve the farm labor situation. Though Secretary of Labor Wirtz's concern with the problem was encouraging, his three-man advisory committee composed of Giannini Foundation oriented UC professors recommended that braceros be imported. The organization of a student summer project involving students from Berkeley and other campuses indicates a growing commitment to aiding the farm workers.
The summer project, sponsored by SCAL, will take place in Tulare or Salinas county. Six students will work in a farm labor camp or community. During the spring vacation, SCAL had the opportunity to discuss farm labor organization with Caesar Chavez, a former farm worker and leader of the only truly grass roots union. His method of organizing is similar to SNCC's. For two years he has been slowly building up a union supported and organized by farm workers. "A union must be built around the idea that workers must do things by themselves in order to help themselves." Although Chavez is acquainted with radical literature he resists the temptation to do anything dramatic like a strike until he can be very sure of success. The workers distrust unions because they have seen too many strikes fail. In order to win the workers' confidence organizers must only promise concrete benefits they can deliver.
This summer SCAL volunteers will conduct voter education campaigns. In addition they will attempt to help solve individual, social, economic and legal problems, such as processing complaints about unpaid wages, welfare claims and housing services.
Editor's note: Those interested in working on the SCAL summer project should contact Bob Atkins, 8487721, or Paul Richards, 843-5433.
Theory and Action
Beyond the gallows: the future of civil rights
Sit-ins, pray-ins, marches, and a mushrooming myriad of mass maneuvers are all based on the same strategic considerations.
Our intention was first, by our presence in large numbers, to inform our rulers of our desires Second, we aimed to make people "aware of the problems"; to make everyone smell the crap swept under the carpet in northern ghettoes and the garbage heaped up in the open in the South. Third, we expected to arouse public opinion by standing still to bear the brunt of the bigot's billy.
In general, the civil rights movement did not attempt to attack or injure the enemy directly. Rather, we offered ourselves up to injury in an effort to enlist the Federal Government and public opinion on our side.
But we have seen that the Federal Government is at best neutral on the moral issue of discrimination. It is needless to detail here all our disappointments and frustrations as we called on the government to enforce its laws and protect civil rights workers. High-flown hypocrisy is probably the most galling thing we have encountered.
The rulers of this country desire above all a certain stability. They want enough order to go about their business of building the Great Society and knocking down the people of Viet Nam. Occasionally the government will intervene if a civil rights action threatens the peace. Usually this intervention consists in sending an emissary to buy off, talk off, or threaten off the demonstrators. In extreme cases the government may also try to wheedle off the most obnoxious and least influential racists.
But the whole point is that the demonstrations must threaten stability. If it becomes apparent that the system of Law and Order can incorporate murder or thousands of arrests and beatings, then these things become part of the status quo and need not be responded to.
Public opinion was that intangible element that we have long depended upon. We did not know exactly how it would work for us, but we knew we had to arouse it. Our enemies also worried about this uncertain factor. Southern businessmen and even local sheriffs feared that they could not blatently murder and unrestrictedly jail—because of the possible effect on "public opinion."
It is an old saw that we fear the unknown. But now there have been widely publicized killings, massive beatings, bombings, and arrests. What we imagined to be the solid substance of public opinion disappears when one comes into close contact with it. Stalin once asked, "How many divisions does the Pope have?" Racists can ask: "How many divisions does public opinion have?" Towns like Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham have felt the full onslaught of public opinion. Now, as the smoke clears, we see that the same people are still in charge and things haven't changed a bit. Racists are learning that newspaper headlines and telegrams are all just made of paper. They now know that bombings, beatings, and arrests can demoralize a movement whose strategy is to arouse sympathy by getting hurt, because the sympathy hoped for has so far not been won.
Not only is public response insufficient; it is getting increasingly more difficult to arouse interest. Palates are getting jaded by the taste of blood. Formerly one lynching could arouse shocked reactions if it could be publicized. Now we have an average of one Negro working for civil rights in Mississippi killed every week. Southerners once feared to kill a white northern student. Now the unthinkable has happened: Goodman and Schwerner are irredeemably dead. It teaches us that the unthinkable is easy. But what if a white minister or a mother of five were killed on a civil rights demonstration? We know the answer. Arrest figures are multiplied from tens to hundreds to thousands, and all it really means is that you need ten thousand to get publicity.
Everywhere they are upping the ante. Just two years ago merchants were afraid to arrest sit-inners or shop-inners in Berkeley and San Francisco. Now it's being done all over the North. And as each civilized city experiments with the use of arrests to end demonstrations, it learns that there is a finite number of white students to arrest It really doesn't matter whether that number is 800 or 27,000. The only fear, as in Oakland, for example, is that student arrests may fire the Negro community to action. Here again we are introducing an unknown quantity.
All of this does not mean that the civil rights movement must bow before overwhelming force. It means only that our foes are not afraid to hurt us. However, they may still be afraid to get hurt themselves. We must organize with the intention of fighting racism and all who profit from it. We cannot
These things require intricate organization. Negroes must weld their numbers into organized fighting and resisting forces, as they have done in towns in Mississippi in which SNCC is active. This work will also call for its share of martyrs and heroes; but this should not be taken to mean that brilliant leaders make fine speeches as hundreds of students and unemployed Negroes line up to be arrested, without concretely hurting the other side.
As we change tactics we may indeed wish to seek new allies. However, we must look for friends who are more loyal than the U.S. government and more substantial than public opinion.
Notes on Non-Violence
"Stokely Carmichael, tall, slim, brown-skinned, gives the impression he would stride cool and smiling through Hell, philosophizing all the way. Arriving in the Jackson, Mississippi, train terminal as a Freedom Rider in the spring of 1961 (he was twenty, and a student at Howard University) Stokely and a young woman rider made their way past what seemed an endless mob of howling, cursing people who screamed and threw lighted cigarettes; then they went into the white waiting room, where they were arrested..." (Howard Zinn, SNCC, the New Abolitionists, p. 40.)
...I write this enroute to Atlanta in a car with six people. Very busy as I am sure you will understand.... I am working in Lowndes County, Alabama, where Mrs. Liuzzo was shot. We've got a great movement....
...The question of violence and non-violence has become important to many people in this country. While I think the concern is sincere, people are mistaken when they assume that the racial situation in America hinges on this issue. While non-violence is indeed important to the civil rights struggle, it is no panacea. As a matter of fact, the moral grounds which many people use to justify non-violence become irrelevant when one faces the real issues. I speak now of jobs, education, civil liberties, and decision-making in this country.
Many people think that non-violence as a method of moral protest is what got Negroes the little gains they have made. I would like to outline the reasons why I think non-violence has worked. I omit the moral issue not because I think it didn't play an important part, but because I feel that there are more concrete reasons.
- The South was unprepared for the "sit-ins." They did not know how to deal with them. Thrown into a chaotic state, they were unable to maintain the facade of a civilized, democratic society.
- The rest of the country was against the South. The "liberals" were crying out. This situation has since changed now that the North is faced with its own demonstrations. Now they have begun to call the civil rights struggle "extremism." This is evidenced in the reaction to the proposed Alabama boycott.
- There is nothing that Americans love more, next to money, than peace and order. Demonstrations disrupt this peace and order. They wanted Negroes out of the streets at any price. And if they have to give Negroes some laws, they will do it in order to get their peace and order. It is also important that when they want Negroes out of the streets, the question of justice becomes irrelevant. The real question was how to stop demonstrations. The South is now granting "permits to parade" to Negroes in such southern towns as Camden, Alabama. By this technique, the movement can be contained, bogged down in red tape and paternalism.
- When demonstrations broke out in downtown areas, the only people there were demonstrators, and those whites who wanted to create violence. Businessmen lost money because prospective customers would not come downtown. The businessmen themselves had to stop the demonstrations.
- Demonstrations hurt United States foreign relations, and motivated the federal government to apply pressure aimed at ending
the protests. This usually brought minor concessions to the Negroes.
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- In the face of violence, non-violence is impressive. Without violence, non-violence is simply irrelevant.
The purpose of demonstrations was to spotlight certain problems. Violent acts would have done this, though admittedly the results would not have been as favorable (for Negroes) as the results of non-violence. The movement now moves ahead into an area where questions of violence and non-violence become irrelevant.
