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1964-06-17 Interview with Milton Galamison, June 17, 1964 RPWCR001:02OH107RPWCR02 01:49:27 Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Galamison, Milton A. (Milton Arthur), 1923-1988--Interviews School integration--New York (state)--New York African American clergy African American--Civil rights Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)--Race relations African Americans--Race identity Segregation African Americans--Education Segregation in education School integration Busing for school integration Educational equalization--United States civil rights demonstrations King, Martin Luther, Jr. 1929-1968 Clark, Kenneth Bancroft, 1914-2005 Civil rights movements African Americans--Relations with Africans Milton Galamison; interviewee Robert Penn Warren; interviewer 02OH107RPWCR02_Galamison 1:|15(1)|29(1)|42(2)|60(10)|76(1)|88(2)|97(11)|111(7)|124(8)|136(1)|149(7)|160(13)|178(6)|189(11)|202(3)|211(9)|222(9)|231(3)|244(10)|255(11)|267(2)|280(2)|296(7)|310(3)|323(6)|337(2)|351(9)|368(11)|382(7)|394(6)|405(5)|422(7)|442(5)|453(5)|467(2)|483(10)|497(5)|517(13)|531(5)|541(4)|551(9)|560(1)|574(2)|584(5)|593(9)|605(12)|615(4)|635(9)|648(13)|660(10)|672(3)|685(9)|696(1)|708(1)|718(7)|725(10)|736(1)|750(11)|765(13)|779(7)|793(1)|805(10)|820(2)|839(6)|850(13)|864(9)|873(10)|887(3)|903(2)|915(10)|926(9)|939(2)|953(4)|967(3)|979(13)|994(7)|1008(8)|1018(7)|1029(6)|1041(2)|1049(10)|1058(5)|1075(2)|1088(2)|1101(9)|1114(14)|1125(11)|1139(10)|1152(8)|1165(8)|1176(4)|1186(8)|1193(9)|1203(1)|1213(4)|1229(12)|1240(15)|1255(11)|1268(2)|1278(9)|1287(2)|1297(5)|1308(7)|1319(4)|1330(10)|1341(6)|1351(5)|1363(2)|1372(14) audiotrans rpwcr interview WARREN: New tape, new tape, new tape. Proceed. New tape, new tape. This is tape one of a conversation with the Reverend Galamison, June seventeenth. Proceed. [Pause in recording.] WARREN: I may provoke something. Do negroes want real integration or what Eric Lincoln calls, and quoting him, "a conspicuous, superficial integration which relieves them of any self hatred and insecurity but allows them to lead a life separate from white society"? Let's talk toward that, that general-- GALAMISON:--yes-- WARREN:--topic. GALAMISON: Well, of course, integration doesn't mean leading a life separate from the mainstream of society. Integration, on the other hand, may not mean assimilation and loss of identity and this is what I think negro people are trying to make clear. That negro people don't want to feel that they have to completely lose their identity to the degree that there is a cultural difference or a, a color difference. The color difference, of course, we cannot lose. There must be integration and acceptance in spite of whatever differences may exist. And what disturbs many negroes in terms of talking about integration is that it's felt by some that we must completely lose our, our identity. So I would put it this way, that I think the negro wants integration into the mainstream of American life in terms of jobs, in terms of education, in terms of the ability to purchase a home and live where he wants to live, and to really partake of the , the fruits and advantages and opportunities of American society. He does not, however, want to sacrifice being a negro, or to feel so much disrespect for himself that he doesn't accept himself as a person in order to achieve this, and I don't think it's necessary that the negro completely lose his identity. WARREN: Do you remember the article by Norman Podhoretz in Commentary a little while ago in which he said the only solution for the race question is assimilation? Do you remember that article? GALAMISON: I remember the article and I've heard the point of view expressed before, but I don't agree with this point of view. I feel that if, well, that we are not that limited as human beings that we cannot accept people in spite of differences, and if complete assimilation means losing our identity, then this we will never do as a people. And there may be some question about what the word assimilation means in its , in its deepest aspects, but assimilation even to me--if this is the term we want to use--doesn't actually mean losing one's identity. WARREN: He's talking about actual blood absorption, of course, Podhoretz is. GALAMISON: Well, there's been a great deal of that already. WARREN: Sure. GALAMISON: I think only a small percentage of negroes in this country are now actually whole-blooded negro people, as it were. And, yet, the negroes who are not altogether negro, that is, who, who apparently are the result of some kind of intermingling, are, are still regarded as negro. And I think that this will continue to be the situation, and I don't see that anything is particularly wrong with it. But negro people are going to have to be accepted as negro people. We can't wait till, till the whole human race in, in the United States is so intermingled and so confused that everybody has lost his racial identity. WARREN: That is, you view it as a kind of pluralistic society with individual choices being the criterion of all basic relationships, is that it? GALAMISON: This is true. And I understand that there are other cultures where the differences of people are respected and where the differences of people do not represent insurmountable barriers to unity and to living together and to sharing all the other things that human beings share. I feel that we in America are going to have to get to this point where we will accept people not because they're like we are necessarily, but because they're people. WARREN: This leads off in several directions. One is, DuBois's old notion of some split in the negro psyche, the pull toward the absorption into the Western European American cultural complex, the other being the pull toward the African or the American negro tradition, is a real problem for some negroes and still is for some negroes by their account. You don't feel this is an issue, I gather? GALAMISON: It is an issue in a sense, but only because we're passing through a certain period in American history. My feeling is that the extreme leaning toward African culture among negro people is based on the rejection and the lack of acceptance that the negro has felt in his own culture. It's also due largely to the fact that negroes feel that everybody has to have a home base and just as the Jewish people, for example, have reestablished Jerusalem and, or Israel, as it were, and have the right now to call this home, negroes need some place to call home in order to give them a, a complete feeling of, of identity and, and status as human beings in the world. Now this, however, this whole idea of the relationship to Africa, I think, has been grossly exaggerated. I think, for example, that the American negro is much closer to American culture than he could possibly be to African culture. That we cannot write off three hundred years, however horrible they may have been in the experience of any negroes, and however unwelcome the negro may have felt in this culture over these three hundred years, he certainly is much more closely related to the American scene and the mainstream of American life than he is to the major ways of life in Africa at the moment. And if many negroes were to go to Africa, they would, they would see this. WARREN: As Richard Wright found out, for instance. GALAMISON: Yes. Richard Wright, after being disillusioned in America went to France and after being disillusioned in France went to Africa and died a disillusioned man, realizing that he didn't have the kind of affinity with African culture that he, he thought he would have. WARREN: On the matter of integration again, Oscar Handlin's recent book A [Fire] Bell in the Night makes a sharp distinction between integration and equality, and he goes on to say that the emphasis on integration can actually turn that word into a shibboleth while the real focus should be on problems of equality. Does this distinction concern you? Does it seem to be a fundamental distinction? GALAMISON: Yes. It may be a meaningful distinction, but so long as the negro feels that his failure to achieve, achieve equality is due basically to his race, then he has to work in other areas. My opinion is--and I'm trying to turn this over in my mind--my opinion is that the only real equality for negroes in America is integration. That is, short of integration he has no equality. Short of his participation in the mainstream of American life in terms of the same education everyone is getting, in term, terms of the same kind of housing everyone else is getting, and in terms of the same kind of employment that everyone else is getting, he can't have any kind of equality. And these areas of life are denied him basically, we feel, anyway, because of our race. WARREN: Undoubtedly that's true. That's, say, the, the race, the racial difference has made for inferiority of opportunity of various kinds. GALAMISON: Exactly so. WARREN: We know, we know that beyond a shadow of a doubt. I think he has in mind some specific problems that arise. Now one problem would be the problem you have been intimately associated with, that is the integration of New York schools. The problem of just the ratio, of negro and white children of school age in public, in the public school system. How can you integrate, you see, or, in an absolute sense, given that situation. This is a problem you have given a great deal of thought to. Out in, oh, in Washington, DC, for instance, where integration as such, he would say, is not the prior concern because it's a special, just numerical problem. It has to be approached on terms of equality then, not in terms of integration as such. GALAMISON: Well, you see, if you accept the philosophy behind the Supreme Court decision that apart from integration in the public school system there can't be any equality, then it's difficult to accept this premise that this particular gentleman is holding forth. I agree that there are some areas in which the negro problem must be solved apart from integration. Education, I