At Issue Title Card ""School Integration" Air Date 2/19/1964. NET.
Title card with countdown clock
Young black woman in head handkerchief walks into building during the Civil Rights School Boycott in Cambridge Maryland.
Hand written "End School Segregation" sign hangs in window.
Interview with Civil Rights Leader Gloria Richardson.
Gloria Richardson 0:16
I think in this matter Cambridge, of course, it's a smaller area. And it's just begun here. But I think in Chicago and Boston with were in New York, where supposedly they've had integration for quite some number of years, they reached a certain point and stopped. And they still have de facto segregation because they have not solved their housing problem. Certainly the way the Negro feels across the country that day, that you cannot stop for this type of de facto segregation, that you've got to get in there and eliminate the causes and start programs of planning that will, that will change the pattern, it's been waiting too long. The masses of negro people, the large numbers of Negro people are not affected positively by the plans that are in effect now.
William O'Connor, Chairman of Boston School Committee.
William O'Connor 1:04
if we admit that segregation exists in our schools, the Supreme Court has ruled that under the Constitution that is not available, it has never ruled that integration must be had in the public schools. It has ruled that you cannot have segregation. And if we formally admit that we have segregation, then it involves a court trial. The leaders have threatened a court trial, but to the moment, they have not attempted it. Waiting, I suppose for us to formally admit that we are guilty of segregation, then if we admit it, it would be certainly a cause for court case.
CU of school desks in a row in a classroom. NET opening graphics. "At Issue - The Battle for School Integrations"
School boycott. Hundreds of people protesting in a city street. NYC, Boston or Chicago. De facto segregation.
Charles Silberman, member of the board of editors of Fortune Magazine.
Charles Silberman 2:34
The Supreme Court outlawed segregation in public schools 10 years ago. The cases before the court in 1954 involve communities which operated completely separate schools for Negro and white pupils. Children were assigned to one school or another solely because of their race. In New York, Chicago, Boston and other northern cities were boycotts have occurred. Children are assigned to schools according to the neighborhood in which they live, regardless of their color. The methods and the objectives are completely different, therefore, but the results are much the same. Since negros and whites generally live in separate neighborhoods, their children attend separate schools. In short, segregation is a fact. New York City for example, has 134 elementary schools with a 90% or higher Negro and Puerto Rican enrollment, and 186 schools with 90% or more white non Puerto Rican enrollment. Growth. Civil Rights leaders argue that the 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawed segregation as such whether the jury is in the south or de facto is in the north. And they are demanding that education boards abandon the neighborhood school policy in order to integrate their schools. No one really knows whether they're right about the law or not. No de facto segregation case has yet reached the Supreme Court. And the lower federal and state courts are sharply split on the question. But the problem goes far beyond the question of law. Equally important is the question of how integration can be achieved. And the number of Negro students keeps increasing and the number of white students keeps declining. And when white parents react to changes in zoning by transferring their children to private schools, or by moving to another community all together in the borough of Manhattan for example, Negro and Puerto Rican youngsters already constitute more than 75% of the elementary school enrollment. In Boston, a major point of contention in the integration battle is whether or not de facto segregation exists. Here is a report from George page of WGBH TV in Boston.
The Boston Globe and The Harvard Crimson newspaper articles about boycotts.
Freedom stay out day rally at Boston's Treemont Methodist Church. Young boys and girls, mostly black, singing and clapping happily
Author Louis Lomax speaks at a rally in Boston
People protesting in Boston against de facto segregation. Protestors holding hand written signs. One young black boy holds a sign that says "teach us to read and rite."
Louise Day Hicks, Chairman of the School Committee. Refused to concede that de facto segregation exits in Boston's public schools.
Officers guarding Louise Day Hicks's office door.
Protest sign reads "De Facto segregation is an educational matter." Various other hand written protest signs.
Massachusetts Attorney General Edward Brooke rules boycotting illegal.
Cannon James Breeden, Episcopal Priest, leader of Boston's boycott movement speaks to a room filled with white and black supporters.
Cannon James Breeden 7:45
Well, I simply say that it's an unusual means of protest. And many people when they are faced with the unusual say that it's wrong. It's certainly valid from the point of view of allowing those who are most deeply involved to express themselves, namely the children who are in the schools. But beyond that the parents are deeply involved too, because we insist that parent that parents give their children permission signed permission slips on their return. And any parent whose child is involved in the Freedom School is deeply involved himself.