"The best way to keep a man a slave in this society is to give him the vote and call him free,".. Robert Paris Moses of SNCC. The movement has to look beyond the vote to the problems of organizing people so that they feel that they are capable of making decisions which affect their lives. That means much more than getting people registered into the Democratic Party.
The problems of automation, etc., that were brought up earlier: I think that there will be a decrease in demonstrations and demonstrations certainly cannot solve these problems. It means organizing people in their local areas.
One last thing: It seems to me that people in the United States who speak of non-violence as a moral issue for the Negro and condone the use of gas and guns in Viet Nam are in a real bind. This issue is still present in Viet Nam.
Civil Rights and the Liberal Backlash
There has been a closing of the ranks recently between Northern (and Southern) liberals, and the Southern racists. What previously appeared to be a life-and-death struggle over democracy has become a joint campaign to undermine the spearhead of the Civil Rights movement—SNCC and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
For months now the spokesmen and press of the liberal establishment have been increasingly critical of the activities of SNCC—first in regard to its tactics, then to its strategy. And in recent months a generalized attack has been mounted on its theory and program (extremism, Maoism, etc.) its composition and recruitment policies, its relationship to the Left, and its overall view of American society and the changes required before it can be considered a democracy. Increasingly shrill, the pronouncements have latched on to the themes of Communism and Extremism, until, by repetition, the message is gotten across. Each new discoverer of the two evils quotes a predecessor, who also happens to have been a 'long time supporter' of Civil Rights activity, and even of SNCC, until recently, when he came across the Red Menace.
The alternatives which these liberals pose to the Civil Rights movement are either purge the leftists of face the "bitter consequences". In other words, they raise the specter of a full scale investigation by the Liberal Establishment a la McCarthy. It does not occur to them to re-examine their understanding of the inequities of American society, leaving aside for the moment the suggestion that they—the liberals—might better prove their point of view by becoming more active in Civil Rights.
Among those liberals who have posed the "purge or perish" line to SNCC, there is James Wechsler in the New York Post; Newsweek Magazine; Washington Columnists Rowland Evans, Robert Novak, Drew Pearson, Hodding Carter III, and Edward P. Morgan; the White House; the Justice Department; and a number of clergymen. Andrew Kopkind, in a recent issue of the New Republic ("New Radicals in Dixie"), pointed to this new 'reunion with reaction':
Governor Wallace has unexpected allies in his efforts to discredit the Civil Rights movement. They are not racists or segregationists, or even Southerners, but white Northern moderates, who have decided that the movement is being infiltrated by Communists and is heading toward Left-wing extremism.
The Liberals vs. SNCC: The Three Legged Stool
The liberal critics ostensibly have expressed their hostility to SNCC for two reasons: Communist infiltration and SNCC's irresponsible radicalism. Newsweek summarizes the liberal establishment's position as follows:
The anxiety about SNCC is less easy to dismiss. It is fed by criticism of two kinds: that disciplined Communists have wormed their way into the group's operations, and that—whatever its ideological base—SNCC's far out radicalism is at best irresponsible and at worst somewhat sinister. (emphasis added)
In practical terms, the growing coldness-turned-to-opposition toward SNCC and the MFDP was high-lighted by two recent events in the Civil Rights movement. One was during the March on Washington, when liberals, in order to pacify white clergymen and trade unionists, forced John Lewis to edit out portions of his speech which might be construed as too militant. Another was at the Atlanta Convention, when white and black liberals, including the demagogic Bayard Rustin, attempted to prevent the MFDP from demanding their rightful place as representatives from Mississippi, and attempted to persuade them to accept the conservative Johnson plan—two seats at large, representing no one in particular.
The pathetic aspect of the liberals' hostility is their ignorance of the real condition of the Negro Ghettoes in the North and South (which SNCC and the militant Civil Rights groups are trying to come to grips with in a truly radical democratic fashion). Such ignorance is epitomized by Bayard Rustin's statement during the recent bloody Harlem uprising:
My God.... I didn't realize it was really like this. I don't blame the people for booing me.
I wasn't aware the police actually treated people this way. (Quoted in "Harlem Diary" by Les Edmond, Ramparts, Oct., 1964, p. 24).
If the pathos is that the white liberal does not know (and perhaps cannot 'really know'), then the tragedy for the black liberal is not that he doesn't know, but that he doesn't want to remember.
The liberal discussion of present Civil Rights activity in terms of a "Revolution" is meant to disguise the fact that a revolution is being prepared from below, against some of these very same liberal supporters. Moreover, the word 'revolution' serves the purpose of assuring the liberal that the issues and demands of the Negroes are currently being met when this is clearly not the case. The discontent of the lower class Negroes with all that the liberal is willing to 'give' them, is the source for any future 'real' social revolution. And it is this which the liberals anticipate, oppose, fear, and which predisposes them to attack SNCC. The above quotations indicate that a goodly sector of American liberalism is much more fearful of a democratic transformation in social relations than it is of joining forces with reactionary racism.
The issue of extremism and Communism—the basis on which the struggle between the liberals and SNCC has ostensibly been joined—is the liberal's political formulation of this fear of, and opposition to, a mass movement from below. Newsweek refers to SNCC's radical democratic politics as 'super-democracy', and as an "...almost mystic faith in the ability of poor, uneducated people to govern themselves...." In the same article, the class bias of the criticism becomes explicit, and in so doing, reveals the social underpinning of the liberal critique of SNCC: the liberals are committed to (white and—if necessary—black) middle class hegemony and tutelage over the working class, and to supporting U.S. military-politics and the Cold War; and both of these policies converge in the support of the leadership of Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights movement. This is the 'three-legged stool' of liberal ideology and strategy: that socio-economic class relations can be stabilized, that the support of the Negroes for U.S. nationalism can be established, and that present political alignments will not be impaired. SNCC presents a threat by undercutting the legs of the stool, much as did Jim Forman's remarks, when the state troopers attacked demonstrators in Montgomery: "if we can't sit at the table, we're going to knock the (obscenity) legs off...." While the clergymen squirmed at the time—and less so, I suspect, because of the obscenity than for the radical political overtones—the liberal opposition can be expected to be much more active in resisting the cutting of the legs from under their 'stool'.
The current focus of the liberal animus to the developing democratic revolution finds its expression in Wechsler's cry that SNCC is "staging an uprising against the major Civil Rights blocs...encouraged by a fragment of Communists (Chinese rather than Russian in orientation)." The clearest expression of the 'class point of view' with all of its bite in in Newsweek:
Negro moderates say that Fanny Lou Hamer, the Freedom Democrat's leading mouth-piece, is showing disturbingly demogogic tendencies—attacking middle class Negroes and whites, American policy in Vietnam and Martin Luther King.
The holy liberal triad, attacked by a black female ex-sharecropper—that's enough to choke up any liberal, and cause them to become disturbed....
The radicalism in SNCC-MFDP is also three-fold. First, it is oriented to the lower class Negroes and to their struggles for social and economic reforms. Secondly, it has been developing an 'internationalist' perspective, which identifies the struggle and democratic goals of SNCC, and of the lower
The counterposition of these sets of basically different positions underlies the conflict now developing between the liberals and SNCC.
The Liberals vs. SNCC: The Issue of Effectiveness
However, the growing hostility and its overtness and intensity can only be understood by the fact that SNCC is not only radical, but also politically effective, and becoming more so as time goes on. What is causing the liberals to look askance is not only that, from a democratic viewpoint, which the liberals ostensibly support, the SNCC position is more consistant, but that it is actually successful.
The political meaning of this is that SNCC poses a real democratic alternative to the Democratic Party machine, and that this alternative has a profound bearing on the liberals committments and connections; and it is this fact which causes them to perceive SNCC as a threat. This growing realistic political alternative, and liberals' inability to make the rational choice, is behind the liberal defections from SNCC via the 'legitimate' (in McCarthyite-Cold War terms) rationale of anti-extremism and anti-Communism. The prolonged paradox of liberals supporting domestic reforms and international reaction is now being resolved in the direction of domestic reaction.
It is precisely the ineffectiveness of Martin Luther King, his inability to organize permanent, mass-based, Negro-organizations, and his dependence on, and subordination to, the white-middle-class-controlled Democratic Party, which brings him the respect of the liberals. It is not King's moderation—that is, his peculiar practice of advocating nonviolence for Negroes while remaining virtually silent about the use of massive violence in Vietnam, the Congo, and in the Dominican Republic, by his presidential preference L. B. Johnson—but his ineffectiveness, which attracts liberal support.
