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1964-04-07, 1964-04-15 Interview with Kenneth Clark, April 7 and 15, 1964 RPWCR001:03OH24RPWCR13 01:54:40 Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Clark, Kenneth Bancroft, 1914-2005--Interviews Galamison, Milton A--(Milton Arthur), 1923-1988 Brown, John, 1800-1859 Lee, Robert E. (Robert Edward), 1807-1870 X, Malcolm, 1925-1965 Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826 Jesus Christ Racism Civil rights movements School integration Busing for school integration Segregation in education African American psychologists African Americans--Civil rights Educational equalization African Americans--Education African Americans--Race identity Blacks--Race identity Africans--Race identity Race relations--Philosophy Interracial marriage Political ethics Miscegenation Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Views on slavery Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Views on race relations United States. Declaration of Independence Civil rights demonstrations Civil rights leadership African American leadership Nonviolence Nonviolence--Philosophy African Americans--Relations with Africans Kenneth Clark; interviewee Kenneth Clark; interviewer 03OH24RPWCR13_KenClark 1:|12(12)|34(2)|45(10)|65(3)|74(13)|83(11)|99(2)|113(4)|125(9)|142(13)|159(5)|168(5)|176(12)|200(11)|219(11)|249(1)|258(4)|273(5)|281(2)|309(6)|323(5)|348(9)|360(9)|376(4)|402(5)|410(1)|433(7)|457(11)|468(8)|484(4)|493(10)|524(1)|532(14)|540(6)|552(8)|565(7)|577(5)|601(11)|613(3)|625(3)|641(13)|652(3)|676(6)|694(10)|718(9)|727(8)|744(6)|762(7)|776(1)|802(11)|812(4)|832(10)|846(3)|866(8)|881(5)|908(3)|939(3)|950(10)|967(9)|996(5)|1020(7)|1053(2)|1068(2)|1085(7)|1123(2)|1142(11)|1170(4)|1203(4)|1224(1)|1250(2)|1272(2)|1295(4)|1318(10)|1337(6)|1353(7)|1370(2)|1386(8)|1411(12)|1437(2)|1452(6)|1461(4)|1478(1)|1497(3)|1509(7)|1524(3)|1550(10)|1560(4)|1573(12)|1603(3)|1624(8)|1636(5)|1653(2)|1685(7)|1705(11)|1725(4)|1737(11)|1753(6)|1788(2)|1809(4)|1838(2)|1861(4)|1885(6)|1900(7)|1921(7)|1944(11)|1962(9)|1980(2)|1993(5)|2016(4)|2038(6)|2050(4)|2083(8)|2103(6)|2123(4)|2133(8)|2147(5)|2181(4)|2191(2)|2207(7)|2225(13)|2256(3)|2285(2)|2310(4)|2322(7)|2350(10)|2369(5)|2388(16)|2408(13) audiotrans rpwcr interview WARREN: Fresh tape, fresh tape, new tape, fresh tape. [Pause in recording.] WARREN: This is a conversation with Dr. Kenneth Clark, the psychologist, in New York City, April seventh. (pause) Just to plunge in, uh, Dr. Clark, let me read what supposedly is a quote from, um, Mr. Galamison on the school, uh, problem in New York. "I would rather see it, the public school system destroyed than not conform to his timetable," and added, "Maybe it has run its course already," the public school system. CLARK: You would want me to comment on that-- WARREN:--yes, yes. CLARK: (??)-- WARREN:--out of context, you see. CLARK: Yes, well, the first comment I would make obviously is that this is an unfortunate statement. And I have the feeling that if Mr. Galamison was given the opportunity to retract that, he would. Obviously, no one would benefit from the destruction of the public school system in New York City, or anywhere else in the country for that matter. And certainly, negroes could not possibly benefit from the destruction of the public school system. My feeling is that this was one of those impulsive statements which men often make in the heat of battle. And it should not be taken seriously. And I'm convinced that Mr. Galamison would not take that statement seriously now. In fact, if he were given an opportunity I think he would take it back. WARREN: It corresponds, I suppose, to one pole of feeling, or one aspect of feeling that's bound to be, to arise in such matters. "The Samson in the Temple" (??) psychology. CLARK: Yes, except that, um, I don't, I don't take that kind of statement, uh, seriously. It's obviously not a statement upon which one could base a reasonable, um, plan of action or a program for social change. As I understand what the negro is doing in America today, he is not asking for institutions to be destroyed; he's asking that these institutions be strengthened by including him within them, you see. Uh, and I think we have to make a distinction between emotional statements and sometimes, uh, hysterical slogans which people will use in the heat of battle and sound judgments, which, um, are the basis for the long-term program. WARREN: May I test this now to see how this is coming on? CLARK: Sure. [Pause in recording.] WARREN: There's always a problem--isn't there--in every mass movement or even things more modest than mass movements, how you relate the emotional drives to, uh, a reasoned program. Isn't it always a problem in all movements? CLARK: Yes, and particularly when one has to face the fact that our society does not move initially, uh, on the basis of rational, factual, or ethical appeals. It is one of the most disturbing things to me to observe that, uh, emotional, um, irrational appeals are much more likely to be effective in bringing about initial concern with an obvious social problem, you see. For example, and you mentioned, uh, Reverend Galamison. Well, a number of people who've been working on the New York City public school problem for years, for the past twenty- five years, there's been a citywide committee on Harlem schools, uh, that was in existence when I was in college, headed by Algernon Black. During the past ten years, a number of us, uh, from the Urban League and from other citizens groups in New York have been collecting data and trying to present to the board of education a sound, factual basis for increasing the efficiency of the schools in Harlem and in other, uh, disadvantaged areas of the city. Well, actually nothing happened. I mean, our reports were accepted graciously. Um, and in effect filed and forgotten. We set up a series of conversations with the superintendent of schools and the board of education members, but the bureaucracy ignored a factual, rational approach to the diagnosis of the problem and to attempts at effective remedy. Well, Mr. Galamison comes into the picture. And he moves on a level of emotional impact, you know. He organizes the people to boycott the schools, to make immediate demands, you see, or demands for immediate, uh, change. Well, it's an important reality that one must face the fact that Mr. Galamison has had more impact within the past six months on the board of education of the City of New York than all of the previous years of patient, you know, reasoned, objective, factual study of this situation. WARREN: Let's make a shift to another aspect of that same problem. Clearly he's made the impact. And clearly, uh, this has been a dramatization of an intolerable situation-- CLARK:--right-- WARREN:--let's put it that way. What about rational and irrational solutions, however? CLARK: Well, that's another problem. I don't think there is any such thing as a meaningful irrational solution to the problem. What I'm trying-- WARREN:--not solution, but what passes as a solution. CLARK: No, I think that, uh, effective solutions have to be based upon facts; have to be based upon reason; have to be based upon logic, logistics, and things of that sort, but I don't think and in looking at this society--from the perspective of a negro and a psychologist- -the thing that really appalls me about this society is that one does not get to the point of even seeking the rational solutions for long standing social ills--and maybe I should be even more specific--racial injustices, unless these injustices are dramatized for the public, more often than not by irrational or non-rational methods and techniques. Now, the danger, of course, is the possibility of confusing the methods and techniques that are appropriate and effective for dramatizing the ills with methods and techniques that are necessary for the long-term planning and resolution of the problem. I think one of the difficulties with the civil rights struggle today is that such confusion occurs in certain communities. I think we are in a danger of having that kind of confusion here in New York City. WARREN: You mean on both sides of the fence? CLARK: Right. Yes, I think that the negro people understandably can believe that dramatic methods of protest--because they are effective in bringing into the consciousness of the people the nature of the problem--that these same methods will be effective in resolving the problem. Excuse me, a moment. [Pause in recording.] WARREN: In that connection, what do you think of the busing proposals? The particular proposals and the, uh, possibility of other more rational ones, if you don't approve of these. CLARK: Well, there are two forms of busing proposals. The one that is in operation now where negro youngsters and Puerto Rican youngsters from ghetto areas of the city are transported to, uh, receiving schools in middle-class white areas; this is the open enrollment plan. It's interesting that in the initial stages of this plan when it was first proposed and tried out, there was opposition. Um, a tremendous amount of opposition in certain areas of the city. In Queens for example. WARREN: Serious opposition? CLARK: Serious opposition. WARREN: I knew there was some; I didn't know how much. CLARK: Yes, there was serious--as in Glendale, Glendale, Queens, there was organized, prolonged opposition to bringing in of negro children into "the white schools." Um, the board of education persisted, however. And, um, continued the open enrollment program, so that there is no problem now on that. The present proposal which is the basis of controversy and difficulty--suggested not by the board, but by, uh, some of the civil rights groups--is that, uh, white children be transported into, uh, the ghetto schools. My own reaction to this is that this is unrealistic. Is not likely to be implemented and is likely just to be a bone of meaningless controversy, you see. I think it is unrealistic because I am convinced that the bulk of white parents of children in the public schools would not permit their children to be transported into ghetto areas in New York for purposes of integration, or for that matter, any purpose. Uh, I think their reasoning has some basis in fact. The schools in the negro communities are woefully inferior. They are so inferior that no child should be required to attend them. Uh, the negro parent, the working-class negro parent unfortunately has no choice, you see, except to send his child to these schools, and I think this is criminal. The white parent does have a choice. If the board of education were to force, um, white parents to make this move, the middle-class white parents would escape, either by accelerating the flight to the suburbs or by sending their children to private schools or to parochial schools. Rather than facilitating integration, I think that type of program at this time and at this level of development of race relations and racial attitudes in Americans, would accelerate the segregation problem. It would make the public schools almost totally a minority group. WARREN: It would-- CLARK:--and the poor whites. WARREN: It would accentuate the class, uh, split, too, wouldn't it? As well as the, as well as the racial split, too, is that true? CLARK: I'm convinced of that, yes. That it would, uh, that the public schools would become exclusively, predominantly, if not exclusively, the minority group and lower-class whites. WARREN: Is this true--I understand from various sources--that more and more, uh, middle-class negroes are sending their children to private schools, too. CLARK: That's quite true. WARREN: This is, this split is going on very rapidly. CLARK: One of the ironic things about the leadership of the present, uh, public school fight in New York is that the, uh, top leaders of the fight--Reverend Galamison and some of his top associates--have their own children in private schools. WARREN: So I understand. CLARK: But I, I would consider this, uh, as much a compliment to them as a criticism. Because what in effect what they're saying is that they are really fighting for the adequate and appropriate education, the democratic education of all children and not just their own. But it is a fact that they--recognizing the inferiority of the schools which their children would be required to attend--are willing to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to send their own children to private schools. WARREN: That argument would cut both ways, wouldn't it? A white, uh, father or mother objecting to having a child sent to a Harlem school would be using the same argument to himself that, uh, Reverend Galamison would be using. CLARK: Exactly, exactly. And, uh, there would be no more basis on the face of it to accuse the white parent of racial prejudice than to accuse Reverend Galamison of racial prejudice. WARREN: Or of snobbery. CLARK: Or of snobbery. It could be for the white