would contend, though, is not one of them. I agree, too, that in some areas in the educational system, we have a growing number of negroes in proportion to white. This should not be a barrier to integration. It should not be assumed that white people always have to be in the majority in a particular situation before integration should be attempted or--or affected. This is another bad philosophy, I think; that we are victims, of which we are victims; let me put it that-- WARREN:--yeah-- GALAMISON:--let me put it that way. The statistical problem or the logistics problem in most areas is not at all insurmountable, and there is hardly any area, however urbanized it may be, where a, a meaningful degree of integration cannot be achieved. Now, if this particular author is saying that there are some problems in America which even transcend the race problem, I would certainly agree with this. WARREN: Like class, in a sense. GALAMISON: Class, yes, indeed. I, I certainly agree that there are some that transcend the race problem. The thing stopped the--the thought. I would, I would agree that we have a class problem, too, that needs to be overcome, that discrepancies in income and disparities between classes of people have not been resolved by the democratic system as many people felt they would be resolved. However-- WARREN:--both black and white you're talking about? GALAMISON: Yes. And there are some black and white people suffer from the, the class stratifications in the culture. But the negro not only wears the badge of an inferior class because of his color, no matter how comparable he may be in every other respect, culturally, educationally, and , and monetarily, he is still an inferior misfit in the minds of other people within the framework of the culture. What disturbs me most though about the thinking of many people in our society is they think that class prejudice and class discrimination is more forgivable than race discrimination. And my contention is that any kind of discrimination or any kind of prejudice is bad no matter on what superficial basis it may be exercised. WARREN: To what extent would you accept the present program of the, of the New York school system? What reservations do you have about that program now? GALAMISON: My feeling is that there are two school systems really in New York City, not one. One system is the all-white school system and to a degree the integrated school system and the other system is the segregated school system which certainly is not producing the best in terms of our negro children. That is, the discrepancy is seen mostly in the academic performance, and the academic performance of the children in the segregated schools is invidious by comparison to the academic performances of children in the first system that I allege to exist. Now, my major criticism is that if we don't solve the segregation problem, we haven't solved any basic problem because this is the basic problem. My feeling is that all the prejudices and discriminations of the culture which affect the negro in housing and in employment and in areas of social life, that is, "I don't want a negro in my home," or, "I wouldn't want a negro to marry my daughter," are also brought to bear on the negro in the educational system. Tragically enough, people refuse to recognize this, and that we need an integrated school system not only to protect the negro from what happens to be a, a white dominated school system, but we also need an integrated school system to protect white children from the arrogances and the racial supremacy feelings that they are inclined to feel, being "defended"--I put that in quotation marks--from contact and classroom relationships with negro children. The whole culture, unfortunately, the pattern of the culture dictates the impossibility of having an equal educational system that's segregated. Now, New York City has not made meaningful steps in the direction of desegregating the school system. They are hedging and avoiding and procrastinating and managing all kinds of, of efforts which are not bringing about the, the timely and the planned desegregation of the school system. They , they feel free to place the onus for integration on some negroes in terms of open enrollment, but they do not feel that white children apparently should be inconvenienced in any way to help bring about a desegregated classroom, and this is the thing that distresses me. WARREN: What about the acceptance of, of the present proposal by the various organizations? How do you react to their acceptance? GALAMISON: These proposals, of course, have not been accepted at all, as far as I can see. That while the board of education publicly cried that organizations that were interested in desegregating the school system ought to submit plans, it is not my feeling that these plans and programs submitted by the organizations were ever taken very seriously. Secondly, everyone knows that it would be almost illegal for the board of education to take a plan or a program submitted by a secular group or a, a layman's group or a civil rights group and to impose this plan upon the city. So there wasn't really, I don't feel, much sincerity behind these demands for plans and programs to be submitted, but they did manage with these demands to divert the public of-, from the real issue, and that is that the board was not desegregating the school system. Now to further dramatize what I accuse to be insincerity, our board of education dumped the responsibility for developing a plan ultimately on the state, and Commissioner Allen of New York State appointed a three-man committee here in New York City to work out a program. This program was worked out and printed up within the space of about two months and became known as the Allen Proposals. Then Dr. Gross came out with a plan behind the Allen Proposals after saying, "This is the kind of thing around which we ought to rally," which almost completely bypassed the Allen Proposals and which was a diametrical contradiction, actually, of what Commissioner Allen had proposed. And this is about where we are at the moment. His plan has been modified to a degree and some embellishments have been placed on it, and some of the civil rights groups have said they will now support Dr. Gross's plan, but it still falls far short of the Allen Proposal which was supposed to have been some kind of an official proposal with status. And there just doesn't seem to be any serious intent on the part of, of educational officials to implement with purposeful and, and deliberate speed a desegregation program in the city. WARREN: That is, you would not go along with the other organizations in the, in the, in at least provisional acceptance of the Gross Plan? GALAMISON: In a sense I must go along because some of my people were involved in the deliberations and I was not, when perhaps I ought to have been. So I , I must, out of necessity, support the Gross Plan because I indicated that everyone should exercise his own judgment in relation to the Gross Plan. However, personally I am far from satisfied with it and I still think it's a complete betrayal of the Allen Report. WARREN: Here's the kind of problem that we often get stuck with, the question of your relation to your own children and your relation to the public school system, if my information is correct about the private school. GALAMISON: I only have one child. WARREN: Well, one child then. GALAMISON: Yes. Well, now, about the public school system. Of course, the public school system here as in many areas of the country is deficient, and one would wish that people might unite to protect the school system or to improve it as it were, I meant improve it. (laughs) But one of the reasons why whites don't realize how badly the school system needs improvement is because the negro situation is so much worse, and because there is some playing of the negro community against the white community. And it's been difficult to achieve unity because of the integration struggle, and the school system does not generally improve. Frankly, I would say that the profession of teaching is suffering as are many professions. We seem to be getting more and more people today in all kinds of work who are only salary- conscious--(laughs)--and clock watchers and who do not take professional pride in their work, who are not artistic about their professional activities. And, of course, workers like this don't produce the best kind of results. So I think the school system is suffering from the kind of professional deterioration that almost every profession is in this, in this country. I think this would be true of nursing, I think it would be true of the ministry; I think it would be true of medicine and a number of other areas. WARREN: On the question of your own son, you felt you could not sacrifice his development in terms of supporting an abstract principle, is that it? GALAMISON: Well, let me put it this way. My son's being in private school was not at all related to this struggle in the beginning. I don't think I was involved in this struggle, if I remember correctly, when we first put our youngster into a private school. He started in a nursery school. It was simply a matter of having him in school, and my wife was working, and we felt it was time to sort of wean him away from home. Now, when he got to the age where he was ready to enter public school, there came a question of whether he should go to my wife's school where she taught, or whether he should go to some other public school. Well, now, if he had gone to another public school there would have been no one home to care for him in terms of lunch and that sort of thing. And my wife didn't feel that it would be an objective situation to have him in her school where she was teaching. So we continued him on in private school. Then by the time he got to the age of, when he might have gone to public school, I was so involved in this struggle and I was being so vilified by many people in the school system that I did not feel that I should expose my