While the Civil Rights 'movement' was mainly symbolic action, moral preachments, church meetings over dead bodies with wordy speeches, in a word, moral protest by unorganized groups with no specific program, and even less of the means to impose this program on the nation, the liberals supported it. The liberals were there to protest against injustices. Hence, the constant references in the liberal backlash writings to a white liberal preacher, or to a moderate Southerner, (like Hodding Carter III of the Delta Free Press), or even to a moderate Negro NAACP'er, who has worked very hard for many years in the past for Civil Rights, but who now is withdrawing support because of "extremism" and "Communism". The plain fact is that SNCC-MFDP and others have moved beyond mere protest against injustices, and toward building an independent power base with which to create a new type of politics based on a new conception of society.
Because of fears of political effectiveness, fears of a real democratic mass movement, fears of an exposed flank at home, Official Liberalism is forced to write, as Newsweek wrote, that "during the siege of Selma, for example, Presidential aides privately expressed the fear that Martin Luther King might lose his leadership to the SNCC hotheads." That is, to a group which can organize effective and successful actions without the "Cult of Personality" which characterizes the King approach.
Charles Silberman inadvertently points to the total failure of King-led actions "to stir the great bulk of slum dwellers into action on their own behalf." Behind the big build-up by the Liberal Establishment of Martin Luther King is a string of abysmal failures which reflect his inability not only to build an organized movement of lower class Negroes, but even to solve short term local problems. The famous Montgomery boycott did not result in integrating the busses. Silberman writes: "...by 1963, most Negroes in Montgomery had returned to the old custom of riding in the back of the bus." Furthermore, just a year after King's close associate Rev. Abernathy left Montgomery, there was no organized mass movement of Negroes in Montgomery. Silberman notes, "not even the church Reverend Abernathy had headed would help the Negroes organize." In Albany, Ga., where King also played a leading role, and for a few weeks was in the headlines, not one single facility has been desegregated. Instead, King's political allies in the Liberal Establishment have indicted Civil Rights workers on various Federal charges. In addition, after Negroes had been physically assaulted on numerous occasions, and on one occasion responded by heaving a few missiles of their own, King ordered his followers to their knees to do a humiliating and degrading penance.
The pathological aspect of King's actions—this political masochism—is part and parcel of King's determination to achieve middle class goals by maintaining the allegiance of the Liberal Establishment. This in turn is related to his extremely elitist conception of organization and decision-making in which power is centered in the Leader, who in turn functions to contain the insurgents through the aura which surrounds him, and through the threat of excommunicating those who don't fall in line.
Charles Silberman, in pointing to the "Birmingham Demonstrations," as having such important national consequences as the "decision of the Kennedy Administration to press for a Federal Civil Rights Bill," credits both the demonstrations, and the bill, to King. In fact, it was the mass uprising of the Birmingham working class against King's orders which precipitated Federal concern. After King gained control and "the deal" was made with the Liberal Establishment, no substantial reforms were achieved. Silberman writes, "In Birmingham itself, however, the results were pitifully small: desegregation of a few lunch counters, employment of a handful of Negroes."
The record of King in the key struggles with which he is associated (Montgomery, Albany, Birmingham) indicates one failure after another. His image of being a practical and effective leader is largely a fraud if measured by organizational and problem-solving standards. This is not to say that the other Civil Rights groups active at the time would necessarily have succeeded. The only success King has had is in building up support among Northern Liberals. The issues of political ineffectiveness and liberal support, however, are interconnected. Just as SNCC is losing Liberal support by becoming effective, King gains and maintains their support precisely by being ineffective—by not organizing the slums, by not insisting upon, and obtaining basic changes, by not building an independent political base.
The Liberals vs. SNCC: Social Underpinnings
Another factor hastening the process of liberal reunion with reaction is the limited nature of the changes which the liberals are willing or able to grant. Lunch counter integration and stronger voting rights do not in themselves require either structural changes or a redistribution of income. However, SNCC-MFDP are proclaiming these basic structural changes as necessary and integral parts of their Civil Rights revolution. These economic and social underpinnings place SNCC's simple political demands, such as voting rights, in a different light to the Liberal Establishment. This integral combination of social and economic reform with political demands has elicited the charge of extremism from the liberals, as well as the increasing pressure on SNCC to purge its ranks.
By 'going to the people', SNCC had not only uncovered the 'Other America,' but is also helping the people to organize themselves, and to articulate their demands. By their close association with the poor, the slums, and the exploited, SNCC gets a totally different view of American society than that perceived by the liberals, who tend to see it as one of affluence with only 'pockets of poverty.' It is from their different social positions, and hence from the different vantage point from which they view contemporary American society, where the most striking conflict emerges between SNCC and the liberals. Their different social positions and social identifications result in different socio-political perspectives with different milieux as frames of reference. Hence, Newsweek's middle class liberal cries: "it's as if they want to make the society appear hopelessly corrupt...to make it seem that the only hope is revolution." (Emphasis added).
For the Northern middle class liberal committed to conserving the New Deal, firmly entrenched in the Democratic Party, accepting the liberal rhetoric of his party's leaders as the deed, and above all surrounded by socially mobile and successful individuals like himself, the reality of immobilization, poverty, and government-sanctioned violence appears as a phantasy world. What appears real is his own world; the other world is 'unreal.' What appears malevolent, however, are those militant Civil Rights groups which relate his own affluence to the poverty of 'others.'
The irrational anti-democratic ideas which are sprouting up in liberal circles—such as the rejection of popular involvement in the Civil Rights movement ("superdemocracy" and references to popular leaders communicating the demands of the lower class as 'demogogues,' etc.) and as the demand for political purges of individuals loyal to the movement—indicate the inability of the liberal forces to understand the very same democratic creed which they have frequently sworn to uphold. In the liberal, middle-class, affluent world, the ideas, tactics, and program of SNCC appear irrational and extreme because these liberals do not understand, and cannot understand as long as they are wedded to their milieux, the depths of the problems with which they are ostensible concerned. In relating to the "other world" the liberal middle class brings its own "politics." Whatever its value for that world and its problems, the appeal of middle class liberalism does not work and is ineffectual in overcoming the obstacles to social-economic reform facing the Negro working class. The most violent attacks of SNCC extremism arise out of the frustration of an upwardly mobile class (many themselves having emerged from immigrant ghettoes) which is having its program rejected (and, in a sense, their own personal success story), and which still attempts to impose its ideology upon the Civil Rights movement. If one adds the ingredients of ex-radicalism and professional anti-communism, one can concoct a most strident opposition, which can present the Civil Rights movement with just as serious a threat as anything it has encountered among the Southern racists and bigots.
The twin phenomena of growing radicalism and political effectiveness will turn many of these erst-while Establishment Liberals from 'supporters' to critics, and finally, to vituperative and bitter-end opponents.
It is instructive in this regard to consider the reaction of the Establishment Liberals to the FSM in Berkeley. Lipset, Feuer and Glazer (in their respective articles in The New Leader, Commentary, and The Reporter) opposed large-scale student involvement for democratic freedoms and used most of the same arguments that are currently being presented by the Northern liberals against SNCC: extremism in action, Communist infiltration, shunting aside of 'legitimate' leaders, the emphasis on the 'progress' that allegedly has already taken place and, in this case, the slightly veiled threat of "bitter consequences." There are also some differences in the manner of presentation: SNCC's detractors have not yet gone so far as to compare it to the KKK as S. M. Lipset has done with the FSM, nor has a pathologist like Feuer emerged to discuss the sexual perversities of the Southern student movement. However Newsweek recently associated 'gangster' strong arm tactics with the 'militants,' presumably SNCC. Perhaps the pivotal figure in the liberal attack on the Northern and Southern Civil Rights and Civil Liberties movement is Nathan Glaser. Glaser's attack on Northern Civil Rights sit-ins for equal opportunity as 'extreme'; his defense of property owners (food chain store owners) against the Civil Rights movement; his definition of the student sit-in at the University of California for Civil Liberties as "force and violence"; his hue and cry about Communist infiltration.... All this serves to broaden the liberal backlash from a provincial localized affair into a national phenomenon: the ideological apology for undermining the emerging democratic radicalism.