The Boston School Committee has group will not say officially that de facto segregation exists in the Boston schools. In fact, they voted three to two that it did not exist. Therefore, what can you hope to accomplish with a boycott?
Cannon James Breeden 8:40
Well, as it's easy to say something doesn't exist. If when you say it, it goes away and doesn't bother you anymore. But as long as it keeps bothering the school committee, sooner or later, they're going to have to decide by majority vote that de facto segregation exists. It's there, whether they decide it exists or they decide that it doesn't. Our last stay out, helped one a member of the school committee face up to the problem. He did his homework and he no longer says the problem doesn't exist. We're hoping that this stay out. We'll perhaps push a couple more over into our column and then we can get down to solving the problems.
O'Connor sign nailed to a tree
William E. O'Connor and Associate Professor of Business Administration at Suffolk University
Why is this definition of a term become so important? Wouldn't it be Wouldn't it make your life easier if you went ahead and said, well, there is de facto segregation or racially in our schools, some of our schools are racially imbalanced. Why has it been This insistence on this definition of this term,
William O'Connor 10:03
Well, again, the majority of the school committee feel that, that the NAACP, in their insistence on a formal vote of the school committee to acknowledge de facto segregation had a legal significance to it. In other words, if we admit that segregation exists in our schools, the Supreme Court has ruled that under the Constitution that is not allowable, it has never ruled that integration must be had in the public schools. It has ruled that you cannot have segregation. And if we formally admit that we have segregation, then it involves a court trial. The leaders have threatened a court trial, but to the moment, they have not attempted it, waiting, I suppose for us to formally admit that we are guilty of segregation, then if we admit it, it would be certainly a cause for court case. Now the only solution to segregation is an audit to break it up. And there is where the conflict comes taking children out of their own committee, and busing them all over the city to strange communities. But in Boston in order to provide seats for those children in different communities, we must take the children out of the seats that are there in the neighborhood, because we don't have many surplus seats, unmasked to take care of a shift of 10,000 pupils.
CU small American flag held up in between book spines.
City bus drives down a city street. CU of NAACP office window. Freedom Stay-out sign in window.
CU of African American girl in fancy dress coat with black fur trim
Charles Silberman 12:14
Major new development in the school boycott movements in New York and Chicago is the partial defection of the local NAACP chapters. In New York, the NAACP is withdrawn from the city wide committee for integrated schools, although it may still participate if a second one day boycott materializes from Chicago. Here's a report by Harry Homewood of the Chicago Sun Times and W T. T. W.
Harry Homewood 12:43
State law of Illinois forbids anyone to induce or attempt to induce a child to stay out of school. Nevertheless, inducing children to stay out of school as a protest against segregation in public schools, as a protest against an inferior education for segregated students has become a potent weapon in the arsenal of those who fight for civil rights. That weapon was used in Chicago last October, a massive boycott of Chicago's public schools called Freedom Day kept more than half of Chicago's almost half million school children at home. 8,000 pickets jammed into Chicago's downtown business district as part of that school boycott. What did this exercise and mass absenteeism achieve that could not have been brought about by peaceful negotiation? One does not really know. However, two days after the boycott, the Chicago Board of Education publicly revealed for the first time that 23% of Chicago's Negro children attended schools that did not have a single white student. 82% of all of Chicago's Negro school children went to schools that were 90% and more negro. On the other hand, more than 76% of Chicago's white school children attended schools that were at least 90% White. Some of this seeming de facto segregation is of course due to the fact of residence. Some is due to gerrymandered school districts. It is a critical issue in Chicago because another school boycott has been threatened for later this month. The second boycott is not a popular issue among all Negro leader. Here's what Mr. Lawrence Landry, director of the Chicago branch of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Freedom Day chairman, spokesman for the boycott leaders has to say about this second boycott.
Boycott down a Chicago city street. Protesters with signs (mostly black) march down the street.
Mr. Lawrence Landry, director of the Chicago branch of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Responses by Harry Homewood and Reverend Carl Fuqua, Chicago NAACP
Lawrence Landry 14:32
On October 22 1963 250,000 children stayed home from school to protest inferior and segregated education in the city of Chicago. This protest was caused by the Coordinating Council of community organizations six weeks later, the first week of December, after weeks of evasion, misrepresented misrepresentation and downright lies by the school The Board President Claire Roderick, we sat down and discussed with the school board the adoption of a simple policy statement of integration. The school board refused to adopt such a policy and incited the negro community by making irresponsible charges against his leadership in early January of 1964, the ctcl frustrated in its efforts to get to get integrated and quality education in Chicago, called the second school boycott for February the 25th. There is a permission set to report on the same general aim that the labor community is caught is tired of waiting for Commission's and committee reports. We know the schools are segregated we are products of these schools. We know the living higher than Negro kids go through. We do not need a committee report only the School Board needs such a report.
