Significance of the National Civil Rights Revolution

When I was caused to consider for the first time the topic that has been assigned to me, ny thoughts turned almost immediately to a prophetic editorial by John Ciardi of the Saturday Review, printed in Feburary 1961, and stating with great clarity that which represents the basic rationale for the spirit of revolt which is abroad in the land today:

"It is certain" said Mre Ciardi, "that the Negro will not achieve his emancipation as the result of a debate on right and wrong, The Negro is discriminated against by a force of inbred prejudice, He will be freed only by a force of history greater than the force of prejudice. That force is now upon us all.”

"The South (nor the North = Ede) cannot be left to handle the issue at its own pleasure because it has no solution within itself, but only tempori- zation and evasion, There can be no solution until the Negro has achieved full equality; >nd so long as the South remains nostalgic for the porticos and crinolines of its ow lost image of itself, it will not (of its om volition = Ede) tolerate equalityo"

"The problem of the American Negro is no more local than the rockets that will descend upon us if we fail him in his human cause,"

Within this ouecinct statement will be found a recognition of the many subtle as well as obvious facets of a domestic problem that has plagued us for many generas tions; one that is recognized as the Noe 1 domestic problem today because there has been such little honest, intelligent of it in a spirit of free and analytical exchange as an approach to solutions

In order to make even an elementary approach to objective consideration of the many facets of this complex problem = "The Race Problem" as we ere prone to call it + we should try to view it as:

le An issue that is a direct and almost complete refutation of our valu system and our professed code of national morality;

2, as one whose domestic history reveals a continuing downward spiral, worsening condition, which is seldom examined in objective dialogue free from heavy emotional impact which beclouds reasons

3. as an issue that becomes more confused rather than clarified by semantics; by the language which has become part of the problems


as an issue that inflicts upon society a tremendous burden of cost / for which there is not a single justification, but for which the minority group victim is made responsible;

as a situation that has, in addition to its domestic ramifications, very deep and significant international implications»

2 let us review each of these briefly. Of Tm barat which have been enunciated by the National System of Values", the first and perhaps met parity emphasized is the concept 1973 Free Public Library, Newark, N. J. N. J. REFERENCE DIVISION . in


of the importance of the individual human personalitys Fhilosophically, we differ fron totalitarian principles on this fundamental level; they believing that man is but an instrument of the state. This basic principle is under constant assault and daily repudiation in the American scene where practices of racial and religious discrimination and segregation prevail, Likewise, the principle of Common Consent is absent when entire groups of people, because of race, are denied both the right of franchise and that of equal opportunity for intellectual, spiritual and civic growth, Respect for Excellence, a 3d element, presupposes that the unhampered right to compete as an individual, is direct recognition of the validity of this concept in our culture, but we know that this right is denied with such frequency as to be the practice rather than the exception, So it is with each of the prin- ciples in our system of values; that which represents our moral stature as a people, that which our ght of Freedom, Moral Responsibility, as a national principle is being put to a severe test today, as is Devotion to ‘Truth, Moral Equality, Brotherhood, Pursuit of Happiness, other elements in our value system, Not only the reputation of America, but the soul of America, is under assault today as at no other time in our national history.

A second facet is represented in what I have termed the continuing downward spiral in relationships, revealed in our domestic history, because of an inability to address the problem through positive, objective communication. History's impact upon present day attitudes, if examined with logic and good will, indicates quite clearly that the political sins of inept leadership of the North, following the Civil War, countered by sins of reprisal by the proud, vanquished people of the South, reacted not upon each other, but upon the ignorant, frightened, confused pawns in the game, the new black Freedmen and that this ironic twist of vengeance has been imposed with increasing vigor and venom upon all succeeding generations of American Negroes in a form and with a purpose never before inflicted upon a people in world history.

all-pervasive as has been the sovealled Race Problem in America, there is no i domestic situation as beclouded by myth, fallacy and fancy as is this situations ated The appalling ignorance of the real issues existing on the majority or titite side of the fence is a source of constant amazement to those who work professionally in | the field and who, accordingly, must arm themselves with the facts, This is due, \ first of all, to the almost complete absence of communication until very recent \ years, between leadership elements in the tuo`racial groups. That which has passed | for Communication, has been the exchange between the white employer and the lack i

the vertical on in which the vassal discloses only that which l is to his advantage, and the master discloses much more than he suspects. A soot factor causing mininfornation and confusion 1s the peculiax language of Anerio race relations; the