as much a reaction to the inferiority of the school, as it is for the middle-class negro who refuses to send his children to existing public schools. WARREN: That point is not often recognized, however, is it? CLARK: But it's no less real. WARREN: It's no less real. CLARK: Sure, sure. WARREN: I'm talking now about the way emotions operate-- CLARK:--okay-- WARREN:--not about the way that reason operates. CLARK: Very true. WARREN: May I switch the topic a little bit. Years ago I read, um, began to read DuBois. And I was struck at the time by his stating and coming over and over again to the topic of the split in the negro psyche. This or what he calls that split. The drive toward the "mystique noir," toward the African heritage, toward the sense of a, of a negro culture here, as well as elsewhere, as from Africa. This sense of identity and, uh, commitment of a negro culture, as one pull, one pole of experience, and one desire for development. The other, the exact opposite, the moving into the Western European-American Judaic-Christian tradition, and, um, absorbing and being absorbed into that as fully as possible, even with the, uh, possible consequence of the loss of--this is extrapolating from him--of loss of his sense of racial identity at all. The blood absorption. These are two separate impulses. Does this strike you as a psychologist as a real problem or not? CLARK: It certainly strikes me as another bit of evidence of, uh, Dr. DuBois's shrewdness and, um, his ability to, um, to anticipate and to see beneath the, the surface problems to the basic problems of race in America. [Pause in recording.] CLARK: As a psychologist, I'm convinced that DuBois was correct. The negro in America is ambivalent in his feelings about his place in the larger society and in his feelings about himself. It would be a little bit of a miracle if he could have adapted to the whole history of cruelty and oppression and come out of this with a positive, unalloyed, uh, positive image of self, or a set of feelings about the society which, uh, has oppressed him in the context of a democratic ideology. Um, the present form of this, and, of course, one of the things we ought to recognize right away is that DuBois was one of the first Americans, negro or white, to recognize the importance of Africa, you see. DuBois was talking about PanAfricanism and the fact that Africa was going to be the significant area of the world in the latter part of the twentieth-century, as early as the beginning of the twentieth century. He was saying this when other people barely knew what Africa was, or, you know, when the average, even the average intelligent American's image of Africa was largely that of a bunch of, uh, savages and cannibals. DuBois-- WARREN:--so was that of most negroes at this time. CLARK: That's right; that's right. WARREN: A place to send missionaries. CLARK: Their concept of Africa-- WARREN:--their concept of Africa. CLARK: But as early as the first and second decade of the twentieth- century, DuBois was pointing to Africa as, as significant area of world concern. WARREN: Do you see any continuity, cultural continuity of the American negro with Africa? CLARK: Personally? Do I, personally? WARREN: Do you, do you see, observe any? CLARK: Well, personally, I don't. Personally, I think of Africa pretty much the way I think of Asia, or Europe, or South America. Um, in terms of any conscious or cultural continuity between the American negro and Africa, I think one has to be, to be realistic, one has to recognize that, um, American slave trade systematically sought to destroy, uh, any such continuity, you see. The Africans were not permitted to be brought--well, they were not brought here and given the opportunity to continue any of their prior heritage. WARREN: There was no, uh, cultural entity called Africa anyway, was there? It was a mass, mass of different cultures. CLARK: A mass of different cultures--from what I've read about the slave trade, the slave traders were not anthropologists. They didn't go over there trying to bring people from the same cultural unit into the, uh, Afri--into the American scene. [Pause in recording.] WARREN: Have you read a book by Stanley Elkins called Slavery, published by Chicago a few years ago? CLARK: No, I haven't. WARREN: It deals with the psychological effects on the, uh, slave in America, as compared to the psychological effects on the slave in other slave societies. Like Brazil or Cuba, such places. CLARK: I would suspect that maybe he would conclude that slaves in America, uh, were subjected to more intense and effective degree of deculturation-- WARREN:--right-- CLARK:--than the slaves in Brazil. WARREN: Also the creation of the "Sambo" was worked out as a paternalistic treatment, rather than where there's totally one the owner controlled all. Stayed behind him (??), as opposed to Central America or South America or a system where there is a Catholic culture, where the, uh, the priest could demand the sacrament of marriage. They'd tend to maintain the family. Where the estate (??) overseer who might be against--in theory, anyway, the owner. Then, the question of slave revolt then comes up. Why are they all so common in, uh, Catholic countries and so rare, despite Mr. (??), in America-- CLARK:--in America, yeah. Could it also population difficulties? In the West Indies, certainly the, uh, form of colonial, colonialization was such that the population, the white population was never that much greater than the slave population. And with absentee ownership, which characterized the West Indian slaveocracy, and to a lesser extent the South American, this was the opposite in America where you always had the whites in majority. And just the risk involved in revolt would be greater in a situation where there was a stable majority white population, in contrast to an economy where you had a relatively unstable, absentee ownership and minority white population. WARREN: That would seem to be a factor in any case. Though he centers most of his discussion on the matter of the psychological effect that the system of the United States. CLARK: Um-hm. I think part of that psychology involves the reality of numbers. WARREN: The reality of numbers and the, um, question of getting, back (??) as a corollary, a negro community, or rebuilding one in the new context. (pause) But this bears on the question--doesn't it--of the achievement of the negro in this generation and in some time before in achieving an identity. CLARK: Yes. WARREN: This is a question, not a statement. If, but if you take, uh, Elkins's theory, the problem of achieving, uh, an adequate self-image, a satisfactory identity would be greater in America, despite certain superficial benefits that the negro has had here than it would be in other societies? CLARK: The problem of, um, establishing-- WARREN:--would be still more difficult in America. CLARK: Establishing a positive identity, yes-- WARREN:--yes. CLARK: Yes, except that one can establish an identity through protest, you see. One-- WARREN:--now, now. CLARK: Now, and I think, uh, if one looks at the negro spirituals, one sees--or at least I think one can interpret the spirituals as, uh, attempts and struggles towards some kind of positive identity through protest, through hope, through, uh, a plaintiff, anguished, uh, desire for a better lot. I--can't buy totally, the feeling that oppression, uh, destroys the identity surge of human beings. I think, for example, if one looks at the Jews who have gone through much longer periods of pro--of oppression, cruelty and barbarity, you sometimes get the feeling that the Jewish identity has as its nucleus around which everything else clusters, um, the protest against oppression, you see. That, that the Jew sees himself as someone who exists because he has been oppressed. WARREN: He also had--on a differing degree anyway--a sense of a cultural continuity-- CLARK:--true-- WARREN:--and knowledge of his history. CLARK: Sure, true, uh, well, in knowledge of his history was a knowledge of the series of oppressions. The series of difficulties that he has had with-- WARREN:--also the triumphs he had. CLARK: Triumphs, but I think the triumphs were always earlier. WARREN: Earlier but they were there. CLARK: They were there as maybe the rock on which then the defeats and the oppressions could rest and be brought into a more positive kind of, uh, construct. WARREN: This brings into Malcolm X then, doesn't it? CLARK: How? (??) WARREN: The creation of--of the past. CLARK: Well-- WARREN:--assuming his to be (??), as opposed to what might be the real past. CLARK: I don't know what is the real past, for the American negro. I think that Malcolm X is an example, or black nationalism of which he is merely one form-- WARREN:--yes-- CLARK:--is an example of the struggle to create a past, you know. I think, for example, when the Muslims call themselves, uh, "true Muslims," because this was the heritage of their forefathers. I'm not sure how much the reality they have here. I think this is real in the sense of a wish, real in the sense of, uh, a satisfying sort of fantasy. WARREN: Helots, (??) any historical record would indicate that. Mohammedism came very little into Africa (??). CLARK: Right. If one were to be bluntly realistic and logical about this, it would seem to me that the negroes, the American negro's past, uh, functionally begins with the slave trade, you see. This is the only verifiable continuity that he has. Obviously, he has something before that but in terms of the meaning of his present experience and existence is to, uh, be understood in terms of the seventeenth-century events, uh, catastrophic events, I mean, disruption of whatever he had in Africa, uh, did not carry over here. WARREN: Yes. CLARK: He was uprooted. He was literally, uh, snatched away from whatever past he had and had to begin anew here. WARREN: Now, psychologically, what weight do you put on this fact? Say on the negro situation, as opposed to that of say the Jew or the Nisei or any other minority group which brings to America, uh, a formed tradition and has a "glorious past" it knows about, you see. CLARK: Well, obviously that type of advantage provides some stability- -stability of self, stability of the group. It, uh, uh, provides a rallying point for the individuals who comprise the group. The negro's rallying point has had to be shared oppression, you see. He has had to build a sense of group, a sense of belongingness out of the common experience, and the common experience in terms of this new culture. Mainly, he, he was oppressed of this new culture. He had a humanity. He had the human reactions against oppression. And he had the human desire to become free of the oppression and he has translated his desire to be free of oppression as also meaning to be incorporated into this system, without regard to his color, because he sees himself as an integral part of this society. He helped to build it. He, uh, he has contributed as much as any other group who has comprised America and more than most. WARREN: Excuse me, we'll--this is the end of tape 1 of the conversation with Dr. Kenneth Clark. Proceed on tape 2 [Tape 1 ends; tape 2 begins.] WARREN: Tape 2 of conversation with Dr. Kenneth Clark, proceed. [Pause in recording.] WARREN: Can we make out a case, uh, for the negro situation as being actually advantage, an existential advantage, psychologically? CLARK: I don't quite understand what you mean by that, existential advantage-- WARREN:--the fact that he is not burdened with a, a past. That he is free to create, uh-- CLARK: -- (??)