Studs Terkel interviews Curtiss Brooks, Jane Weston and Philip Hauser on the status of Blacks and housing, jobs and education in Chicago ; part 4
BROADCAST: 1965 | DURATION: 00:55:20
Discussing "Discrimination in metropolitan Chicago" with Curtiss Brooks, employment specialist, Chicago Urban League, Jane Weston, housing specialist, American Friends Service Committee, and Philip Hauser, Sociology Department of University of Chicago. Brooks, Weston and Hauser provide data, reports and statistics to debunk the myths concerning the Black market for housing in Chicago. Weston states that public attitudes have changed and Real Estate must listen and accommodate open occupancy. Another myth that is discussed is that property values will go down if Blacks move in. It was shown that the neighborhood would stabilize after an initial panic type reaction. The Hyde Park Kenwood Urban Renewal produced an integrated community. Progress involves friction but there is hope in rebuilding.
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Studs Terkel Is a child of goodwill. How does one become a child of goodwill or a fulfilled human being? This is part four of the series sponsored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews. On Tuesday, six Tuesdays in a row, this is our fourth, and our three participants this morning are: Dr. Philip Hauser, head of the Sociology Department of the University of Chicago and the author of the most provocative Hauser Report dealing with Chicago schools and he's a member of the advisory panel on integration of public schools; Mr. Curtis Brooks, who is the employment specialist of the Chicago Urban League; and Mrs. Jane Weston, who is the housing specialist of the American Friends Service Committee. Obviously the theme will be housing, schools that can't be separated, and jobs. And I thought before we hear from my three colleagues here, the voice of a kid, a boy on the West side, the kind that would be described as culturally deprived, though cultural deprivation is also where the majority of kids who live a narrow life. He's talking about, it may be difficult to hear his voice at first, he's talking about a situation. He watched a horror TV film, had a nightmare, it's a 50-foot woman he saw in his dream, then he got up to get some water, and here's what happened.
Young Man One time I woke up in the middle of the night. I was dreaming. I thought I saw the 50-foot woman. And so, my father, he was sitting up. You know, there was a rat in the house. And he was sitting there with a gun, he was going to shoot the rat if he come down the hall. And, so, his bedroom was on this side, and now I walking out there, when he saw my foot he started shooting. But then he saw there was a foot and he didn't shoot, and I came there and got in the bed with my mother 'cause I was scared. I almost got shoot in the foot.
Studs Terkel Your father thought that your foot was the rat. Is that it? He had the gun all set to--your father keeps the gun to shoot the rats. There are a lot of rats
Young Man No sir, not any more. Most of them dead.
Studs Terkel He shot them all. [pause in recording] His father shot them all. So we come to a situation; housing in many quarters of Chicago, that which is known as the Black ghetto. About the Black ghetto, Phil Hauser, as population expert and authority in Chicago in this respect, housing.
Philip Hauser Well, it's pretty bad, as you know, Studs, a very large proportion of our population, particularly among our Negro population, lives in substandard housing. And it's a rather ironic thing that measurements taken by the federal government to see what progress is being made reveal that we did have an appreciable decrease in Negro population living in substandard housing between 1956 and the 1960 census, and a proportion of Negro families in substandard housing diminished from two-thirds to about a half. Now that's a big decrease, but it still leaves half our population as of 1960, this is the last census report, living in substandard housing.
Studs Terkel Curtis Brooks, I know that your specialty is jobs, and yet we know this can't be separated from housing. The revelations that have come to you, not that you weren't aware of them, but now specifically?
Curtis Brooks Well, in the metropolitan area of Chicago we have observed that many industries are relocating to the suburbs. Now, most industrialists, and logically so, want their labor force to live somewhere around them. We find that many job orders coming in into Urban League are left unfilled simply because it is very difficult for a person to get living standards, living arrangements around his area of employment. The qualified people that we do find, we are able to place in some of the larger corporations such as Western Electric or some of these places. But sometimes this housing pattern really creates a lot of problems for us, because you look at a man who is a, say for instance, a qualified automatic screw machine operator who has, perhaps, come up through one of the governmental training programs. Now, you might find a job for this man out in, say, Des Plaines, Illinois. But the difficulty is that he is a man that has been deprived all his life. He doesn't even know how to drive a car. Sometimes this man has not even been inside of a car for the last two or three years. This becomes a problem, transportation is a problem, and here is a man who has been taught a skill and not able to enter into the labor force simply because transportation and living arrangements are isolated.
Studs Terkel That which we take for granted becomes a problem, that which I say we, the middle class, takes for granted becomes the problem. Jane Weston, in working with the American Friends Service Committee on housing, your discoveries in re: this matter?
Jane Weston Well, Chicago probably provides about as good an illustration as any major city of the way in which housing and jobs and schools can't be separated. The Chicago pattern, as anyone knows who studies a map showing residential locations, presents a clear picture of a white market for housing and a Negro market for housing. And there are very few cracks in that wall, either by the private housing industry, which has presented insurmountable barriers up to this time, or on the part of concerned white citizens, of whom there are all too few at this point, who are concerned enough to make their voices heard and take action to bring about some kind of change.