Two important words in the English language, "Time" and "Education" are over= | worked in race-relations conversations, Rarely however, is either examined or defined in determining who does what within the passive framework of "Time", or how Education is to be applied, to whom and when, in seeking positive solutions to the problem, "Gradualism" is intended to imply sweet reason in determining a pace of changes but actually it is used to mean that one should not press even for the

f change, without any consideration for the c eee of pace, Then, too, = Gre Peninded of the American worship of "Voluntary action", which of course is the opposite of having things "Pushed Down one's Throat", This really means that We = the Masters, must be left alone to move in our own good time, and that They = the Vassals, are the ones whose throats have been constructed in a way that can


endure the "Pushing Down" operation, without question as to what, when, why, or how lo


Car fourth issue is that which touches upon the tremendous burden of cost inflicted upon society, for which the victim group is held responsible, Several years ago, Elmo Roper, distinguished analyst and statistician attempted to weigh the cost to America of employment discrimination against the Negro minority. From U. Se Census figures on unemployment and under-employment, and in weighing the many factors arising from the creation of a mendicant group of a highly visible racial minority, he came up with the figure of $30 billion per year es our economic losse Meantime, sociologists and social psychologists have attempted in many studies to measure the cost of slum housing, that area of the American comunity reserved for the racial minorities; of the inordinate loss through fire and destruction of property in such areas; of the cost of police protection in communities bearing the blight of slums and slum-bred reactions; of the cost of juvenile and adult delin- quency and crime found disproportionately in areas where disallusionment and dis. couragement prevail; of the cost of court processes and institutional maintenance of those out of step with society = = of all the normal results of the impact upon otherwise normal people, of the abnormal conditions to which society exposes thems In every of these many which color the social scene, the only justification to be found for the many types of discrimination creating these conditions, is the myth of racial infericrity.

y years ago, even less, this myth was widely accepted in a world whose economy was based to a large degree upon an existing colonial system which provided a considerable part of the raw materials to northern reaches of the Western hemis~ phere, Today, we are in a world which has violently rejected and eliminated the idea of colonialism and its exploitation of half the peoples of the world, and the peoples of that half of the world which for centuries had been the initial victims of a colorscaste system, are now in position to shape the destiny of the white world, which in turn has divided itself along the so-called democratic-totalitarian line of separation with its inevitable social, economic, political end military competition for leadershipe

Under existing the verbal of our political and business leaders fall upon deaf ears, Vhat the world of dark skins notes today, are the performances which indicate much more clearly what are the real thoughts and beliefs of those who would seek their allegiances The unctious public state~ nent of a political leader have little or no meaning when thet person by his actions gives sanction to extra=legal d: of his Negro and ignores their pleas for Sicopeition in the affairs of state. The signed agree~ nent of a corporation executive, giving lip-service to Fair Employment practices, is but a meaningless scrap of paper when a Negro worker can rise no higher than janitor or unskilled worker in his plente The pious platitudes of the educator and the religious leader are worse than silence vhen in all private and official actions there is evident avoidance of the issues of segregation in neighborhood, school and church, and of second class status in their communities of all persons of colore What they do, speaks so loudly that what they say cannot be hearde Whether or not we like it, this wice reflecting our actions, is that one heard ringing in the corridors of the earth, and is that one which influences the rest of the world in painting its image of a freedomeloving America, which reserves its freedom only for certain kind of people, Thus, those seriousminded Americans who sincerely believe in the principle of brotherhood, find themselves handicapped in attempting to speak Peace, when in reality their wices are drowned out by the roar


of the mob on the campus of the University of Alabama; by the commotion raised by high-pressure fire hose and police dogs in Birmingham; by the empassioned oratory of ou Wallaces, "Bull" Connorst and Perez's; and by the unbelievable volume of silence of millions of educational, religious, political, business and labor leaders in this great, free country, who fear to speak or act in the interest of denceracys Yes, the international implications of our domestic race-relations problem are broad and deep and terribly significant.