-- WARREN:--which is not true of some others burdened by a past. CLARK: But I think the negro is burdened by a past, which determines the nature of the future which he's seeking to create. I, I think that he is burdened by a past that begins with disruption, that begins with, uh, stark and flagrant cruelty and barbarity, you see. This is the beginning of his past in a sense. And, uh, this past continues into about two hundred years of systematic, uh, exploitation and cruelty, which is slavery. This is, this is his heritage. And he has been the object of, uh, the problems of whites who have this glorious past, you see. I mean, he is the culmination of the meaning of the white culture in civilization in terms of, uh, dehumanization of him. This is his past. This is the past which he is burdened with. And this is the past of the whites who are so proud of their past, you see. The negro becomes the, the personification of all that is meaningful in the white man's past, because he now is the stark--well, what is it--the stark example of, uh, Magna Carta and, you know, all these things. He is the example of the meaning of the white man's Christianity, et cetera. Right, this is a complex past. And it's, uh, a kind of past which--as I said before--determines the nature of his present and the kind of future he is insisting upon. He's insisting upon a future that will make the white man whole, uh. Now-- WARREN:--make the white man what? CLARK: Whole. W-H-O-L--W-H-O-L-E. That is, he--(laughs) There is something ironic about this is discussion about who has and who doesn't have a past, when actually the present has fused the past of negro and white. I mean, this may be terribly disturbing to the white. By the way, this image of fusion is both literal and figurative, I think here, because--you asked me about my feelings about Africa. It, it might be disturbing to the general American public for a negro to dare to say that, uh, he feels no more identification with Africa than he feels with Denmark or Ireland. But actually in terms of what he is, he is as much Irish or English or Danish, as he is African, because of this more literal fusion-- WARREN:--you mean blood fusion-- CLARK:--blood fusion that has occurred in America during this, these past three hundred years. You have a blood fusion, you have an historical fusion, you have a psychological fusion. And I suspect--and I certainly haven't worked this out; I wish I had a little time and luxury in which to try and work it out--but much of the ambivalence that, uh, DuBois referred to and which we see so clearly today among negroes, maybe a reflection of this total fusion that he is, you see. WARREN: Do you see more resistance now to the blood fusion on the part of negroes than in the past? Either in actual, in actual, uh, intermarriage and in actual, uh, interfusion of bloods, licitly or illicitly, and in the emulation of, of the white physical ideal that was true say--oh, a generation ago? CLARK: I think on the ideological level there's probably a, uh, greater resistance on the part of negroes to, uh, mixture with whites now than--in the past. But I think we ought to be careful, careful to make a distinction between ideology in verbal postures and what actually happens. I am not sure and I would like to know where one can find, uh, reliable statistics on, uh, incidents of intermarriage over a period of time. WARREN: There is a paradox here, isn't there? Implicit somewhere in the situation? CLARK: Unquestionably, I think the American race is best seen in terms of paradox and, uh, contradiction and inconsistencies and mess (??)-- uh, a terrible mess (??), uh, coexisting with behavioral contradictions is a very mess (??), you see. WARREN: Do you remember Norman Podhoretz (??) piece in Commentary sometime? CLARK: I certainly do. WARREN: Solved only by assimilation-- CLARK:--yes-- WARREN:--what sort of sense does that make? CLARK: Well, I reacted to Norman's piece, and, um, my first reaction was that this was a curiously and scathingly honest piece. The second part of my reaction was that I thought that his solution made no sense at all, uh, for a very simple reason. That, uh, it didn't work in the past, there's no reason to believe that it is going to work in the future. Norman Podhoretz (??) talked about assimilation of whites and negroes as if this was something that was new. Was going to happen, you see. What this man--I don't know why he didn't understand it--but what he apparently didn't understand was that, uh, part of the problem was this: that white males have long been exploiting negro females. This is part of racism. And, uh, one has to look long and hard to find any pure blooded American negroes. And these are not--the mixture of the American negroes is not a reflection of, uh, a preponderance of white women bearing children from negro males, you see. Well, if miscegenation--which is the real word here rather than assimilation--if miscegenation hasn't worked from slavery, if a white male could be as brutal toward his own flesh and blood as he was toward other negroes or colored in America, why does Norman Podhoretz (??) think that, uh, legalizing the mixture is going to, uh, change the psychological and social situation any. WARREN: Anyway, it is a long postponement of any solution or any (??) at the best. CLARK: Right, I think what he is asking for will not be a means toward the end, an ethical end, but will be an indication of the fact that the ethical end was obtained by other means, you see. Once you get a meaningful, uh, equal status, human form of interracial mixture in America, this would be one of your best indications that, uh, the complexities of the problems of racial cruelty have already been resolved. WARREN: There's some argument, of course, among sociologists that the great melting pot hasn't been melting very well. That the Italians, the Irish, the Jews have actually had pretty hard, uh, core, well defined group of continuum. CLARK: No question about that-- WARREN:--peripheral, uh, uh, assimilation but no central assimilation. CLARK: Well, you need only to look at the politics of such northern urban centers as Boston and New York, Chicago to see that there are, this is the politics of ethnic groups, and uh, ethnic, you know, ethnic division of the available political spoils. Look at New York and you see that, uh, almost all power centers are divided in three, three, three, you know--Catholics, Protestants, Jews. And among the Catholics, the struggle for status or control in terms of Irish Catholics, Italian Catholics, Polish Catholics, these are some of the facts of, uh, American political and social reality, at least in northern urban areas. Now, in the South you have these subordinated by the South's great preoccupation between the white and black, you see. And I suppose that one of the most disturbing things that could happen to the South is for an accelerated migration of blacks, which would then confront the whites with the problems among themselves, you see. WARREN: That's true, it's happening already. For instance, you almost had a Republican Governor in Louisiana. CLARK: That's right. WARREN: This last election. CLARK: And, of course, if Senator Russell's plan for disbursing the negro population out of the South were ever to be successful, then Senator Russell might find that his class of whites would be in terrible jeopardy from the working class, uh, poor whites in the South. WARREN: The populist movement might be revived. CLARK: Oh yes. And with a vengeance here. WARREN: (??) That's the worse news I've heard in a long time. CLARK: Worse news? WARREN: Worse news I have heard in a long time, breaking this up. CLARK: Oh! WARREN: This tape, uh, with Dr. Clark to be resumed. [Pause in recording.] WARREN: This is the second conversation with Dr. Kenneth Clark. Dr. Clark, uh, tell what you mean by the word "race"? What is, what is the nature of this concept? CLARK: Well, the word "race" is one of those ambiguous terms that man uses. And, uh, it is difficult to define it with any degree of precision. In fact, it seems to me that, uh, it is one of those terms in which its very ambiguity is the basis of controversy and confusion and conflict. I suspect that if we really knew exactly what this term meant, we would not have all the problems and the difficulties, um, that we seem to have-- WARREN:--may I cut in here? We have cases which, uh, give us objective points of reference. We have, uh, Indians, Chinese, Africans, uh, West European Caucasians-- CLARK:--yes-- WARREN:--where you need to see a big difference. We then, we then have the laws of Virginia where gradually the definition has been narrowed down to over the years to a mathematical infinity, a small percentage presumed a percentage of, of negro blood. [telephone rings] CLARK: Yes. [Pause in recording.] WARREN: (??) CLARK: All right. Yes, as far as I know, anthropologists and biologists have not been able to agree even among themselves as to a precise definition to this term "race." It is obvious, of course, that human beings do differ in many physical characteristics, such as skin color, average height, hair texture, uh, shape of head, uh, and other observable and measurable characteristics. The term "race" is usually associated with one of these more obvious characteristics such as skin color. And, uh, there have been attempts--as you know--to classify human beings on the basis of the varying gradations of skin color or the amount of melon in the skin. This particular factor seems, um, associated with some other characteristics such as hair texture, but not always. For example, the Australian aborigine, the natives of Australia are very dark in skin color but do not have the same hair texture as the dark Africans or some sub Saharan Africans. WARREN: Don't the Africans differ a great deal in hair texture from one part of Africa and another (??)-- CLARK:--in fact Africans differ in, um, skin color-- WARREN:--skin color, too-- CLARK:--a great deal. For example, the Ethiopian Africans and-- Ethiopians are Africans; they are on the continent of Africa--have a hair texture that is not unlike the hair texture of Indians or, uh, caucasians, uh, but have gradations of skin color that, uh, match the skin color of sub Saharan Africans who have a different hair texture. Uh, Egyptian Africans have, uh, gradations of skin color that overlap the skin color of northern--southern Europeans and with, uh, general hair texture. WARREN: You have hair texture in parts of, uh, continental Europe that is very similar to hair texture, as you say, as African (??). CLARK: That's right. So human beings vary. There is no question about it. For the fact that groups of human beings vary in physical characteristics and there is some tendency for the variations in some characteristics to be accompanied by variations in other characteristics, but this is not always consistent. Uh, I think-- WARREN:--psychological difference, this point you are talking about-- CLARK:--no, I still am talking about physical difference because I do not think that the question or issue of race can be meaningfully discussed on, in terms of psychological or behavioral characteristics. I think that the issue of race--if we are seeking any kind of precise definition of race--must start with establishing some kind of consistency in physical characteristics. Or differences in physical characteristics. And even here we see that we have problems and difficulties, uh, that the laymen is not always sensitive to. I mean, I think if you ask the average person about race, he would be sure that the white man whom he knows is not only white in skin color, but these and these and these other physical characteristics and is not likely to entertain the possibility that you might find people who are white in skin color but with different hair texture or different eyes or with different shapes of head, et cetera. WARREN: Let me ask a question that cuts across this, but I hope it is not a diversion. What about the, uh, fact of the change of physical measurements and, uh, other physical qualities on the American continent within our time--within, uh, say within the America as in 1776--all races have changed on coming to the American continent-- CLARK:--well-- WARREN:-- (??). CLARK: Actually races--Franz Bois has shown that, um, groups from Europe tend to change their physical characteristics as they migrate to America, without inbreeding--interbreeding -- WARREN:--not inbreeding (??)-- CLARK:--without inter-breeding, just the changes in the, uh, in the geography-- WARREN:-- (??) three inches taller. CLARK: That's right. WARREN: So the Americans have in fifty years, an inch taller-- CLARK:--so you do seem to have some evidence to suggest modification in these physical characteristics in terms of changes in environment. You also have the fact that, uh, the groups of human beings have been interbreeding for long periods of time, so you do not have--or, at least in terms of some of the authorities that I depended upon when I was a graduate student in a sense, you cannot find very many places in the world where there has been intercommunication among human beings. Examples of "pure races." Where you do find such examples, uh, they are generally in places in the world that have been isolated from normal intercommunication, contacts with other peoples. For example, I think, uh, maybe one of the best examples of pure racial types are the Australian aborigines who are in a sense--well, the evidence is they were isolated from the main streams of communication and contact and transportation with other peoples for centuries and centuries. They were Stone Age people really. And, uh, the (??) seem to be pure types. But other groups of human beings seem to reflect, uh, a tremendous amount of intermingling that has been going for long periods of time, you see. WARREN: Well now, this is, uh, a scientific perspective. Let's talk perspective on the question. We have to relate this, uh, to the rule of thumb, uh, common sense "notion of physical difference as we find it in social collision. CLARK: That is another approach to race-- WARREN:-- (??)