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tv   Reel America A City Decides - 1956  CSPAN  March 26, 2018 8:02pm-8:35pm EDT

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a 1956 film documenting the response of st. louis to the cou court's decision of integration. sponsored by the fund for the republic an early think tank supported by the ford foundation the film was drirected by charls gug g gugenhiem and was nominated for an academy award. this is 30 minutes.
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♪ >> so now we're integrated. white and negro students going to the same school. and the big question is can they get along together. some people are worried about our kids. i'm not.
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but i've seen kids like these in trouble, real trouble. it happened quite a few years ago over at fair grounds park just across the street. ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ >> what made us hate? that which we did not know we did not understand. that which we did not understand we feared. fear, the beginning of hate. and yet there was no reason to hate. st. louis was a quiet city.
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we all used the same library and the same parks and the same railroad station and public transportation. but what did we really share in common? these children didn't know each other. they could get up in the morning and ride the same bus to school, but they were strangers. they had only one natural meeting place, the public school. ♪
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>> what goes through a child's mind when he learns he's equal but separate, separate from the normal, the accepted and the best? and for the teacher of the segregated classes there were other problems. some classes were overcrowded. too many kids to teach. a few blocks away there were classes that didn't have enough students. we could talk a lot about good citizenship. we could study the constitution and the declaration of independence. we could talk to our segregated classes about equality and the
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rights of man, but what could we say that would bring children together? so now we're integrated. 11 st. louis high schools, no problems. our school, one incident. at least that's what the papers are calling it. one incident would be the last or the first. the kids won't tell you or can't. only one person really knows. and he isn't talking. maybe he'll listen. how are you, vincent? vincent, how are you?
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♪ one angry boy can cause a lot of trouble. >> good morning. >> not even teachers know all the answers. and special meetings aren't much help, but at least in st. louis we didn't walk into desegregation with our eyes closed. people in this town knew it was coming. our textbook committees met together and worked together.
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teachers who had been trained in similar teachers colleges, taught similar courses. when they came together they met as equals. white and negro teachers in st. louis met in human relations workshops and committees of their teachers associations and in other professional organizations. all this before the supreme court decision. and while the supreme court studied the constitution to see if segregation was legal students in st. louis were meeting on their way to find out if integration could work. intergroup youth had delegates from all the high schools in st. louis. >> well, all i know is at our school there are some kids that just don't like colored people. >> well, hey, some of the kids at our school don't like white people either.
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>> delinquency and things like that. >> well, i live in a pretty fancy neighborhood and we had some kids that broke into the school and wrecked it. >> well, i think it's the individual that counts. how are you supposed to know a person unless you meet them? >> and the school administration was ready. the schools could learn from the mistakes of the past, the plans for an orderly and gradual integration were prepared months in advance. but school plans were only paper. the real decision was up to the community. support came from organized labor, the metropolitan church federation, the catholic church, the jewish community relations
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council and support for integration also came from some unorganized groups. each person in the community had his own reasons for supporting integration. some of us thought of the inefficiency of a segregated school system, two teachers colleges where one would be enough. some remember a deserted school empty because no one could decide whether this school should be white or colored. st. louis university integrated since 1939. washington university integrated since 1952. and some may have remembered the words of earl warren, chief justice of the supreme court. >> to separate children from
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others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their state in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. >> that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. but the biggest group in the community was yet to be heard from -- parents. they'd never met each other, never sat down in the same room together. but in the weeks before integration was to begin they came together in schoolrooms and basements all over st. louis to talk about their children. >> no questions?
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don't tell me you don't have any. well, i think you all know why we're here this evening. the decision to desegregate the st. louis public schools has been made, and it's going to depend on how we do the job in our own neighborhoods as to just how that decision is going to work out. that's why we're glad that your pta and your patrons alliances helped us to call you to this meeting this evening. we have some guests here. they don't like to be called experts, to answer your questions. first mr. bohannen of the urban league and dr. morris who is chief psychologist of the board of education. and i'm sure you all know mr. barns our principal, and many of you also know our doctor, mr.
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bucken. and i am virgil border. now, who has the first question? >> the real questions are the ones people don't like to talk about in public, but they come out one way or another. >> all right. >> i wonder about the health standards, and i wonder if we're going to have any problems. >> she's worried about communicable diseases. >> i would like to know what percentage of white and negro students that are going to our schools. >> he's worried that negroes are taking over the neighborhood. >> is our school going toby able to keep its high standards? >> she's been told negroes are less intelligent than whites. he's worried about intermarriage. >> i think i can answer the medical question. all students are required to take medical examination, and we just don't let the sick ones in.
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>> i can't give you the exact percentage of the negroes and whites who will attend our school next year, but the plan is to have the student attend the school in their district. there won't be any transfer students, and the new students will have to attend the school in their district. >> i've heard said that some people are not going to send their children to a mixed school. >> well, if you want to take your family and move them out of this district into an all white district you can do that, but it school board has ruled that a children in a district will attend the school in that district, and i'm sure they're going to enforce that law. it's our job to make our school a school worth attending, and i'm sure we're going to do that. >> concerning the problem of standards, i'd like to speak as a school psychologist. our division administers more than 100,000 tests of intelligence and achievement annually. the results of these tests show
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that both negro and white children make scores ranging from the lowest possible to the highest possible. >> so you're worried because you think high school social functions might cause intermarriage. well, you needn't be. the long experience of integrated public schools bears the attention that integrated public school integration is neither a lonely heart club or a training ground for intermarriage. >> he still wants to know if these men want their children to marry into other races. >> may i add one thing here? it seems to me the chief role of the school is to educate the mind, and the role of the home is to supervise morals.