With these five different facets of one problem sorving as a framework for our discussion, let us examine the human relations climate in which we find ourselves today in the American cérmunity, For instance, many people are bewildered by the so-called "sudden" bursting out of impatience and of a spirit of rebellion among American Negroes, The simplest, easiest explanation, of course, is one that makes some cne unpopular force responsible for the whole mess, What better scapegoat to suggest than international Communisme The fact that the vorst defeat suffered by Communism in its drive toward world domination, vas its failure to enlist the American Negro more than a generation ago, is still lost upon those who neither recognize this fact nor wish to find the real causes behind today's fermente So» these dullards will insist that only Communists would know how to make the Ne aware of his unhappy plight. Then, there are the others who have just learned that there is such a sect as the Black Muslims; Selah All Negroes are becoming Black Muslims so the white world mst meet talk of violence with acts of violence œ the only way white people have known how to keep black slaves and colonials in sub=- jection,

The more difficult thing to is that the dramatically today has been part of the Negro character for many generations, To achieve this understanding calls for some knoledge of the Negro's experience in America; of his reliance upon other«vorldly religious belief during his period of illiteracy; of his hunger for and realization of the benefits of education; of his acquisition and use of skills as the craftsman and builder in the Old South and of subsequent frustration through withdrawal of opportunity for their use; of all the things which become the saga of a people adjusting to a new world end new culture while experiencing the bewilderment of being forcibly deprived of all the culture, religious belief, moral code, social controls which had functioned effectively in their free, natural existence. To achieve this understanding also calls for the acceptance of a fact of life difficult for the white man to accept, namely, that the white man has used his "word" so freely and carelessly, so dishonestly and insincerely, that his word today has little meaning to his colored fellow Americano The one hopeful thing is that the American Negro, of all the breeds of Americans, strongly and deeply believes in the democratic institutions of this contradictory white worlds so deeply that he will risk his entire destiny upon the integrity of the American system of education, of free competition, of equality before the lawe Even here, hovever, he knows that safeguards and remedial action are in constant demande

Such a state of mind has grown out of long experience with hardship and paine In the many and varied approaches to hopeful solutions to his problem, the Negro has employed patience beyond measures yet, today, he is constantly being urged to "be patient", these urgings coming from the most impatient people in an impatient world = American white men, He has employed persuasion, from the primitive and ironically successful method of the "Uncle Tom” wheedling approach on an individual plane; through the "chosen leader" form of conciliatory special pleadings by way of the professional Urban League "civic conscience" appeal; and to the more recent bargaining conference attempt at communication, All of these have exposed one


thing = the intent of the white man in American business, political, religious, social life, to yield nothing he is not forced to yield, either in terms of material things through control of employment or in terms of social and political control of every facet of conmunity life. Communication, the intelligent means through which nen find ways through their dilemmas, has not been and is not now operating across our racial lines, Fersuasion therefore, which must have free channels of communi~ cation open in both directions and on a level of mutuality of dignity, has been inoperative as a means toward solution of our racial problem, You just can't per~ suade anyone who will not listen, who entertains no respect for you or your cause, vho has decided in advance not to yield to your pleas, The American Negro has 350 years of experience chalked up in arriving at these conclusions.

The first significant thing about today's racial ferment is that it is the direct result of an identifiable sequence in the development of the pattern of American Race relations, Me of the first observable manifestations was the complete re- jection by Negro masses today, even the illiterate and ostensibly indifferent masses, of the Booker Washington-Robert Moton type of conciliatory leadership which performed well in its extremely brief period in history, There are far too many whites who are not yet avare of the early demise of this brand of leadership in the Negro worlds far too many who are bewildered, disappointed and irritated because their quest for this kind of spokesmanship in the Negro world is not bringing confortable results.

A second significant trend has been a sorrowful deferment by a large part of these same masses of the Negro world, of the social service plane of operation as practiced by the Urban League for more than half a century. However effective may be the League in its scientific, realistic efforts to accelerate the urbanizetion of the Negro migrant from the rural south, these efforts are seen by many of the impatient ones as too slow, too uncertain, too dependent upon the good will and magnanimity of the power structure of the white world.

