(Carter Woodson) Speech at the Hungry Club [Forum], Atlanta, Georgia, 12 February 1969

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HUNGRY CLUB - FEBRURY 12, 1969

In 1969, AMERICAN BLACK PEOPLE FIND THEMSELVES IN A HARD POSITION.

WE HAVE SEEN A CHANGE OF GOVERNMENTS . . . IN OFFICE LESS THAN A

MONTH . . . HAS ALREADY MEANT BAD NEWS FOR US.

WE HAVE SEEN THE "LIBERAL" IN THE NEW NIXON CABINET, THE

FORMER LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR FROM CALIFORNIA, ROBERT FINCH, GIVE IN

TO CINDERELLA BRIDEGROOM FROM SOUTH CAROLINA.

MR. FINCH HAS GIVEN FIVE SOUTHERN SCHOOL DISTRICTS . . .TWO OF THEM

IN THE HOME STATE OF THAT MIGHTY NIXON SUPPORTER, STROM THURMOND,

SIXTY MORE DAYS, OR TWO MONTHS IN WHICH TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT

THEY ARE GOING TO INTEGRATE THEIR SCHOOLS.

THAT THESE DISTRICTS HAVE ALREADY HAD FOURTEEN YEARS AND EIGHT

MONTHS MEANS NOTHING TO MR. FINCH.

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THEN JUST LAST WEEK THE DEPEARTMENT OF DEFENSE ANNOUNCED

IT WAS AWARDING $9.4 MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN CONTRACTS TO THREE

SOUTHERN TEXTILE FIRMS ON THE "PROMISE" THAT THEY WOULDN'T

DISCRIMINATE ANY MORE. THIS IS A BOLD NEW APPROACH TO HUMAN

RELATIONS.

PERHAPS THE KU KLUX KLAN WILL "PROMISE" NOT TO BEAT ANY MORE

BLACK PEOPLE; " PROMISE" NOT TO BURN THEIR HOMES. PERHAPS

THE ATLANTA BOARD OF EDUCATION WILL "PROMISE" TO GIVE DECENT

QUALITY INTEGRATED EDUCATION TO ALL OF THE CHILDREN OF THIS CITY.

PERHAPS THE OWNERS OF SLUM HOUSING IN ATLANTA WILL "PROMISE" NOT

DELAPIDATED [SIC] HOMES TO POOR PEOPLE IN THE FUTURE.

IF THAT WERE NOT ENOUGH, LAST WEEK TO ATLANTA . . . TO ATTEND A

FUNERAL . . . . COME THE FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,

THE FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OF HIS PARTY.

MIXING A LITTLE BUSINESS WITH A SOLEMN OCCASION, HE

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MEETS WITH LOCAL DEMOCRATS, AND TELLS THEM HE WANT A UNITED

DEMOCRATIC PARTY. BUT WHO IS INVITED TO THE MEETING? NOT THOSE

WHO HAVE FOUGHT FOR AN OPEN, INTEGRATED, DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN

GEORGIA. NOT THOSE WHO DEMANDED THAT THE INNER WORKINGS OF THE

MAJORITY PARTY IN THIS STATE BE OPENED TO ALL OF THE PEOPLE, BUT

AMONG THOSE PRESENT ARE THOSE WHO STAND FOR THE STATUS QUO, WHO

ARGUE THAT THEY'LL DO BETTER IN THE FUTURE . . . . IN SHORT, THE

STALWARTS OF THE HAND PICKED LESTER MADDOX DELEGATION TO THE

DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION.

IF FACT, IF MY MEMORY SERVES, THE NEGRO MEMBERS OF THE HAND-

PICKED GROUP WHO SO LOYALLY STOOD WITH THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY

THROUGHOUT THIS ELECTION WERE NOT INVITED.

SO THE FIRST TWO MONTHS OF 1969 CANNOT HAVE HELD OUT MUCH HOPE

FOR BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA.

BUT FOR THOSE OF US HERE IN THE CITY OF ATLANTA, THE

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CITY TOO BUSY TO HATE, SURELY THERE MUST BE SOME HOPE FOR US.

SURELY THIS CITY IS BETTER THAN THE REST OF THE USA, AND SURELY HERE

WE HAVE SOME CHANCE OF IMPROVING OUR CONDITION.

BUT THE CITY OF ATLANTA IS ABOUT TO FACE ANOTHER OF THE CRISES

THAT THE CITY HAS FACED . . . AND OVERCOME . . . . SINCE THE DAYS WHEN, AS

THE OLD SONG SAYS, "SHERMAN MARCHED ALONG/TO THE SEA/, LIKE MOSES

RIDING/ON A BUMBLEBEE."

MOST OF THESE CRISES, LIKE THAT FIRST ONE, HAVE HA TO DO WITH

RACE. THERE WAS A TERRIBLE ATLANTA RIOT, JUST AFTER THE TURN OF THE

CENTURY, WHEN WHITE MEN RAN LIKE MAD DOGS THROUGH BLACK

ATLANTA, RAPING, BURNING, LOOTING AND KILLING AS THEY RAN.

MOST RECENTLY, HOWEVER, ATLANTA CRISES HAVE BEEN HANDLED WITH

GREATER DISPATCH. WHEN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS WERE INTEGRATED HERE . . . BY ORDER OF A FEERAL COURT, BECAUSE THE CITY WAS "TOO BUSY TO

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TO HATE" AND THEREFORE TOO BUSY TO BOTHER ABOUT OBEYING THE LAW

OF THE LAND . . . FORMER MAYOR HARTSFIELD MANAGED TO TURN THE

OCCASION INTO A CHAMBER OF COMMERCE TOUR OF THE CITY'S VIRTUES.

LUNCH COUNTER INTEGRATION WAS HANDLED WITH THE SAME FLAIR

FOR PUBLIC RELATIONS.

THE OCCASIONAL RACIAL FLAREUPS WHICH OCCURRED SINCE THEN

HAVE SHOWN THAT THIS CITY'S FATHERS ARE NOT LOSING THEIR EXPERTISE

IN EXPLAIING AWAY ATLANTA'S RACIAL DIVISIONS.

JUST THIS WEEK, THE ATLANTA BOARD OF EDUCATION, SURELY THE MOST

UNRESPONSIVE BODY IN THE CITY, ADOPTED THESE SAME PUBLIC RELATIONS

TECHNIQUES IN A VAIN ATTEMPT TO EXPLAIN AWAYS [SIC] YEARS OF NEGLECT

AND CALLOUSNESS IN DEALING WITH THE BLACK COMMUNITY.

WITH EACH INCREASING AND ESCALATING DEMAND FROM THE BLACK

COMMUNITY, THE RESPONSE FROM WHITE ATLANTA HAS BEEN LESS

MODERATE MORE CONDESCENDING, AND MORE APPRECIATIVE OF THE

RAPIDLY INCREASING

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