child to the kind of attitude which I knew prevailed in the school system against me among many principals and teachers. I did not feel he could be dealt with objectively, and I think he's paid a high enough price for what his father is doing simply in terms of, you know, absence from home and all this sort of thing. At, at least he's entitled to the best education we can give him and this is what we're trying to do. WARREN: Now let's try to find a parallel problem on the part, or see how far we find a parallel problem--just let's explore it--on the part of a parent who says, "I believe in integrated schools," who honestly does believe in integrated schools--let's say, let's posit this man--"but I don't want my child now put in the schools as they exist to support the matter of integration. I want to keep the child here because I protect his interest next year and the year after and the year after, whatever year you say." Now, he's over kind of a barrel, too, isn't he, as I was over, as you were over? GALAMISON: Well, it depends on what our motivations are and whether-- WARREN:--assume this man is honest, you see, and, and really wanted integrated, integrated schools, integrated society. (??) him say, "No, I won't permit this. I'll fight it because the school he'll go to can't be made decent within three years or four years." GALAMISON: Well, this may be and, of course, this is a right of, of private choice for people to send their child to public school or to private school. WARREN: Or to fight, or to fight the, or to fight the--the transfer? That's his right too, legally. GALAMISON: Well, he can fight a transfer, you see, if it's not at the expense of what you're trying to do to the school system or what you're trying to do to other children. You see, when you, when you talk about sending children to private school, I contend that for many white parents in the New York City community, they, they have a private school anyway. The only difference is everybody is paying for it, and not only is it a, a--(laughs)--private school, it's, it's the kind of school from which they are, in which they are protected from anything that they may not want in it, including negroes. So, this is my argument. You know, when it comes to the, the integration situation here in, in New York City, that my contention is that we, we don't even have a public school system in many respects. That it's, it's being operated for the benefit of some at the expense of others. And, of course, it's being operated, I would contend, at the expense of the children who are not faring well or who are being deprived because of the pattern of the culture and , and the feelings in the culture which generally exist toward negro and all minority group children. WARREN: That's clear. I would, that, that's, there's no argument about that, I think. I don't think anybody reasonably could say there is an argument about that. It's a question of how you deal with a man who though, may, he may be mistaken or thinks he's acting for the good of his child even against his, a certain set of principles he may believe in. It's not a question of good guys versus bad guys, is what I'm getting at in this matter. GALAMISON: Well, this, of course, is a matter of opinion. I don't think that, you know, I'm not interested in categorizing people as, as bad guys necessarily, but I, I think that we have lived too long in America where we are willing to entertain the prejudices and discriminations of some people, however much they may exist to the disadvantage of other people, and still we're willing to label these people decent people. Now I think we've just got to get to the point in this culture where we realize that people who do not treat other people as human beings because of their race or their color are not functioning as human beings themselves, that you can't dehumanize someone else without dehumanizing yourself to a degree, that you can't be dishonest and unfair to other people without being dishonest and unfair innately as a person, and that we can no longer accept this as something that just happens to people and accept it as a perfectly normal , normal thing, you see. So I, I couldn't agree with you in terms of your description of the kind of person you're talking about. Such a person is , is objectionable to me as a person, and I think that, you know, too long we've , we've paid the price for people like this in the culture and allowed then to feel that they're , they're wonderful people when really they are not. WARREN: Well, now, what about the person--another hypothetical case--who elects the private school, say, as, as I have elected on, against my principles? But I still pay my taxes, but I put my child and my own enthusiasm into the private school, against my will. GALAMISON: Well, this is an individual right. On the other hand, I would argue--and this is--(laughs)--not a criticism of you-- WARREN:--please, please, you're not talking about (??). GALAMISON: Yes. I would, I would argue that we have a responsibility, though, to correct those things in the public school system which may have prompted us to send our children to private school. In other words, we still have a responsibility, I think, to all children, and if we do try to salvage our child--(laughs)--at least we still ought to continue fighting in the public school area. WARREN: Suppose the man down the road who fights the transfer system is still fighting for the improvement of schools so he could transfer. He is in the same moral position as I would be or you, wouldn't he be? He's still working to change the schools, make them adequate up the road there. Change the school he doesn't want his child to go to now. Excuse me just a minute. I've got to change the tape. This is the end of tape 1 with the Reverend Galamison. See tape 2. [Tape 1 ends; tape 2 begins.] WARREN: Tape 2 with Reverend Galamison. Proceed. GALAMISON: Yes, we are affirming the right of people to send their children to private or public school. Beyond this, the motivations and the truth or inaccuracy behind the motivation must be considered, and in terms of the question you raised I would say this, that a man may have a right to take his child out of an integrated school because he feels that the standards are going to go down because the school becomes desegregated. I'm saying this is his right--(laughs)--but there would be almost no scientific data to support his supposition that the standards are going to go down. That is, let me put--(laughs)--it this way. While the standards of the school generally may be lowered because you're bringing in a group of children who are below standard in terms of overall norms, the standard may go down. The standards of the individual child do not go down, that is, in those experiments and pilot projects that have been attempted in various places around the country. The last two reports came out on pilot projects in California on Christmas Day. It's indicated that those children who were performing continued to perform, that these standards of those children that are up to norm and above norm continue at the same pace, and that over a period of time those who are behind in their standards catch up. So while I'm saying that this is a very realistic and understandable fear, that people ought to understand whether their fears have any real foundation before they operate on the basis on these fears. WARREN: My point, Mr. Galamison, is a little different; though I'm glad you spoke to that one, too. The man who believes in integration and says, "If you come to the school where my child now is, I welcome you. But if my child is transferred, I will protest it. I will fight it because it'd be to an inferior school." GALAMISON: Well, you see, it isn't the school--(laughs)--the school itself, the building, that's inferior-- WARREN:--I mean the building, too. GALAMISON: It's, if, if the negro child is behind standards , below standards--(laughs)--let me put it that way, he's going to be below standard whether he moves to the white school or whether the white children move into his school. I contend that this is not the issue behind the refusal on the part of people to transfer. Only one construction can be put on the kind of attitude which says, "It's all right for negro children to transfer into my community, but I will not have my children transfer or travel to a, a negro school." And that construc-, and the construction that I would put on this is just race arrogance. This is all it is. That and , and an assumption that integration is completely to the benefit of the negro without realizing that there are many other values apart from academic values which would accrue to the white child in a situation like this, you see. And I contend that it's only a--a lopsided, master racist feeling that allows people to make expressions like this, "I don't mind if negroes transfer to my school, but I will not support any integration effort which involves the movement or inconvenience of my own child." I mean children are children. Why, why--(laughs)--should a, a white child be any better to transfer to affect some desegregation than a negro child, you see? And it's because these school systems support this arrogance and this lopsidedness that we protest because this is precisely what the New York City school system is willing to do, transfer negro children all over the place even on a compulsory basis, but refuses to transfer white children. Do you understand what I'm saying? WARREN: On the question of transfer, I think what is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander, as far as inconveniences are concerned. I wasn't raising that question. I was thinking of the case where a child, a white child in the School "A" would be transferred to School "B" which is, for the moment, an inferior school irrespective of, of race, you see. GALAMISON: Yes, you see, but the school is inferior because no white children are in it. Now, by this--(laughs)--I don't mean that negro children are inherently inferior. This is not what I'm saying at