Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Miscellaneous Single Episodes
Show: CBS: An Open Letter on Race Hatred
Date: Jul 24 1943

CAST:
NARRATOR
WHITE GIRL
WHITE GUY
BLACK GUY
NEGRO
2ND NEGRO
3RD NEGRO
4TH NEGRO (WOMAN)
5TH NEGRO
WHITE
2ND WHITE
3RD WHITE
4TH WHITE
5TH WHITE
PUZZLED WOMAN
DETROIT
AKRON
PITTSBURGH
TOLEDO
HILLBILLY
REASON
STOOGE
SOUTHERN NEGRO
2ND NARRATOR
GEORGIA JERK, Southern accent
DRUGGIST
JOHNSON, a doctor
YOUNG WOMAN
MOTHER, a tough old lady
OLD NEGRO
MOBSTER
HOODLUM
2ND HOODLUM
YOUNG NEGRO
SAILOR
2ND SAILOR
SPEAKER
BOY
2ND BOY
3RD BOY
OFFICER
RADIO BERLIN, German accent
RADIO TOKYO, Japanese accent
(ADOLF HITLER)
HOUSTON
ANNOUNCER
WENDELL WILLKIE
plus various CROWDS, MOBS, HOODLUMS, STUDENTS, SOLDIERS, et cetera

NOTE: This transcript includes some material from a published script in brackets.

MUSIC:

INTRODUCTION ... THEN BEHIND--

NARRATOR:

Dear fellow Americans. What you are about to hear may anger you. What you are about to hear may sound incredible to you. You may doubt that such things can happen today in this supposedly united nation. But we assure you, everything you are about to hear is true. And so we ask you to spend thirty minutes with us, facing quietly and without passion or prejudice, a danger which threatens all of us -- a danger so great that if it is not met and conquered now, even though we win this war, we shall be defeated in victory and the peace which follows will for us be a horror of chaos, lawlessness, and bloodshed. This danger is race hatred!

MUSIC:

A STINGING ACCENT ... THEN OUT BEHIND--

NARRATOR:

Tonight, race hatred is breeding and festering in a score of booming, overcrowded war centers. And so tonight we ask you to hear what happened in Detroit, because we believe that no sensible, fully informed American will allow to happen again here at home what he is fighting against all over the world.

MUSIC:

FILLS A PAUSE ... THEN BEHIND--

NARRATOR:

Sunday, June twentieth, was hot.

MUSIC:

FOR A HOT DAY ... THEN BEHIND--

NARRATOR:

Detroit, sprawling across the flat Michigan prairie, baked in the nearly vertical sun. In the workers' camps on the fringe of the city, trailers and tents held the heat close and unbreathable. In the crowded flats and overflowing houses along Tireman and Epworth Boulevard in the Negro district, the heat pressed down like the sweaty hand of John Henry.

MUSIC:

OMINOUS ... THEN BEHIND--

NARRATOR:

The Poles in Hamtramck felt it. And the two and three families crammed into one-family apartments. Their tempers grew shorter as the day lengthened from one hot hour to another. Those who could find any way to get there, headed for lovely Belle Isle in the Detroit River, and a breath of fresh air.

MUSIC:

SLIGHT RELIEF ... THEN BEHIND--

NARRATOR:

But when the flat hot sun dropped into the lake on the other side of Michigan, the twilight brought little relief, and -- still sweating, tempers shortened even more -- they started home to another sticky sleepless night.

MUSIC:

A SMALL ACCENT ... THEN OUT BEHIND--

SOUND:

TRAFFIC BACKGROUND (AUTOMOBILE HORNS, ENGINES, ET CETERA)

NARRATOR:

The traffic moved slowly across the bridge from Belle Isle, cars creeping bumper-to-bumper, the crowds on foot filling the sidewalk. Something happened there. No one is quite sure what -- but something happened that hot Sunday last month -- something in itself trivial. Something like this--

SOUND:

ONE IMPATIENT HORN LOUDER THAN THE OTHERS

WHITE GIRL:

Eddie, you're not going to get us home any faster by blowing the horn.

WHITE GUY:

(DISGUSTED) Ah, if that guy ahead'll just move forward, I can get into the other line.

WHITE GIRL:

Oh, Eddie, don't--

WHITE GUY:

Shut up, shut up-- There! Now I got a break.

SOUND:

ENGINES GUNNED ... CARS LURCH FORWARD ... CRASH OF BUMPERS

WHITE GIRL:

(SQUEALS)

WHITE GUY:

Did you see that?! He pulled out right in front of me! (YELLS) Hey, you stupid jerk!