In the North and South the involvement of large numbers of students in a democratic mass movement arouses the hostility of the Establishment Liberals who define the movement as 'out of bounds,' as illegitimate and as fair game for the repressive authorites. The attitude of the bulk of the liberals at this time is that the democratic radicals North and South are "romantic, idealistic, perhaps dangerously innocent...." What they refuse to see is a new type of politics: turbulent populism connected with demands for social and economic reform which will and can only take place with the political participation of the people who are to reap the benefits. This politics is the beginning of the end of the ideology without innocence—the 'crack-pot realism'—and the revival of democratic politics. Before it succeeds a serious confrontation and many serious conflicts are likely to take place between the radical democracy and Establishment Liberalism, if the liberal backlash is to be overcome.
PR from above; Leadership from below
The civil rights struggle in the South is being conducted according to two methods of operation. The first stresses the mobilization of large numbers of people, seeking to dramatize the racial problems of an area. This mobilization usually focuses around one well known person who enters the community for a particular demonstration or rally. The main purpose of such actions is to send a message through the mass communications system of the country that racial injustice exists in that particular area. 'Creative tension' is produced and the liberals of America are aroused with indignation. All rhetoric is aimed at the white middle class. The President is pressured by such influential groups as the church and labor. Congress passes whatever legislation it considers necessary to satisfy the pressure groups. And Negroes in the South read about it in the papers. I am referring of course to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference under the direction of Martin Luther King and his 'aides'.
When the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) decides to focus attention on an area, several of King's lieutenants go into the area to establish contact with the ministers and other "leaders" of the community, whose leadership is based almost entirely on status. In future decisions relevant to that area, King will receive his advice from these aides and then make his decision. There is no democracy even within his own organization, much less among the people upon whom he depends for demonstrations. In the very struggle for participation in decision making, the people are denied any control over the form or nature of the struggle. King becomes an idolized image who controls and leads all activity during the period of time that SCLC remains in the area. When his demonstrations are over in a community and he leaves, he takes the movement with him. He leaves no grass roots community organization behind because he has never worked with the people and talked with them. They receive little information about the processes which take place during the demonstrations, because King simply makes grand speeches from the pulpit. And what is worse, the people have no communication or dialogue with these leaders about other aspects of society found in their community and in the world, which are not directly related to the demonstrations, but which are more important. The members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference are family men, mostly middle class, who have neither the time nor the inclination to actually live in the community and work and talk with the people, to actually organize the people. In essence, they merely mobilize.
The second method of operation stresses grass roots organization rather that large scale demonstrations. It seeks to catalyze the emergence of new leadership from within the community. Rather than focusing attention around themselves, the organizers attempt to focus attention on the people, their neighbors, and their problems. They begin by sending two or three people into a community to live there for a long period of time. They set up an office or a freedom house and hold workshops on voting and other problems in the community. They emphasize working with the poorest people: those who need help the most. They discourage and have received little publicity in the national news media about their day-to-day work. They have made no grand appeals for funds or support from liberals in America, although they have received support from most students interested in civil rights. They live and work with Negroes in small Southern towns and rural areas. Their strength comes from the local people with whom they work every day and not from access to national communications systems or Federal authority. I am speaking, of course, about the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee under the direction of two hundred of the most hardened, toughened youths in America, hardened by white Southern hospitality and toughened by local police brutality.
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) works on the basis that both an internal and an external working democracy are more important than any one demonstration or activity. Internally they will almost always act on well thought out, unanimous decisions, reached through staff meetings. Important problems involving differences in opinion will be debated throughout the South in all the areas where SNCC staff meet. Externally, the emphasis is on local community organization, such as holding workshops on voter registration techniques. They also provide a work force to help broaden the support for such organizations, and use their experience in directing the focua of attention away from themselves as much as possible. SNCC has effected meaningful organization, which at times has included mobilization, but mobilization by the local community.
Within the past four years, Montgomery, St. Augustine, Albany, Birmingham, Selma, and Mississippi have been clear examples of the two different methods of operation that have been described. The first five are cities or towns in the South, all of which have seen effective mobilization campaigns conducted by SCLC.
Montgomery, St. Augustine, and Birmingham have been left with no active civil rights organizations, although the basic problems which caused demonstrations in these areas still remain. In Birmingham, for example, leaders were asked to come into the community by ministers from local Negro churches. These leaders told the people how to solve their problems and led them on courses of action which the people had not themselves formulated. Although there were many sacrifices made by the local people in the form of arrests and injuries, explanations as to what was happening were usually reserved for the press and "high-level" meetings and negotiations with government officials. The leaders have since left Birmingham and taken their movement with them, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by apathy and acquiescence. The possibilities for future civil rights activity is worse than it was before such actions were undertaken. The people have lost hope for any substantial gains.
In Albany, Georgia, and Selma, Alabama, SNCC had begun working with the local people when SCLC decided to begin mass demonstrations. In Albany, the people played no part in the decisions involving demonstrations. The leaders said march and the people marched. They were told that they had won great victories, when they had gained only minor concessions. After putting so much of their lives into these concentrated efforts, they were past the point of organization. Not only were the local people unable to continue their struggle when the leaders went elsewhere, but the progress achieved through months of organizing work by SNCC field workers was lost.
In Selma I witnessed anger and frustration among the SNCC staff workers as they watched the people blindly follow the leadership of a man who had made deals with the Justice Department, the Federal Community Relations Director Leroy Collins, and Colonel Al Lingo, head of the Alabama State Troopers. They watched a man who made decisions in order to provide an outlet for the pentup emotions of hundreds of ministers whom he himself had called to the scene. They watched a man make hollow statements of concern over the death of Rev. Reeb, while little was said of the death of Jimmy Lee Jackson, a much more significant murder. (Jackson was murdered by state troopers, not by a disorganized mob.) The SNCC field workers watched a four day vigil protesting much but demanding little, in which the kids who provided the main support for the vigil were denied food so that the "more important white folks" could be fed. They restored to a sit-in at the church kitchen on the fourth day of the vigil until they were finally served food along with everyone else.
Then there was the pressure for and the protection of a march to Montgomery and a promise of an effective voting rights bill from far away. But Selma, Alabama still remained the hell of segregation for Negroes—and Martin Luther King, the man who had focused the nation's attention on this town of 30,000, was gone to lead marches somewhere else. Selma was left with no local leadership to continue an effective civil rights movement. It probably will soon be categorized, along with such Southern communities as Albany, Georgia, as having spent its civil rights struggle in an orgasm of premature demonstrations.
The example of Mississippi provides us with areas in which SNCC has operated for four years. There has been no focus on any one particular community. There has been no concentration on mobilizing people for marches or demonstrations. There has been little publicity on the day-to-day work of the SNCC staff. Few people in this country could name any of the towns in which SNCC has been working, or even one of the SNCC workers. Yet people have gotten together in such communities as Shaw, Greenwood, Clarksdale, Indianola, McComb, Charleston, Natchez, Moss Pt., Ruleville, Yazoo City, Tallula, Magnolia, Batesville, Belzoni, Canton, Holly Springs, Meridian, Laurel, to name a few. They have begun to make decisions and to act. They have organized around their political and social problems and have made decisions about and formulated plans for mobilizing around such issues as their challenge of the seating of the regular Democratic Congressmen from Mississippi. They have formed a Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which is not a "Negro Party, but an integrated Party, open to all whites. It grows directly out of the civil rights movement in Mississippi. It came to Atlantic City demanding, not simply that Negroes be represented, but that racism be ended—in Mississippi and in the Democratic Party." The people in Mississippi who have not been allowed to vote are in the process of writing their own voting bill. They realize that since they (rather than some President or Congressman sitting in a vacuum enclosed by cement) know what methods have been used to keep them from voting, they know what it will take for them to get the right to vote.
The freedom movement in Mississippi has continued, not ended, since the freedom riders went to jail in 1961. Besides the thousands of people now participating in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, there is a Mississippi Student Union which has grown out of the Freedon Schools set up by SNCC and the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO). These students have become one of the most active protest groups in the country. In some counties of Mississippi, independent school systems have been set up which more adequately educate the children. There is a movement in Mississippi "of the people, by the people, and for the people" which shows signs of bringing democracy to this country for the first time since its violent beginning in the eighteenth century.