-- CLARK:--that's a social-- WARREN:--how, how do you relate these now? CLARK: Well, actually, they are not necessarily related, interestingly enough. Uh, they, I think what groups of human beings have done, was to use certain observable differences among human beings as a basis for establishing distinctions and differential status in hierarchy among human beings, but this has been done not only on the basis of "race" or color differences; they have been done on the basis of religious differences. They have been done on the basis of political differences, ideological differences, and one of the most persistent ways in which human beings have established, not only distinctions but hostile distinctions among groups of human beings in terms of military power. Conquest and submission, you see. Now in America, race has been defined primarily in terms of class and caste and status distinctions. Uh, so that a person is a negro in America, if he is treated as a negro. WARREN: This distinction, then, you take as key, is that right? CLARK: Key to the use of the term "race" in the American contact. WARREN: In the American contact-- CLARK:--that's right. WARREN: This leads to a better question--or at least an issue--in medieval Europe, the blood sense of the difference between say the aristocracy and the peasantry was an almost absolute distinction, in a blood sense-- CLARK:--right. WARREN: More absolute probably in certain contacts, anyway, in a blood sense than in America now between whites and negroes. CLARK: In fact, um, hemophilia is an aristocratic disease--in Europe tending to reflect inbreeding among those individuals. I don't think there's any evidence of, um, a blood distinction in race in America for one reason, because, uh, negroes and whites have intermingled so much in America since, uh, slavery. There're very few pure negroes in America. WARREN: Yes, but the reflection remains, as a rule of thumb distinction-- CLARK:--to the extent that, uh, very fair light-skinned negroes have passed over, tend to pass over into the white-- WARREN:-- spectrum (??). CLARK: That's right, uh, but actually even within the visible colored people of America, you have, uh, evidence of, uh, a great deal of mixture. I mean Indian, white and African or negro. And, uh, you just can't call American negroes a race in any strict sense, or if you are talking about race, in terms of pure, uh, biological stock. I mean, the American negroes are mixtures of, uh-- (??)-- WARREN:--let's, let's take that. What about just visibility as a factor? Just the fact of a difference in complexion. CLARK: Well, those who are visible are visible-- WARREN:-- (??)-- CLARK:--are visibly obviously-- WARREN: -- (??)-- CLARK:--and those who are not visible, a large proportion of, uh, negroes who are defined as having had some negro, uh, ancestry--who are not visibly negroes--tend to, uh, go back into the white, uh, status group, and live as white, be treated as white, marry as white, and have children as white. WARREN: Dr. Clark, we have three perspectives then, don't we? We have whatever is a scientific concept of race-- CLARK:--which is extremely difficult to (??)-- WARREN:--whatever it is. CLARK: That's right. WARREN: We have then, visibility. CLARK: Visibility, yes. WARREN: And then we have some definition, uh, which we can go into the Virginia statutes, of Virginia (??)-- CLARK: --status. WARREN: Uh, well, it is not put on status. It's, it's put on--a matter of, uh, some infusion of, uh, negro blood -- CLARK:--well, that obviously makes no sense, except in terms of status. And, um, a statutory determination of status distinction, you see-- WARREN:-- a status (??), a statutory determination of status is a very mixed and muddled thing. Because the person who might be by any possible definition of status outside a definition of status involved. CLARK: But the attempt on the part of the state or the instrument of government to fix the status-- WARREN:--right, right-- CLARK:--of this individual in terms of their definition of his race-- WARREN:--we have three perspectives. What is the moral of this fact? I don't know what the moral is-- CLARK:--as I see it, uh, race is used in America as one of the--and a very convenient pretext by which a group of human beings who have power or believe they have power, seek to, uh, arrogate the power on to themselves and restrict the extent of power status for others, you see. WARREN: How is "race" used in Africa, the concept? CLARK: Well, I think the, uh, conflict between the Europeans and the Africans was one in which race as a visible; an historical "reality" became associated with a status reality. When the Europeans, uh, were in control and in power in Africa, they subordinated the Africans to their control, in spite of the fact that they were a, the Europeans were a numerical minority. Now, the Africans are insisting upon reverting or reversing this pattern. Or if not reversing it, changing it so they, uh, they will assume the power and the control in their own land, you see. And there is some evidence that, um, some of the new African nations are not going to settle just for, uh, taking back control and power, but they are even suggesting some type of subordination of white-- WARREN:-- (??). CLARK: I hadn't heard that. WARREN: But's a of possibility (??) CLARK: But what does bother me about Africa is, uh, the future in terms of South Africa. And, uh, what is likely to happen there--if the South African picture continues to develop in the very negative way that it seems to be going within South Africa and between South Africa and a, uh, group of independent, black South African states to the North--this is the basis for a great deal of anxiety for those of us who even dare to think about it. WARREN: I don't want to think about it. CLARK: I don't want to think about it either, because-- WARREN:--I don't want to think about (??). Cutting back to Watusi, for instance, and, uh, their traditional, uh, superiority which is now making big trouble-- CLARK:--yes-- WARREN:--in, uh, the Congo. How much of the Watusi feel themselves racially different from the, uh, subject tribe? CLARK: I don't know whether they put it on the basis of race. They certainly put it on-- WARREN:--they look, they look different-- CLARK:--they look different; these are tall, uh, thin-- WARREN:--tall, thin, long, thick skull-- CLARK: That's right, and with--physiognomy that is not unlike the European in terms of sharp features, et cetera, thin lips, uh, different from the other sub, many of the other sub Saharan Africans. Certainly, there is a distinction, uh, that these people see between themselves and of Africans. But within Africa you have distinctions among the, uh, sub Saharan Africans based upon tribes-- WARREN:--sure-- CLARK:--tribal differences-- WARREN:--sure. Let's think about--here's (??) an acute situation that I was reading about in the newspapers. This race--according to the National Geographic newsreels--is more different from its, uh, subject tribes. It is as different as you could find between say any race, by measurements of this, that, and the other. CLARK: That's quite true. WARREN: And a ferocious (??) sense of superiority. CLARK: Yes, which is not unique. WARREN: Not unique-- CLARK:--there seems to be a peculiar, human characteristic to try to find some basis upon which to justify a sense of superiority indifferent from other human beings-- WARREN:--what about the, um, the, um-- CLARK:--they're like the Germans, aren't they? You know, psychologically. WARREN: Well, they were a master race. CLARK: Yes. WARREN: What about the-- CLARK:--or the ancient Jews who saw themselves as a master race, a chosen people-- WARREN:--master race-- CLARK:--I think it was Bertram Russell, who said in his usual succinct way, you know, that man will find or invent any pretext to justify his belief that he is superior to other men. WARREN: I am afraid he's right. CLARK: Yes. WARREN: Getting on the matter of race, uh, back in African times, how much did the (??), the king of (??) feel itself as racially distinct, in its slave raids? CLARK: Well, obviously, he didn't feel identification. WARREN: Clearly not. CLARK: Clearly not. You know, often said that I, one thing that I wanted to thank (??) for during the Congo crisis was that he reminded me that slavery would not have been possible if Africans didn't sell their fellow Africans. And, uh, well, I think your line of questioning is opening up the realization that, uh, cruelty, oppression, blindness, insensitivity, arbitrary use of power and the subjugation of other human beings, is not restricted to white Europeans. That, uh, this is unfortunately a pretty common human affliction. WARREN: A negro friend of mine back in the late thirties, looking back on the Ethiopian war, said, "I feel myself split in all directions about this war." CLARK: Yeah. WARREN: The Ethiopians are slaveholders and slave traders. CLARK: Of course. Well, look at Liberia. Uh, that's, uh, I--we talked a moment ago about not wanting to look at South Africa. Many of us really don't want to look at Liberia. Or Haiti. Or, uh, certain parts of India. No, you're quite right, Mr. Warren. Human injustice, insensitivity, cruelty and barbarity--seem unfortunately all too universal. WARREN: I don't want to nag at this but, you see, you see, of course, what I am driving at. CLARK: I'm disturbed; I'm disturbed at the line of questioning, because, uh, while it is true and all too true, like most truths it is double- edged in the sense that it could also be a kind of a truth that could be used for rationalization for our own variety of cruelty and this we would not want. I know you wouldn't want it and I certainly don't want it. WARREN: No, I'm not, let's, let's try and keep it clean. CLARK: Yes, all right. (laughs) WARREN: But look at these facts. If I read in a book by Lomax, uh, saying, "The white man went to Africa to seize slaves." CLARK: Um, yes. Only it wasn't only the white man who profited from the slave trade, you are quite right-- WARREN:--to seize, who seizes a slave? CLARK: It wasn't the white man. WARREN: The white man didn't seize them. CLARK: No. WARREN: My point, my point is--let's keep it clean. Or, getting back to-- CLARK:--you mean, let us try to get to the difficult and the hard truth. WARREN: The difficult and the hard truth, you see, the psychological and the historical facts. CLARK: But if you do that, where do you go from there? WARREN: I say, let's try and find out. CLARK: Don't we constrict our perspective of truth in order not to wallow in just the sense of hopelessness? WARREN: Uh, do we really think that? I would say we would have to bring out, uh, all the facts and then try to start again. If I read, uh, someone saying, "The white man went to Africa and seized the slaves." This is so arrogantly unhistorical. CLARK: Well, don't you listen to Mr. Malcolm X and Mr. Malajah Mohammed? They say the white men are devils, and, um-- WARREN:--white men are/aren't (??) devils-- CLARK:--and that we can't have anything to do with them. Negroes can't have anything to do with them because they'll be. They'll be contaminated by the inherent deviltry of whites, you see. Well, now let's face it. Let [Malcolm] X have a following of a sort. Now this is the kind of oversimplification that, um, makes some kind of contact and appeal. This is the same kind of thing that the white races are saying to their compatriots and having, you know, mobilizing feelings and, um, keeping people fighting to the death to keep their schools white, you see. WARREN: All right, now I would say that Malcolm X, minister Malcolm X should read, uh, Richard Burton's, uh, visit to Dahome (??) An interesting and elaborate document-- CLARK:--do you know what Mr. Malcolm would say to you-- WARREN:--written by a white man (??)-- CLARK:--this is written by a white man who perverts the truth and actually-- WARREN:--all right. Now what I'm really getting at is this: now if we are going to talk about, uh, a question or a statement, mind you, about, uh, negro history. Doesn't the negro have to take the burden of his history the same as the white man does? CLARK: But does the white man take the total burden of his history? WARREN: Well, I am told I should, anyway. CLARK: Don't, don't-- WARREN:--I think a little bit of it anyway-- CLARK:--don't even white objective scholars such as Beard, Charles Beard, write about the Civil War in ways that are more palatable to the conscience and to the self-image (??)