support@unifiedpapers.com

Evening. National

Moderator Tom Miller:

Good Evening. National attention has been focused on the problems of the American Negro for the past several weeks. Major civil rights legislation from President Kennedy is now before Congress; huge demonstrations have been held across the country. Violence has erupted in many places. Last week on Florida forum we discussed the racial situation with Governor George Wallace of Alabama who tried unsuccessfully to bar the entrance of two Negro students to the University of Alabama. This week, we have invited author and playwright, James Baldwin, to express his views in this growing controversy. Mr. Baldwin is the best-selling author of several books that reflect on racial conflict. He is offered his intellectual and moral support to the cause of the American Negro and, tonight, he has interrupted his schedule in Puerto Rico, where he is writing a play, to answer questions from our panel and studio audience. Questioning Mr. Baldwin tonight will be WCKT newsman Al Dempsey and Dr. Charlton Tebeau, chairman of the history department of the University of Miami. There will also be questions from our studio audience, after this message.

To begin tonight’s program, we will ask Mr. Baldwin to state briefly if he feels the racial conflict in Alabama and Mississippi could happen here in Florida.

James Baldwin:

“Well, in my view, which I think is the view, I think, of most  American Negroes or the experience of most American Negroes, the situation in Alabama and Mississippi, which is spectacular and surprises the country, is nationwide. Not only could it happen in Florida, it could happen in New York or Chicago, Detroit or anywhere there is a significant Negro population. Because, until the day all the Negroes in this country, in one way or another, in different fashions, North or South, are kept in what is, in effect, prison. In the North, one lives in ghettos and, in the South, the situation is so intolerable as to become sinister not knowing for Mississippi or for Alabama, or for Florida,but for the whole future of this country. White people are surprised, I think, at the vehemence of the Negro feeling and the depth of the danger, but I don’t think it has caught any Negro by surprise. One has been in a terrible, terrible situation for a very, very long time.”

MODERATOR:

“Now, to our panel, Mr. Dempsey.”

Al Dempsey:

“Well, why could it happen? Why does it have to be violence? Why can’t it be something other than violence?

James Baldwin:

“Well, part of the reason is one is doing one’s best to avoid violence. One of the reasons it could happen that way is because for so long, four hundred years, the American republic, in general, has ignored and denied the whole situation that Negroes have operated within – to be a source of cheap labor, for example, north or south, is to be, in effect, oppressed. Now, the oppression is bad enough. But the myth that the country’s created about the object of the oppression: the myth about the negro being happy in his place, is something the republic has managed to believe and, so that in addition to the fact of the oppression, one has also the fact that within the country for one hundred years there’s been a way of life occurring in the country, which most of the country knows nothing about. And it’s reflected, for example, in the way Negroes talk to each other. It’s a kind of language which does not really exist on what we like to think of as a major level of the American culture.”

Al Dempsey:

“But hasn’t there been a lethargy on the part of the American negro for that 100 year period too, along with the white supremacy added to it?”

James Baldwin:

“Um, I don’t think so. No. I think that’s, again, part of the myth. One has to remember, after all – I may sound very rude – but you have to remember who writes the history books and toward what end? I have never known a lethargic Negro. I’ve known demoralized Negroes. But that is not the same thing. The truth is that the Negroes have been fighting for this hundred years to obtain their rights and the country has ignored it. And the technique of the country has been mainly to accommodate it or to contain it, but never really to change the situation. And what has happened in our time, in these last few years, is that it’s no longer possible to contain it and the technique of accommodation has broken down. For the first time, really, the situation is now in the open. No American can ignore it, as has been true, let us say up until 1954.

Al Dempsey:

“All right. Why did it happen? Why do you think it happened? In 1954.”

James Baldwin:

“Well, the one thing, what happened in the South is that when the Supreme Court desegregated schools, or tried to desegregate schools, the South, which until that time had really ignored pleas, on the part the NAACP or responsible Negro leaders, to do something about creating a situation in the South…they were not asking for desegregation but to honor the separate but equal clause. And, the schools of the South were not equal.

Now, this meant, after ’54, the South which had ignored the necessities on the part of Negroes to be educated suddenly what leaped into that breach is now building schools for Negroes to keep the schools segregated. And this meant, in effect, that if I were a college president in the Deep South at a state college, that I had lost my position. I could no longer bargain. I couldn’t…I no longer had to go to the governor to get a new dormitory or a new chemistry lab. The governor was all too anxious to give me a new chemistry lab. That meant that I no longer had any effect, no power whatever. I couldn’t guarantee the facility of my students. The bargaining table had suddenly disappeared. This is what really happened, I think.”

Al Dempsey:

“Well, that was 1954. This is 1963. All of a sudden we have violence. That’s what we’re talking about here. Are you Negro leaders, and let’s consider you one of the Negro leaders…Are Negro leaders encouraging conditions of violence?”