Studs Terkel Well, this leads and we can keep this discussion open now, this leads to the question of obstacles, barriers. Where do they come from? We noticed the other day in the papers the Chicago Conference on Religion and Race has mailed letters to 15,000 licensed brokers, real estate brokers of Chicago. So we come to the Chicago Real Estate Board, don't we? What's the attitude been? Is there a possibility of change, Dr. Hauser?
Philip Hauser Well, there's no doubt that over the years the Chicago Real Estate Board, reflecting the prejudices that I think afflict the entire community, had been a barrier to integrated residential housing. It's hard sometimes to say where cause and effect begins or ends. It is clear that the Chicago Real Estate Board, in a sense reinforcing patterns of residential segregation, contribute to the problem. And on the other hand, their defense certainly is that this just reflects the attitudes of a large part of the citizens of Chicago, so that in a sense you can't hold the board responsible for what may be the benighted attitudes of the entire community. I think we're in a situation here where the board recently, as anyone reading the press can see, has been very much embarrassed by the dispute over a position with respect to open housing, and certainly this is clear: the board of real estate operators has certainly not exercised any leadership on behalf of an open occupancy legislation. It may be that the real estate people are going to have to be pushed by public opinion, which in some respects is already ahead of them, because the facts become increasingly clear that the American people by and large are now in favor of integrated housing as well as integrated education and integration on the job. And it may be that some of the institutions which in the past have reflected the attitudes of the American people are now behind where the people actually stand.
Jane Weston Yes, I think this is true. The real estate industry is probably the last major industry in the country to have taken almost no steps whatsoever toward advancing the cause of equal opportunity. And while I would be the last to hold them solely responsible for the present situation, I think we can't get away from the fact that the real estate brokers really do contribute to shaping a community. And while they always to a man say, "We are reflecting only the attitudes of the public," Dr. Hauser is quite right that there are many attitudes which have changed and the brokers are either unwilling to recognize them or accept them. A great many people in the suburbs, for example, have put themselves on record in favor of open housing. But I have yet to meet a real estate broker on whom this has made the slightest impression.
Studs Terkel You have yet to meet one.
Jane Weston Yes.
Studs Terkel What's your experience been, Curtis? Curtis Brooks?
Curtis Brooks Well, we are quite concerned about this in terms of the industrial relocation that we've noted over the past year. For instance, in 1964 there were approximately 12% of the key industries in the metropolitan area of Chicago relocating to the suburbs. Now, we have to look at this realistically. You take a major corporation which has a national base who allegedly has an internal policy of integration in terms of their labor force. I cannot possibly see why it is that the businessmen cannot get together and say, "For this area, we would like to have open occupancy. We want Negroes to live in this community because they have a right to work in our plants and, so, we are quite concerned about it because you understand out of 320,000 Negro workers, only 88% are consistently employed. This means 12% are not. Now, a lot of this, of course, stems from the man, the Negro man of course is always considered 50% man because nine times out of ten, if he's migrated from the South and is what Phil Hauser terms, very, I think very appropriately, Studs, as culturally deprived, opportunity deprived individual, he is unable to provide for his children and his wife and therefore, in looking for a job, it just becomes a severe problem when he's got to chase or go out in the suburbs and then he finds that the equal employer is not an equal employer, and this makes it a problem to him.
Philip Hauser I think what we might point out, Studs, is that open occupancy is a fear to many people primarily because they don't understand what has happened and is happening with respect to the Negro community. I'm afraid many of our citizens are still afflicted with stereotypes about this in-migrant Negro from the Mississippi Delta who has been opportunity-deprived, who doesn't have an education, who finds it difficult to get a job, who is unemployed two to three times the level of his white fellow worker, and who may by reason of just not having yet become accommodated to urban existence in many respects be regarded as an undesirable neighbor. But what these people don't realize is that now we have second- and third-generation Negro families in the city of Chicago. That we have Negro families who have acquired high education, good jobs, good income, completely accommodated to urban living, and who will make better neighbors in many respects than, let us say, the recently arrived in-migrant white people who do not yet have the education and the jobs and the income for a living, let us say, in the suburbs. And I think part of this is just a problem of education. It's combating the ignorance, the lack of awareness of the fact, that the Negro has been in the city long enough now in many instances so as to be as different from the old stereotypes as, let us say, these white citizens themselves are today from the position in which their parents or grandparents were when they first got off the ship as greenhorns.
Studs Terkel You know, I thought of a phrase here, and Jane and Curtis please chip in, Phil describes, Phil Hauser speaks of the opportunity-deprived Negro, it occurred to me the culture-deprived, culturally deprived truly is the white with his myths with the burden of myth and prejudice that he carries and his child becomes culturally deprived with an almost [lieber mensch idea?], you know.
Jane Weston Yes, this is definitely true. It's another thing, however, to convey to the deprived white a realization of the fact of this deprivation. There are tremendous number of fears which are difficult to overcome by education alone, education a sense of talking of films, etc. One of these that I run into frequently on the part of suburbanites, for example, is the fear that not only will his prospective Negro neighbor be this in-migrant from the South, but also that there will be a mass of families moving in, and that there will be an inevitable change of a neighborhood in an Arlington Heights, for example, or a Park Ridge. And the people who have this fear fail to make the distinction between what has happened in the city because of economic forces and a closed housing market resulting in a block-by-block expansion of the Negro ghetto, and what would happen if there were truly an open housing market so that people's natural choices and preferences and financial capacities would come into play and lead to dispersion.