-- WARREN:--let's take the Civil War. Let's take the Civil War. Uh, let's nag that a little bit. What do you think of Lincoln? CLARK: What do I think of Lincoln? (laughs) WARREN: Yes, how do you feel about Lincoln? In the March on Washington, they went up to Lincoln's Monument. Now, how do you feel about that? CLARK: Oh, gracious. (laughs) WARREN: Let's go deeper on that. CLARK: I can only answer personally, what do I think of Lincoln? WARREN: That's what I want. There's nothing wrong with that; there's nothing wrong with that. CLARK: I think that Lincoln was a very tortured, troubled man. Whose greatness was in the honestly in which he not only faced his conflicts and his difficulties, but also sought/thought (??) the most practical accommodations of them-- WARREN:--what were his difficulties and problems? CLARK: I think they were, there were many levels. Unfortunately (??), no man could be as great as he without deep personal difficulties and problems. Um, I think-- WARREN:--now, this on the side (??). What do you think they were, for Lincoln-- CLARK:--the personal-- WARREN:--just on the psychological side, psychological, uh, profile, how would you-- CLARK:--oh, well-- WARREN:--now, I picturing (??)-- CLARK:--frankly, I am not a Lincoln scholar but just off, uh, the top of my head, I think that one of the deep disturbances of Mr. Lincoln might have been his background. The very thing that we now, uh, deify (??) in our history books might have been a source of deep feelings of inferiority and anxiety on the part of this man that he did come from rather, uh, humble, obscure, and ambiguous background-- WARREN:--and he had a faint vision of aristocratic ancestry on one side, too. CLARK: That's right, but, uh, I think that was more compensatory--what was real for Mr. Lincoln was the humble, humble and, uh, you know, uh, questionable background. And also I think--this is something that human beings rarely bring into consciousness or into parlor discussions--the role of-- WARREN:-- (??)-- CLARK:--the role of physical appearance, attractiveness or ugliness in a person's self image. Obviously, Mr. Lincoln was not an attractive person except in retrospect, you see, or a (??)-- WARREN:--he was terribly strong, though. Physically. CLARK: Tall-- WARREN:--he could pick up a barrel of whiskey and put it on the counter; that's pretty strong. CLARK: Oh, all right. Mr. Lincoln, if you exclude the power which came with his office, was certainly not the kind of man that, uh, women would flock to, something of that sort. He was homely. He was a--and probably in his own inner recess is exaggerated the negative in him, you see. WARREN: He was a man who was a success (??) in his own small scale, you see, from the beginning. CLARK: Um-hm. WARREN: A man of great physical power. And a man with a sense, a sense of mission, mission being undefined. Aren't those things that, uh, would appeal to women? CLARK: I don't know, and as you said, we were purely speculating, guessing. I think that the kind of domestic problems that Mr. Lincoln was, were not only to be understood in terms of the problems of his-- WARREN:--he was a bad wife picker, anyway. CLARK: That's right. He was a clearly bad wife picker and he was a sufferer in this regard. But the other thing that I would like to come to about Lincoln though, you know, is beyond the personal-- WARREN:--let's get to race. CLARK: Yeah, race. Unquestionably Mr. Lincoln was afflicted by the American schizophrenia. You see, the conflict between the ethics, the ethos, the, the ideology. What Gunnar Myrdal calls the "American Creed"-- WARREN:--did Lincoln ever worry about the ethics of it or just take it for granted? CLARK: Well, frankly, I think maybe Lincoln was the type of person to worry. This is what I meant by turmoil and turbulence-- WARREN:--where's the document for that, you see? I don't know. There may be one but I don't know it. CLARK: I, I don't have specific documents. I only have a general picture of, of the ambivalence or the inconsistencies or the conflicts within this man, you see. That here was a man, who on the one hand, could look and understand slavery for what it really was ethically, mainly human degradation. And on the other hand, could function in terms of the political imperatives and realities here, who could say, if I could--now this I think is--if you ask what documentation this is-- WARREN:--yes-- CLARK:--fragmentary documentation. WARREN: (??) CLARK: What kind of inner turmoil and ethical confusion is reflected in this statement: "If could save the Union without freeing a single slave, I would do so." The same man who makes that statement, who also gives evidence of deep sensitivity of, to the dehumanization that is inherent in slavery, you see. This I call a symptom of the American moral schizophrenia. WARREN: Let me ask a question: suppose he had said, "I will free the slaves and to hell with the Union." Now, what would that mean--in an, an overall, an overall-- CLARK:--frankly what it would mean is that he would not have been President. WARREN: Now, all right, that's (??)-- CLARK:--he would have been a philosopher. Uh, he would have been, uh, a man preoccupied with social ethics and social morality, and America has never elected such men to the Presidency. WARREN: What country has? CLARK: I don't know; I'm not talking about the other countries. WARREN: (??)--we've got to take these things in political reference (??). Historical reference (??). CLARK: Yes, yes. WARREN: Suppose he had said, uh, as Garrison said, 'The Constitution is covered with dirt (??),' you know, 'to hell with it; no Union. Blow it up. But freedom.' But how do you get freedom outside of the mission of Union? What kind of problem does this present-- CLARK:--believe me, I am not arguing against-- WARREN:--this is not argument-- CLARK:--I know, I know. When I said arguing I didn't mean in the terms of controversy and such. I am not struggling primarily in terms of an either/or approach to Mr. Lincoln or, you know, a deification or vilification of him. I mean, I am saying that this man is one of our best examples of an inescapable turmoil, conflict, confusion, uh, within thinking Americans. I think the--you know, the thing that fascinates me, that I think one of the best contemporary example of this symptom that Lincoln, I thought, personified is in Mr. Fulbright. WARREN: Right. CLARK: You see-- WARREN:--he signed the round robin. CLARK: I was talking about Fulbright to my class today. You know, we were talk about moral dilemmas. And I said, uh, "I see Fulbright as one of the clearest examples of the contemporary version of, uh, the American tragedy. Here's a brilliant man. Uh, penetratingly insightful mind, an insightful man. Who has also the courage to make the kind of statement that he recently made about the need to reexamine our fixed positions in foreign policy. Our need to ventilate our myths, and to, you know, and to look at them and get the kind of intellectual flexibility that is consistent with future effectiveness." And he could say this about foreign policy, you see. And anybody who could say that about foreign policy could not possibly be blind about the same imperatives in terms of American racism. But he's shackled. In one sphere, he is not tied to the lowest common denominator of his constituents; in another sphere, he is. I say that this could only lead to terrible inner conflict and turmoil. WARREN: This is the end of the first tape, April fifteenth, with Dr. Clark. Continue on tape 2. [Tape 2 ends; tape 3 begins.] WARREN: This is tape 2 of the conversation of April fifteenth with Dr. Kenneth Clark, continue. [Pause in recording.] WARREN: We were talking about Lincoln and our conversation, uh, between tapes. You said that one judges a man by his choice of a salient (??) issue on which he'll put the big money on the card, is that about right, as a principle (??)? CLARK: Yes, I think that each of us, from day to day in the total pattern of our lives, must make choices as to what we are really going to stand for and stand on and take the big risk for. And I suspect in the final analysis, uh, we are judged by our contemporaries and by others on what we choose, and what we consider important and salient enough to put the big stakes on, to take the big risk for-- WARREN:--well, Lincoln dodged the abolitionists like poison. CLARK: Of course he did. WARREN: Now, how do we judge this fact about Lincoln? CLARK: Well-- WARREN:--he's a Unionist. CLARK: History has judged Lincoln in terms of the priority and the importance of the Union. WARREN: How do you judge him? CLARK: Well obviously I must now judge him on that ground because ostensive or on the surface, we have the Union which he sought to preserve. And the present civil rights trouble is being fought out within a unified nation. And if you put Lincoln's decision in a historical perspective, I suppose the rational and intelligent judgment is that this was a correct choice that he made-- WARREN:--would you imply the same amount of argument to say, uh, some, uh, oh some hypothetical Lincoln. We could produce now who would say the most immediate question is not the most immediate drive for, uh, civil rights? Hypothetically say. Only in some point, not go all the way you want it to go. CLARK: Well-- WARREN:----of, ahead of, of racial justice (??). CLARK: Let's not be too hypothetical because I think we get rather specific, we can get a lot of specific examples of this. Let's take the communists in World War II-- WARREN:--all right, all right. CLARK: Prior to the Hitler/Stalin pact, the communists were very concerned about racial discrimination and segregation in the United States. And they were busy telling negroes, 'Don't join a segregated army,' you know. 'Fight for your right to be a full American,' et cetera--[telephone rings]--excuse me. [Pause in recording.] WARREN: Can we cut back to Lincoln again on this matter of-- CLARK:--yes, I think we were saying something just before the phone rang-- WARREN:--yes, please. CLARK: Yes, I want to continue--[glitch in recording]--yes, I want to continue this about the communists because I think they put in perspective this problem of practical and expedient determinacy of, uh, what one says and what one does. After the Hitler/Stalin Pact, the, uh, communists changed their tune and their advice to the American negroes. Uh, uh, the Nazis were not so terrible any longer. Uh, there were all sorts of justifications. And, of course, there were many communists who were disillusioned at that time and left the party. But, when Hitler attacked Russia, in spite of the pact, then the communists were not any longer so concerned with the indignities heaped upon negroes in a segregated army. They wanted all negroes to go out and, uh, volunteer to fight the, the fascist, no matter what the conditions under which they were required to fight, you see. I mean the same people who were trying to seduce me into the party with, uh, you know, crocodile tears about the humiliation of segregation, et cetera. Uh, were now calling me--and I mean literally the same persons were talking to me now after Hitler attacked, uh, Russia, and calling me a black chauvinist (??) because I was still concerned with segregation. To this day, I am thankful that whatever it was that made me suspicious of them when they seemed so much on my side, uh, saved me from ever getting involved with them, because, uh, now on one end, you could say, 'Now, look. These people were just being practical. They were, they were establishing what was of priority to them, you see, what was salient. To them the relationship with Russia or the future of Russia was more important than how any individual negro felt about being segregated.' WARREN: Well, that's the way Lincoln felt about it. Lincoln, uh, couldn't have cared less presumably about what any individual negro felt. He said (??)-- CLARK: --frankly I don't think that. I think that Lincoln basically cared-- WARREN:--well, now let's--let's read this, his words. Let's take them for what they were. I will say, 'I am not nor ever have been in favor of bringing about any way the social and political (??) equality of the white and black races.' CLARK: Do you know what I really think about that? WARREN: What's that? CLARK: I don't believe that. WARREN: You don't think he said it or he meant it (??). CLARK: I think he said it, uh, but this problem of political expediency can cut both ways, you see. Uh, one of the fascinating things--and, gosh, I don't know how to preface this; maybe I shouldn't preface it. And just ask your reaction to it after I say it--I think of the peculiar and fascinating things about some Americans is the apparent awkwardness that they seem to have in dealing with deep ethical problems. That actually they are more ethical at times than they want to pretend, you see. For example, I think the Marshall Plan. A practical politician insists upon the pose that this is a purely practical economic expediency. I would sometimes seem the, to be rather caught dead than offering an equally tenable rationale that this is a matter of human concern and compassion. Now, frankly, I think that this is part of the turmoil, turbulence, the conflict, the chaos that American racism imposes on otherwise decent Americans. That they must mask or seem to go to the trouble to mask their decency in order to be in a position to act decent. I don't (??)