James Baldwin:

“No. No responsible Negro leader can possibly – all the people I work with I know, are working as hard as they know how to channelize an energy which they know is there in order for it not to become violence. But, to be candid, there is something amazing, really, in the fact that the Negro has not been violent sooner, you know? There is something very impressive, in my view, in the ways which Negroes have managed to deal with this situation. And, the kind of discipline, the kind of interior discipline demanded of an adolescent to sit-in and to boycott and to undergo all the things one has to undergo is an extraordinary thing. And, if it were true that was a new Negro, that he’d never been seen before, that would be a miracle.

What has really happened is these people have been coming a long, long time. In the 30’s, for example, people like Roy Wilkins in the South, as hobos tried to organize unions and being beaten, and clubbed, and murdered. The Republic ignored all this. But every Negro child growing up knew something about it. It is the Republic, I repeat, that has been captured by its own myth of the subservient Negro and now is surprised to discover that the myth was never true.”

Dr. Charlton W. Tebeau:

“Mr. Baldwin, are you saying possibly that if “separate but equal” facilities had been provided for Negroes, that none of this might have happened?”

James Baldwin:

“No, I am not saying that at all. I didn’t mean to suggest that. But I did mean to suggest that the NAACP at that point, was not at that point trying to change the law, really, but doing, again, what Negroes are always trying to do, which is try and save the children. To try to get, to invest the children in the morale, and you can’t teach a child if the situation in which he is studying is intolerable. We all know that. Now, it is also true that you cannot really – no Negro child who is going to a segregated school, which costs millions of dollars, is fooled about why he’s there. He’s there because white people want him there and no place else. And you cannot educate a child in that context, either. You see?”

Dr. Tebeau:

“It seems to me also that while you are asking white people to change their estimate of the Negro – raise their estimate of the Negro – you are also saying to the Negro he ought to do something to raise his estimate of himself. Isn’t that true?

James Baldwin:

“It’s one of the great problems, let me put it this way, of being an American Negro in the first place; that you are taught, really, the entire weight of the republic teaches you to despise yourself. All the standards, when you open your eyes and look at the world, you look out at it, there is nothing reflecting you. As far as we can tell, for example, from television programs, there are no Negroes at all, or most Hollywood productions. The country has arbitrarily declared that kinky hair, dark skin, wide nose, and big lips is a hideous thing to be afflicted with. Now, the Negro parent, in this case, let’s say I am a Negro parent, has to use everything he can find to counteract the republic’s attempt to diminish this child. It is inevitable then, that when a boy becomes 20 or a girl becomes 20, they are in great battle inside to release themselves from what the country calls them. Do you see? Now, this estimate of oneself is a very difficult thing to change, but this is a part of the battle one has got to do that and, incidentally, by no means incidentally, I think that white Americans, themselves, assume something else. They assume that I live in a segregated society and they don’t realize that they live in a segregated society – that we do – and that the white child is really just as victimized by this peculiar medieval system as any Negro child. And what is worse for the Black child, the white child doesn’t know it and his whole attitude towards the world and toward reality is romantic.”

Dr. Tebeau:

“If I may have one more question… Why are you as doubtful as you are about what liberals are going to do for the cause of the Negro?”

James Baldwin:

“Because I’ve – I don’t mean to sound cruel – there are exceptions, but in general, my experience with liberals, they have attitudes, and they have all the proper attitudes. But they have no real convictions, and when the chips are down and you expect them to deliver and what you thought they felt they somehow are not there.”

Dr. Tebeau:

“Is that your estimate of the Kennedy administration to an extent?”

James Baldwin:

“My estimate of the Kennedy administration, part of my estimate of the Kennedy administration, is that, first of all, the Kennedy brothers, like almost all the white Americans, even with the best will in the world, know very little – in fact, I would hazard, until recently, virtually nothing about what we like to call the Negro problem. You know, most of the white Americans I’ve ever encountered – really, you know – had a Negro friend or a Negro maid or somebody in high school, but they never, you know, or rarely, after school was over or whatever, came to my kitchen. You know, we were segregated from the schoolhouse door. Therefore, he doesn’t know – he really does not know – what it was like for me to leave my house, leave school, and go back to Harlem. He doesn’t know how Negroes live and it comes as a great surprise to the Kennedy brothers and everybody else in the country, I’m certain, again, you know, that like most white Americans I’ve encountered, I am sure they have nothing against Negroes. That’s really not the question. The question really is a kind of apathy and ignorance, which is the price we pay for segregation. That’s what segregation means. You don’t know what is happening on the other side of the wall because you don’t want to know.”