A third significant development has been the shifting status of the 53 year old NAACP, Relying almost exclusively as it has during these years, upon the action of legislatures and courts, in the fashioning and interpreting of Law as a tool of defense, the NAACP began to lose favor with the Negro masses as more militant spokesmen surged to the front, This apparent decline was sharply limited both in time and in the number of persons affected, because the reviving confidence in the organization has brought it to heights in membership and financial aid, never before experienced, This upward swing followed the adoption by the NAACP of more militant, consistent support of the civil rights and civil liberties of the more militant demonstrators on the popular pressure front, es well as a stepping up of its regular task of testing the strength and validity of laws which purport to defend the rights of American citizens»

The fourth very significant development has been the emergence of the American Negro student, supported very actively by a considerable body of American white students, who together have become the vanguard of the nation-wide protest movements ‘This has provided a sharp break with American social history, It has been a puzzling fact of history that the American college student has differed from his counterparts in other parts of the world, in his failure to be identified with social, economic and political causes in an active waye In all parts of the world, revolt against distasteful features of government or economic controls, has been led by students, whose intellectual awareness and high spirits have brought them into the arena where protest is registered, Not so with the American student. If he is aware, he either is indifferent or is content to register this awareness in


forum debate or television dialogue programs. It has remained for that American college student from whom we may have expected least, and for whom the pein of imediate and drastic reprisal was more certain, the Negro student, to lead the way in active, ant sion of di ion with the status quo, And, it is these students of today who are to be the adult leaders of tomorrows

But "Why" the question is asked; "why have they chosen lunch counters and bus lines as their objectives, rather than more important issues?" Qr, "Why do they concentrate on school desegregation rather than on better Negro schools, or on jobs or on voting rights?" Actually, where does one attempt to break through the circum ference of a vicious circle, where each area of concern is linked directly and inseparably with the other, Which of these many areas of concern is more important than the other in one's quest for simple human dignity, for freedom from insult and huniliation, or with the desire to undergird, to strengthen and deepen one's own flagging self-respect? In which of these areas of concern can we see any greater sign of relaxation than in the other; where there seems to be some indication that the majority comunity is going to be more considerate and more yielding than in the other? Of what value is tho ballot when granted to uneducated masses whose hope for securing education is reduced to the lowest level of expectation; or how effective is a local demand for educational equality that must be made upon politi~ cians who do not need your vote to perpetuate themselves in office? How far does one get in demands for better job opoortunity without some government authority to back up that demand, and sufficient training in your population to fill the jobs that may be opened by such demands? Just whore does one start in this kind of crusade: ‘with youth who sees no hope; with employers who resent your intrusions and demands; with legislatures which move only when sufficient voting pover is indicated as favorable to the crusade? How does one select out of this intricate maze, the one simple path to travel that will be acceptable to the already defensive and guilty majority groups?

dust by vay of exemple, let's attempt to measure one very important facet of our race relations! problem = a facet that can be measured statistically, both in terms of opportunities thet have been made available, and the degree to which the Negro has profited from them, If a scholar from Mars vere to visit our planet and find it to his interest to consider our racial history, he would arrive at the inescapable conclusion that to the sons and daughters of slaves belonged the claim to greatest in faciliti p=towdat ks, teaching staffs of highest proficiency, and superior methods of making education interesting to those citizens who had so very much catching up to do. He would be shocked and puzzled by finding in public records that exactly the opposite is true, and that this great deficiency has been hidden behind the misleading label of "separate but equal". Statistically, the facts are these, as reported in statistics assembled by the UsSe Department of Education almost a score of years agoo

Investment in school properties in the years indicated, disclosed he amount per child invested by the states mentioned:

1930 = 31: New Jersey $208, Alabama $118, Virginia $112, Arkansas $78 = but in these latter states vhere schools were separated by race, investments in school properties for Negroes were respectively $2, 535 and "27o

Negro children who were enrolled in these schools in that year now represent 75% to 90% of parents of high school youth in northern


Then, in 1943 = lh New Jersey had invested $580 per child while in the 12 southern states $250 was the average, For Negroes in these 12 states the sum of $70 was considered sufficiente

Those who vere children in school in those states then are now parents of 75% to 90% of the elementary school children in our northern industrial communities today,

Operating expenses per child per year provide another dimension

from which we see that in 1943 = lh New Jersey spent($198,) but f ($85 per year per white

child was spent and(*5 per year per Neg Child sufficed,

Despite these glaring deficiencies and inadequacies, from the section of America from which have come nearly 3/4 of the parents of this generation, Negro youth's hunger for higher education is reflected in a comparison with world-wide figures compiled by United Nations in 1951.