Philip Hauser Well, this is an ironic thing as a matter of fact, Mrs. Weston, I think it's a good point you brought out, because the very people who most bitterly resist the introduction of Negroes into a new community, Negroes who have the economic status and the cultural status to belong to that kind of, let us say, a middle-class neighborhood. The very people who resist and then eventually flee and the real estate brokers who are sometimes party to the resistance and to block-busting operations to encourage flight, these very people might have preserved their community, not have to be uprooted, could have stayed put and continued to live in a good middle-class community, if they were not afflicted with the prejudices and the ignorance that prevent them from seeing that Negro neighbors can be as good as any other neighbors. And that what makes a good neighbor has nothing to do with the color of the skin.
Studs Terkel Now, Curtis, you were about to say
Curtis Brooks No, I was going to ask Jane, what type of support have you received from the various religious institutions?
Jane Weston Well, a growing amount of support has been devoted to fair housing efforts. I don't think there's any major faith or denomination within a faith which hasn't a very good policy statement on non-discrimination, and some of them have gone much farther in specific terms, support of fair housing legislation, for example, or open occupancy covenants and so forth. Now, to translate this to the local parish or the local congregation is quite another matter. And the record here is quite spotty. There are some churches and some elements of each faith which are very strong supporters of the fair housing movement in the Chicago suburbs and there are others which are very much behind the times and dragging their feet. I think one of the best examples of a positive development recently was a statement signed by some 134 clergymen of all faiths on the North Shore, in which they posited their belief in non-discrimination and then urged their members to sell their houses when the time came to sell on an open-market basis. Now, this goes one step beyond the "I will be a good neighbor" pledge and it urges specific action.
Studs Terkel Aren't there are two aspects to the housing problem? There's the inner city situation and suburban life.
Philip Hauser Well, there are really three aspects, Studs. A book that I published with a colleague of mine, Beverly Duncan, a few years ago, called "Housing a Metropolis - Chicago" deals specifically with the problem and I mention this, we don't get any royalties on it, so it's really not a commercial plug, Studs.
Studs Terkel What's
Philip Hauser "Housing a Metropolis - Chicago" by Beverly Duncan and myself. What this book shows clearly is that there are really three markets. There's a suburban market, which is of course primarily white by reason of the absence of the Negro in suburbia, relative absence. Within a city there's a two-market system, white and Negro. And the net effect of these artificial market situations is that the Negro who lives in a substandard housing unit pays a premium at that time, this was in 1956 and the monetary situation may have changed since. But at that time the average Negro family in a substandard housing for the same types of facilities was paying $15 a month more rent than the white family living in substandard housing, so that you see the free-market situation does create artificial shortages, particularly for an expanding and rapidly growing Negro community.
Studs Terkel They're paying more rent, then.
Philip Hauser Paying more rent for the same kind of facilities out of, incidentally, an income that's only about two-thirds as great. So you see, there's a considerable pressure on the Negro family having to live in substandard housing with a $15 a month greater payment out of a salary two-thirds as great as the white family.
Studs Terkel Jane?
Jane Weston We frequently have, we sometimes have found in our contacts with families, Negro families that are thinking of moving out beyond the confines of the ghetto and they may think of this for a variety of perfectly objective reasons, that the family who is prepared to buy such a house is frequently in a better position financially to do so because he is, perforce had to save longer for his chance in the housing market, and therefore his down payment is apt to be larger and his ability to maintain mortgage payments is apt to be better than the white neighbors whom he is joining.
Studs Terkel You know, since there are thousands of women listening I assume in various posts and people individually at home, myths, if we can, perhaps, demolish a few even though it seems ridiculous to do it, C-A-T does spell "cat," some of the myths of property values going down. This is for the women to answer other women that meet them. Property values go down when a Negro family moves in.
Philip Hauser Well, it just isn't true. Studies show repeatedly, although you may have some drop during a panic buying and a panic flight of that, incidentally, all too frequently unscrupulous block-busting real estate brokers are party to, that these values go up as the community becomes stabilized, and if anything, the values may actually become greater because the artificial pressure of the limited market for Negroes forces much more intense occupancy and frequently higher income from the same building, so that the value to the extent it reflects income may actually increase by reason of Negro occupancy.
Jane Weston This would be true of a city neighborhood, but do you think that this has a close parallel to a suburban situation?
Philip Hauser Well, the suburban situation is somewhat different. Here again, however, there may be some decrease in values only as an initial reaction to panic: a white population that in its ignorance and fears panics and flees. But take the situation, for example, and there's a concrete situation very much like suburbia in Kenwood. As you know, Kenwood was at one time the most fashionable residential district in the city of Chicago, largely in outlying suburbia, and you still find there these magnificent large mansions which in some respects became very great liabilities until, as a result of cooperation, the Hyde Park-Kenwood urban renewal program has produced an integrated community, and many of these homes which were a drug on the market are now being occupied by both Negro and white families in a situation which has restored, with values rising rapidly. And this is precisely the same kind of suburban living-type situation as you find in suburbia.