all. WARREN: I (??). GALAMISON: The--the question goes right to the heart of why the negro school is inferior, and the negro school is inferior because of the racial and cultural attitudes and ethnocentricisms that the average teacher brings to the school. And the school is inferior because there are no white children in the school to protect the negro child from a white school system. WARREN: All, all, all right. Now let's say, say this. If, how long would it take to make that school equally good? School--bring the School "B" to School "A"; that is to say, Negro school up to school "A" which is predominantly white, say, at the moment. GALAMISON: If it were done in the right way and with real purposefulness, this can be done with the repopulating of the school and the revising of the curriculum over a summer; that is, when the school opens in the fall. The--the standards are set , new standards, the , the curriculum, which is a comparable curriculum has been devised, the , the teaching staff has been carefully selected and all the elements that go into the making of a good school can go into this school. Now maybe you still have, you have the negro children in it, you see. These children may not catch up right away, but over a period of time they will, if history is accurate in any way, catch up to the others. WARREN: I think that clarifies some of the things I had in mind. Let's, let me ask you about the present collision between Dr. Kenneth Clark and Congressman Adam Clayton Powell. What seems to be at stake in that collision in terms of, of social good? GALAMISON: I have been avoiding dealing with this question publicly because there are so many aspects here that can be verbalized and misunderstood. I would--(laughs)--suggest first of all that much of the-- (laughs)--I, I hate to say this; don't, don't have this typed out. I mean what I'm saying, I hate to say it. WARREN: You'll have a transcript anyway. GALAMISON: Yeah. First of all, there appears to be a problem of controlling the funds. This is a , a natural problem that would arise over a , a , an hundred- million-dollar grant to a community, and I think that basically this is the--the local struggle--who will have charge of distributing the funds and who will control the personnel that handles the purse strings. But secondly, the question about the degree to which this is political is, well, it's a question that almost doesn't require an answer because my feeling is that this war against poverty operation represents a new kind of political patronage anyway. That, you know, no longer do we have a , a number of jobs and old types of patronage to distribute as political powers, but this idea of , of social work, this idea of , of getting into the community and involving as many people as possible and making large grants in terms of funds, is pretty much a political operation. I'm not saying it's, it's bad. It's, it's very good in its effects and it's very good in it's, in what it intends to do. But I don't think anybody should overlook the, the basic motivation behind it. And the basic motivation behind it is, is, I think, a political motivation. I had a hard time getting that out. I've been dodging this question, of course. WARREN: Congressman Powell told me that all the old leadership is dead; they are finished. That is, all the organizations, the Urban League, NAACP, and all the rest of them all are dead. The new leadership will be recruited from other sources. How would you respond to that remark? GALAMISON: I would say that this depends on the manner in which established organizations-- WARREN:-- (??) he included (??) name, you see, in this (??). GALAMISON: I agree that there is a movement among the people that transcends at this moment, movement among the constituted civil rights organizations. However, I would take the position that the degree to which the civil rights organizations survive depends on how they will keep pace with what goes on. That is, I'm not at all convinced that the established organizations are going to let the people completely go by them and not fit-in in any way in terms of serving the needs and aspirations of the people who are on the move. My feeling is that they, they may well do this. I think that there is a, a place in the struggle at this point for all kinds of levels of, of operation. For example, I think that the white community has great confidence in the established civil rights organizations, much more so than it has confidence in the smaller organizations or in the new movements which are springing up. This means that they will continue to support the established organizations, and it also means that the degree to which white support is won to various efforts may depend on the degree to which the established civil rights groups will involve themselves in this effort. It's just a little difficult for me to believe that established civil rights groups are going to allow themselves to be left by the side of the road in this struggle. WARREN: How do you define the, the nature of the new impulse you say that is, that is manifesting itself in the masses? What is the nature of that impulse? How would you define it? GALAMISON: It is, I think, a growing feeling of frustration and a growing intolerance with injustice. That is, for a long time, I think, the negro people did not protest against their own plight and felt that there was no way out of their own plight. For a long time, I think, negro people accepted the image of, of themselves that had been projected by a white society, and regarded themselves in many ways as undeserving and inferior and white society as superior. However, I, I think that these attitudes no longer exist among the masses of the people, and that negro people are beginning to more and more realize that their deprivation is not due to any inferiority on, on their part, but due more so to a moral lapse on the part of white society, and that they have, or their predicament has been created by the, the cultural and social and economic influences which are hangovers really of, of the slavery era. And that with this new image of himself and with this new understanding of the perpetration of injustices and discriminations on the part of white society, the negro masses are moving to, if not redeem themselves, certainly to rescue their children from these historic practices. WARREN: Did you see the review of the New York Times book review two weeks ago of a new book on the race question, Crisis in Black and White, a review by Mr. Saunders Redding? GALAMISON: No, I didn't, I didn't see it. WARREN: That rather undercuts my question, but he, he was saying this, quite the opposite of what you were saying. He was outraged because the author of this book had said that the great crisis in the negro revolution was a redefinition of identity. GALAMISON: Well, this is pretty much what I have said-- WARREN:--what you have said. Yeah. Yeah. GALAMISON: Yeah, this is not at all far afield from the same thing that I am saying, and I believe infinitely that a man's own opinion of himself is a very important thing. And if you have a feeling of pride and self respect about yourself, then you do not allow people to do to you some of the things that you would permit when you don't have a sense of pride and a sense of self respect. And I think that the negro people have grown in--in pride and have grown in respect and have altered their own image of themselves considerably, and they have also altered their image of, of white society, and that with this altered image of society generally, the negro has found motivation to fight and not accept the kinds of situations in which he permitted himself to be placed before. WARREN: Yes, that's the question I had hoped you would speak to. A moment ago you were talking about white, it wasn't acceptance or, it may had been cooperation with the established organizations. This implies that the efficacy of the movement involves somehow a white, white attitudes and white activity. Now what is the role of, say, the white man--liberal, I almost said--who is spoken so badly of by James Baldwin and others in relation to the movement, the person who has some sympathy with the negro aspirations and in some sense of the justice of their claim? What's his role? GALAMISON: I happen to be one of the people who feels that this struggle will not and cannot be won without the active participation of white people. In fact, I have said jestingly sometimes that I think white people are going to take the civil rights movement over, and perhaps this is not a jest. Perhaps this is the way it ought to be. I remember after a meeting in Sheepshead Bay one evening being interrogated by a number of vociferous white parents in the school lobby who were distressed by some of the things that I had said, and there was a white man in the community who stood beside me and who said, "This is our fight," you know, "This is my fight with you, this is our fight with each other. Don't badger him with these kinds of questions." I don't know that he wasn't right, and I don't know that there isn't a great deal of work to be done among white people and also with negro people in the civil rights area, that white people cannot involve themselves in very effectively. So when you inquire after the role of white people in this struggle, I feel that white people have a, an indispensable role in this struggle. And I think a good bit of it is among white people as well as with negro people. WARREN: That's not quite James Baldwin's remark that the white liberal is an affliction, unless we stop to redefine liberal then. GALAMISON: Well, I think the word "liberal" has become so distorted that it's almost-- (laughs)--impossible to define what a white liberal is at , at the moment. I don't know that I would agree altogether with Mr. Baldwin. I don't know that he would expect me to. Max Lerner complains--he's a great admirer of, of Baldwin's literary genius-- (laughs)--but he complains that Baldwin doesn't leave him any alternative. That is, that Baldwin both