(originally broadcast August 28, 1949)
|[This drama deviates from the normal Richard Durham product. Rather than focusing on the accomplishments of' a person, the writer here brought to life a report issued in December 1948 by the ninety-member National Committee Against Segregation in the Nation's Capital. In its widely distributed report (even President Truman read a copy) the committee—whose membership included the likes of Charming Tobias, Eleanor Roosevelt, Walter Reuther, Phillip Murray, Helen Hayes, Marshall Field, Hubert H. Humphrey, and George N. Schuster—soundly rebuked the racial discrimination it found rampant in Washington, D.C. To Durham, as to the membership of the committee, racial prejudice had created an untenable condition that embarrassed the United States and condemned as hypocrisy the moral values on which the laws of the nation were established.]|
ANNOUNCER: Destination Freedom!
(MUSIC: Theme up and down)
ANNOUNCER: Destination Freedom—dramatization of the great democratic traditions of the Negro people is brought to you by station WMAQ as a part of the pageant of history and of America's own—Destination Freedom!
(MUSIC: Theme up and out)
ANNOUNCER: Today Destination Freedom departs from its regular format to bring you one of the most vital human rights reports to be made in this decade. It is a carefully documented report by a committee of prominent American educators, churchmen, jurists, business and civic leaders. In an uncensored presentation of the work of the National Committee Against Segregation in the Nation's Capital, Destination Freedom brings you the chapter entitled, "Segregation, Incorporated"!
(MUSIC: Establish "America the Beautiful" and to background with melody)
NARRATOR I: Now—this is a "white paper" on white supremacy. There are no invented scenes or imaginary incidents. "Segregation, Incorporated"—we regret to say—is strictly nonfictional.
(MUSIC: Punctuate discord and out)
NARRATOR II: (Sober, quiet narrative) The stage for today's chapter is set along the banks of the beautiful Potomac—a site picked by George Washington as the capital of our country. A sight seen yearly by millions of visitors from all over the country and from overseas. The steel and granite government buildings, the marble monuments of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and shrines symbolize the meaning of America. And by plane, by train, by bus, by car citizens come from all over America— the world—to get a brighter sense of what America stands for—
(SOUND: Ease in under following busy street sounds)
NARRATOR I: (Quicken considerably) They visit the galleries, gape at the buildings— read the inscriptions—alone or touring in groups ... like this one....
BARKER: (Husky, gravel voiced) Thiiiiiiiiiiiis is it, folks! Th' greatest capital on anybody's earth. A-right over there's the You Ess Mint where the money's made ... and a-right over there, if you stand up, you can see the White House where th' president is right this minute.
CAST: (Ad-lib appropriate reactions as he points out the spots.)
BARKER: That's Senators Taft and Hartley comin' down the Senate steps right now.
BARKER: (Fade) And over there's the Department of Interior and the Mayfair Building... (keep ad-libs behind).
NARRATOR I: (Over beginning of fade) Suppose right here, before this cross-section of America, we stop the bus and tap the shoulder of the barker and point out to his tourists another side of the Washington story
BARKER: (As if he has been spoken to) Look, mister, there's nothing about Washington I don't know. I been a guide for twenty years. I point out everything; I don't miss a thing.
CAST: What goes on?
NARRATOR I: Do you point out that this is the only major capital in the world where one fourth of its people cannot eat in a public restaurant?
CAST: What is this?
NARRATOR II: And the only capital in the world where race segregation—is supported—by the government.
TOURIST: (Somewhat agitated and surprised ad-libbing)
BARKER: (Reluctant admission) Aww right, aww right, I know all about that. There's things I don't tell folks, sure. Way I figure it, no use lettin' strangers see what they don't ask for. Some things you just keep secret.
(MUSIC: Sting mysterious and under)
NARRATOR I: Is Washington's segregation a "secret"? (Quieter) Listen to this letter from an official of Denmark who spent several months in Washington on a mission for his king.
DANE: (Slight accent, but serious and puzzled) Dear friends in America—Before coming to your country I had of course heard about your racial system, and I remember being mildly puzzled by this inconsistency in your democratic ideals. (Pause, falter) But I'm afraid I was quite unprepared for what I saw in Washington.