SNCC in Mississippi is now completely phasing itself out of any leadership positions in the community. SNCC has asked for no summer volunteers, but the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party has set up a program for a few hundred summer recruits to work under the direction of local organizations in Mississippi communities. The SNCC staff workers have begun work in the rural communities of Alabama, while continuing their work in other Southern states, such as Arkansas. The direction which they will probably give to the civil rights struggle in these areas will be towards organizing new Freedom Democratic Parties which may unite throughout the South.
But Dr. King will continue to tour the country, and there will be great demonstrations in the North and the South. In view of the movement as we have seen it develop in the South, I must question the significance of Dr. King's campaigns and I must question the significance of the method of operation which he has chosen to use. Dr. King has chosen to do things for the people instead of helping them to do things themselves. We must decide if we will follow the leadership of one man, or work within a broad based, grass roots movement. While leadership from above will take its toll of local civil rights struggles in the future, the hope of a suppressed people in a surging movement will depend on strong leadership from below.
Negro Community vs. Crown Colony
February 3, 1965.
Miller and Yates returned to town at the invitation of the local Negroes. They were followed by two police cars from one meeting to another. When a car filled with six whites came up, the police disappeared. The two CORE workers were chased at high speeds through the Negro community, until they came to the main intersection. Yates jumped out to run into a restaurant for help. At least two whites set upon him and beat him severely, breaking his hand in two places. Miller drove off around the block. As he was leaving, a shot was fired at him and a large rock was thrown into the car door. For the next six hours the two were besieged in Audrey's Bar by groups of whites. There were reports that mobs of whites were forming in the downtown area. Soon after the beating, the police came and dispersed a crowd of Negroes who had gathered. They allowed a group of whites to gather on the corner.... At sundown, the police withdrew. As the night wore on, the phones up and down the block were cut off. The leader of the Ku Klux Klan in the area was seen sitting in a police car with the deputy sheriff two blocks away. Finally, at 10:30, Yates and Miller were given a police escort to Baton Rouge. The next day Yates entered a hospital in New Orleans for treatment of his hand.
Bogalusa, the scene of this and many similar events, is a town of 23,000 situated in eastern Louisiana, sixty miles north of New Orleans and three miles from the Pearl River and Mississippi. At present, there are three foci of power in this paper-making town: the Ku Klux Klan, Crown-Zellerbach, Inc., and the Negro community, led by the militant Civic and Voters League. The Klan's aims and tactics are well-known. It is enough to say that there are well over 1000 'knights' in and near the town, and that many Klansmen belong to the police and fire departments. The focus of this article is on Crown-Zellerbach, which practices discrimination while talking about racial justice, and the Negro community, which demands freedom and equality now.
Crown-Zellerbach holds a respectable position in American industry. In 1963, it ranked 88th among industrial corporations in net sales ($616 million), 73rd in assets ($645 million, and 76th in net profit ($42 million). In paper products, the San Francisco-based firm is second only to International Paper in world output. Its aggressive management is alert to the possibilities of automation, of diversification, and of expansion.
In 1955 Crown began to expand beyond the Pacific Northwest by merging with Gaylord Container, Inc., a company with large facilities in Bogalusa, nearly half a million acres of forest land in Louisiana and Mississippi, and better rail access to the large markets of the Midwest and East. Crown is just one of many Northern paper products first which have been lured to the South since 1930 by the immense pine forests with a rapid rate of replenishment and by the lower labor costs. Louisiana has been greatly affected by this trend. Over 10 per cent of its industrial labor force works in the paper industry. Paper making corporations with company towns in Louisiana include Celotex at Marrero, Olin-Mathieson Chemicals at West Monroe, Continental Can at Hodge, International Paper at Bastorp and Springhill, and Crown-Zellerbach at St. Francisville and Bogalusa.
Crown dominates the economy of Bogalusa. Its chemical plant, wooden box factory and mills producing newsprint, cardboard boxes, and paper bags are worth around $100 million. Its work force of 2900 is roughly 40% of the total number of people employed in the town. Its annual payroll of 19 million dollars provides, directly and indirectly, 70 per cent of Bogalusa's income.
Crown permeates the town's power structure. Two members of the five-man City Commission Council which governs Bogalusa are Crown employees: Commissioner of Public Safety Spiers and Commissioner of Health and Property Holloway. Mayor Jesse Cutrer is openly said to be a protege millionaire Vertree Young, member of Crown-Zellerbach's board of directors who recently retired as manager of the Bogalusa facilities. The wife of police chief Claxton Knight is a Crown stenographer.
Crown officials claim that the company has used its central position in Bogalusa as befits a "responsible corporate citizen." The corporate citizen doctrine as understood by Crown was presented to the Commonwealth Club in June, 1964, by James P. Mitchell, Senior Vice President. Among other things he said, "It is up to the business and industrial leadership of the country, of the state, of the community to take the lead in changing the economic status of American Negroes and adjusting scales of economic and social imbalance." He was reflecting the views of J. D. Zellerbach (1892-1963), founder of the corporation. In the company's annual report for 1963, it is proudly written of Zellerbach that "he believed with all his heart and soul that every American is entitled to equality before the law, and an equal opportunity to make use of his capacity for growth—materially, intellectually, and spiritually."
Crown's Employment Practices in Bogalusa
What, in fact, has Crown done in its ten long years in Bogalusa to translate Zellerbach's ideals into practical results? Let us consider the mills first, then the community. From 1955 until 1962, it did absolutely nothing to end discriminatory practices and segregated work patterns inherited from Gaylord Container, Inc. Instead it carried out an extensive program to increase efficiency. It embarked on a large program of modernizing existing facilities and constructing new ones. It put the squeeze on its work force and reduced the number of workers in certain jobs. The outcome was a seven-month strike in 1961-1962 which ended in compromise. An unskilled labor pool, called the Extra Board, was set up for all workers pushed out of skilled jobs. These men perform unskilled labor around the plants and fill in temporarily for absent skilled workers. If they can pass requisite aptitude and skill tests, they are given first call whenever a position opens up in the line of progression. The real losers in this struggle between management and labor were Negro workers. Their interests went unattended by both the corporation and the unions, which are dominated by segregated white locals. Crown employed over 500 Bogalusa Negroes in 1960; now it only employs 390! During the same period white employment appears to have moved up from around 2000 to 2510.
In 1962, after the Presidential order requiring all government contractors to integrate, Crown took the first feeble steps to eliminate discrimination and segregation in its facilities. The signs saying "colored" and "white" were removed and, after complaints from Negro locals, a policy of equal opportunity was declared. Crown still has a long, long way to go, however. This is brought out with great force in the following paragraphs written by Bill Yates, CORE field secretary in Bogalusa, on March 31, 1965:
Job classifications are segregated into white and Negro: some for Negroes and many for whites. Progression from one classification to the next takes place within racial limitations. Over Negroes already holding a job classified above the Extra Board there is a ceiling above which they may not rise (Negroes say, with grim clarity, that in those jobs they "dead-end"). No matter how worthy he be, merit and seniority will not take a Negro past "dead-end."
The Extra Board was recently integrated—at least on paper: jobs are daily assigned at the discretion of white supervisory personnel and Negroes still are assigned the jobs they always had. Three Negroes have passed the necessary aptitude and skill tests...and hold jobs in the "white line-of-progression". They entered the "white line" from the Extra Board—but that is the only way a Negro can get into the better jobs. Example: A Negro with 12 years seniority who has dead-ended in the "Negro line-of-progression" can enter the "white line" only by surrendering his seniority, returning to the tentative status and low pay of the Extra Board, and hoping he will pass the required aptitude and skill tests; though he has worked for the company for 12 years and has helped teach many whites the jobs he knows better than they but which only they could hold (an actual and frequent irony), he must fall in behind the newest employee of
― 20 ―the Extra Board and pass tests of job-skills he has already demonstrated he possesses in actual work...