Harry Homewood 15:54
The Reverend Carl few clay executive secretary for the Chicago branch of the NAACP does not agree with Mr. Landry. The NAACP does not agree with nor do they sponsor a second school boycott. Here's what the Reverend pukalet has to say.
Carl Fuqua 16:11
Now, the proposal for a second what is termed boycott and I don't call a one day demonstration of boycott. A second one, in February of this year, seems to me is going to point out something which the community already knows if it's going to be a boycott, some sustained amount of time, this is a different situation. But of course, it was just a one day demonstration, which is going to be a repeat so to speak of last October 22. I don't see that it's going to do anything more toward the solution of the problem than the October 22 demonstration. We sure is going to point up to the community the ire of many citizens, of parents of groups, children even, it's going to point up something which is already No, this was I think the main function of the October 22 demonstration. It lets the community and the nation as a whole know how a vast majority of people in Chicago the vast majority of Negro people in Chicago, go about de facto segregation in Chicago schools. Now that that effect is known. I don't see where it has to be reemphasize. To the extent that so much time has taken on the real emphasis, with less time being taken on the follow through to solve the problems which which caused the need for such demonstrations.
Harry Homewood 17:36
Since the Chicago School boycott in October, a considerable effort has been made to discover the problem piculuar to schools segregated by virtue of residence. And the problems peculiar to schools partially or wholly integrated. Two committees of able respected and responsible educators are at work of these problems, studying them and trying to arrive at a solution. A great deal is expected from these committee reports. Despite what Mr. Landry has said, the public school boycott is a powerful weapon, it can easily get out of control become a weapon for personal power. Chicago faces just such a situation. Militant young civil rights leaders are advocating a second school boycott in Chicago. They are not supported in this by all of the civil rights leaders, or by any of the Negro councilmen in Chicago City govern. What proved to be a weapon of bludgeoning power in October is now being used as a threat for personal gain. In an internecine fight within the Civil Rights leadership ranks in Chicago. It has been in fact, a Pandora's box and no one really knows whether the opening of that box will bring forth good or evil.
National Guard in hard hats aim rifles at African American demonstrators in Cambridge Maryland.
Andrew Stern interviews Reverend Allan Watley
Reverend Allan Watley 19:25
I am definitely opposed to a boycott. In my judgment, it will stir up more animosity make it increasingly difficult for negros and whites to adjust to each other in educational pursuits.
Andrew Stern 19:41
What do you think will happen if these demonstrations continue?
Reverend Allan Watley 19:46
It makes it more difficult for people like myself and those interested in the welfare of our community to work. It's creating an image of Cambridge that's Uh, extended far beyond the state of Maryland. It goes throughout the country. This then reacts to the detriment of encouraging industries to come to Cambridge. This is one of the things we hoped for. And I stated in Washington a nice day to gain that this industrial area was growing in Cambridge, making it possible for more people to have an opportunity of employment. Now, I think attitudes on the part of extremists have killed the goose that laid the golden egg. And they are defeating the very purpose of which they strive to attain.
Andrew Stern interviews Gloria Richardson
Gloria Richardson 21:01
Well, we have of course, the segregated schools, which means that we feel the Negro students and it is true that nuclear students get a a their education is not up to the same par As the white students here. On the other hand, we don't feel that either the Negro or the white students are getting adequate education because it's being maintained in a segregated setup, which costs mores economically. The textbook question they are different textbooks within the schools. The curriculum, for example, at the Cambridge High has business law on psychology, two languages, this is something that makes us ln high school does not have. County students have to come from a maximum of 35 to 40 miles away into a liberal school past white schools, which consumes quite a bit of time, they might have to get up at four or five o'clock in the morning and get home at seven or eight o'clock at night. And we don't believe that this is fair, nor that it provides a good academic atmosphere or environment for the students.
Andrew Stern 22:02
What is the school board done to try to defeat the boycott?
Gloria Richardson 22:07
I think as far as their tactics are concerned, these are usually the tactics of Cambridge politicians here. They have said that the parents could be jailed on a misdemeanor charge and charge $50 They've said that the kids would be flunked where the day that they missed out of school, we've also implied that this would prevent them for recommending them to a decent job. And, and for college entrance into college, which of course is ridiculous, because you do 365 days a year they could attend school here in Cambridge and and still couldn't get a decent job if they were eligible was because they are negros that they would expel him this was through rumor.