Jane Weston I think very often people are apt to dismiss as probably rigged or definitely not true the kinds of studies and reports and films which are now available on property values, but maybe more effective in disposing of this myth once and for all, and it is a myth, is the fact that there have been numerous experiences in the Chicago area now, in the outlying city neighborhoods and more particularly in the suburbs, where Negro families have moved in, where property values have remained stable because the whites remain stable, where new housing has been constructed in the near neighborhood and where generally the market trend has been followed.
Philip Hauser Well, you've had the Calhouns move into And they moved in out in Skokie two
Curtis Brooks Kenilworth, And they moved in out in Skokie two or three weeks
Philip Hauser Yes. And of course the Julian Percy family in Oak Park, I don't think there has been a tremendous decrease in property values, in fact they've become among the bright lights in terms of the cultural life of that greatest, used to be called the greatest or largest village in the world. I suspect Skokie may have now passed it.
Studs Terkel Curtis, I'm thinking we're--thus far there's an economic echelon out here. Middle-class, middle-class Negro families, Kenwood-Hyde Park as well as suburbia, and we know that a great many of the listeners involved in posts are suburban people. The question now of the lower, the unemployed, of the lower-income bracket Negro on the problem. Like this kid we just heard. This is common, is it not? I mean, is it not for the kid, the rats and that, this is common. This is shocking, I know, to people listening to the program. And, yet, the father's there with the gun to kill the rats, he lives with the rats. So the question here, how can this particular ghetto be?
Philip Hauser Well, this is a terribly difficult problem, and I think in terms of human suffering and human commiseration, this is probably the sorest, say rawest, type of problem which the city finds itself. I think despite the fact that we have made considerable progress, and there's no question that the city of Chicago is among the cities which have made the most progress in getting better housing for its people and including the Negro in-migrants in terms of physical housing, the fact is we still have an inordinately large proportion of our population living under miserable slum conditions in which the rat is a continuous, constant companion. What can be done here is difficult. For one thing, this is low income. Many of these families are on relief. We sometimes like to forget about the fact that at the present time something over a fifth of our Negro population in Cook County is on relief and welfare rolls, that you have people here simply not able to make a living by reason and large extent of a lack of adequate education and skills as well as blockings that still reflect the prejudices of, that exist in the community. Now where are these people going to get better housing? Now, I think we've made tremendous progress with public housing and getting better physical facilities. Let me add immediately we've also created new problems. I think it's to the shame of the city of Chicago that we have this [solid?] [Fannings? Fanning's?] ghetto down South State Street reflecting, let us say, the deficiencies of the political system whereby 50 ward aldermen much more concerned and carrying the same prejudices as their constituents prevented public housing from being dispersed throughout the city to make a much healthier-type situation. But physical housing things have been improved. Now, to tackle the rest of it. One hope lies, I suppose, in the anti-poverty program and expanded public housing and let's hope more sensible location problems and in the new types of programs which are now emerging: namely, renovation and rehabilitation without large mass clearance that, among other things, I would hope would be add mix not only with physical urban renewal but with social renewal producing integrated communities.
Jane Weston I wonder if it's a straw in the wind that the bidder who has not yet received the bid but who it seems to be high in favor for this new area near the IIT and Michael Reese Hospital plans to build a mixture of high, middle and low-income housing. Most urban renewal areas which have been rebuilt for housing have tended toward the middle and upper-middle income type of housing.
Studs Terkel Isn't the phrase often used, "urban removal"?
Philip Hauser This is in a sense, though, a misnomer, Studs, because if the family that must be moved and chased and some of them have been relocated two, three, and more times, this is a miserable thing. But at the same time we must recognize that if we didn't do this, that we may be condemning this population to life in the slums in perpetuity. I think it's hopeful that we're beginning to rebuild and renew and people are going to be upset and disturbed and removed by reason of this thing. This is clear, but I think these are, in a sense, frictions of progress if we continue, really, to make the progress.
Studs Terkel I'm thinking, you know, we thought of, on the subject of progress, we thought of, we spoke of rats a moment ago, the kid, yet headlines very often about fires. And invariably without even looking at the address, it seems the fires that occur almost invariably Negro neighborhoods and Negro kid.
Philip Hauser Well, this is understandable. If the Negroes the lowest income group, they're the newest arrivals, Studs, the same thing 40, 50 years ago would be an immigrant family. The problem is of a much larger magnitude, it's much more acute, but--
Jane Weston Probably it's the same building as 40, 50 years ago.
Philip Hauser It may often be the same building.