-- WARREN:--let's take William Lord Garrison. Now he was certainly explicit enough. He would damn the Union to hell and said so on the matter of abolition. Not on the matter of equality but on the matter of abolition, of slavery. After the war, he couldn't have cared less. But he cared about the future of the freed negro. In fact, he was against giving them, in essence (??), the vote (??). CLARK: Um-hm, um-hm. WARREN: Now what do we make of this, in, in that case? CLARK: I think this is another symptom of what I call the American moral schizophrenia, uh, which is part and parcel of, uh, a Christian democratic nation emerging and establishing the tremendous experiment in government based upon ethical ideals at the same time that it has human slavery, you see. I just don't think that America ever got over this deep, ethical, moral problem. And you get-- WARREN:--all right-- CLARK:--these symptoms taking various forms-- WARREN:--it clearly did not. Let's take this, it is not, but let's take a bigger jump, then. Um, if we put (??) and Watusi and, uh, Abraham Lincoln, and, uh, Ethiopia campaign-- CLARK:--and the communists. WARREN: And the communists in the same pot. What we are coming out with is the complication of, uh, you might say, uh, history and, and ethics in politics, aren't we? CLARK: Yes, I would put them in the same pot but I wouldn't, uh, say they have all become indistinguishable because-- WARREN:--I didn't say they had become indistinguishable (??). CLARK: They're in the same pot. They're in the same pot in a way but I think Americans are in a peculiar place in that pot. WARREN: Well, tell me about that now. CLARK: Well. (laughs) I think the peculiar thing about America is that this is the only nation that ever started out saying that it was going to develop a system of government based upon ethics. Uh, wherever you found the ethical problem and the insensitivity problem and the man, inhumanity-to-man problem anywhere else, you found it almost as a "natural spontaneous expression" of the, uh, animal in man or the, you know, problems of man, but the problem with America is that you had Jefferson, and you had, uh, Franklin, and you had these peculiar combinations of philosopher-politicians, you see, who had an opportunity that most other people never had. Namely to establish a philosophical and ideological base for a government. WARREN: They made the opportunity. CLARK: Well, yes, they made the opportunity on the basis of the philosophy by the way, you see. Uh, that this is the first, uh, time--well, I don't know whether I am exaggerating this or maybe I am reflecting my ignorance of, uh, of world history--but I don't know that there is any other example before this of a group of, of human beings setting themselves the task of evolving a government predicated upon things such as rights, you know, and man's relationships and responsibilities to his fellow man, you see. Now I, I submit to you that this experiment is such a glorious and frightening and awesome one, that it would have had, uh--uh, well, I don't know. Well, let me just follow this out with--that it would have had tremendous impact, positive, positive impact, were it not contaminated by the fact that as they were doing this, they themselves were the victims of the fact that it hadn't been done before. They were themselves the victims of, uh, human slavery, you see. They had the past on their backs-- WARREN:--but how can you abolish history? Uh, the question always coming around is this, isn't it? That how does an ethical idea develop in history. It can't be born without a history, can it? CLARK: No, it can't born-- WARREN:--therefore there we are; we're stuck with our history. CLARK: Well, I don't think that is exactly what the Americans--yes, they were stuck with their history, but they were stuck with the conqueredization of their history in the presence of the black man. WARREN: And Thomas Jefferson was a slaveholder. CLARK:--slaveholder (??)-- WARREN:--what does that mean to you? Does that invalidate the Declaration of Independence? CLARK: No it doesn't invalidate the-- WARREN:--what does it mean?-- CLARK:--Declaration of Independence, but it, it imposes upon us levels of interpretation of that Declaration of Independence that go beyond the words, you see. That actually you cannot understand the Declaration of Independence purely in terms of Jefferson's paraphrasing of Locke alone, you see. You have to also understand this in the context of the fact that Jefferson had slaves at the same time that he was writing this. And he not only had slaves but he was also aware of the inconsistency between what he was writing and the fact that he held slaves. WARREN: Do you believe in the socialist society? CLARK: Do I believe in what? WARREN: In a socialist society as an ideal? CLARK: Frankly, Mr. Warren, I don't know what I believe in, now. WARREN: People who do are living in a capitalistic society, making their livings in it and doing the best they can. CLARK: No, I have stock. I, uh, I purchase stock on the stock market. I, I believe in this capitalist society. I don't believe that it is always just. Or, uh, sensitive or efficient. I don't think it is as always efficient as it could be. I--not even when I was young, and, uh, and an undergraduate in the thirties, did I believe that there was utopia in the Soviet Union, or--I don't know why, don't ask me why-- WARREN:-- general socialist, uh, plain of thought (??) CLARK: No, I can't get myself at this age--I'm about to be fifty; I'll be fifty this year. And at this age, I can't believe in generalized abstract societies, you know. I believe in the inevitability of struggle. I believe that human beings will develop the most vital kind of society, in those societies in which they are free to struggle toward developing the best that they can arrive at. I, I don't believe in fixed societies. And I am clearly aware of the fact that I am being incoherent now. WARREN: Well, I don't think so. What, what do you think about Robert E. Lee after Jefferson? CLARK: (laughs) Where do you get these (??)-- WARREN:--case of abstraction (??). CLARK: I think that Robert E. Lee was a gentleman. I think from everything I read about him, that he was also tortured. I think that he was a civilized human being who was again caught in this--I repeat- -the inevitable moral schizophrenia that American society imposes upon all Americans, you see. And by the way, I am not using this term moral schizophrenia necessarily in a derogatory way, because I can conceive of the absence of the moral schizophrenia, which would be stagnation and that I think for example, the Nazis had no schizophrenia-- WARREN:--no schizophrenia (??)-- CLARK:--that's right, you see. So if you, if you understand my disillusion/illusion (??) to the Nazis, you can understand what I am saying about the moral schizophrenia of America-- WARREN:--Lenin had no moral schizophrenia. CLARK: No, nor did Stalin. WARREN: Nor did Stalin. CLARK: Nor did, uh, a lot of these-- WARREN: Nor did (??) CLARK: These, there're are--nor does Malcolm X. You know, there're a lot of people who know exactly-- WARREN:--but you do. CLARK: I'm--(laughs) WARREN: (??), I am beginning to feel that you do-- CLARK: --well, I don't think that there is any question that. WARREN: Well, do you think, uh, listen (??)you talk about, in sympathy of Lee, you have a situation of moral schizophrenia. CLARK: Of course. WARREN: Or of Jefferson, you have a situation of moral schizophrenia. CLARK: Of course. I, I have empathy for these men. You know, Baldwin in one of our interviews last year-- WARREN:--I read the one, in the little book-- CLARK: Yes, I remember Baldwin said something about, uh, I asked him, was she white--because he was talking about one of his teachers--and I said, "Was she white?" He said, "Well, yes, she's a little bit white and a little bit colored." This, you know, this is, I don't know how Baldwin meant that, but when I heard it, I knew that it was a penetrating truth about all Americans, you know. That they are a little bit white and a little bit colored. I mean that, uh, it is not possible for any American with any degree with sensitivity to be--and Malcolm X to the contrary not withstanding--all black or all white, I mean there is an empathic--[telephone rings]--shackle. WARREN: We have our specialty, you and I (??). CLARK: Yeah. [Pause in recording.] WARREN: I suppose what I'm driving at in these questions were not a particular answer to the question, but to open the question of how moral absolutes, ethical ideas relate to historical process. That is what we had sort of nagging around, I suppose. CLARK: Yes, I guess what we're, um, also backing into is the realization that they don't ever determine historical process in terms of the absolutes. The absolutes themselves don't generally determine the historical process but the constant necessity to make some kind of accommodation between or among absolutes or among forces among which might be the absolute, you see. WARREN: In that context, what does "Freedom Now" mean? CLARK: "Freedom Now" means a demand. It means an absolute. It means an insistence. And in the future, of course, it's going to mean some kind of accommodation. But the greater the accommodation that has to be made the greater the weakness of the total social fabric. Unfortunately-- oh, I don't know that it is unfortunate; it might be quite, uh, just is, it just might be is like day (??), there're many people who are stating and mouthing the slogan "Freedom Now" who have a rather simplistic literalistic view of it, you see. Uh, and maybe this too has always been true historically, that, that the cutting edge of any movement must by virtue of its--I mean, like John Brown--the cutting edge has to be literalistic in order to assume that role, you see. WARREN: What do you think of John Brown, by the way? CLARK: I think he's a very powerful force in the growth and development of this country, and-- WARREN:--he was a force, uh, clearly. What do you think of him, how would you evaluate him morally or psychologically? Or both? WARREN: Well, psychologically, the simple designation of John Brown might be too simple. A fanatic, uh, a neurotic, a liberalist, an absolutist. Uh, you know, a man who was so totally committed to his commitment that, uh, nothing including reality stood in his way. WARREN: How do you treat a man like that in ordinary society? CLARK: The society can take care of itself with men like that; it always has. See what it did Christ. WARREN: Do you think Christ and John Brown should equated? CLARK: Oh, unquestionably. WARREN: Equated psychologically? CLARK: Of course. WARREN: In their values or simply in, in their neuroses? CLARK: In their values, in their neuroses. And of course in their end. WARREN: Uh, Christ said, "I am the Prince of Peace"; John Brown lived in a dream of bloodshed. That's some difference, isn't it? CLARK: Yes, but Christ also took--what was it took--ran money changes out of-- WARREN:--took the scourge, but this is to be equated with the (??) massacre? CLARK: All right, don't push me that far-- WARREN:--we have to, if we are going to talk about it, you know-- CLARK:--no. Now, look. Christ was clearly a person committed to values other than those which were prevailing at his time. WARREN: Yes. CLARK: He not only was committed-- WARREN:--or in our time either. CLARK: Or to our time, yes. He not only was committed but the extent and depth and reality of his commitment was expressed by his life. You know, the fact that he lived his commitment. He did not make the primary accommodation to the realities-- WARREN:--yes-- CLARK:--that, uh, even some of his disciples did, all right. Uh, Christ was atypical; Christ was alienated; Christ had values that he was willing to run--positive values that he was willing to run risk for. And he paid the ultimate price. Christ, Socrates, John Brown--these people are irritating-- WARREN:--let me ask you a question specifically. Suppose a man like John Brown, with the same burning eye, came into your office and said, "I'm tired of this fooling around in this here matter. I'm going down to, uh, to Mississippi and take six or seven strong, determined, uh, people with me, and I am going to slaughter the Governor and his entire staff in the, uh, the Capitol. And come out and say, 'Rise and follow me.' CLARK: Yeah. WARREN: Now this is almost an exact parallel. What would you do about this man who came to your office and asked you for a hundred dollars to help finance the trip? CLARK: First, I wouldn't give him a hundred dollars-- WARREN:--well, would you give him fifty? CLARK: No, I wouldn't give him anything. I'd give him-- WARREN:--would you call the police or would you wish him well? CLARK: I don't think I would do either. I don't think I'd call the police because-- WARREN:--would you call the doctors? CLARK: I would probably they see to what I could do to help this man, if it would not inconvenience me too much, or if it would not involve me with him too much, or if it would not establish