(SOUND: Ease in sound of cafe)
DANE: On the streets and sidewalks I noticed both races mingled freely. But when I went to eat my first meal in a Washington drugstore—
COUNTER GIRL: (Cut in) Yea, what's yurz?
DANE: (Puzzled) Bacon and eggs, please.
COUNTER GIRL: (Calls off) Adam and Eve on a raft! (On mike) Next?
DANE: (Polite, hesitant) This gentleman behind me's next, I believe.
COUNTER GIRL: (Flat) What "gentleman"?
GENT: I suppose it's me. I'd like a cup of coffee and some
COUNTER GIRL: (Cut in) Some sense in your head! We don't serve Negroes in here, you know it. Now come on, make room for the customers.
GENT: (Cut in) Listen, I'm hungry, I haven't got time to argue
COUNTER GIRL: (Cut in) The argument's over—or do I have to call in that cop to convince you? (A long pause) All right now. Next? (Notices) Oh—here's your bacon and eggs, mister (pause). What's the matter? You don't want it?
DANE: (Somewhat nervous) Er—I—I'm afraid not. Here's the money—
(SOUND: Jingle of coins on counter)
COUNTER GIRL: (Insulted) What's the matter, they're fresh eggs! Your stomach upset?
DANE: (Seizes the excuse) Yes, yes—my stomach—is—very upset. (Fade) Very upset.
COUNTER GIRL: Well I'll be. Some of them foreigners sure are finicky (pause). (Bawl it out, fade down) Neeeexxxt!
(SOUND: Sneak out)
DANE: (A little upset) I was sick because I had seen the discrimination in my Denmark during the Nazi occupation—only, there was another race involved. I remember the terror that went with it. I was confused. I'd read your Bill of Rights. I'd heard your representatives in the United Nations demand freedom for citizens in Greece and Romania, Bulgaria—but in Washington—. (Proceeds after getting a grip on himself) Well, I visited your government offices in the weeks that followed. They seemed much like my own state offices in Denmark—until I noticed that one group of people were employed almost solely in menial capacities—messengers, low clerks, porters, and in some departments not at all. These were the Negroes. In my hotel I noticed that no Negroes dined at the restaurants or were allowed to rent rooms. And for the first time in my life—I saw a sign on the door of a washroom that said:
SIGN: (Bark) For white only!
(MUSIC: Punctuate up)
DANE: And another that said—
SIGN: (Blunt short) For colored!
(MUSIC: Punctuate down)
DANE: (Apologetic) Of course, I was introduced to other visitors, and we would talk quite often of your racial system. One Czech acquaintance said to me—
CZECH: (Shakes his head) You haven't seen anything until you see the section of the city Negroes must live in. It reminds me of only one thing I've seen before....
CZECH: The Nazi ghetto.
DANE: (Softer) Ghetto is an ugly word. To a Dane, it is ugly. To any Nazi victim. To anyone who saw how Hitler placed a yellow mark on Jews so they could be made to live apart, suffer apart, die apart—ghetto is an ugly word. But in your capital, a quarter of a million people, one fourth of the city was marked in such a way. And some of my European friends even made unfavorable comparisons between Washington—and Moscow. For you see, whenever a citizen of any prominence returns to my country after a visit to the United States, he is interviewed by our newspapers and asked many questions about your country. In just that way I heard about Washington's racial discrimination long before I arrived there. It is no exaggeration to say that most of our people who come to your capital go home with what you call—"a bad taste in their mouths." In real humility I say that I do believe you Americans should decide your destiny in accordance with your own wishes (pause). But is Washington—a good "salesman" for democracy?
(MUSIC: "America the Beautiful," off key and under)
NARRATOR I: (Quiet) If segregation is a secret—every incident and every court decision
affecting Negro rights in this country speaks directly to a world audience that is only—one third white. They look at Washington across the footlights of the American stage.
NARRATOR II: (Quiet) And even if we wished, we could not dim the lights or lower the curtain. The Associated Press in 1947 made the following report from Moscow.