Curtis Brooks I would like to clear up one of the myths. Ofttimes you hear that when the Negroes are moving like you were talking about, some people from the lower-income families here, they come to the suburbs. This is not necessarily true, if anybody would just look at their particular community. If you notice, Italians like to live together; Jewish people like to live together; Lithuanians like to move together; and Negroes like to live together. The big problem is we just want the right to live where we choose. And I think there are a lot of people seem to think that well, if they endorse an open occupancy cause, here they come. They are coming off the plantation. And this is not necessarily true. I know I would have some reservations about moving out to Kenilworth, because that means that I would have to travel something like 40 or 50 miles a day to my job. I would rather move into Marynook, which is an integrated area, and that means I only have to travel three or four miles a day. But I want the right to know that if I have a job opportunity that develops out near Kenilworth that I have the right to move near my job.
Philip Hauser May I add a word there, Studs, because I think this is the most interesting point Curtis Brooks has made. The fact is that if we study what has happened to every one of our immigrant groups in Chicago, they had the right which they exercised as they entered into second and third generation and became middle class, of either continuing to live in enclaves, as many of them still do, including the descendants of 19th century immigrants, the Irish, the German, the Scandinavian, for example. They had the right to continue to live in their own enclaves or to move out of those enclaves and live in dispersed fashion or integrated fashion elsewhere in the community. Now it was relatively easy for them to exercise this right, because they got lost in a broad Caucasian community. The Negro has the problem of remaining visible and in consequence what has now happened is that the middle-class Negro who has reached the point where he also wants to make the decision of continuing to live in the warmth of his own community or living separately finds that he is not free to exercise the same right. And this has become, I think, and this is one of the tragedies of this whole open occupancy fracas, and that is we're fighting to a large extent about symbols. I'm convinced that if they were complete open occupancy provision in the state of Illinois, clear across the board and absolutely no barriers to the Negro moving wherever he pleased, that the distribution of Negroes in Chicago and suburbia would not change appreciably for decades to come, and for the reason that Curtis Brooks has already indicated. Negroes don't hate each other. They're going to continue, I think most of them for a long time, largely because of recency of in-migration to live in the same neighborhoods, but I think by the same token it's clear that Negro's prepared to take his struggle to the streets if necessary to get that right. Once he has the right it's his own business as to when he exercises it.
Curtis Brooks Speaking of taking to the streets, Phil, what do you think is going to happen with the educational crisis? The reappointment of Mr. Willis being a big issue?
Philip Hauser Well, I'm no soothsayer here as you know, Curtis, but I'd like to put it this way. I think that's certainly one of the most serious problems that faces the city today and that vitally affects its future is the problem around getting adequate education for our opportunity-deprived children, our recent in-migrants, both white and Negro. The same problem exists for the Appalachian whites. In fact, may I say that in some respects, the Appalachian white children are worse off than a Negro, because the Appalachian whites, the so-called hillbillies, have not even discovered they have a problem yet, whereas the Negroes have discovered they have a problem and are trying to do something about it. Now, I think it is critical that we achieve adequate education for these opportunity-deprived children so that they are able to stand on their own feet and have adequate schooling and adequate skills to make their own living. This affects unemployment and as we all said, demonstrates the interrelatedness of these problems of housing, jobs, and education. Now, at the present time the fact is as our panel report made clear, that about 90% of our youngsters in this city, Negro youngsters are in all-Negro schools or schools with fewer than ten percent white children and vice versa, and the unfortunate fact is that their education is inferior to that of the white children by all of the measures which were available to us. Now, you
Studs Terkel By the same token that the housing is inferior in a way, the connection here.
Philip Hauser Well, as a matter of fact that may be so, although there are other specific elements. The fact that we have a system perfectly idiotic and I choose this word advisedly, whereby the teachers with the greatest experience and the highest education actually get to the schools which need them least and are able to avoid the others. Now you raise a question about Superintendent Willis. I've come to the unfortunate conclusion that Superintendent Willis is, now I might say reluctant conclusion, is dragging his feet about the implementation of the surveys which are now before the city of Chicago, three of them. Not only the so-called housing report, just misnamed or it's a five-man report, a unanimous five-man report, and only the Havinghurst report, but also the report of the Board of Higher Education, and my own feeling is that if he is reappointed this would be disastrous for the city of Chicago for many reasons. But let me just mention one. He has become so controversial and has himself split this city into pro-Willis and anti-Willis people, so that the specific issues are almost obscured by the controversial character of the man. And I think this in itself is, to my mind, adequate evidence that he has outlived his usefulness as a general superintendent of schools in Chicago.
Jane Weston How widespread do you think the feeling about Dr. Willis is in the city, or is this like many controversial issues where the standard is that there are ten percent on one end of the spectrum and ten percent on the other and the vast middle ground doesn't particularly care one way or the other?
Philip Hauser Well, I think your description, Jane, on the whole is probably, too, that a vast middle-care group may not at least be motivated enough to make noises about it either pro or con. But I think this is true that you do have in my judgment a relatively small minority that is very vocal that are definitely and blatantly segregationist.
Studs Terkel A group that, by the way, Dr. Hauser encountered in a rather traumatic experience not too long ago.