SHARE THIS:

"Get 15% discount on your first 3 orders with us"
Use the following coupon
FIRST15

Order Now

Moderator Tom Miller:

Good Evening. National attention has been focused on the problems of the American Negro for the past several weeks. Major civil rights legislation from President Kennedy is now before Congress; huge demonstrations have been held across the country. Violence has erupted in many places. Last week on Florida forum we discussed the racial situation with Governor George Wallace of Alabama who tried unsuccessfully to bar the entrance of two Negro students to the University of Alabama. This week, we have invited author and playwright, James Baldwin, to express his views in this growing controversy. Mr. Baldwin is the best-selling author of several books that reflect on racial conflict. He is offered his intellectual and moral support to the cause of the American Negro and, tonight, he has interrupted his schedule in Puerto Rico, where he is writing a play, to answer questions from our panel and studio audience. Questioning Mr. Baldwin tonight will be WCKT newsman Al Dempsey and Dr. Charlton Tebeau, chairman of the history department of the University of Miami. There will also be questions from our studio audience, after this message.

To begin tonight’s program, we will ask Mr. Baldwin to state briefly if he feels the racial conflict in Alabama and Mississippi could happen here in Florida.

James Baldwin:

“Well, in my view, which I think is the view, I think, of most  American Negroes or the experience of most American Negroes, the situation in Alabama and Mississippi, which is spectacular and surprises the country, is nationwide. Not only could it happen in Florida, it could happen in New York or Chicago, Detroit or anywhere there is a significant Negro population. Because, until the day all the Negroes in this country, in one way or another, in different fashions, North or South, are kept in what is, in effect, prison. In the North, one lives in ghettos and, in the South, the situation is so intolerable as to become sinister not knowing for Mississippi or for Alabama, or for Florida,but for the whole future of this country. White people are surprised, I think, at the vehemence of the Negro feeling and the depth of the danger, but I don’t think it has caught any Negro by surprise. One has been in a terrible, terrible situation for a very, very long time.”

MODERATOR:

“Now, to our panel, Mr. Dempsey.”

Al Dempsey:

“Well, why could it happen? Why does it have to be violence? Why can’t it be something other than violence?

James Baldwin:

“Well, part of the reason is one is doing one’s best to avoid violence. One of the reasons it could happen that way is because for so long, four hundred years, the American republic, in general, has ignored and denied the whole situation that Negroes have operated within – to be a source of cheap labor, for example, north or south, is to be, in effect, oppressed. Now, the oppression is bad enough. But the myth that the country’s created about the object of the oppression: the myth about the negro being happy in his place, is something the republic has managed to believe and, so that in addition to the fact of the oppression, one has also the fact that within the country for one hundred years there’s been a way of life occurring in the country, which most of the country knows nothing about. And it’s reflected, for example, in the way Negroes talk to each other. It’s a kind of language which does not really exist on what we like to think of as a major level of the American culture.”

Al Dempsey:

“But hasn’t there been a lethargy on the part of the American negro for that 100 year period too, along with the white supremacy added to it?”

James Baldwin:

“Um, I don’t think so. No. I think that’s, again, part of the myth. One has to remember, after all – I may sound very rude – but you have to remember who writes the history books and toward what end? I have never known a lethargic Negro. I’ve known demoralized Negroes. But that is not the same thing. The truth is that the Negroes have been fighting for this hundred years to obtain their rights and the country has ignored it. And the technique of the country has been mainly to accommodate it or to contain it, but never really to change the situation. And what has happened in our time, in these last few years, is that it’s no longer possible to contain it and the technique of accommodation has broken down. For the first time, really, the situation is now in the open. No American can ignore it, as has been true, let us say up until 1954.

Al Dempsey:

“All right. Why did it happen? Why do you think it happened? In 1954.”

James Baldwin:

“Well, the one thing, what happened in the South is that when the Supreme Court desegregated schools, or tried to desegregate schools, the South, which until that time had really ignored pleas, on the part the NAACP or responsible Negro leaders, to do something about creating a situation in the South…they were not asking for desegregation but to honor the separate but equal clause. And, the schools of the South were not equal.

Now, this meant, after ’54, the South which had ignored the necessities on the part of Negroes to be educated suddenly what leaped into that breach is now building schools for Negroes to keep the schools segregated. And this meant, in effect, that if I were a college president in the Deep South at a state college, that I had lost my position. I could no longer bargain. I couldn’t…I no longer had to go to the governor to get a new dormitory or a new chemistry lab. The governor was all too anxious to give me a new chemistry lab. That meant that I no longer had any effect, no power whatever. I couldn’t guarantee the facility of my students. The bargaining table had suddenly disappeared. This is what really happened, I think.”

Al Dempsey:

“Well, that was 1954. This is 1963. All of a sudden we have violence. That’s what we’re talking about here. Are you Negro leaders, and let’s consider you one of the Negro leaders…Are Negro leaders encouraging conditions of violence?”