(SOUND: Teletype in and under)
VOICE: (Walter Winchell-ish) Moscow—August 21—The newspaper Trud said today
that Negroes in Washington were prohibited front attending movies, restaurants, barber shops, and beaches where whites were present. Let us remember this is all taking place in the city which— according to the reference books—has the residence of the president and the Capitol Building in which Congress sits—the article continues. Then Trud asked, "Will Washington 'democrats' dare restrict the Liberian ambassador to movies and restaurants only in the Negro ghetto?"
(SOUND: Teletype out)
NARRATOR II: And the answer comes--quite often—as in the international incident of September 13, 1948.
NARRATOR I: On this date there was a meeting held by the American Association for the Advancement of Science—in Constitution Hall. Diplomats, attachés, representatives from forty countries were being seated.
NARRATOR II: The president of the United States was expected to speak. NARRATOR I: And if it had been broadcast—it could have sounded like this:
(SOUND: Auditorium crowd in background)
VOICE: (On-the-spot broadcast style) We're broadcasting from Constitution Hall, ladies and gentlemen. Down below my booth is one of the greatest gatherings of' friendly guests seen in Washington in a long time. I believe I see the Ethiopian minister— (catches)
(SOUND: From afar sound of crowd in somewhat agitated fashion comes up)
VOICE: Just a minute, ladies and gentlemen, there's some disturbance down there. The usher is motioning to the Ethiopian minister to take a seat in the rear of the auditorium. The minister is leaving his seat—walking towards the back—no—he's walking out altogether.... I don't know what happened. ... But I see the president's about to speak. We'll switch you to the rostrum.
NARRATOR I: (On cue) No one seemed to know what happened—and before an investigation could be made, the following note was received by the State Department:
VOICE II: (Flatly factual) The Ethiopian government considers the offense to its accredited representative as grave and prone to create serious implications, especially so because the offense occurred in a public place and in the presence of the president of the United States.
NARRATOR II: Is segregation a secret? To the hundreds of dark-skinned diplomats and officials from Asiatic and Latin American countries who visit Washington as a part of their job—this secret is open knowledge.
NARRATOR I: Take Case 98. An influential Puerto Rican senator who comes to Washington frequently and who once had to sleep on a couch in the resident commissioner's office—because the hotels wouldn't house him.
NARRATOR II: Or look into Case 134. That of a devout Catholic from Panama who came into a Catholic church in Washington. And as he knelt at prayer—a priest handed him a slip of paper and said—
PRIEST: We have special churches for Negro Catholics in Washington. On the back of that paper you'll find the address of one.
PAN: But—isn't this—this church—?
PRIEST: It's for "white Catholics" my son. Go to the address on the back of the paper—and you'll be welcomed there. Not here.
NARRATOR I: (Quiet and sad) Inside many of the largest churches in Washington,
Protestant as well as Catholic, visitors are made unwelcome. Segregation is even the public policy in Washington of such Christian organizations as the—YMCA—who insist that dark-skinned guests be housed in segregated branches!
NARRATOR II: This has made Washington the only capital in the world where it is necessary to chaperon foreign diplomats to protect them from insult—on account of their color.
(MUSIC: "America the Beautiful," off key to background)
NARRATOR I: Is segregation a secret? Not to the quarter of a million Negroes who are born here--come here and die here—and call it home.
(M USIC: Out)
SERGEANT: (On abruptly) My name is Sergeant Baker. You may not have heard of it—it doesn't matter. What matters is what happened when I came home on leave from my air corps unit. It was during the...
(SOUND: Sneak in under and keep busy city street sounds)
SERGEANT: ... war. There was a picture playing downtown on military aviation. My looey had asked me to see it. I went to the theater. The manager stopped me.
MANAGER: (Rather cold) What you want here, boy?
SERGEANT: Sergeants in the United States Army are not referred to as "boy," mister.
MANAGER: You can't come in this theater. We don't have a segregation balcony yet. (Peering close) Say, aren't you that Baker boy usta run up and down Pennsylvania Avenue in short pants (pause). I thought I recognized you. Even in that uniform! (Giggles with friendly delight) You sure have grown, boy.