Philip Hauser That's right, the Bogan High School group, and may I say that I still receive letters from my good friends in the Bogan High School area, and also Northwest Chicago. Much of the same character, and the letters are still mainly illiterate, obscene, and anonymous. That this program, Studs, will get me another batch which I turn over to my psychiatric friends who find this literature very interesting, and it's good teaching material, so continue to send them in, folks, we find them very helpful. But there is a group that's blatantly segregationist. There on the other hand is a whole Negro community now approximating million people in this town, Studs, that whether fully justified or not are almost 100% anti-Willis, so that I would say, Jane, at this point that you can talk about attitudes at the extremes, but the 50/50 extremes here turns out to be like that old story about sausage, 50/50 sausage you know, one horse and one rabbit.
Studs Terkel Well, this leads, does it not, to--obviously schooling is involved. You can't separate the two, the de facto segregation in schools with which Dr. Hauser, Curtis Brooks, and Jane Weston are equally involved, as well as with housing, you can't separate the two, can you? With ghetto life there has to be the ghetto school, too, doesn't there?
Jane Weston Yes, and this is represented by ghetto schools in the suburbs, as far as I'm concerned. A ghetto is a ghetto, whether it is consisting of entirely white residents or Negro residents, and one sad commentary on our situation to me is the hard work and the contrived situations which concerned suburbanites are going through in order to provide interracial experiences for their school-age children. It takes a great deal of work at this point and there are too few people working at it, but it's an observation on the strict separation between the races that there has to be this kind of artificial effort.
Curtis Brooks Could I say something right here? Ofttimes you hear people use the expression, "the Negro problem," and I think that we are getting into such a point in time in history that historians will record the changes that we are trying to get as the salvation of the entire nation. When you look at the international picture, what are some of the problems in the Congo? The reason why the Congolese are so disturbed is simply they are saying to people that they want their land. They want it because it is theirs, and they were born, raised there and they are tired of people taking their resources away from them. You tie this up with mobility. You see that the Black nations are on the rise, that younger nations are fighting and getting nuclear weapons. Sometimes I think that when somebody talks about a primitive nuclear bomb, I think that's kind of a misnomer. When a bomb has the capacity to kill 300,000 people, then how can you say that it is primitive? When you have Red China making their infiltration in Africa, I think that this shows us one thing: that Black people and white people are going to be together. They're going to have to interact for the preservation of the entire world. And this is a major problem. The civil rights revolution in Chicago. The problem that we're having, the problems that Phil has been expressing, the problems that Jane has been talking about, is the salvation of a city. You cannot possibly think of economic growth unless you want to deal realistically with the institution that is concerned and is charged with the responsibility being paid out of our tax money, by the way, to qualified workers to man a labor force. You cannot possibly discuss that. Unless you want to recognize the one thing that Phil Hauser brought up in his report time and time again that our number one priority is going to have to be education. The improvement of education. Not necessarily quality education. It is necessary quality education, not necessarily integrated education, even though as Phil pointed out, the talent, the teaching talent is in the various schools that are in all-white communities. So we are going to have to have a distribution of talent and saturation in terms of some of the things that have occurred--
Studs Terkel A rare case of a Bailey Bishop, say, who is so magnificent, but she is unfortunately the exception rather than the rule in Negro or underprivileged schools.
Philip Hauser Right. And Studs, I'd like to pick up something you mentioned earlier, and related to what Jane Weston's been talking about. This is not just a Negro problem, and the white child going to school in a lily-white school whether it's in the city of Chicago and in the suburbs, is in my judgment being educationally deprived. He's educationally deprived because education involves more than the transmitting of the skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic. It involves preparing that child for a life in a real world. And these children are going to be living in a city that may be close to 50% or more than 50% Negro as adults, and are being utterly unprepared for knowing anything about the Negro. They're still the victims of these stereotypes and prejudices of yesteryear. And I think these parents are unwittingly depriving their children of the kind of education which they unfortunately themselves were denied. In fact, may I put this issue very clearly. I had a debate with the representative of one of these real property groups, and this is interesting how education, again, and housing are linked. Mr. Sutton, who specifically stated, this was on a program, "The [Dreiski?] Forum," which you'll forgive me for mentioning another show on your program, in which he said, "It is the God-given right of every family to determine the race and the religion of the children with whom their children will associate in the public schools." Now, this man happens to be a lawyer, but in my judgment and I'm sure he must know better, he doesn't have a legal leg to stand on in all probability when the air gets all cleared.
Studs Terkel We won't discuss the intellectual or moral leg here.
Philip Hauser Or even the legal one, that in the public schools parents have a right to determine the race and religion of children with whom their children will associate. And I think this states the issue very clearly.
Studs Terkel Jane?
Jane Weston Well, the same the same kind of principle is enunciated by the homeowners, not in terms of their schools but the right to choose their neighbors, without thinking back to the fact that they were not chosen by anybody when they moved in and that they never think of this God-given right unless their prospective neighbor is likely to be a Negro or in some cases is apt to be someone of a different religious faith, because I think we have to recognize there is discrimination on this basis, too.
Studs Terkel Perhaps we can come to this matter of religion, too. Touch upon that, but before we leave that, this matter of the right, Mr. Sutton's case, in the case of someone who says, "The right to determine who my neighbor should," [make a joke?]. Perhaps we could just discuss this myth again of open occupancy. We know what was unfortunately defeated in California Proposition 14 by this myth itself. Oh, but, and when the man says, and this is again instruments for the women listening to answer questions they will have from neighbors, "Is it not my right? Is not my freedom? Is not my freedom being impinged upon when I, you know, cannot prevent my home from being sold to someone of another race?" Suppose we just demolish this one.