a clawing kind of relationship with him that I would not want to have, you see. WARREN: What if this man was a hypothetical man with a wild eye and a scraggly beard and a big Adam's apple who comes in this office and asks you for a hundred dollars to finance the killing of Governor Patterson and, um, the arousing (??) Mississippi, and John Brown, going to, to, um, Murray Forbes and, um, his other friends in, um, Boston? CLARK: Me. That's the difference. WARREN: You're the difference. CLARK: Me and time, you see. WARREN: All right. (??) All right. You know more about psychology than they did, is that it, you see. And more about history-- CLARK:--yeah, yeah. WARREN:--and therefore you wouldn't want any part of it. CLARK: And not only that, I, um, I'm frank to say to you that I'm a college professor, you see. I have a vested interest in either/or'ing, you see. I have a vested interest in maintaining issues on a level of, of discussion rather than action. And certainly anybody who says anything to me about bloodshed is not going to get a sympathetic, uh, response from me, you see-- WARREN:--you said that John Brown is like Christ, psychologically. CLARK: In one respect, yes. WARREN: In which respect was this, now? CLARK: Uh, the totality of his commitment, his alienations, his willingness to run risk, uh-- WARREN:--but now, mad men are that way, too, you see. Uh, men are mad in that way. So we don't make madness as equal virtue do we, you, automatically on that mere, mere point? CLARK: No, except that it isn't always that easy-- WARREN:--I don't mean to maintain that it is, but I, I do think we ought to explore it. CLARK: That's right. It isn't always easy to differentiate between a "madman" and the "martyr," or the, uh, person who irritates the status quo to the point of demanding of the status quo some kind of accommodation between where it is and where he would want it to be. WARREN: If the madman happens to tie in, uh, with the moral cause and happens to have the bad or good luck to get bumped off in the process, you see. CLARK: Who else does this except madmen? WARREN: Uh, we must trust the madman, is that it, to be our, uh, moral guardians? CLARK: Uh, let's, let me back up a little. Um, madmen. Of course, you could define madness as daring to believe that something which you value and believe is so important, that it is worth risking your security, your comfort, or your stagnation for. You could define madness as any kind of alienation which, uh, brings you in open conflict with the prevailing values and patterns of your society. So defined, yes, I would say who else but madmen, uh, defies constituted authority or ways of life. WARREN: So we must depend on madmen, uh-- CLARK:--so defined. WARREN: Uh, you are/are not (??) defining them clinically now, is that it-- CLARK:--now, I am not defining them clinically, because, um, oh, I am defining madmen to mean those who believe something so deeply, so strongly, as to-- WARREN:--suppose a man is also clinically mad. Let's just assume this. Then what do we do about his relation to an idea? CLARK: Well, it is all very easy. It's, it's extremely easy-- WARREN:--explain that. He's, he's mad about--he's also clinically mad, but he also utters truths in his clinical madness, or, or does it get tied in with an action, that is-- CLARK:--well-- WARREN:--how do you get moral (??)-- CLARK: --I am more concerned with Van Gogh's paintings than I am with the fact that he was mad. Uh, I must confess that I will probably be more concerned with what the man says and stands for and does-- WARREN:--let's, uh, let's take it this way. We don't know the real facts, so we can't be sure. But, uh, you judge the morality of an act by the consequences, their historical (??) consequences and not by the nature of their act, is that it? CLARK: Mr. Warren, you're pushing me. WARREN: Well, I have to-- CLARK:--no, I am not always sure that I would judge morality of acts only by, um, the consequences. I think there are some acts which on their face, are immoral without regard to consequences, and could not therefore possibly have moral consequences. I mean, I think that even the, even if one sought to rationalize consequences on the grounds that they were morally, these consequences would be contaminated by the immorality of the act-- WARREN:--well, John Brown. John Brown is almost a test case for this. CLARK: Boy, you certainly are fascinated with John Brown. And, uh, he is one of the most-- WARREN:--he's a test case. You brought him up; I didn't. CLARK: All right, I brought him up. I'm not going to abandon John Brown. You're right, John Brown was a fanatic. John Brown was mad. John Brown was a murderer. John Brown was clearly not respectable. But-- WARREN:--how much does the word "respectable" take back the condemnation in the other four words? You are a psychologist-- CLARK:--a great deal. I suppose I deliberately, uh, put "respectable" at the end of that-- WARREN:--to disinfect murder? CLARK: No, not necessarily to disinfect murder. But to deal with the fact, the reality, that respectable abolitionists were talking quite a bit. And while I would not join John Brown's party of murderers anymore than I would join Malcolm X's, uh, call for a--uh, what did he call it-- WARREN:--rifle club-- CLARK:--rifle club or something of that sort. And I personally recoil against bloodshed because I think this is just another form of human idiocy. The fact still remains that major social changes toward social justice in human history have come almost always--if not always-- through irrational and questionable methods. WARREN: That is, we have to, uh, play a double game in terms of all social movements, is that right? We play a game of letting somebody else pick up the dirty marbles for us. That is, now a white man in a nice house in Belmeade, Nashville, or in, or in Jackson suburbs, let those cops and those rednecks pick up the marbles down there on North Barry Street, or Lynch Street. While they keep it clean, is this it? Is this it? And you and I have played the same game in, in terms of history. We expecting, uh, the wild boys (??) to make the big stink that is a real threat to our reasonable, reasonable proposal, is that it? CLARK: That's one way of putting it. I would prefer not to put it that way. I would prefer to put it this way; that apparently rational reasonable men who are seeking a change in the status quo are generally ineffectual. Changes in the status quo are more likely to come from irrational, unreasonable, questionable men. WARREN: I'm sorry (??) This is the end of tape 2 on April fifteenth with Dr. Kenneth Clark, continue, I hope. (laughs) [Tape 3 ends; tape 4 begins.] WARREN: Tape 3 with Mr.--Dr. Kenneth Clark, April fifteenth, continue. [Pause in recording.] WARREN: That is, you are more willing to trust, uh, the orderly process of law and the long range historical process, giving human guidance and human struggles (??)-- CLARK:--and vigilance, human guidance and vigilance-- WARREN:--yes, and vigilance, without asking for an apocalyptic (??) rebilitory moment to change human nature, is that it? CLARK: Or conversion. WARREN: Or conversion. CLARK: Yes. I don't feel happy with myself in my skepticism about any meaningful chances of moral conversion among human beings. I wish that I could believe in it. But to be quite candid with you, I don't and can't. WARREN: Let's switch the question of this, uh, moment and "the movement" or "the revolt" --whatever you choose to call it--and in the concept of revolution. How much of this resemble, um, a revolution, or do we dealing with (??) just words here? Is it a revolution? We talked about this before a little bit but didn't get very far with it. CLARK: Well, yeah, I think the term "revolution" is sort of a catch phrase and has some kind of a dramatic impact but I don't think it is too helpful to describe the civil rights, uh, movement today. Revolution to me connotes--first thing that comes in my mind, of course, is the use of military methods and weapons, uh, which obviously is not possible here. The second thing is maybe even more important: desire to change the total political, the social, and the economic structure. This is clearly not indicated here. What I think the negro is asking for, uh, is not a change in the total social, political and economic structure of this system; all he is asking for is in. He is asking to be included. He's asking, 'Look, I like this system so much, I want to be a part of it,' you see. WARREN: Now how, how does this relate then to the notion of not going to integrate with the burning house? CLARK: That's Baldwin's phrase. WARREN: That's Baldwin's phrase and (??)-- CLARK:--yes, and Helen Hansbrough-- WARREN:--is it Helen? CLARK: No, no. WARREN: Louise, isn't it? CLARK: No, no. WARREN: (??)-- CLARK:--anyway, we can find it. Um, no, I think this is a cry of anguish and despair. Not to be taken too literally. I mean because if you just look at--ask yourself the question, "What choice, well, what other choice?" WARREN: That is a rational question, but there may be some deep dissatisfaction with American middle-class values involved here, though. It makes you say, it makes one say that. CLARK: Well, look. The guys who work for Time and Life or on Madison Avenue have deep dissatisfaction with American middle-class values-- WARREN:--I don't blame them, to tell you the truth-- CLARK:--but that doesn't--but they don't reject it--they still live in Hastings, and Great Neck. And they still buy the status cars, large or small, depending upon the particular fashion. Um, I don't want to seem, disparage out of hand these comments, except that again I have to respect your question and give the best possible answer I can. WARREN: It is a real question, though. CLARK: Except that it isn't a real question, because there are no choices. You know, there are no alternatives here. WARREN: Suppose by people of all sorts whose, whose, uh, words who we must listen to, like Baldwin's for instance. CLARK: Yes, yes. WARREN: This is a real question. CLARK: Baldwin, to me, is one of the most disturbing, irritating, incisive critics of our society at this time, you see. Uh, but this doesn't mean that, um, that Baldwin has the answers all the time. I mean, uh, Baldwin--[telephone rings]--expresses anguish. Baldwin expresses, uh, frustration, concern, uh, you know, and a wish for something better in, in the sense of a totality of betterness. And he also expresses the feeling that, uh, maybe he isn't going to get even the minimum, so therefore forget everything else in a sense--[telephone rings]--you see. [Pause in recording.] CLARK: I want to continue about Baldwin-- WARREN:--please do, yes. CLARK: Because I, I think what Baldwin is expressing is his, his desires, you see. What he would like human beings to be like. What he would like the society to be like. Maybe what Baldwin has not yet understood and probably never should understand. Maybe he should never accept the possibility that there might be a tremendous gap between what he would like and what can be, you see, uh, because this might, uh, reduce his potency, his power as a passionate, incisive critic of what is. Uh, uh, I repeat. Lorraine Hansbury-- WARREN:--Lorraine Hansbury, yes-- CLARK:--and, um, Jim Baldwin have no choice other than to be incorporated within this society and this culture pretty much as it is you see. Now, what I will entertain the possibility of is that if America is capable of including the negro more into the fabric of its society that this will--on its face--strengthen the society. Not necessarily change it, you see. Not necessarily change its values but make the, the existing values--(laughs)--less liable to, uh, internal decay. WARREN: Yes, sure. Let me ask another question about the overreaching techniques on all social moves have even though short of revolution. Uh, every leader must promise more than the last leader. He has to promise more excitement or more (??) or more this or more that. Bigger and better demonstrations, more and more radical demands, more of this. How much of this present overreaching is now going on before our eyes in this struggle for power? The struggle for power maybe a struggle for, uh, uh, putting up, uh, uh, effective policy--in the struggle for power, I don't mean necessarily in a cynical sense. But we clearly see an escalating process going on of the overreaching, uh, uh, more and more violent (??) demonstration, the more and more radical, um, demand, the more and more, uh, uh, rich promise. Now what do you make of this process--you apparently seen it (??) before--at the beginning now in earnest? CLARK: Well, I think you have to look at that in terms of layers of leadership. WARREN: Yes. CLARK: Uh, at the top level of, uh, negro leadership, I don't think this is an accurate description of the process. I think you don't see-- WARREN:--no, but people like Galamison-- CLARK:--that's right-- WARREN:--poor