SERGEANT: I'm sorry you haven't.
MANAGER: (Continues over him, never stops) Well, well, welcome home, Baker. See by them pads on your arm you been to France, (peers) Italy, Germany. You been around. Come back next month when my segregation balcony's fixed. You're welcome anytime then. Sure glad to see you safe in Washington, boy. Ain't no place like it—is there?
(MUSIC: Swell discord to "America the Beautiful" and to background. Then—)
NARRATOR II: (Quiet, over the music as it fades out) In a way—there isn't. The exclusive policy of Washington theaters and auditoriums has brought the capital, and the country, much notoriety. When the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to permit the use of Constitution Hall for a concert by Marian Anderson—every capital in the world heard about it. And a few people did something about it.
NARRATOR I: When Negro war veterans like Sergeant Baker were barred from seeing the play "Joan of Lorraine" at Lisner Auditorium in the fall of 1946, the starring actress stood on the stage and told her audience
(SOUND: Busy murmurs of an auditorium crowd)
BERGMAN: (Over the crowd) I heard a few days ago that no Negro can come into this
theater. And in the capital city, too. Before I came to America— I didn't know there was any place where colored people could not come in. Until this is a free city—I shall never play in it again.
(SOUND: Crowd up somewhat and out)
NARRATOR I: Those were the words of Ingrid Bergman. And in 1948 the Actors Equity Association voted to stay away from the theaters in Washington—until race discrimination was ended.
NARRATOR II: There are, nevertheless, a quarter of a million American citizens of Negro descent who live here along the Potomac river and cannot "stay" away until discrimination is ended. When did it start?
NARRATOR I: In the nineteenth century thousands of Negroes and white people from surrounding states lived together in the District of Columbia on a basis of equality and respect. One old Washingtonian recalls—
OLD-TIMER: (Tennessee) Fifteenth and New York Avenue—now part of the downtown
area where no Negro can see a show or sit down to eat—was once owned by old Alfred Lee, a colored feed dealer, who bought it from the British embassy. Colored folks lived pretty near anyplace in Washington, in them days. This here segregation is a new idea. Some folks say the time's not ripe for colored people to have equal rights as citizens in the capital. But shucks, way back in 1872, the district had a law that gave all citizens equal rights in public places. Stiff penalties for the violators, too. We've gone backwards, not forwards. I wonder whatever became of that law?
NARRATOR I: That law mysteriously disappeared from the compiled statutes of the District of Columbia. There is no record of its repeal.
(MUSIC: Sting surprise to background)
NARRATOR II: But the record of what segregation has done to the city of the cherry blossoms festival can be seen in its slums: Washington—has the ugliest slums in the nation. In the words of Agnes E. Meyer of the Washington Post, February 6, 1944—
AGNES: In my journey through the war centers I have visited the worst possible housing. But not in the Negro slums of Detroit, not even in the southern cities have I seen human beings subjected to such unalleviated wretchedness as in the alleys—of our own city of Washington.
NARRATOR II: And as a result of this segregation, the odds against Negroes in Washington are calculated in cold figures—
NARRATOR II: Only 30 percent of the residents of the District of Columbia are Negroes—but Negroes have 70 percent of the slum residents.
NARRATOR II: And 69 percent of the felony arrests.
NARRATOR I: And in 1944, a Negro in Washington was more than four times as likely to die from tuberculosis as a white resident—and almost twice as likely to die from it as a Negro living elsewhere.
NARRATOR II: And in 1946, colored babies born in the District of Columbia were almost twice as likely to die as white babies. Negro mothers were six times as likely to die as white mothers.
(MUSIC: Punctuate and out)
NARRATOR I: And on the maps and charts of Washington sociologists, the segregated areas rate high in death and disease and juvenile crime. But the worst disease cannot be drawn on a map, and the worst crime is not committed by Negro children.
NARRATOR II: The worst crime—is committed by those responsible—for segregation, incorporated!
(MUSIC: Punctuate with fanfare effect)
NARRATOR: (Quiet, flat, and dry as if he has known for a long time) Who is responsible for segregation in the nation's capital?