Philip Hauser Well, may I suggest the observation of a French philosopher long ago in talking about rights, there are no such things as absolute rights, rights always exist within the framework of a social order which operates and lives and is there. And I refer to this philosopher's statement that your rights, Studs, to swing your arm stops at the tip of my nose.
Jane Weston The real estate brokers have worked themselves into an interesting inconsistency on this, because they have made much of their definition of property rights as being the right of the seller to sell to whomever he chooses. And this was enunciated very loudly during the anti-fair housing referendum campaign last summer, which fortunately did not reach the ballot, but the other side of the coin is when a white seller specifically asks a real estate broker to sell his house to any qualified buyer, that is, make it available on an open-market basis, and we have case after case where this has been put bluntly to a real estate broker and the broker has refused to take this piece of business, thereby violating his own definition. He's not going to assist this seller to sell his property to whomever he chooses.
Philip Hauser And incidentally, this right and the legal aspects of it, Proposition 14 was passed in California. It undoubtedly reflects the fact that California's citizens are still victims of the prejudices and bigotry of their ancestors. However, it is not at all clear that this proposition will stand up and it's still in the courts. I for one would anticipate that the higher courts will actually call this unconstitutional. At least, this is a distinct possibility because increasingly throughout our history, private property rights have been redefined as necessary when they got in the way of the rights of the body politic and the community as a whole, and this may be another instance of where private property rights will be redefined in the interest of the rights of the community. This is also an important set of rights.
Jane Weston Yes, in this connection there are at least 15 states and well over 20 cities that have fair housing laws or ordinances of one kind or another, and repeatedly these have been upheld by higher court action.
Studs Terkel I'm thinking of what Curtis Brooks said. Oh, Curtis, you want to say
Curtis Brooks Yes, I'm trying to tie this in with some of the problems that I observe. For instance, you can go to plants in some of your suburbs that have equal employment available. You look in your lunch rooms. You see pockets of whites here, pockets of Negroes here. Then management says to you, well, they have a right to eat where they want to, they have a right to do these things. The problem is the Negro does not have the ability to interact with the whites simply because the only experience that the Negro has, nine times out of ten at this plant is strictly in a working sense. They work together. One of the things that we have found at the Urban League is we encourage integrated recreational facilities, teams, bowling teams, maybe from a big corporation is a big help. We found that a young man that was working at a large corporation out in Skokie was president of the bowling team and he decided that he wanted to live out in Skokie and he just kept pushing until he moved out there, and we find that now we go out to this company, we sees it's like salt and pepper, and all the Negroes and this, you know, they're thoroughly integrated out there. In fact, I was quite shocked that I had a speaking engagement out there, and I said, "Well, I guess my Negroes need to be out front or in the back," and I looked out there, they were just everywhere. Everything was just thoroughly integrated. And I was quite shocked at this.
Studs Terkel I can't help but think of something that Phil Hauser, Jane Weston and Curtis Brooks both introduced here, that the man, the Negro can work with his white colleague. But then comes night, he must wander--so often on buses you see Negro domestics, women wandering miles, you own--I can't help but think of the memory of mine in Johannesburg. We condemn South Africa, you know. And yet in Johannesburg at night, all the Black people who are working in Johannesburg, their muscle is supplied, but then they, on those trains jammed, heading to what they call the township, elsewhere. We're not too far removed from that here in Chicago, are we, really?
Philip Hauser No, I think you're quite right. We have the same patterns of segregation and residence, and these are the things that reinforce segregation in the other realms of life. Segregation and education, segregation and employment, segregation and recreation, and so on down the line. And segregation and religion, we were talking about religion earlier. The unfortunate thing is that being a minister, a priest, or a rabbi does not necessarily cleanse the individual involved from prejudice and bigotry. And I think this is one of the facts in life. When Jane Weston said earlier that the churches have taken very often admirable stands on integration, this is one thing. To get it translated down in the behavior of an individual parish or congregation, this is quite another thing. And among other things, the clergy themselves need some purging here with respect, and I don't mean being kicked out by purging, I mean cleansing with respect to getting rid of the basic prejudices to which their very religious ideals, of course, just shriek.
Jane Weston I think one of the hopeful developments here in the Chicago area in the last couple of years has been the formation and the continued existence of the Chicago Conference on Religion and Race, where the three faiths are working together in an organized fashion with a staff to carry out some of this cleansing within their own ranks and also to extend the force of religious principle to individuals on a much wider basis.
Philip Hauser Right. May I say the Conference on Race and Religion has been in my judgment just absolutely admirable in the forward position they are taking and in volunteering among other things as they have in the case of the schools. To help sell the idea, to use in a sense, wedges of the clergyman to help lead, modify attitudes in the community. And I think this is very admirable.
Studs Terkel When--this matter, if we may touch on religion for a moment. I mean, the emphasis, obviously, is on race. This is the key. And, yet, is this, is religious prejudice still, does it still have its, are its effects still felt in metropolitan Chicago, the inner city and suburbs?