James Baldwin:

“No. No responsible Negro leader can possibly – all the people I work with I know, are working as hard as they know how to channelize an energy which they know is there in order for it not to become violence. But, to be candid, there is something amazing, really, in the fact that the Negro has not been violent sooner, you know? There is something very impressive, in my view, in the ways which Negroes have managed to deal with this situation. And, the kind of discipline, the kind of interior discipline demanded of an adolescent to sit-in and to boycott and to undergo all the things one has to undergo is an extraordinary thing. And, if it were true that was a new Negro, that he’d never been seen before, that would be a miracle.

What has really happened is these people have been coming a long, long time. In the 30’s, for example, people like Roy Wilkins in the South, as hobos tried to organize unions and being beaten, and clubbed, and murdered. The Republic ignored all this. But every Negro child growing up knew something about it. It is the Republic, I repeat, that has been captured by its own myth of the subservient Negro and now is surprised to discover that the myth was never true.”

Dr. Charlton W. Tebeau:

“Mr. Baldwin, are you saying possibly that if “separate but equal” facilities had been provided for Negroes, that none of this might have happened?”

James Baldwin:

“No, I am not saying that at all. I didn’t mean to suggest that. But I did mean to suggest that the NAACP at that point, was not at that point trying to change the law, really, but doing, again, what Negroes are always trying to do, which is try and save the children. To try to get, to invest the children in the morale, and you can’t teach a child if the situation in which he is studying is intolerable. We all know that. Now, it is also true that you cannot really – no Negro child who is going to a segregated school, which costs millions of dollars, is fooled about why he’s there. He’s there because white people want him there and no place else. And you cannot educate a child in that context, either. You see?”

Dr. Tebeau:

“It seems to me also that while you are asking white people to change their estimate of the Negro – raise their estimate of the Negro – you are also saying to the Negro he ought to do something to raise his estimate of himself. Isn’t that true?

James Baldwin:

“It’s one of the great problems, let me put it this way, of being an American Negro in the first place; that you are taught, really, the entire weight of the republic teaches you to despise yourself. All the standards, when you open your eyes and look at the world, you look out at it, there is nothing reflecting you. As far as we can tell, for example, from television programs, there are no Negroes at all, or most Hollywood productions. The country has arbitrarily declared that kinky hair, dark skin, wide nose, and big lips is a hideous thing to be afflicted with. Now, the Negro parent, in this case, let’s say I am a Negro parent, has to use everything he can find to counteract the republic’s attempt to diminish this child. It is inevitable then, that when a boy becomes 20 or a girl becomes 20, they are in great battle inside to release themselves from what the country calls them. Do you see? Now, this estimate of oneself is a very difficult thing to change, but this is a part of the battle one has got to do that and, incidentally, by no means incidentally, I think that white Americans, themselves, assume something else. They assume that I live in a segregated society and they don’t realize that they live in a segregated society – that we do – and that the white child is really just as victimized by this peculiar medieval system as any Negro child. And what is worse for the Black child, the white child doesn’t know it and his whole attitude towards the world and toward reality is romantic.”

Dr. Tebeau:

“If I may have one more question… Why are you as doubtful as you are about what liberals are going to do for the cause of the Negro?”

James Baldwin:

“Because I’ve – I don’t mean to sound cruel – there are exceptions, but in general, my experience with liberals, they have attitudes, and they have all the proper attitudes. But they have no real convictions, and when the chips are down and you expect them to deliver and what you thought they felt they somehow are not there.”

Dr. Tebeau:

“Is that your estimate of the Kennedy administration to an extent?”

James Baldwin:

“My estimate of the Kennedy administration, part of my estimate of the Kennedy administration, is that, first of all, the Kennedy brothers, like almost all the white Americans, even with the best will in the world, know very little – in fact, I would hazard, until recently, virtually nothing about what we like to call the Negro problem. You know, most of the white Americans I’ve ever encountered – really, you know – had a Negro friend or a Negro maid or somebody in high school, but they never, you know, or rarely, after school was over or whatever, came to my kitchen. You know, we were segregated from the schoolhouse door. Therefore, he doesn’t know – he really does not know – what it was like for me to leave my house, leave school, and go back to Harlem. He doesn’t know how Negroes live and it comes as a great surprise to the Kennedy brothers and everybody else in the country, I’m certain, again, you know, that like most white Americans I’ve encountered, I am sure they have nothing against Negroes. That’s really not the question. The question really is a kind of apathy and ignorance, which is the price we pay for segregation. That’s what segregation means. You don’t know what is happening on the other side of the wall because you don’t want to know.”

SHARE THIS:

"Get 15% discount on your first 3 orders with us"
Use the following coupon
FIRST15

Order Now

Hi there! Click one of our representatives below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Chat with us on WhatsApp