people and also other-- CLARK:--now what, what we do have now in the civil rights movement, as I see it, is a struggle for lower echelons (??) of leadership, or would-be leaders--what I would call publicly, maybe wildcat leaders--uh, fitting your description of this process. I really don't know how seriously-- WARREN:--now, I'm not referring to Mr. Wilkins or Mr. Farmer-- CLARK:--Farmer or Whitney Young-- WARREN:--no-- CLARK:--or Martin Luther King-- WARREN:--no. CLARK: These seem to me extraordinarily sensitive, responsible, statesmanlike men who are not willing to compromise one iota on the goal, but who certainly present, uh, evidence of tremendous flexibility in, in methods, in techniques. But then you have, uh, on local levels, uh, individuals who have a freedom that comes where one does not have responsibility. And who seem to be pushing the civil rights movement by techniques and approaches which are some people questionable. WARREN: I was talking yesterday on the telephone with, um, Adam Clayton Powell, making a date for such an occasion as this. And he said, "Well, leadership--the old line is washed up. Nothing left of it now (??); it's washed up." He said, "We'll find it with the people like the CORE chapter (??), we'll find it with the people like the writer's (??) group in Harlem, we'll find it here and there. all sudden it's (??) washed up. They have only nine hundred thousand followers anyway." CLARK: I don't agree with Mr. Powell. And I think he-- WARREN:--it's on the phone (??), this lecture, you see, "They're washed up; they're through." CLARK: I don't think that is true at all. Um. Not only are they not washed up and not through, but I think that their role is going to become increasingly important as, uh, the more dramatic techniques run their course. I mean, uh, I feel very strongly that the more dramatic, flamboyant, uh, approaches that have a role--they have a, their role of dramatizing the issue, you know, of focusing it, but they don't resolve anything. WARREN: What about the stall-ins now? What utility would they have? CLARK: The only utility that I can possibly see to this is to raise the irritation level of the issue, tremendously and require some kind of, uh, resolution. I, I think that stall-ins and all these other techniques make stagnation impossible. WARREN: Yes, how do you--what would you do about the stall-ins, if you were the mayor of New York or head of the police department? CLARK: If I were mayor of New York or head of the police department, I'd get them the hell out of the way. I'd, I'd get them out as quickly as possible. I would open up the, the highways as quickly as possible and I would not tolerate that kind of activity one moment, you see. Uh, if I were leader of the stall-ins, I would try to make it as uncomfortable and as, uh, difficult for the mayor of the city of New York and the police commissioner to do their job as I possibly could. WARREN: But this is describing--this is descriptive, you see. You're, you're saying, you don't choose sides, each man, who rah (??), let the devil take the (??); let them fight it out, as it were. You see, this man fulfill the role, let the other man fulfill that other role. CLARK: I certainly would. WARREN: Well, but, um-- CLARK:--but what would I do personally? WARREN: Yes. CLARK: Hell, I would not join the stall-ins. I would not participate in that any more than I think I would participated in John Brown's, uh, band, um, or in Malcolm X's, uh. WARREN: Well, do you approve of the stall-ins or you won't participate? CLARK: No, I do not approve the stall-ins, but I do not think my approval or disapproval is in any way relevant to whether those people are going to have a stall-in or not-- WARREN:--that's something else; that's something else-- CLARK:--or relevant to whether the mayor of the city. In fact, if the mayor of the city of New York and the police commissioner did not do their duty on that, as a citizen I would seriously question, you know, my vote for that. But that's another problem, I mean. You know, actually these problems have to be dealt with by whatever ways people come up with dealing with them. WARREN: What do you think of the fact that was pointed to me by a (??) man who sat on the Summit Committee in Atlanta, the Summit Meeting in Atlanta? Said a certain man who shall now remain nameless--whose name we all know--had written a memorandum, "We must get some heads broken by the police here in Atlanta. These police are too nice. We have got to get some bloodshed out of this; otherwise we are going to lose." CLARK: Gee, I can't imagine anyone--well, I can't imagine myself-- WARREN:--the police did not, the police did not oblige. CLARK: Well, they were (??)-- WARREN:--wanted (??) negro policemen to handle this. CLARK: I think they were wise, and I think that the police in Birmingham and, um, in Jackson, Mississippi, were unwise. They were not only unwise, they were stupid, uh. WARREN: They're insane. CLARK: Yeah. WARREN: Now is this-- CLARK: --but by the way, I think that the police in Birmingham and the police in Jackson, inadvertently, uh, contributed more to the civil rights issue than the police in Atlanta. WARREN: All right, but here's the point, you see, given that fact and then say you are on the Summit Committee. CLARK: Um-hm. WARREN: And given this realistic fact, in Birmingham the police did no end of good for civil rights, and in Jackson, they did no end (??) for civil rights, they give it publicity. CLARK: And in Atlanta, they don't. WARREN: They don't, no. They have very well-mannered, courteous negro policemen who carefully escort, uh, uh, patty wagon. And they get no bloodshed, they get no publicity. They get no negotiation and then they go on again. Now, what about the committee that says (??)--the memorandum is on the table, "We've got to get some heads broken this time. We're not making it." CLARK: I would not personally write any such memorandum. I don't want to see people's heads get broken. WARREN: It's a tough question, though, isn't it? CLARK: It's a very tough question, but again I have to talk from the perspective of a person, the person that I am. I am a college professor; I deal in ideas. And I, I feel repelled by human irrationality and human cruelty. And I cannot accept it personally even when I see it as an inevitable, uh, consequence of, you know, past cruelty, et cetera. But I have to also add that I have to step back and look at this and look at my own feelings and say, "Well, look, you know, uh, these are your feelings. If you were in control of the world, this is the way you would run it, but you are not in control of the world, you know, I mean." I personally would not write any memorandum saying that people's heads ought to get broken in order to galvanize or mobilize the feelings about the civil rights issue, because I don't believe in people's heads being broken, you see. WARREN: (??) CLARK: I don't believe in stagnation, either. WARREN: You are over-the-barrel when you say that the inspired madman, who, uh, you see, breaks heads or cuts throats-- CLARK:--he is not I, though. WARREN: He's not what? CLARK: He is not I; I am not he-- WARREN:--but, but we, we can't be outside of history; we accept history by approving-- CLARK:--that's right, therefore I look at history and I look at it and I, some aspects of it, I deplore. Even I can deplore some of it which I see--for example, the Civil War. It's horrible that people were killed, you know. But apparently slavery wasn't going to be dealt with, unless people were killed. WARREN: That's an open question, we can't take that one. CLARK: All right. World War II. I think it's, it's incomprehensible the number of lives that were lost in there, but also, uh, apparently if those lives had not been lost, there might still be bigger and better concentration camps, death camps, et cetera, you see. WARREN: Did America enter the war to save the Jews or to avenge this terrible liquidation of the Jews in Germany, how much did that have to do with our entering the war? CLARK: I think that, uh, I don't know why America entered the war, but I know as a result of America's entering the war and as a result of Hitler being arrogant, or stupid, or blind enough to engage in a two- front war-- WARREN:--and the dumb Japs-- CLARK: Yeah, um, the concentration camps, the death camps were terminated. Uh, McArthur had an opportunity to try to institute certain kinds of social reforms in Japan, which seemed better--more better than worse. Uh, and I don't think that any of these things would have happened if America had not entered the war, or if, uh, the Germans and Japanese had won the war, you see. And I am a pacifist. WARREN: Yes. CLARK: But I also have to be a realist and say, "Well, look, I can be a pacifist all I want. But my guts would be eaten up if I had to live in a world where people were being fed to gas chambers because somebody didn't like their religion or their color." WARREN: Is there any solution for this bit, um, between saying, 'I don't want to strike the memorandum for getting their heads broken, but yet I think it is a good idea to have some heads broken in order to get this revenge?' CLARK: No, I do not think it's a good idea to have some heads broken in order to get, uh, some involvement, and I don't think we can get to the--I don't think that the planes are going to take off, either. Uh, no, I don't think that it is a good idea to have any heads broken on purpose. I, I think--and let me see if I can make it perfectly clear--that in the world as it is now, it is tragic that the only way that human beings seem to be prepared to look at problems of justice and injustice, cruelty or inhumanity, is where these are intensified. This to me is the horrible thing. WARREN: We are all the beneficiaries of violence, aren't we? CLARK: Isn't this horrible? WARREN: Horrible. CLARK: Well, this is what I am saying. It is horrible that irrational, violent, cruel, horrible things have to be done in order to prepare the way for the possibility of a little bit of change or justice. WARREN: Thomas Jefferson said, "Liberty is won by inches." CLARK: Yeah. And the costs is damned high. I suggested, you know, once, um, in a paper that I wrote that maybe colleges and universities should give courses in irrationality and demagoguery because apparently these-- WARREN:--they do; they're called history courses. CLARK: All right. (laughs) I think they should give practicum courses in them, you know. WARREN: Those are called sociology courses. CLARK: All right. (laughs) Okay. (both laugh) These are the things which apparently change. WARREN: You know, your time is up. You said you wanted to, uh, it's ten to-- [Tape 4 ends.] [End of interview.] Dr. Kenneth Bancroft Clark (1914-2005) was an educator, psychologist and civil rights leader. Dr. Clark attended Howard University where he received his Master's Degree in Psychology in 1935 and received his Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University in 1940. Dr. Clark was a professor at the City College of New York from 1942 until 1975 where he was the first African American to receive a full professorship. In 1946 he and his wife, Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark (1917-1983), founded the Northside Center for Child Development in Harlem and were among founders of the organization Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited (HARYOU) in 1962. The Clarks were authors of a valuable study that used dolls to examine the effects of racial discrimination on children. The study was cited by the plaintiffs in the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case of Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas in which school segregation laws were overturned. In this interview Dr. Kenneth Clark begins by discussing Reverend Milton Galamison, the process of desegregating the New York City school system, and bussing for school integration. He discusses both African American identity and African identity at length. Dr. Clark provides his views of Malcolm X and the relationship between the past and present for African Americans. Dr. Clark explains the meaning of the term "race" and provides three different perspectives. He also discusses the role of interracial marriage and miscegenation. In addition, Dr. Clark discusses President Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, and briefly discusses Thomas Jefferson and the philosophy behind the Declaration of Independence. He also provides his thoughts on John Brown and compares him to Jesus Christ. Dr. Clark explains the role of ethics in American government and the role of violence in forcing changes in society. He considers whether the civil rights movement is a revolution and discusses civil rights demonstrations and African American leadership within the civil rights movement. Dr. Clark concludes by discussing the rationality of believing in nonviolence. Civil Rights