condemns him for what he hasn't done, and then accuses him of some peculiar motivations for what he might do so that he doesn't know what to do. (laughs) I , I think what Mr. Baldwin is , is saying in essence--and I'm , I'm taking a great liberty in trying to say this--what , what Mr. Baldwin is saying in essence is that a , a great many white people bring to the civil rights struggle the same kind of paternalism and the same kind of rugged indifference--(laughs)-- to the feelings and the aspirations of the negro that they have exercised in other areas, and that this is not a good place for feelings of paternalism and feelings of domination. That white people who , who get in the struggle must bring their cooperation and they must bring their gifts and share them with the negro people, but that they must not try to take over, as it were, you know, within negro groups the , the , the leadership or the , the pace at which the movement, you know, would , will go, and they must not try to , to dictate and fall back on these same old patterns, you see, of , of missionary-ism. WARREN: Right. Let me read a question--a statement, rather, by Dr. Kenneth Clark about Dr. King's philosophy. "On the surface, King's philosophy appears to reflect health and stability while black nationalism betrays pathology and instability. A deeper analysis might reveal that there is also an unrealistic, if not pathological, basis to King's doctrine. The natural reaction to injustice is, is resentment. The form that such resentment takes need not be overtly violent but the corrosion of the spirit seems inevitable. It would seem, therefore, that any demand that the victim of oppression be required to love those who oppress them, places an additional and intolerable psychological burden upon the victim." How does that strike you? GALAMISON: The remark amazes me because Dr. Clark is a psychologist, and it would just seem to me that a psychologist, of all people, would know that hate is a consuming passion, and that hate does as much harm, if not more, to the individual who entertains that hate, who internalizes that hate, than it does to the objects of the individual's hatred. That when we are motivated by hate or any other consuming passion, we do not function objectively, we do not function realistically, as it were, and that no man can afford to live motivated by hate. In other words--(laughs)--let me put it this way. It's--it's one thing if a, an enemy tries to destroy you, but he has driven you to the supreme destruction when he can drive you to self destruction which is a consuming hatred of him or of anybody else. WARREN: That is, you support the philosophical basis of Dr. King's nonviolent policy as well as a tactical basis, is that right? GALAMISON: Yes, I think I would support both. I would also add that one can act against a wrong or an injustice or an enemy without hating the enemy. That is, the fact that I do not-- (laughs)--hate the person who is exercising some kind of evil against me doesn't mean that I can't rise up and--and fight him and defend myself against him and move to correct the injustice that I think needs righting. I mean it does, in, in other words, activity doesn't have to be born of hatred. WARREN: Nor, nor does it have to be violent, is that the, also a corollary? GALAMISON: Yes. No, it doesn't have to be violent. I would say this, I am not sure that every effort of this magnitude might not be served in some way by some segment of, that's willing to retaliate in kind. But I think that history teaches us that violence begets violence and that ultimately and in the long run, violence isn't the real answer to anything. WARREN: If I understood you correctly, you were saying that you were not certain but that some violence, a dash of salt in the stew, might serve a good end, is that right? GALAMISON: Well, let me put it this way-- WARREN: --some is going to happen anyway. GALAMISON: Passive, yeah, passive resistance and nonviolence assume a civilized enemy, a humane enemy or, at least, the human enemy. And this, of course, is not always true. There are, as the scripture puts it, some adders that cannot be charmed. And it does give some people comfort in their exercising of evil to know that nobody is going to strike back in kind. Therefore, I--I contend that this is not a , a certainty in which a man--(laughs)--should be allowed to rest, that nobody will ever do onto him as he has done onto them. And while I believe that violence is not the ultimate answer or the best answer to anything, I think that violence can have a certain restraining effect on the person who is doing the evil. That is, if a man who does injustice or exercises injustice against a group of people or against another man is not quite sure whether he will suffer the same in retaliation, he will be restrained. WARREN: That is, a few rifle clubs is okay, is that right? GALAMISON: Well, we have a few rifle clubs, and about this rifle club business, that is, whether we are for rifle clubs or against rifle clubs--(laughs)--I ask people have they ever been against the existence of rifle clubs before? That is, if we are against rifle clubs, or are we just against negroes having rifle clubs? And it seems to me that people who intend to live by justice and , and by truth and by mutual respect and decency should not have to fear negroes having a rifle club anymore than they fear existing white rifle clubs, don't you see? WARREN: Yes, that would be true enough. What I really meant to say is this: in, say, a place like Mississippi, if we want a little violence, a little salt in the stew, just to keep it straight, you know, the records straight, then someone should, Machiavellian, in Machiavellian spirit, have a kind of stern gang, a little gang of dedicated retaliators, or would that follow, or just trust nature to take care of that? GALAMISON: Yes. Well, what I'm , what I'm trying to say--(laughs)--is, while I'm not , I refuse to advocate violence as a principle, that some group--and almost all oppressed people have had such a group--that will retaliate in kind might serve some kind of purpose in bringing about a swifter resolution of a problem that exists. This is what I'm trying to say. In general about rifle clubs, I am not opposed to anybody's having a rifle club. WARREN: But actually on the matter of Mississippi? GALAMISON: In Mississippi, if, if white people are permitted to have weapons, then negro people ought to be permitted to have weapons. In other words, I just refuse to separate people racially in terms of the right to bear arms. This is, the right, I think, of every person in this country, and if we're in the kind of situation where some people might have more respect for the rights of others and might be less inclined to commit violence against others if they had arms then, certainly, these people have a right to have arms just as everyone else does. I'm, I'm trying to answer you but you're pushing me in a-- WARREN: --I have heard it advocated--this is the Conference on Nonviolence at Howard University last fall--that perhaps there should be a calculated policy among negroes of their brinksmanship of violence, to use the phrase used then, to toy with violence, violence as short of lethal, to keep this threat in the air, even though not forced all the way. GALAMISON: Well, I think that nonviolence does this. I think that passive resistance does this anyway, that the objective end of nonviolence and the passive resistance defined by sitting-in and demonstrating is to precipitate the opposition to violence. WARREN: End of tape 2 of the conversation with Mr. Galamison. See tape 3. [Tape 2 ends; tape 3 begins.] WARREN: This is tape 3 of the conversation with the Reverend Galamison. Proceed. GALAMISON: All set? WARREN: Yeah, all set. You mentioned demonstrations. Do you distinguish in your mind between an illegitimate type of demonstration and a legitimate? To be, for example, certain organizations oppose the stall- ins as demonstration, and many individuals did, as being illegitimate, yet at the same time supporting other types of demonstration. What kind of distinction do you make in your mind on such a point? GALAMISON: In my own opinion, any demonstration short of violence is a legitimate demonstration. I think one of the mistakes we make is to suppose that we should only have those kinds of demonstrations that are going to meet with general approval. And my contention is that the demonstrations of the type which meet with general approval are the demonstrations that are least likely to accomplish anything. That is, one doesn't devise a demonstration on the basis of the degree to which it is going to please people. One devises a demonstration on the basis of necessity. That is, will this get the job done? And a civil rights struggle is not a popularity contest that we are waging in hope of winning as many friends as possible. (laughs) A civil rights struggle is a , an effort that we're waging to bring in justice, and it's not expected that those who advocate injustice or who have stood by the status quo are going to approve of any effort that's exercised to get the job done. WARREN: Well, we could scarcely assume that Mr. Farmer was defending the status quo when he opposed the stall-ins, or Mr. Whitney Young. Their motives must have been different from that. GALAMISON: Well, I refuse to speculate about Mr. Farmer's motives. I will say this about the stall-in. The stall-in gave a left wing to other activities on the day of the opening of the World's Fair, which meant that the sit-ins and the arrests in which Mr. Farmer participated in, in himself didn't get the kind of general public denouncement that they might have gotten ordinarily. It must be understood, too, that there is a difference between established civil rights groups and the smaller civil rights groups, the local civil rights groups. There's a difference in terms of whom the different groups are responsible to. There's a difference between the kinds of funds that these groups handle, a difference between who