(SOUND: Gavel raps immediately, and set up a busy meeting in a large hall) CAST: (Ad-lib and set well before speaker talks)
MR. KEYS: Now, now will the board members please come to order! Order please!
NARRATOR II: (Hushed) This is a meeting of the men who set the policy for segregation incorporated.
MR. KEYS: (Fade up, sing-songy) All the members ready to vote on the motion to reaffirm our policy signify by saying aye as the roll is called. Mr. Merriweather, your vote?
VOICE I: Yes!
KEYS: Van Loon?
VOICE II: Yes!
|NARRATOR II: Here the segregation||VOICE III: Yes!|
|policy begins—here is the|
|meeting of Washington Real||KEYS: Cordier?|
|Estate Board in 1948, on the vote|
|to reaffirm its code of ethics, in||VOICE I: Yes!|
|practice for a half century.|
|Among the active members of||KEYS: Mitchell?|
|this board—are twenty-five|
|banks, insurance and title||VOICE III: Yes!|
|companies, and building and loan|
|associations. Now the vote is taken.||KEYS: Abner?|
|The chair is ready to recognize|
|the count.||VOICE I: Yes!|
KEYS: (Raps gavel) Is there any new business? No? (No news) Then I shall entertain a motion to adjourn.
VOICE I: So moved, Mr. Chairman.
VOICE II: Second!
KEYS: It's been moved and seconded that the board adjourns. (Sighs) Very well. The policy is reaffirmed. Tonight's business—is finished.
(MUSIC: Punctuate ominously, and suspend a chord under)
NARRATOR II: The business of reaffirming segregation finished, the gentlemen go to
their offices to practice what they preach, to bar Negroes from most of the growing city and to confine them tighter and tighter in racial ghettos. Under their code of ethics, they have acted jointly to deprive colored citizens of their equal right to purchase, lease, sell, and hold property. On what grounds? We ask a board member.
MEMBER: Everybody knows Negroes depreciate property values.
NARRATOR Ii: The National Association of Real Estate Boards says that's not true.
NARRATOR II: They made a survey and published a report and found that in the overwhelming majority of cases, property values not only don't decline with Negro tenants—but often go up. Do you want the figures?
MEMBER: (Waves them away) I know what they reported. They're right. Truth is, I don't have anything against Negro tenants.
NARRATOR II: No?
MEMBER: Actually, no! Oh, some fanatics and some of these people that pay dues in these "protective" associations go for that race stuff, but it's just to make things easier for business.
NARRATOR II: Business?
MEMBER: Segregation is good business. Get it?
NARRATOR II: No.
MEMBER: (Like one explaining a deep point to a child) Look here, some realtors and some of the investment people here in Washington like to build up "exclusive" neighborhoods. There's money in exclusiveness. You keep out Jews here, Catholics over there, Mexicans here, and Negroes everywhere and you get what they call a "select" neighborhood.
NARRATOR II: Oh.
MEMBER: Naturally, being exclusive, they can call for "exclusive" prices. Get it?
NARRATOR II: That makes segregation good business.
KEYS: (Pleased but routine) The vote in favor of reaffirming our code of ethics is eighteen in favor—one against!
CAST: (Clearing of throats, conversation)
KEYS: Will the secretary please read section five—article fifteen of the code.
SECRETARY: (Clears throat again) No property in a white section of Washington should ever be sold, rented, advertised, or offered to colored people by board members. In case of doubt, advice from the Public Affairs Committee should be obtained. Any neighborhood is "white" if 50 percent of its inhabitants are white.
CAST: (General approval ad-libs)
MEMBER: (Chuckles) That's only half of the business. The other half pays off even better.
NARRATOR II: How's that?
MEMBER: (Points) Over in the Negro neighborhood. You see, most of the people who pact these restrictive deals own property over there. You keep squeezing the Negroes in tighter and tighter—the loan associations won't loan them money so they can buy out of the area—and you've heard of the good old law of supply and demand, haven't you? Operating all the time! They get wonderful prices for slum housing over in the Negro area. Understand? Segregation to some of us is just a matter of—(chuckles) business.