Jane Weston Oh, definitely so in terms of housing. I'm thinking specifically of some suburban neighborhoods which have become all Jewish. Not necessarily because their inhabitants wanted them to do so, but because their real estate brokers have formed a tendency to show gentile buyers other neighborhoods, with the usual phrase "You wouldn't be happy here" or something of that sort.
Philip Hauser There was a standing joke as you know, Jane, on the North Shore, saying that the Negroes are great at putting one over, they got into Kenilworth before the Jews did.
Studs Terkel So this is still, that's interesting how the two match. We know one is the more potent and dramatic and perhaps, and of course more critical, too, because the man is visible. Right, Curtis?
Curtis Brooks Right.
Philip Hauser Well, the visibility remains a highly difficult problem, and it's one that requires, perhaps, the most in the way of education, widespread education, this separation from color, from the actual qualities of the man. And as long as we have these stereotypes and prejudice so that the dark skin means an inferior man, just so long I'm afraid our society will be afflicted with these worse, even worse aspects of the problems which we've been discussing.
Studs Terkel It just occurred to me, that the engineer is telling us about five minutes left. It's incredible. We shall keep going. And perhaps I can make the parenthetical comment, now, that the audience listening, of course, can discuss after this hour is over, but as with the St. Clair Drake Paul Mundy program, you're welcome to listen on the following Wednesday as well, because there are too many problems that we haven't touched yet to be discussed in talking with--Curtis, you were going to say.
Curtis Brooks Yes, I was going to try to tie in this whole question. One of the things that we are finding out every day is that industry, in trying to promote equal employment and there are various pressures that go into this type of thing, why are they doing this? There are a lot of reasons why: governmental regulations; the enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Bill, which deals with the whole question of integrated labor forces; the state FEP, which of course, as you know, is under a great deal of [firing? fire and?] Pressure right now. And not only that, the religious institutions starting to talk about the threat of economic boycotts. All of these pressures help us at the negotiating table. Unfortunately, we will have many requests at the Urban League for qualified Negroes to--in fact, sometimes I think they view us as having a Hertz Rent-A-Negro plan. Sometimes we will send people out and maybe a young lady who can type, say, 70 words a minute. But who Phil, I know knows quite a bit about, who's reading at a ninth grade level, whose grammatical skills do not come up to the requirements of that job, therefore industry has now taken a second look at what they can do about this, for instance, Western Electric, they have promoted a program that has involved about 120 people, and I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to work with this program and help get the concept off the ground. But industry is going to have to do more now to close the gap, and we find that once management says that, "We are going to be equal employment opportunity employer," that is the same problem that the religious institutions have. Maybe a national dominant denomination might say, "Well, we are going to pursue integration," but then it's a matter of communicating this down to this small man. For instance, a foreman might be living across the street from one of his fellow workers who is in a [worse?] position than he, yet a Negro lives way over on the South Side somewhere and might be a better worker than the guy that lives across the street from the foreman, but the foreman has to live with this man, so he might say, "Well, I'm going to give him a better chance because after all, we bowl together, we play bridge together," and this type of thing. This is one of the pressures that are very real to us. And in terms of in-service training that many of our business leaders are talking about in Chicago under Edwin C. Berry, we have the largest Urban League in the country. By the way, we are one of 69 affiliates throughout the country. Based on some of the things that Phil Hauser talked about in the housing report, we are very concerned about the problems of the urban Negro simply because 73% of the Negro population is now urban. We have been encouraging industry to develop training programs of this type, and we ran a training program at Harris Bank where, actually, members of their management training staff engaged in a compensatory literacy technique. Here a bank simply said to us that they wanted x amount of people. Not for any jobs that we have marked for Negroes or anything. We found that many white children are involved in the same hassle of inferior education. So this bank said, "Well, we are going to try to do something," and they actually involved their management trainees in teaching these people how to read, write. They found that many of their clerical people did not know how to spell, and these are the type of things that we've got to have more of. Now, the businessman will say, "Well, this costs us our money to do this type of thing," and I think one of the only solutions is to have a delegation of businessmen go to Washington and ask the president to give them a tax-exempt status with these type of training programs at 100%. They did it during World War II when there was a shortage of skilled labor, they did it during the Korean conflict, and I think that they can do it now.
Philip Hauser Curtis, may I suggest something even more immediate? More immediate in terms of what the businessman should do and critical in the long run? And that is, these businessmen should call on the Chicago Board of Education.
Philip Hauser And get them to remedy the situation that produces high school graduates out of Chicago high schools who cannot spell, who do not know sixth grade arithmetic, and the like. I think one of the most vicious things affecting the future of this city lies in the fact that our schools' teachers, under instructions from their principals, are passing on to the next higher grade 85 to 95 percent of all pupils who enter the term without regard to whether or not they have gained the standards. So we're turning people into the labor force that are not equipped to do the jobs. And this is the most costly, economic, idiotic thing I think the city can do.
Curtis Brooks And, yet, we talk about economic growth.
Philip Hauser Right. The place for these businessmen to start is right on the Board of Education and a general superintendent of schools.