All facilities within Crown are segregated: toilets, lunchrooms, time clocks, lockers, pay-windows—everything. Examples: A Negro walks into a toilet and finds there a plywood partition: one side for him, the other for whites. A Negro goes into the cafeteria (after the whites have been served), buys his lunch and, though there are seats and tables not being used, takes it to a ramshackle wooden building where he and his color must eat. A Negro going to work must arrive early so he can get to the colored timeclock before the whites crowd all the timeclock room although part of it is supposedly segregated for Negroes... When a Negro enters the new administration building to pick up his check he is confronted by two pay-windows, both apparantly the same..., but he knows he must with all others of his color go to the window on the left.
... There are no Negroes in supervisory or other important positions... Crown has hired only one Negro woman. (She worked as a maid for visiting executives and even she is no longer employed.) Yet it employs hundreds of white women. Crown says it recruits personnel from college campuses; yet it has never employed anyone from the Baton Rouge campus of Southern University—the largest Negro college in the United States... When Crown lets contracts for timber-cutting in the forests around Bogalusa the contracts go only to whites, though the actual cutting and hauling is done by Negroes who pay a commission on each load of timber to white contractors.
In sum, Crown has engaged in some fancy hand-waving, but it has not changed the deep patterns of discrimination and segregation in its facilities. Although at times one is tempted to charge the corporation's upper management with wanting to keep the Negroes in their place, this is only a small part of the story. The primary reason is that, in good American fashion, Crown management puts profits before all its ideals. This is clearly demonstrated by the company's activities in South Africa. For years it had a brisk South African market for household paper products. Recently that country's racist oligarchy levied prohibitive tariffs on finished paper goods. Rather than lose a profitable market, the corporation tainted itself further yet by joining hands with a South African firm in constructing a $7.5 million plant to produce toilet tissue, etc., from pulp produced in the Pacific Northwest. Moreover, remember that Crown's first concern in Bogalusa was with efficiency, and not with equal opportunity.
How could Crown's profits be reduced if it took vigorous and effective action in its Bogalusa facilities to establish just patterns of employment? First, it would encounter resistance from local management and some white workers. This is clear from Bill Yates' report, and from the following incidents at the plants. When a White Citizens Council notice was put up on a company bulletin board, representatives of the Negro local had to go all the way to the plant manager to get it taken down. When CORE worker Bill Yates was touring company facilities in January, he was nearly run down by a fork lift driven by a Klansman. The Negroes on the Extra Board have been subjected to constant harassment. Several of them, for instance, have had KKK cards attached to their time cards, and one was nearly killed by a deadly trap set for him by white workers. Negro labor representatives even had difficulty in bringing this last incident before plant executives.
Second, besides resistance from its white employees and managers, Crown must establish a costly compensatory training program for Negroes who are at a disadvantage because of segregated and unequal education in Bogalusa. Only in this way can Crown raise the percentage of Negro employees to the percentage of Negroes in the town. This is a perfectly reasonable demand, since Crown bears much of the responsibility for the inadequate education of Bogalusa Negroes. How the corporation can be made to institute compensatory training and face up to local resistance will be considered in the conclusion. Whatever short term reduction in profits may occur is inadequate reason to maintain the undemocratic and unjust caste system.
Crown's Civil Rights Stance in Bogalusa
Crown's record in the community is also one of ineffectual tokenism. After the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, city officials set up a biracial commission with Crown backing. The whites chose the Negro members of the commission, taking pains to get Negroes who would be "constructive" and "co-operative, ie., abide by the dominant patterns of segregation. It is hardly surprising that this Commission has not taken any major steps toward equality.
Late in 1964, some moderate white ministers arranged a January speaking engagement for former Arkansas Congressman Brook Hays, who urges acceptance of integration on pragmatic grounds. Key Crown personnel seem to have indicated their approval. Then, in early January, the Klan with its headquarters in the Fire Station began an intense campaign of vituperation and intimidation. Six thousand KKK handbills were distributed warning residents that Hays intended:
to convince you should help integration by sitting in church with the black man, hiring more of them in your businesses, serving and eating with them in your cafes, and allowing your children to sit by filthy, runny-nosed, ragged, ugly little niggers in your
― 21 ―public schools.
We will know the names of all who are invited to the Brook Hays meeting and we will know who did and did not attend this meeting... Those who do attend this meeting will be tagged as integrationists and will be dealt with accordingly by the knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
In addition to the handbills, they burned a cross, threatened a pastor, and started bomb rumors. The ministers unsuccessfully sought reassurance and support from the community's leaders. One of the ministers now being transferred by his bishop was informed by a representative of Crown that the engagement should be cancelled. It was.
In order to counteract the bad publicity resulting from this humiliating capitulation and to show the Klan that it was still a power to be reckoned with, Crown hastily set up a day for testing public accomodations. Strict orders went out to the police. Except for the customary insults everything went smoothly on January 28, when CORE workers Steve Miller and Bill Yates assisted local Negroes in their testing. All but seven restaurants served the Negroes and these have recently been taken to court by the Federal government. The next day Crown began to take the pressure off the police.
In a few days the Klan was out in the open again. Yates, Miller, and local Negroes were harrassed and roughed up. The Klan threw up a picket line in front of Landey's restaurant because it integrated peacefully. Robert Hicks, a leader of the Bogalusa Civic and Voter's League, received a bomb threat. The test of public accomodations indicates both the constructive role which Crown could play, and the destructive role it does play when it decides to appease the KKK.
The response to Crown and other "respectable" groups to the resurgence of the Klan was a meaningless pledge. According to Crown President Sinclair, "our management people in Bogalusa and nine civic and labor organizations, met with the Mayor of the city, Mr. Currer, to pledge support to the public authorities in their enforcement of law and order..." He also had the gall to maintain that the public officials "have already made considerable progress... toward a solution of the racial problem facing the community." This "pledge," which was announced on February 12, was Crown's last public pronouncement of its position on Bogalusa. Naturally it had no impact whatever on the Klan. The Klan has continued to wage a war of insult, intimidation, and violence against Negroes and "integrationists." Tension has mounted rapidly because the Negro Community is standing up to the Klan and pressing for its rights.
In April two waves of CORE recruits from Northern colleges went to Bogalusa at the request of the League to aid its mobilization of the Negro community. The first group was from the University of Kansas. Toward the end of their stay, James Farmer arrived in Bogalusa and at the insistance of the League led a march on the City Hall despite threats of violence. Police prevented a Klansman from blackjacking Farmer during the March.
Shortly after the Kansas group departed, ten Berkeley Campus CORE recruits headed South. While in Bogalusa, CORE workers canvassed the Negro community for people willing to register, picketed downtown merchants because they refuse to integrate their staffs, and helped organize mass demonstrations. One of the Campus CORE volunteers was recruited by the Deacons. He rode night watch with them and guarded the Hick's house, a major center of League activity. At all times, the CORE workers and national CORE officers who visited frequently in order to participate in League protests, adhered strictly to the principle that policy decisions should be made by the local leadership. After two weeks of hard work, the Campus CORE group returned to the Bay Area, urging full support for the Bogalusa freedom movement.
The Negro Community:
Bogalusa Negroes live in a part of town bordered by railroad tracks, the Crown plant, and a swampy creek. It is divided into several neighborhoods to which the white have given such colorful names as: Jewtown (because the boundary is Rosenbaum's Dept. Store), Poplas Quarters, (Negro areas are often called "quarters" after the phrase "slave quarters"), East Side, South Side, Moden Quarters, Mitchell City and Mitchell Quarters. Sewers, paved streets, and street lights are the exception rather than the rule. Today there are between 8000 and 9000 Negroes in this community, 35 to 40% of the town's population. In using the 1960 census one must remember that the economic position of the Negro community
In 1960 the most striking demographic fact about Bogalusa was that, between the ages of 20 and 64, there were only 74 Negro men to every 100 women. In sharp contrast is the white figure of 94 men per 100 women, which is not far below the national average. Comparison of age distributions for both groups in the 1950 and 1960 censuses makes it quite clear that a large proportion of young Negro men left Bogalusa, apparently seeing no future for themselves there. Many young Negro women also left, but not in such great numbers because they could at least find employment as low paid domestic servants.
Statistics on education show a similiar pattern. Three out of five Negroes over 25 have not progressed beyond the sixth grade. For whites, the figure is one out of five. Since the 1954 Supreme Court decision, there has been some pretense at providing separate but equal education: small and inadequate new facilities have been constructed for Negroes. However, less is spent on each Negro pupil and Negro classes are larger. Today, 11 years later, the schools are still totally segregated.