(MUSIC: Punctuate steely and thin and hold)
NARRATOR II: (Repeat, hurt) Just—a matter—of business—that pays off in death and misery and disease and the denial of dignity to a quarter of a million humans—in Washington, D.C.
NARRATOR I: (Quiet, sober) And as long as there is profit in segregation, the racket goes on. A racket growing not by accident but by plot and plan by many who declare
INDIGNANT: Race segregation here in Washington is a natural state, and certain groups which agitate against it are unscrupulous and un-American!
(MUSIC: Discord to "America the Beautiful" and to background)
NARRATOR II: It might surprise the people we liberated from Nazi ghettos to know that race segregation is defended as both "natural" and "American" by the business and property interests that dominate the nation's capital.
NARRATOR I: But the only leaders who call segregation "natural"—are those who enforce it.
(MUSIC: Punctuate and out)
NARRATOR II: And in Washington, as the race lines are drawn tighter, a kind of no- man's-land is growing up between the peoples in the capital.
NARRATOR I: But in those few blocks where white and Negroes live side by side, the committee found a matter-of-fact friendliness between the races. And one white southerner, case N-46, said of his Negro neighbor
SOUTHERNER: (Drawls slow and easily) Been livin' besides us for six years now. The old man takes a good interest in his place. We say "hello" and chat all the time. Their kids are noisy at times, but—so's mine, I guess.
NARRATOR I: It is not in the field of spontaneous human relationships that trouble occurs in Washington, but on a high policy level where segregation of the Negro is planned as a matter of business. And the results of' the planning have been in tension and riots—tension caused by the compression of a people in poverty-shocked communities.
NARRATOR II: And in the words of the biennial report of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, 1946—
CHURCH: Segregation increases and accentuates racial tensions. It is worth noting that race riots in this country have seldom occurred in the neighborhoods with a racially mixed population. Our worst riots have occurred along the borders of tightly segregated areas.
NARRATOR I: Instead of producing good racial relations, segregation creates a deep sense of frustration and resentment. Organizers of segregation incorporated do not wait for their victims to grow up before they split them apart.
NARRATOR II: In Washington—segregation begins—in kindergarten!
(MUSIC: Bridge with first bar of "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush" and under)
NARRATOR I: And along the streets of the nation's capital, little children will head back to school. The white children to schools designated for whites, the colored children to schools designated for Negroes...passing each other on the way.
NARRATOR II: They cannot go into the same school buildings. They cannot study together. They can't play together or salute the flag together.
NARRATOR I: And the schools of the colored children are run down and overcrowded. In the school year 1946-47, the white schools received $160.21 per pupil for operations and the Negro schools $125.52.
OLD-TIMER: (Drawls) Around here in Washington and in the South they say "separate but equal" facilities. But nobody ever saw facilities that were "separate and equal." Segregation implies a superior—inferior relationship. Otherwise—there'd be no segregation.
NARRATOR I: (Quiet) And both Negro and white teachers agree that by the time their pupils reach the third grade, they are conscious of their systematic separation—and both groups of children understand it according to some form of master-race principle!
(MUSIC: Punctuate discord, sneak "Gaudamus Igatur")
NARRATOR II: (Quiet) In this way—they learn—about America.
NARRATOR I: Beyond the public schools, in the universities in Washington where no Negroes are admitted—segregation digs its trenches, divides the youth according to doctrines of blood and skin, and returns the racial product to society—equipped with an academic degree!
(MUSIC: Punctuate and out)
NARRATOR II: Yet, the public school system has been the great instrument by which we hoped to overcome social and economic stigmas and give each American an equal chance to make good. It has been the great unifying principle of the republic.
NARRATOR I: But from the school room and into the work shop, segregation moves with the men and women in Washington.
NARRATOR II: Herein is modern human bondage, for when a quarter of the population is barred from certain jobs because of its race—it must take what is left as surely as if it were condemned to slavery.
NARRATOR I: In the capital city a Negro cannot get a job as a meter reader, a building inspector, a weights and measures inspector, or a guard in a jail.
(MUSIC: Punctuate, hold)
NARRATOR II: No Negro who applies will be accepted for work above a menial level in the office of the Vehicles and Traffic Department, the collector of taxes, the Engineer's Office, or the Purchasing Office.