United States 14,780 per million population

Cana - hg

Japan - 45639 Sweden = 2,390 Great Britain = 2,086

American Negro students that sane year were approximately 90,000 in a 15 million population, or a rate of 6000 = a higher rate than could be found among my of the other peoples of the world.

If it were possible to produce statistically the story of the long, hard fight the Negro has made to secure his right of franchise, from his first attempts in Reconstruction Days, through the first Us Se Supreme Court test when Negroes were permitted for the first time to participate in the Oklahoma Democratic primaries, right up to the present efforts of the Us Se Department of Justice to obtain voting rights for Negro citizens in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, we would be equally impressed, If it were possible to produce in statistics something of the pain, anguish, anger, fury which assails a normal human being who finds it impossible to get food in public restaurants when hungry, drink and comfort in places of public accomodation when in need, the right to buy shelter when away from his own home, with constant exposure to insult, humiliation and even physical mistreatment for even daring to seek such services, it would give some meaning to the emotional quality of the Negros voice of protest these dayse If the art of communication were such that through the use of words one could be caused to feel the emptiness, the disallusionment, the discouragement and hopelessness vhich assails the Negro when his patient pleading for a decent break, for just half a chance, is brushed aside carlessly and thoughtlessly by those who are in position to rectify the con= dition, there would be no need for demonstrations in order to shock a nation into a state of awarenesse

This, then, is the substance from which the spirit of the present day revolution has been distilled, Under the circumstances, it is a proper question to ask = what is there left to do? Better still, what would you doy if these were the daily experiences to which you as one person were exposed.

‘The white man of the western world = and of the eastern for that matter = has been the historical advocate of violence as a means of changing the order of thingse From the red-blooded American gentleman who believes that a bust in the jaw is the

-8 =

one honorable way to repay an insult, to the almost universal acceptance of the principle that war is the only way to settle an international grievances we who have our roots in western culture have been bred in the school of violence, Is it not of great significance that the organized protest raised by twenty millions of Negroes in the Us Se has been in the form of non-violent demonstration, even in the face of extrene provocation?

But all protest has not been an organized expressions Individuals whose personal intellectual and emotional equipment has provided a low boiling point, have been among the tens of thousands of persons whom we class as delinquents or criminalse Without considering at all the conditions under which such persons have lived, the experiences with indignity they may have endured, the provocation to which they may have responded, they are classed simply as the criminals of our society, and as such, are the persons to whom law enforcement officials mst of necessity give their attentions

When the number of such persons in a comunity can be identified simply by race, or nationality, or some other highly visible tag, the most common result is that the racial tag becomes attached to the criminal tag, and the two identities become one, The inevitable result of this constantly recurring chain of circumstance is that the law enforcement officials and the minority group leadership of a community find themselves at the opposite ends of the pole, with little or no communication with which to repair the damage that rumor and suspicion can cause, and they begin viewing each other as natural enemies, I am bold enough to say that there is not a major community in the United States in which this state of affairs does not existe

The spirit of revolt in the Negro community, while seeming at the moment to be in decline, is something with which the American comunity will have to cope for some time to come, measured in time almost entirely by the degree to which the majority community begins to recognize the validity of the claims of the Negro citizen and makes the necessary adjustments with which to meet the many demands. During the course of this social phenomenon, whether or not we wish to recognize it as a revolution, se cultural stature of the comunity will be indicated by the degree of by law officers as they p their not always pleasant duties. If vi is met with if law violation by demonstrators is met with firm but just handling by the police; if violent acts of anti-Negro demonstrators are handled with speed, firmness and required vigor; in other words, if police act with professional efficiency and integrity, the reputation of the community need never be in jeopardye