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it's always been that way and integration isn't going to change it. >> the minority has its questions too. >> do you think the teachers will be able to understand so many different children? >> she wants to know if white teachers will be fair to negro students. he's heard a rumor that white boys are planning to beat up negro boys when school opens. >> i'd like to answer those questions. i'm a teacher at the school, and we all have problems about desegregation, but doesn't it all come down to -- come down to this. are we moving too quickly? should we wait? well, i guess i don't have a real good answer to that question of whether we're moving too quickly. but, well, what i want to say is i've been a teacher for 12
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years, and i've been a pretty good disciplinarian, and i intend to go on keeping good discipline. and well, that's not to say that we haven't had our troubles. of course, the kids wouldn't be kids if they didn't get into scrapes. that's just normal. but our job is to teach. to teach fairly and honestly and equally, and that's what we're going to do. >> more brotherhood speeches. see the paper? hear you got a boy in the hospital. >> no, i don't have a boy in the hospital. >> we weren't ready for it. i could have told them. we should have waited a year or two.
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brotherhood. ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> but if we're really wrong, we should have found out last fall on the first day of integrated school. we were ready then. there were detectives out of uniform. the newspapers cooperated by avoiding scare headlines and by keeping their cameramen and their cameras out of sight. all these preparations for the most natural sight in the world, kids going to school. no problem the first day. no stories for the papers. now the real problems began. an integrated class with the
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worst kind of segregation, self-segregation. what do you do? mix them up? seat them alphabetically? >> this is a class in problems in american government. we'll be studying government on the local, the state, and the national level. and we'll be taking a look at the rules under which we govern ourselves in a democracy. >> it takes some time for the teacher to forget whether he's talking to a white stupidity or a colored student. and they forget, too, and become individuals. there's a hard worker. a bright one but he lacks
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incentive. but each of them an individual to be worked with, stimulated, encouraged. but that was before our incident. ♪ our incident. vincent shoots his water pistol at another boy and squirts a negro girl inside. and so the girl tells her friends. vince want gets beat up by some negro boys. kid stuff. only one kid was white and the other was colored and that makes a racial incident. newspaper stories, special meetings and where do we go from
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here? ♪
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[ ringing ] >> good luck. ♪ before we start today i want to say something about an incident. no, no. we'll hold that for a bit and get on with the regular class
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business. but there's news of committee reports. tony, are you ready with your committee report? >> yes, sir. >> this is committee on municipal government. the first report is a joint report on the board of ottoman. it will be presented by vincent. ♪
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♪ ♪ >> this is the report on the
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board of alderman. it is a joint report prepared by tony and me. prepared by tony and presented by me. there are 28 members on the board of alderman. the elected by the voters of our community for the purpose of running our city. the qualifications for such position are as follows. the candidate must be 25 years of age, a resident of the district which he or she as the case may be is elected from. the advantage of the aldermatic system that the it gives equal representation to each district. >> a teacher's job is to teach,
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whether it be in st. louis or any other place. and the test of integration is what happens is in the classroom, and my kids are going to pass that test. ♪ >> on c-span this week in prime time tonight at 10:30 p.m. eastern bill gates talking about his foreign aid agenda and the federal budget. >> we need to partner up with all the donors to go out there on things like polio eradiation, the pepvar program on hiv is absolutely miraculous to get a swra vaccine. >> perspectives on gun control
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for the march for our lives rally. and former white house communications director anthony scaramucci is interviewed by political consultant bob shrum. >> when he got the job just like building a condominium or a golf course or a developing a television show, he said, okay, i've got this job. i've got to go down to the swamp, i've got to drain the swamp, i've got to hire people that understand the swamp. and what he's learned is you're not going to train the swamp by hiring swamp monsters. >> journalists documentsing tin fight against isis. >> totally different background, not born with the same privileges you are and try to make you care about their life and understand the parallels between yours and theres. >> former reagan advisor and
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advocate for what's been called trickle down economics. >> you know, it's really, really true there are consequences to taxation, and those consequences are the same across the whole spectrum. you cannot tax an economy into prosperity, period. >> this week in prime time on c-span. >> tonight on landmark cases join us for gideon v. wainwright, a petty thief who spent time in jail studying the law. >> the next case on it docket is the case of the state of florida versus earl l. gideon. >> what says the defendant, are you ready for trial? >> i'm not ready, your honor.
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>> do you plead guilty to this charge by reasons of insanity? >> no, sir. >> then why aren't you ready? >> i have no counsel. >> it went onto establish a broader sixth amendment right to counsel for criminals. the 23 solicitor-general and the partner at the ellis law firm and akhil reed amar, a visiting professor at the university of pennsylvania law school. watch landmark cases live tonight on c-span, c-span.org or listen with the free c-span radio app. and our website c-span.org/landmark cases has research on each background include a link to the national constitution centers, interactive constitution, and you can download the 30 minute landmark cases pod cast on c-span.org or from your podcast
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subscriber. up next on reel america, secure the blessings, a 25-minute national education association film from 1951. it features actors portraying a variety of americans in different lines of work, forced to choose between their own interests and what's best for the community. the film examines how decisions are reached in the united states and argues that these values must be taught and nurtured in well funded public schools with teacher that are not overworked and underappreciated. this is 25 minutes. ♪

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