(MUSIC: Punctuate, up half tone, hold)
NARRATOR I: Yet—the proportion of Negroes who work for a living in Washington is higher than for whites. They work longer hours and go to work at an earlier age. The percentage of Negro teen-agers who must work is twice that of whites.
(MUSIC: Punctuate, up half tone, hold)
NARRATOR II: And in the capital city—the biggest employer is the federal government. And the committee finds that behind the system of segregation in the District of Columbia's schools, jobs, and housing—is the full majesty—of the United States government!
(MUSIC: Discord to "America the Beautiful" and under)
NARRATOR I: Yes, the main segregators in employment are the government agencies, bureaus, departments, and sections.
NARRATOR II: The Ramspect Act of 1940, the Civil Service regulations, and a series of presidential executive orders all forbid racial discrimination in federal employment. Yet—discrimination prevails as a matter of accepted practice.
NARRATOR I: The main department discriminating against Negroes—is the State Department. One high-ranking officer summed up the department's attitude in document 302—
OFFICER I: (Boston) The attitude is not Southern reactionary or plain Negro-hating, but rather—the conservatism you find on the Main Line or in the Back Bay. I suppose it's a matter of the State Department regarding Negroes without any questioning at all as naturally belonging in the servant sort of role.
(MUSIC: Bridge "Old Man River" motif)
NARRATOR II: And another experienced officer said, document 319—
OFFICER II: If you fight this thing by starting at the bottom, breaking down one barrier at a time and gradually giving Negroes a chance at better jobs, you don't get far. Only the president can do this job. My experience has taught me that the top people, starting with the president himself, must make it clear to their subordinates all the way down the line that they want every American to share equally in the chances to hold a job at any level.
NARRATOR II: And still another said, document 390a—
OFFICER III: (Slower) It is quite generally true that the bugaboo of white supremacy is a great handicap to the State Department in the Far East.
NARRATOR I: The only Negro who did rise to a key position in the State Department tells why he turned down a Washington job: Dr. Ralph Bunche.
BUNCHE: Frankly, I turned down the job because I didn't want to live in Washington again. I built a house in Washington once while I was teaching at Howard. It was in a section of the city in which the whites predominated at that time. But when I moved in, my daughters had to go three miles to school, even though there was a school for white kids just around the corner. When I was in the State Department, representatives of other governments who knew nothing about race prejudice would sometimes ask me to meet them at the Mayflower or the Wardman Park to talk over business matters. I had been refused service in Washington public places so many times that I never knew what to expect. And when one of my foreign friends asked the management of a hotel if they would object to my presence, they said yes—even though I was a State Department man (pause). No--I don't think I'd live in Washington again. Even to be assistant secretary of state.
(MUSIC: Bridge "America the Beautiful," off key)
NARRATOR I: And segregation still moves like a plague over the city and down into the hospitals where doctors segregate patients—and doctors—segregate doctors.
NARRATOR II: In this case, reported by Joseph Dean Lohman of the University of Chicago, lies the real meaning of race segregation in an American hospital.
(SOUND: Sneak in fast car)
NARRATOR II: It was on the streets of Washington that the cab came screaming around the corners. A cold winter morning in 1945. It pulled up at the Washington hospital.
(SOUND: Cab screeches to stop. Door of cab slammed. Footsteps rushing upstairs and opening a door)
NARRATOR II: The driver darted up to the hospital. The clerk saw him:
CLERK: (Looks up) Something wrong, mister?
CABBY: (Highly excited and breathing heavily) There's a young lady—outside in my cab. She's in labor. If she don't get a doctor right away
CLERK: (Understands) Emergency! (Calls off) Nurse! Dr. Phillips! Emergency!
CABBY: (He's all in) Golly, I thought I wouldn't make it in time. Her husband's out there with her—Wheew! Was I scared!
PHILLIPS: (Fade in) Did you call for emergency?
CLERK: Outside, Phillips! Bring the woman into emergency! Hurry!
PHILLIPS: (Breaks off) Sure! Right away!