contributes these funds to the various organizations, so that every organization is not at liberty to function as every other organization. WARREN: I talked recently with Mr. Farmer about this point. He made a distinction of this sort for the, for my interview, for the record, but the stall-ins would partake of the nature of a general strike, not justified by the occasion. But the time might come when paralyzing tactics would be necessary, but not as long as there was some communication, some basis for, as it were, negotiations, which he felt existed at that time. GALAMISON: Yes. Well, Mr. Farmer is, of course, entitled to his point of view. It ought also to be remembered, though, that the actual leaders of the stall-in were four CORE branches in New York City-- (laughs)--which apparently disagree with Mr. Farmer. WARREN: That's quite on the record. This raises another little question. In any, in any popular movement there is bound to be a, if not a struggle for leadership, at least a natural competition for leadership, and among different policies that are proposed. Do you see a drift towards a centralized individualized leadership in the civil rights movement, or may I say more generally, the negro movement? A drift towards the man, you know, will appear? GALAMISON: I would say first of all, though, that this is not true of the CORE organization. I don't think they are-- WARREN:--not CORE. I mean in general. GALAMISON: Any, yes, I know, but I want to bring this comment in. I don't, I don't think there any local CORE branch leaders who are trying to displace Mr. Farmer in any way. But generally about a drift toward any individual leadership, I would say no, I don't think that the negro people will arrive at a point where they have one leader with whom everybody disagrees , I mean agrees, and whom everybody follows, anymore than white people have. All the people following Goldwater, or all the people following Johnson, or all the people following any thinker among the white race. In fact the competition in the civil rights movement gets keener all the time, and I think that it's good. I think that the differences may be good. I think it's good in the sense that we should have various strategies and various tactics of operation. I think it's good in the sense that there should always be some groups outside the pale, as it were, who are not controlled and who are not predictable in terms of what they may do next. But my experience over the past several months working closely with civil rights groups is that the rivalry will , will continue and that, you know, that there will not be any one person who's , who's running the whole show, and I think it's good. WARREN: Do you see any tendency, as has been stated to me by Congressman Powell, that the mere fact of white money getting into the big organizations or some of the smaller ones has the tendency to draw their teeth, to modify their basic policies, to soften them? GALAMISON: I think that this is true of any effort, not only the civil rights effort. I think it's true of the church, I think it's true of any institution that, "He who pays the piper will call the tune," or try to call it, and if he is not able to call the tune, he's going to stop paying. And I think one of the interesting things about our struggle here, as people involved in the civil rights effort, although I don't call myself a civil rights person--I'm, I'm a clergyman doing what I ought to be doing--is that we have been able to get so little in the way of funds from people who generally contribute to other organizations and to other efforts which lie at a distance. That is, people who have given generously to movements in the South, people who give generously to major civil rights organizations, people who have supported monetarily, for the most part, the struggle of , of negroes, have not supported this confrontation that we have waged here in the City of New York. And I think there are reasons for it. WARREN: What are those reasons? GALAMISON: I think that they don't want commit, number one. I think for the first time in many years, whites in the North are actually confronted with the problem that they tried to pretend only existed in the South, and that many whites have been able to call themselves liberal because they would send money to Mississippi. And if there's a school integration effort in Alabama, it appears in the newspaper that the negroes in Alabama are struggling for equality. If there's a school struggle here in New York City, and the New York City newspapers print that some irresponsible leaders are , are trying to get publicity, you see, there's , there's a distinction when the battle gets nearer to home. And I think that the white people in the North have had to sit back and actually examine themselves and they don't like what they see, and I think that they are projecting their anger and their frustration on the people who are making them face this question. And I think, basically, they have indicated, by their failure to support financially the efforts, that they're not particularly in favor of the effort. Now they'll, they'll say, of course, they're all confused about the school desegregation problem. Even many of the most liberal white people are confused about this. But in other areas they will say, "I'm in favor of the objective, but I'm not in favor of the method," as if there were any other way to gain the objective apart from the method that's being employed. WARREN: Switching to the South for a moment, some commentators including Mr. Evers, Charles Evers, have said that they are optimistic for a settlement in the South before one in the North; does that make any sense, that speculation? GALAMISON: This may be, and some Northerners say this with a sense of sophistication, but there is a truth in it if the South does not find ways of evading desegregation and integration as the North has found. That is, let me say this--(laughs)--there are many tricks and evasions being exercised constantly in the North to which the South may resort. That's why it behooves us in the North to clear up these discrepancies as quickly as possible. We owe it to our Southern brethren rather than pretend that all is well here and, and everything is wrong there. WARREN: So they can't be exported? James Baldwin, James Baldwin says that the Southern mob, the gang in the streets of Birmingham or Little Rock, does not represent the will of the Southern majority. GALAMISON: This may be true. I would not be in a position to know, however. WARREN: (??) Who is, in a position to know? GALAMISON: Yes. However, a statement like this appears to be predicated on a feeling that it's the majority of people who get things done and, of course, this is contrary to truth--(laughs)--and in most instances it's a , a militant minority in any area that decides the direction of things. And certainly it's a minority of negroes who are deciding the direction of the civil rights struggle, who are adamant about school desegregation-- WARREN:--yeah-- GALAMISON:--who support even the major, major civil rights organizations. The, this small minority of negro people man the picket lines or do the sitting-in and what-have-you. They are creating a rather formidable effect. Well, the same thing is true of the minority of white people. They are, however, vociferous and however in error they may be, are certainly creating a, the major impact on our society at this point. If there is any lesson to be learned from it, it's not only that a minority pe-, of people gets things done, but that people who straddle the fence and people who don't take a position are not effective in the movements of a society. But no revolution certainly, however peaceful or however violent, involves the majority of people. WARREN: Following this line of thought, we would have the notion of a majority of white people, say, in Mississippi or the South, who are uninvolved or have no focus for expressing their opinion, or are afraid. Over against that would be some massive apathy or lack of concern among a certain percentage of negroes. Is that a fair description or not, following what you said? GALAMISON: Yes, I think there are apathetic people on both sides. I think there are unconcerned people on both sides. I think there are cowardly people on both sides. I would agree. WARREN: Let's go back to another topic of pure speculation. Myrdal says in his book, The American Dilemma, that there could have been a decent policy for the Reconstruction after the Civil War. Then he outlines what he would consider a decent policy from '65 on. The first stipulation is compensation to the ex-slave holders for the Emancipation. Second, expropriation of land for settling the freedmen, but payment to the ex-landholders. Three, the sale of such land to the freedman on a very small rate and amortized over a period of years. Those are the first three elements. I would like to know how you would respond to those three proposals. Not whether they would have worked or not. Let's assume they would have worked, would have helped matters. Let us say, let us assume that. What would you , assuming they would have worked, would have helped matters, that we'd be over some of the humps that we are not over yet in the South and elsewhere, would you still object to any of them? GALAMISON: I wouldn't object to any of them. I, I think that they would have been helpful programs to the plight of the negro at that juncture. They would not, however--had all three been affected--spoken to the basic problem in which the negro found himself which made this kind of program impossible, that is the recognition of the negro as a human being. You see, the difference between other institutions of slavery and the American institution of slavery is that in no other instance, to my best knowledge, was a slave actually dehumanized and deprived of the image of being human, so that in other instances in history when slaves were freed they became people like everyone else. In America this was not true. Apparently in order to justify