For any of us to assume that police are some kind of super-men who are not sub= ject to the same suspicions, beliefs, opinions and prejudices as are found among businessmen, labor leaders, clergymen or teachers would be unrealistic, It is true that the community generally resorts to one or the other of two extremes; namely, considering its police as the super-efficient robots who can endure any physical discomfort or danger without signs of fear, meet any crisis with the complete answer as to how to cope with it, and to do all the distasteful duties which no one else in the community wishes to do, and to do all these things without costing the texpayer too mich money, The other image is that of the indolent, irresponsible and graft-taking loafer who is never where he is wanted at the moment, but who is alvays on hand to humiliate the honorable citizen for vhat the citizen considers to have been a minor traffic violation, We who have worked closely with police departments over the years, know that neither of these distorted images is true nor could be trues but that the community does place upon the shoulders of police some of the most responsible duties in maintaining peace and tranquillity in a community


where most other people become very thoughtless and careless about their own respon- sibilities in these areass

This awareness, when viewed from the position which has been the subject of this discussion, causes us to recognize that if the police ever are to have an opport= unity to develop professional acumen and efficiency in the department's most difficult area of operation, it will be only because the training experience will give ample opportunity to explore the facts, It seems to me to be the most logical procedure, that if a particular art of the iy produces a amount of crine and delinquency, it is Anounbent upon all of us to study the conditions which produce this phenomenon, To do less, certainly is not profess- donal; to ignore the logic of this procedure certainly does not lead to efficiency.

This then 4s vhat lies behind the efforts of the National Conference of . Christians and Jews, which for a mmber af years has been working diligently in the country for the development of Police and Community eg Institutes, Seminars and tra courses; for veteran command and supervi: officers, for in-service experience of patrolmen, and as part of the training of rookies coming into police work,

The ptoture of law enforcenent in ninority group communities has not been a pleasant onee We have seen ofa vicious cycle where minority pone coyressions uch as we have just reviewed, ha been misread and misinterpreted by police officials, whose summary and ofttimes impatient treatment of the group members has deepened and broadened their suspic~ dons, fear and hostility; this in turn, bringing even sterner police measures. Intelligence, reason, training and logic are not exhibited in such situations, Confidence is the element so sadly needed if the cycle ever is to be reverséd, and a practical and effective law enforcement procedure be employed, And, be assured, that confidence gennot be established, nor can it prevail, vhere there is not

I mean, by the free, honest and thoughtful exchange between peers; the intelligent means whereby the leadership elements of a community, may regularly test their opinion, thoughts and actions between groups who differ outlooks the civilized method of going to the source of authentic information anc knowledge concerning our fellownene

It is we who have the ty to seek the of confidence, and the specialiste’ knowledge wn which to meet the challenge, This specialists’! knowl must be a tested rather than the |

beliefs and opinions which come through rumor and the blind acceptance of ill- | founded customs and practices, The general public is constantly reminded that / ignorance of the law is no excuse, when the law enforcement officer apprehends a / naive violator, With equal emphasis it may be said, with respect to the statist: cal predictability of human reaction, that ignorance of these laws of human behavior is no excuse for the officer who would wish to achieve professional status,

Iaw enforcement procedures in today's tense world, require a knowledge sensitivity that permit a feeling of the community pulses that bestow the aniity to note signs of majority and minority group acts of aggression which are sure to invite reprisal; that provide an awareness of minority group motivations and tempers It is this kind of sensitivity that makes it possible for police to assess the meaning of small and isolated incidents which indicate underlying tensions, any of which may trigger the big explosion, In truth, broader human relations under, standing is an assurance of more effective law enforcement in the American community.


If our understanding is real, we will recognize that minority group rebellion will not subside through the process of sermonizing; that full intergroup coopera= tion cannot be a transitory and one-way action; that people in the mass cannot be expected to function on levels higher than those to which society consigns them; and that every Anerican who presumes to sit in judgment upon whole groups of people, and to limit their participation on affairs of the Nation, creates costly and paine ful problems for all of use


Harold 4. Lett, Consultant

Natdonal Program Development

National Conference of Christians and Jews L3 West 57th Street

New York 19, New York