CLERK: (Sees) You stay here, cabby. They'll take care of her. Help me fill out these forms. Her name?
CABBY: (Smiling, relaxed) I'm not sure. You see, I was cruisn' by and I heard someone call, and I stopped. It was right in the 100 block on Bryant Street, Northwest.
CLERK: (Stops) Bryant Street!
CLERK: She's a Negro?
CABBY: (Puzzled) She's in labor.
CLERK: (Puts dowry, pen) Sorry. This hospital has strict orders not to admit—
CABBY: (Cut in, alarmed) What are you talking about!
PHILLIPS: (Fade on back) Er—clerk—I examined the patient; she is in labor, but—well—because of the rules, I can't bring her in.
CLERK: You did right! Driver, try to take her over to the city hospital before—
CABBY: (Alarmed) There ain't time for that—you know it!
CLERK: (Cold and flat) We don't take Negro patients here, can't you understand that!
CABBY: All I understand's that there's a woman out there in pain! She needs a hospital—this is a hospital! For the love of Mike don't you guys stand around lookin' at me like that—you got ears you can hear her—get out there!
CLERK: You keep shouting you'll disturb our patients—will you get out or will I have to have you put out?
CABBY: I'll get out of your dirty hospital! Huh! This is supposed to be the capital of the country! You—doctor—in that white coat! You're supposed to be a human bein'—not a human heel! What kind of guys is this segregation stuff makin' outta you doctors? Where do you stop? (Going off) When do you wake up? That woman needs help!
(SOUND: Heavy door opens and slams shut)
(MUSIC: Dismal punctuation and under)
NARRATOR II: It happened in Washington—1945. For science stops where segregation starts. In Washington, Negro doctors are barred from the district's medical society and from the American Medical Society.
NARRATOR II: In fact, there is only one hospital in the city to which a Negro physician can take a private patient.
NARRATOR I: And this segregation in medicine endangers the health of the nation— as segregation in housing and jobs and education endangers the peace and security of Americans at home.
NARRATOR II: But it was not always this way in Washington. Once the District of Columbia had one of the best rights laws in existence, and its citizens knew no segregation.
NARRATOR I: Washington was not always the capital of white supremacy. The federal government did not always ally itself with the segregationists. Now—it's a different capital.
(MUSIC: Sneak "America," hold under)
NARRATOR II: Now—when the public schools of the capital are used to divide citizens on racial lines, to perpetuate inequalities, to increase them and worse, to justify them, then the time has come to consider what kind of America we want to build in the future!
NARRATOR I: Here in Washington—the city that symbolizes the American way of life—is where a stand must be made for equality and truth.
NARRATOR II: To do this, it will take something of the spirit of a century ago when the capital was on the conscience of the nation and petitions poured by thousands into congressmen demanding freedom for all peoples in the District of Columbia.
NARRATOR I: And in this matter involving the right of citizens in the capital, it is impossible for the federal government to be neutral. It must either adopt a policy in favor of treating Negro citizens as Americans—or continue to help deprive them of their rights.
NARRATOR II: After we had conquered Hitler, we made an agreement in Berlin that stated
AGREEMENT: All Nazi laws which established discrimination on grounds of race, creed, or political opinion shall be abolished. No such discrimination, whether legal, administrative, or otherwise, shall be tolerated!
NARRATOR II: And we enforced it. And today the citizens of Berlin, Germany, enjoy more freedom than the Negro citizens of Washington, D.C.
(MUSIC: Sting sneak to "America the Beautiful")
NARRATOR: There is only one way by which the good name and general interest of Washington can prevail—and that is by legislation removing the color bar from the marketplace and making trade in racial prejudice as illegal as trade in opium and other habit-forming drugs!
NARRATOR II: For the answer that is given in the nation's capital will commit us all—either to a master-race government—or a government with liberty and justice for all!
ANNOUNCER: You have just heard Destination Freedom's presentation of "Segregation, Incorporated," a documented report by the Committee Against Segregation in the Nation's Capital, based on a text by the late K. M. Landis II. Any similarity between this story of Washington and other cities living or dead is not at all coincidental.
(MUSIC: Theme up and down)