slavery, the early Americans found it necessary to dehumanize and completely emasculate the negro so that even after he was freed he was not recognized as a human being, and his efforts even in court to gain rights as a human being met with failure. For example, in the Plessey v Ferguson decision, it was adjudicated that no negro had rights that a white person was bound to respect, and we are living in the backwash of this concept today. So that no matter what we had given the negro, I don't think it would have brought an ultimate resolution to his problem unless we had also revised our propagandized concept of the negro. WARREN: You wouldn't have felt any resentment at the notion of compensating the slaveholders, the ex-slaveholders for the Emancipation, this, as an affront to your dignity as a negro? This ex post facto recognition of slavery, of slavery as property holding? GALAMISON: Oh, no, I would not object, have objected to his being compensated for the years that he spent as a slave. I think-- WARREN:--no, I, I mean a slaveholder being compensated for the price of the slave who has now been turned into a freedman. GALAMISON: Oh, well-- WARREN:-- (??) GALAMISON: Yes. Yes. Well, I think Lincoln intended to do this and proposed it, and it would've been a fulfilled intention had not the slave masters, many of them, through their participation in the Revolution , not the Revolution, the Civil War, violated their right to get these grants from the government. Of, of course, if the slavery institution were recognized as a moral wrong, then no man should have been reimbursed for surrendering what he had no right to in the first place. This intention to even do so was a, a political connivance based on a hope that the South might somehow be appeased, but it was not, of course, right. WARREN: We are up against the problem then, aren't we? If we assume that such a policy would have been of real value, then on one hand we're recognizing, as you put it, a moral wrong. "Conniving" was your word, I believe. On the other hand we would be actually advancing the situation of the negro freedman? GALAMISON: Yes. Well, it's a dilemma. Maybe there's--(laughs)--there's something in it-- WARREN:--it's a dilemma all right. GALAMISON: Yeah, to be said for both sides. That is, if the nation sanctioned the slavery institution at the outset and people invested their money in the slavery institution, and reimbursement would have quietly ended the thing. Of course, money would maybe have been a small price to get rid of the slavery institution, and also appeased those who had been deprived of slaves. I mean there's something to be said for that fact, but my, my whole argument is that if this nation had taken a strong position in the beginning, which it never did-- WARREN: What kind? What-- GALAMISON:--at the time of the Civil War, if it hadn't , if we hadn't taken such a quasi position, such an appeasing position towards the South, and if we had resolved this problem when we fought it out, that we would not be in this predicament today. You see, President Lincoln was not at all as much in favor of emancipating slaves as he was in keeping the, the nation together. And he said in essence that if to maintain the--the unity of the country he had to free the slaves, he would free them. If it, if it meant he had to keep the slave, he would, he would keep the institution of slavery. So this was not an altogether a, a moral decision on his part. But the North was ready to make any concessions to the South, even in terms of slavery. It was only that the South felt driven to the point that nothing the North could do would appease them, that the South was driven to the brink of, of the Civil War, as it were. But certainly there was no great emphasis on morality here, or no great emphasis on the, the, the rights of negro people. The, the whole thing was a kind of freak which grew out of circumstances that nobody had, had anticipated. WARREN: That is, the Emancipation was an historical accident then, is that the idea? GALAMISON: I would call it that. It was an historical accident. Yes, it was that that almost nobody could foresee. In fact, Frederick Douglass spells out in his autobiography his despair, his absolute and abject despair, after the hanging of John Brown at Harper's Ferry, that the negro problem in this country, the slavery problem would be resolved. And the Civil War to him was as much an amazement as, as it was to anybody because it was something that could not be foreseen. But through this peculiar convergence of circumstances when the, the North realized that as long as the South had free labor and a slave institution to help the South support its war, that the North decided that the negro had to be involved in the war and began to move to the point where they recruited free negroes even from the slavery areas of the South to help fight for their own freedom. WARREN: Against the will of the top brass of the Federal army, of course. GALAMISON: Oh, yes. There were many problems in the army of, there were many instances when the negro was first involved in the army where the negro was relegated to the worst and most subservient positions, and only after much protest on the part of some negroes like Frederick Douglass, and only after some white people like General Grant put their foot down, did the negro find himself designated to a station of any stature in the, in the army. WARREN: Your remark about the , the Emancipation being an accident relates to a theory of all negro gains in this country up to the present, not including the present, that negro gains by and large have been a byproduct of a general historical situation. But the present situation is different. It is not a byproduct. It is created by the negro will to create it. Does this make any sense? GALAMISON: I think I'd be inclined to agree with the premise that the negro gains have basically been a byproduct, but I would carry the premise straight through. I think even the negro gains in America currently have been pretty much due to byproduct, you know, have been pretty much a byproduct of what is transpiring in the world. I think the , the rise of the black nations in Africa to positions of independence and freedom, the feeling in Asia against America because of America's treatment of negro people, the widespread knowledge of the , the heinousness of race relations in our country, the , the threat of , of communism and our effort to maintain on our side the , the black nations and the yellow nations of the world against the communist camp, all these have been, I think, factors in creating an atmosphere in which the negro could carry on this struggle. WARREN: Do you detect a change in the atmosphere, the general atmosphere, say, attitudes of the, of the white society towards legitimate aspirations and moral claims of the negroes, some actual change of attitude or not, in your time? GALAMISON: Yes, I think there's been a decided change perceptible in many areas. It's only since I've been an adult, for example, that these public service commercials were played on radio and television of, in-, invoking people to a concept of brotherhood and exhorting people against feelings of prejudice and discrimination against other people. Not only so, there have been many other developments which have created a , a change of attitude reflected in the , in the daily press, reflected in the kinds of , of programming one sees on television and hears on the radio today which are race relations stories spelled out in , in a race relations context. There are in our time, too. Yeah, well, let me put it this way. Nearly every pronouncement of church and government today bears the words, "Without regard to race, religion, color, national origin." In other words, there is a, a growing atmosphere in which hatred and discrimination and prejudice are becoming less popular, let me put it that way. And it's just evident in, in so many areas that, you know, I can very easily see attitudinal differences today as over against when I was a, a boy growing up. WARREN: How much optimism does this give you in considering the whole matter? GALAMISON: Let me say I really don't know, and let me place my agnosticism over against what I understand to be the pessimism of the most rabid racist in the South. (laughs) That is, my understanding is that even the rabid racist in the South feels that the dawn must inevitably break and that the negro must achieve full equality here, and that the most he is doing with his activities is procrastinating and holding back the inevitable. (laughs) Now this is the way he feels. I am not sure I feel this way. I take the position that I don't know, and that my struggle in the school effort is a confrontation that I am trying to put America to the test so that I can learn for myself whether those who, you know, advocate isolation and separation are right, or whether those who advocate the idealisms of democracy are right. WARREN: This is the end of tape 3 of the conversation with Reverend Galamison. Proceed. [Tape 3 ends; tape 4 begins.] WARREN: Tape 4, Reverend Galamison, proceed. Perhaps the problem in one, at one level at an early phase anyway, is not the matter of the extirpation of prejudice, racial prejudice, but a matter of confronting it and deciding what to do about it in the individual or in society. Does that approach seem to wash? GALAMISON: Yes. There's no doubt but that it will take some time for people to be rid of their prejudices. That is, I, I get the feeling sometimes that the best antidote for prejudice is experience and, unfortunately, the people who have the prejudice close the door against the kind of experience that might rescue them from these feelings. There were some studies in the fall of 1963 by a , two, at least, of the national magazines which illustrated beyond a doubt that people who had had contact with negroes had much healthier feelings toward negroes in terms of jobs and housing and what have you, than white people who had never had such contact. So, apparently, in