There is only one trade school in Bogalusa and it is Federally supported. Negro leaders have been pressing for its desegregation for years. Early this year, as the mood of the Negro community shifted from patient moderation to impatient militancy, white officials announced that Negroes could attend the school. On March 4, Willie Dickham applied for entrance and was fired by his employer, Hoffman, an electrical subcontractor for Crown. Hoffman told Dickham, "You brought it on yourself. I'm not going to have any Klan picketing around my place."
Turning to housing, we again find a large disparity between the white and Negro communities. In 1960, only 23% of Negro dwellings were "sound" and fully equipped with indoor plumbing, and 32% were classified as "dilapidated." The comparable white figures were 57% and 5%. Bill Yates writes of Negro housing, "Many dwellings are appallingly wretched; many have outhouses for toilets. The most common type of house is the 'shotgun,' nearly all owned by whites. The 'shotgun' is a long thin box structure on piles, so-called because it can be swept end to end by a single shotgun blast.
In the area of medical sciences, the picture is grim. All the active doctors, dentists, and nurses in Bogalusa are white. They treat Negroes at their own discretion, and always after whites. The Federally financed Community Medical Center accepts Negroes only on Thursdays, except in the gravest emergency. Its facilities are segregated. In recent months, local Negroes who were badly beaten because of their civil rights activity have been unable to obtain treatment in Bogalusa.
In 1960 the median family income for Negroes was $2231 and for whites over $5000. One out of every two Negro women found it necessary to work, while for whites the figure was one out of three. The main source of employment for Negro women is domestic labor at $3.50 per day. Crown does not employ a single Negro woman, in order to keep domestic wages down. White women hold down much better paying jobs as sales clerks and secretaries. Crown is the chief employer of both white and Negro men. The whites have the better jobs. Furthermore, the share of jobs held by Negroes has been decreasing since Crown came to Bogalusa. It now stands at 13% while Negroes make up 35% (a conservative estimate) of the town's population.
In the political sphere, Negroes are completely unrepresented in city and parish (county) government. Almost all of the 15,500 parish whites are registered. However, about one-fifth of the parish's 7000 Negroes are registered.
The League, The Deacons, and CORE:
Until 1965 Bogalusa's Negro community was led by a moderate organization known as The Bogalusa Civic and Voters League, which pleaded the Negro case before white officials quietly and humbly. The moderate leaders received unimportant favors, nothing more. In 1964 they twice asked CORE to stay out of town so that the newly created biracial commission could work in a peaceful atmosphere. Then, after the Hays incident, the League asked CORE to help with testing public accomodations. But among active Negroes in the movement, there was great dissatisfaction with the moderate leadership. In February of this year, there was a successful drive at reorganization which set aside the moderate leadership. The new militant leadership then invited CORE to stay and help organize the local community.
The organization of the Deacons for Defense and Justice emerged in late February. This organization, which originated in the embattled Negro community of Jonesboro, Louisiana, has assumed the task of defending Negroes and civil rights workers from violence. As in Jonesboro, it commands the Klan's respect. On several occasions, the presence of armed Deacons has prevented Klan assaults. For instance:
March 28: When Ronnie Moore, Bill Yates and Kimme Johnson—all CORE workers—were leaving Bogalusa after the Freedom Rally that day, their car was followed by a City Police car #10, the Sherriff's K-9 car, and several
― 23 ―unmarked, unlicensed cars carrying white men (presumably Klansmen). Immediately behind the CORE car were two cars of armed Negroes—thus the "peacefulness" of the procession.
The CORE workers who wrote up this release clearly appreciate having the Deacons around.
The Bogalusa Movement Today:
After much stalling even the white officials have finally recognized the League as a legitimate spokesman for the Negro community. They had no choice. Some Negroes are still afraid to get involved and the moderates are around, but the League enjoys wide grassroots support, especially from youth. The League has demonstrated its influence by instituting a successful boycott of downtown mercharts. It has shown its muscle in large protest marches and rallies. And, when the Mayor made a transparent attempt to divide the Negro community by conducting a survey to see who its "real leaders" were, the League carried out its own poll, and obtained over 2000 signatures in one day.
The League has agreed to sit down at a bargaining table with representatives of the white community. The mediators, three Louisiana whites, are impartial in only one unimportant respect—they are not from Bogalusa. It is clear that negotiations under these conditions will not lead to real gains for the Negro community—more and better jobs, good education, decent medical service, public works in the ghetto, full voter registration and political representation, and a genuine clamp-down on the Klan. The white community, especially Crown, still is not fully convinced that the League means business and cannot be put off with a few sops.
Crown, we can be sure, has been active behind the scenes since its ignominious pledge of February 14. After all, it does not want its name, which it regards as a valuable asset, linked with a situation like Selma. Furthermore, Crown realizes that if Selma-type publicity made the patterns of segregation and discrimination in its Bogalusa facilities common knowledge, an effective national and international boycott could be brought to bear on its products. Furthermore, if the KKK unleashes terror against the Negro community a violent response is likely from the other side of the pavement. This will increase instability and uncertainty in the community—not making it a healthy climate for new investment or for expanding production. Hence, the company must be largely responsible for the fact that the police have somewhat confined brutality to the privacy of the police station. Crown has yet to realize that this is not enough, that it cannot escape so cheaply. Within its facilities, Crown must bear the responsibility for initiating compensatory training and overcoming local resistance to implementations of its equal opportunity and non-discrimination pronouncements. Within the town, it must push for the League's goals. In short, it must stop trying to mediate between bigotry and racial justice. Otherwise, it may well have a Selma on its hands, or perhaps a Harlem.
The Problem in Focus
Editor's Note: Anita Levine and Becky Withe, the authors of the following article, are two of the ten CORE volunteers who recently returned from two weeks in Bogalusa, Louisiana.
Bogalusa... small southern town, hot, humid, Negro shacks, dusty roads, a vague nauseating odor emanating from the Crown-Zellerbach plant. Four months ago many of us had never heard of the town Bogalusa. Now James Farmer, National Director of CORE, says it is the central target for civil rights activity in the South. Why? How?
Why has it taken only four months to show us an incredibly odious situation, a situation where anything becomes believable?
The freedom fight in Bogalusa, Louisiana is the Negroes' fight. The leadership comes from within the Negro community—all decisions are made by local Negroes. The Bogalusa Voter's League is leading the struggle. The League has no formal membership—it represents the entire Negro community. Its purpose is to organize the Negroes, to stimulate a greater self-awareness of their potential power and to attempt to overcome fear and apathy, by organizing the Negro community so that it can begin to make its needs and desires felt within the city, parish, and state.
Prior to January of this year the Bogalusa Voter's League had been headed by a moderate, more frequently called an "Uncle Tom" by the Negro community. He thought he could appease both the Mayor and his people. His actions did not reflect the fiery pulse of his black followers but reflected his desire to "just go easy." Essentially he was a mere pawn in the hands of the Mayor and because of this he was unresponsive to the Voter's League which was increasingly demanding results.
After a reorganization in February, Mr. A. Z. Young became president. Mr. Young is an angry man; angry at a hateful, two-faced Mayor, angry at a completely unjust community where all private, city, parish, state, and Federal facilities are segregated, and always inferior for Negroes; and significantly enough he, at times, is angry at the Negro community. James Farmer was billed as the main speaker at a large rally which took place the night before we left Bogalusa for Berkeley. But when Mr. Farmer's turn came to speak, he and everyone in the church knew the main speech had been made. After Mr. Young's fervid speech Mr. Farmer quietly muttered, "What is left to say?"
Young spoke at the only church in Bogalusa to ever house a freedom rally. It has a seating capacity of 300. Inside, 500 people were squeezed together on that humid 100 degree night; another 400 listened through open windows, while others congregated at the front and back doors. This was the largest number of adults that, up to then, had appeared at any rally. Much of the freedom fight is carried on by students, picketing is almost always done by students, and marches are mainly comprised of teen-agers. Mr. Young demanded to know from this audience where they stood:
Will you continue to let your sons and daughters be hit by billy clubs, have live snakes thrown at them, have cigarettes put out on their bodies, and be chased by police dogs on picket lines and marches, while you sit at home? They are risking their lives; are you risking yours? I am tired of wondering where my next pair of shoes are coming from; I am tired.