Andrew Stern 22:45
Some members of the community have complained that your group has made threats to some of the children that if they did show up in school, that there would be certain actions taken against them. What do you say to this?
Gloria Richardson 23:00
Oh, this is completely ridiculous. I think this is implied in the nonviolent action committee. If we were going to bother anybody like that, we certainly would have done it last summer. You know, we're out on a picket line when somebody's throwing eggs at you or kicking you or hitting you with the police or banging your head on the ground. I think this is completely ridiculous. We don't have to do this type of thing. The resentment is already within the Negro people anywhere in the country, it only has to be brought into focus and called into action.
Andrew Stern interviews TE Murray, local chairman of the NAACP in Cambridge
Charles Silberman 23:26
The Reverend T Murray, local chairman of the NAACP in Cambridge and a member of the Human Relations Council was asked what he thought of the school boycott strategy.
TE Murray 23:37
I've heard it said by some of the parent of some of the children that they do not yet approve of their children and gazed into too much conflict. They do not feel that it's good for their children was stated that they have some of them have trouble enough with their children now and they feel that to expose their child or his early age to such conflicts that this does something to the child. And I agree with him to a certain extent, I think this is a man's fight. And to me, it appears to me cowardice to a certain extent for a for adults to sit back and to send children what adults do to do what adults ought to be doing themselves.
Andrew Stern 24:36
Have any negros been accepted in white schools since the agreement?
TE Murray 24:44
I do not know of any. That has been a turn away from the schools. Those who have made applications as far as I know have been accepted. And I think here, perhaps there would have been more progress made if the Magro population. The Negro families have sent their children to these schools.
Andrew Stern 25:15
Why didn't they do it?
TE Murray 25:18
Now, this is a question that is hard for anyone, I think to really answer why they didn't do it. Because I think some of it perhaps might have been fear on the part of some of our, some of the color people. And this change over change over of intermingling with many people is strange to the adult, and therefore, it brings fear to them, and they impose this fear of them. This is as has a lot to do with it, I think.
Charles Silberman 25:57
By and large schools and Negro areas are not only separate but unequal. The Chicago Board of Education, for example, appropriates 21% less per student in all Negro schools than in all white schools. New York, on the other hand, spends roughly $200 a year more per pupil in Negro than in white schools. But even so, Negro schools tend to be old and terribly overcrowded, and academic achievement is very poor. Third grade pupils in Harlem, for example, are one year behind grade level and by sixth grade, they fallen nearly two years behind. The reason is not Negro inferiority. As John Fisher president of Teachers College has put it. Every Negro child on the day hand or school carries a burden no white child can ever know. No matter what handicaps or disabilities he may suffer. Research indicates that of Negro youngsters are to perform as well as white children. The schools must carry on a massive effort of compensatory education, beginning at age four at the very latest and continuing all the way through school. No city has even begun to do that. A growing number of Negroes are coming to agree with Dr. Kenneth Clark of City College distinguished Negro psychologist, the genuine integration will not be possible until the schools and Negro neighborhoods are brought up to the level of the very best in the country. In the long run, excellence requires an end to segregation. But in the short run, compensatory education is necessary. Why then the insistence on desegregation now, because Negroes are convinced with good reason that white taxpayers will not pay to bring Negro schools up to the necessary standard of excellence without the threat of having their children transported into Negro neighborhoods. This is M E T, National Educational Television
B/W shot of an African American student in a graduation gown in line between two white graduates. Closing Credits.
Description: Episode #20 OBD: 1964-02-17 TRT: 30 min Description: This program examines the spreading civil rights boycotts of northern schools. It surveys the positive and negative effectiveness of the boycotts, what these boycotts do to the political and asocial structure of a city, and probes whether this method for promoting school integration is a valid use of the boycott. To present an in-depth report, camera crews will go to one of these cities – New York, Boston, or Chicago – to show the preparation for a school integration boycott scheduled for February 25. Educators, teachers, pupils, civil rights leaders, and parents will be interviewed. There will also be on-the-spot coverage of similar boycotts scheduled for February 11 in one of the following three cities – Cambridge, Maryland; Wilmington, Delaware; or Chester, Pennsylvania. AT ISSUE: THE BATTLE FOR SCHOOL INTEGRATION A 1964 National Educational Television production Executive producer: Alvin Perlmutter Producer: Leonard Zweig
Keywords: martial law
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