order to be rid of the fear and the irrationality, one has to somehow take the lion by the tail or face the ghost, as it were, to see how unrealistic these feelings are. But like the people who most need to go to the psychiatrist, the person who most needs to get rid of the prejudices is the least likely to avail himself of such an opportunity. WARREN: And what about the fact, the contact in the South with the negro? There we have in some aspects of life a very massive contact, so mere contact would not, GALAMISON: Oh, no, not mere contact. It , it must be contact on an equal basis, on a man-to-man basis, not on a master-slave basis or on a paternalistic basis, which is , which are the only circumstances under which many white people have a deal with negroes even in the North. I'm, I'm glad you pointed that out because this is certainly vital to the whole question. But the point that I want to make here is that negro children and negro people generally should not wait till white people develop healthy attitudes towards negroes. Therefore, prior perhaps to the eradication of prejudices, we want the eradication of discrimination. There is a difference. Discrimination is the denial of the right to have, and prejudice may be the denial of the right to, to be, as it were, let me put it that way. Because white people entertain these feelings, which admittedly are wrong and unhealthy, this is no reason why negroes should be deprived of jobs and housing and, and other things which are fundamental to being a human being. WARREN: What about, what about the matter of the negro prejudice against whites? GALAMISON: Yes. Well, of course, prejudice isn't good because it's prejudice against whites or wrong because it's prejudice against negroes. Anywhere prejudice exists it's wrong, and as I pointed out earlier in the interview, not only is racial prejudice wrong, class prejudice is wrong, cultural prejudice is wrong, and these feelings must be outgrown no matter who entertains them. WARREN: What are the responsibilities or obligations of the negro, whoever that hypothetical negro is, you know, the negro, toward the achieving of a society without prejudice or certainly without discrimination, and with a , a workable integration? What are his responsibilities? GALAMISON: The negro has a responsibility majorly at this point to fight for the eradication of these external circumstances which oppress him, which victimize him, and which create many negroes in the society who, by virtue of the structure of the society, fail or fall. Now I read these criticisms in the newspaper and in magazines and other propaganda areas of white people who talk about the number of negroes who commit crime and who talk about every , and who exaggerate, really, every anti-social act, you know, in which a negro might be involved and which is exposed by the newspaper. Now this gives people a false kind of security in their wrong and in their maltreatment of people. That is, people allow the existence of circumstances which create social failures, and then they point to the social failures and say, "There, see what kind of person you are." People will deny negroes the right to survive as human beings and yet criticize negroes and further deprive them of the right of being human beings because of what some of these external circumstances have done. Now, don't misunderstand me. Some negroes rise above these circumstances. But this does not justify the existence of the circumstances, and far more negroes are falling victim. And people who criticize this out of context just happen to be people who have no comprehension of the cultural and the social and the economic and historic forces which tend to make up all people and , and help create the kind of people that we find on , on the American scene. I have said, for example, about the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, which comes under constant criticism in terms of , well, any time a negro gets arrested or any time, anything happens, it's dramatized and caricatured by the press. I've said that we couldn't have a community with this kind of behavior if there weren't people outside it who were far worse than the people inside it. And were there time I would go on and catalog an observation like this. But there is this tendency always, I think, among human beings to overlook and evade injustice, and then to criticize or find satisfaction in the products of the injustice. WARREN: Not long ago I had Dr. King--the last time I've had him--and he wound up his speech at Bridgeport with a, "Be the best street sweeper," see, that line, something very much like the self-improvement line, "Be the best , such a street sweeper that the angels in heaven lean over," and so forth. This is to a three quarter or five sixth negro audiences, of course, but he was recognizing one kind of responsibility in the whole question of civil rights and in the question of the negro movement. GALAMISON: Yes. Well, I, of course, do not disagree with this philosophy that everybody ought to be encouraged to be the best of whatever he is. However, I think that we as negroes have spent far too much time trying to deserve approval; that is, trying to deserve love. (laughs) Now, as a Protestant clergyman who believes in grace--(laughs)--I don't believe anybody can deserve love, and we run the gamut in our contentions about this. That is, there are some of us who believe that negroes should dress a certain way and, and deport themselves a certain way and, and talk a certain way, and then white people will open up all the doors. Well, this is not true. There are just as many white people who resent a cultured, comparable, well-deported negro who, as those who resent a, a disheveled, uncultured negro, you see. Or there are some who prefer an unlettered negro to a lettered one. But I think as long as we operate on this basis that we must do something in order to be equal, we're operating on a fallacious basis. You, you know, we --we are people apart, everybody is a person apart from these external values that man might place on another man. That is, a man on relief is , is , is still a person apart from the fact that he's on relief, or a man who has no education is a , is a person in spite of the fact that he may not have an education. And I think that we are operating on a very superficial standard of values, and, and that we fall victim to a very fallacious way of, of thinking when we contend that the, the right of the negro to be treated as a person and the right of the negro to enjoy equality depends on something that the negro should do. WARREN: One more question; a tough one, yes. One more question and then we can spring ourselves. In this obligation, suppose a young man, nineteen-years-old, eighteen-years-old, young negro in school or, or university discovers he's a dedicated physicist, a great talent, what should he do? Stay with, in his laboratory or go on the picket line? GALAMISON: I think he should try to do both, that we don't live in a vacuum, and our most isolated interests are subject ultimately to the ebb and flow of the social tide here in the United States. My feeling about the whole social movement is that nobody is , is innocent, for example, that nobody is a bystander and that nobody has a right not to be involved in some way or another. This would apply to both whites and negroes, and it would apply to an aspiring talented physicist as well as to the pupil who flunks out of school. WARREN: Well, suppose he's a medical student, and six months on the picket lines flunks him out of school. Take an extreme case. GALAMISON: Yes. Well, this is a determination that an individual exercising his good judgment must make for himself. That is, one is not called upon, I don't believe, to destroy some great good or some effectiveness that he might be able to give society if he develops his aspirations for a , a momentary thing. But on the other hand, I don't , I don't think a , a man has a right to hide from the social struggle by deluding himself that he one day is going to be able to make a contribution that he would not be able to make if he had let the social struggle go by. My, my experience has been that the people who don't get in the struggle when it's going on, when they get where they're going, don't get in it either, that only an ingrained selfishness allows a man to remain aloof of, from the problems of his time and not involve himself. WARREN: End, end, end, end, end, end. [Tape 4 ends.] [End of interview.] Reverend Milton Galamison (1923-1988) was a clergyman and civil rights leader in New York City. Born in Philadelphia, Galamison later received his Bachelor's from Lincoln University in Montana and his Master's in Theology from Princeton University. At the age of 25, Galamison became pastor of the Siloam Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, New York from 1948 until his death in 1988. In 1955, Galamison was elected chair of the NAACP Schools Workshop. Later, after serving one term as President of the Brooklyn chapter of the NAACP, Galamison resigned in order to devote more time to addressing school integration. He founded the Parent's Workshop for Equality in New York City Schools and the Citywide Coalition for Community Control. In his work to integrate schools within the New York City system, Galamison organized boycotts of New York City Schools. In 1968, Galamison was appointed to the New York City Schools Board of Education. In this interview, Reverend Milton Galamison discusses the issues of integration and segregation of the New York City school system at length. Galamison describes his standards for integration and discusses what integration means to the larger community of African Americans. Galamison discusses the current state of the New York City school system, its progress toward desegregation, and his own participation working toward desegregation of these schools. In addition, Galamison discusses African American culture and describes what he calls an "affinity" toward African cultures. Civil Rights