In a booming voice he proceeded to damn the total injustice of a system where a Negro lives with frustration 60 minutes of every hour, 24 hours of every day.
If there was any question regarding the status of the previous moderate leadership, Young settled it, "I am your leader; you are my followers." Deafening applause followed—the overwhelming endorsement of the new militant leadership. Farmer grabbed Young and held up his arms. A mass popular movement was born before our eyes. Smiles, handshakes—"yes man," "set the record straight" shouted the audience—so much newly awakened life, so much to do and so many more willing to do it. No words can capture a man's expression when he realizes his people's potential, when he realizes the new possibilities. We witnessed hope, belief and, more important a lessening of fear and a new readiness to fight.
Other speakers at the rally demanded that the ministers get out and fight. The Negro churches have not been involved in the movement. Fear, obviously is one reason but perhaps more significant is the attitude, "It may be tough down here but things will be better up there." One visiting minister spoke and said he wasn't planning to wait till he got to heaven. "No, Negroes aren't content strumming their banjos under the magnolia tree." "I'm about as happy as a stuffed pig in the roasting sun," he exclaimed. 'If a minister can't get his people in the freedom fight...he should go down and get his welfare check, Monday morning."
The Negroes' fear arises from living in a white community where a hostile police force and a Klan are the law. Ira Blue of San Francisco's KGO wanted to know if the police protected us.
"Protected us," we screamed, "they terrorize us." The police yell insults and use as much obscene language at picketers as the hecklers; they feel free to swing their billy clubs at youthful picketers; and it pleases them to stand by and laugh while snakes, rocks, lighted cigarettes, and insecticides are thrown into the picket lines and marches. An effort has been made to get badge numbers of these police officers; however, the effort was frustrated when both State Troopers and City Police began covering their badges with metallic tape to hide the numbers.
When Negroes began picketing this year, the "city fathers" saw fit to pass scores of new ordinances directed at prohibiting civil rights activity. One ordinance states that no more than 2 people may walk a picket line and that no more than three people can congregate for purposes of lawful assembly. All laws and ordinances are always enforced upon Negroes, but not on the whites.
Many police officers are members of the Ku Klux Klan. We were present when a Negro man, arrested as a bystander at a picket line, gave the following account to the FBI and Collins' Community Relations men:
After being checked in at the desk, I was trying to make a phone call, but they (police) kept hanging up the phone and interrupting me. I turned around and saw one officer in uniform come out of a door marked "Private" with a Klan's hood over his head. There were six or more in the room wearing these white hoods with a red stripe down the middle. But I had to pay attention to the officers standing around me, so I could protect myself if they began beating me.
The fear of being beaten by police is a real one. The typical booking procedure goes like this:
They handcuffed me with my hands behind my back and took me to the city jail in a city police car, with the Sheriff's car following. When they took me from the car at the jail they started shoving and kicking me. This continued as they brought me into the jail. While I was being booked, in front of the Desk Sargent, I was kicked and knocked down on the floor. The only time they said anything to me was when I had been knocked down. One officer said: "Boy, what you doin' down on the floor. Get up from there!"
But the police and Klan are only two of the partners responsible for the inhuman conditions in Bogalusa. The city, parish, state and federal officials complete the team. "Men in a green Volkswagon beat up some Negroes the night before, in the presence of the local police, who were laughing. The FBI said they investigated it, but nothing happened. No one was arrested."
A Bogalusa Negro testified that:
No white man has been arrested for beating or bothering Negroes. The local Medical Center (Federally supported—ed.), where I was a patient for 12 days, is all segregated. No Negro nurses or doctors (or dentists in the entire town—ed.). All but one of the Bogalusa gas stations has segregated bathrooms. I know Negroes have applied for jobs as mailmen, but none have been hired. No Negro postal clerks, either, not in Bogalusa. The city police always curse at Negroes. Whenever a policeman speaks to me, he is harsh.
― 26 ―
We saw and felt a good deal of this inhuman treatment. And all this is seen and known by the FBI, the Justice Department and Johnson's Community Relations representatives in Bogalusa. Why isn't something done about the brutal police force, the violence of the Klan, the lies of the Mayor, the Federal, State, Parish and City officials, the blatently inferior or non-existent facilities for Negroes—even in the Federally supported Charity Hospital, trade school, housing projects, Post Office, and on and on to Crown-Zellerbach with all their federal contracts? Here is an example of the attitude of the FBI, in a sworn statement by an active participant in the movement:
Mr. Holliday (FBI agent—ed.) asked if it was true that the CORE worker had set up an office in my shop. Holliday said that the car without a license plate reported by the CORE worker for passing by the shop was his car. He said, "Tell that fat-assed Jew that that's my car and I'll send it by as many times as I want." Sass (second FBI agent—ed.) said he wasn't going to tolerate having Rubenstein (CORE worker—ed.) call him every time someone is arrested.
The Negro citizens of Bogalusa are sick and tired and will not wait for these Federal secretaries to get their reports typed up, filed and forgotten.
A nation was shocked when three youths were murdered in Mississippi, yet there is no doubt that ten more would have been beaten or shot in Bogalusa if we had relied on these protection agencies. Fortunately, we were protected by a group called the Organization of Deacons for Defense and Justice—Negro men over 21, organized as a deterrent to the violence of the Klan and the white community. We never crossed the street without a Deacon. We never drove our car without a Deacon present. Most often our car was escorted by two carloads of Deacons, one in front and one in back. The homes where we stayed were guarded day and night by Deacons, and our canvassing was protected by Deacons. Our lives were literally in their hands. If we were fired at, we were to run. The deacons say "The Klan must kill us first before they get to you." "If we die, we know we died for freedom."
The Negro community and the civil rights workers were some of the most dedicated people we've ever met. Before we left Berkeley, Lou Smith, Western Region CORE Field Secretary, said, "You'll bring back much more than you'll give." It was hard to understand then, but it is very clear and meaningful now. We met people who gave freely of themselves and of their possessions. What they had was ours; what they did they wanted to do for us. Perhaps the hardest lesson was learning to accept graciously.
When we left, they were thanking us for being there, yet they were sacrificing their lives day in and day out. We knew fear for two weeks; it has permeated their existence from the day they were born. So many people calmly accepted the possibility of death because they are tired of tyranny. They feel that if they die it is for a just cause. They have to fight, and the fight will get bloodier and more difficult, but in two weeks we would return home, our lives would go back to normal—well, not so normal because we will never again be quite the same people we were when we left Berkeley.
CORE volunteers will be working in twenty parishes in Louisiana this summer. In some places, like Bogalusa, the civil rights struggle is already going strong; in others, organization is just beginning. All Louisiana volunteers will be living with Negro families and working under the direction of local groups. The work will involve voter registration and formation of farmers' leagues and cooperatives. Some communities may want to run Freedom candidates in local elections.
The volunteers will be meeting in Plaquemine, Louisiana for a week's orientation beginning in mid-June. Then they will disperse to parishes throughout the state for nine weeks of work. The program ends in late August.
CORE needs 100 volunteers from this area alone. Applicants should contact Anita Levine at 654-7643.
1. Until 1964, most medical schools openly discriminated in their admission policies against Negroes, Jews, and other racial and religious groups by asking the applicant to tell his race, religion and nationality on the application blank. At present there is a move away from this, as can be seen from a comparison of the 1964 application blanks with those for 1963 for the same schools. Now the schools use the more subtle method of asking the applicant to submit a photograph.
Moreover, medical schools discriminate against lower class whites by asking applicants to submit information on their fathers' occupations. Also, there is a distinct preference for applicants whose fathers are doctors.
Through such rigid selection policies the medical profession assures itself of the perpetuation of materialistic physicians. However, they believe that there is still a chance that a white, protestant, middle class, Anglo-Saxon, American might not be materialistic. So they weed out those students who have demonstrated an interest in Civil Rights and Peace by asking information to this effect on the application blank.
1. In this regard, it was significant that Alabama Congressman James Martin in seeking to 'prove' that Communists were the source of racing unrest in Alabama, had only to insert into the Congressional record a syndicated column by liberal Washington journalists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak. The racist Martin was in total agreement with these liberal reporters in saying that SNCC was "substantially infiltrated by beatniks, left-wing revolutionaries, and—worst of all—Communists."
Title: Spring, 1965
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