BLACK GUY:

(OFF, ANGRY) What's the big idea, bud?

WHITE GUY:

Oh, a Negro, huh?

WHITE GIRL:

(ALARMED) No, Eddie--!

WHITE GUY:

(YELLS) Listen, you, get out that car and I'll show you, ya black punk!

WHITE GIRL:

Eddie, please!

SOUND:

CAR DOORS OPEN AND SHUT

WHITE GUY:

I'll show him. (TO BLACK GUY) What's the idea of pullin' out--?!

BIZ:

AD LIBS OF EXCITED CROWD ... DROWNS OUT THE DIALOGUE

NARRATOR:

You know how crowds are. Nothing like a good fight. You push up as close as you can, and you get pushed, and it's usually all in good fun. But this crowd was tired and hot, and full of deep-seated grievances that June evening. It promptly took sides and, taking sides, broke up into other fights -- and those out on the edge couldn't tell what was going on, and the reports they got were garbled, and they got garbled worse.

BIZ:

CROWD FADES OUT BEHIND MUSIC--

MUSIC:

"AGITATO RUMOR CUE" DURING FOLLOWING MONTAGE--

NEGRO:

What's going on?

2ND NEGRO:

A couple of guys fighting. That black boy's quite a baby with his fists.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND--

3RD NEGRO:

A fight about a baby on the Belle Isle Bridge!

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND--

4TH NEGRO:

(WOMAN) A baby throwed off o' Belle Isle Bridge!

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND--

5TH NEGRO:

Yeah, I tell you, Lucius just got back from Belle Isle. He saw it. There was a big fight -- and a white fellow throwed a colored woman and her baby off the bridge into the river! And they was drowned!

MUSIC:

BIG ACCENT ... THEN OUT

NARRATOR:

That's the way the rumor hit the slums of Paradise Valley, the Negro section a month ago. And it spread. There was another rumor. The white version.

MUSIC:

"AGITATO RUMOR CUE" DURING FOLLOWING MONTAGE--

WHITE:

What's the trouble?

2ND WHITE:

I dunno. Tangled bumpers, I guess. That's the white guy's gal sittin' in the car.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND--

3RD WHITE:

They're fightin' over a white girl on the Belle Isle Bridge!

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND--

4TH WHITE:

There's plenty of trouble over on Belle Isle; Negro and a white gal.

MUSIC:

ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND--

5TH WHITE:

Negro attacked a white gal over on Belle Isle. Call up the guys.

MUSIC:

BIG ACCENT ... THEN OUT

NARRATOR:

Rumor! More dangerous than dynamite! More deadly than a plague! Rumors tailor-made -- one for black ears, one for white ears. Stories about things that never had happened. The trouble had started.

PUZZLED WOMAN:

But just because a couple of men had a fight on the Belle Isle Bridge--?

NARRATOR:

Oh, no. It goes much deeper than that. Much further back.

PUZZLED WOMAN:

Really?

NARRATOR:

Yes, back nearly a quarter of a century. You see, Detroit grew up fast.

DETROIT:

I'll say it did, brother. Want some figures on that?

NARRATOR:

Why, yes, if you don't mind.

DETROIT:

Not at all, not at all; that's what I'm here for. From 1920 to 1930, while Detroit was putting the world on wheels, our population increased by half a million. And today we're on our way to-- Er, pardon me; I see some prospects. Uh-- (CALLS) Hey, you, mister! How'd you like to work in a dee-fense plant in Detroit?!

AKRON:

No, not me. I got a good job at the tire factory right here in Akron.

DETROIT:

How about you?

PITTSBURGH:

Pittsburgh's good enough for me. We gotta make the steel before you can make the tanks.

DETROIT:

What do you say, pal?

TOLEDO:

Listen, lay off, will ya? Toledo's got its own manpower problem.

DETROIT:

Okay, okay, no harm in asking. (CALLS) Hey, uh, you down there in South Carolina--!

HILLBILLY:

Who, me?

DETROIT:

Yeah, you. How'd you like to come up north and work in a dee-fense plant?

HILLBILLY:

Well, now, I hadn't thought about it.

DETROIT:

Pay the highest wages. Better'n you can make in the cotton mill.

HILLBILLY:

Yeah?

DETROIT:

Yeah! And you'll be livin' high on the hog in Detroit. Beautiful town. Right on the lake. Bring along the missus and the kids.

HILLBILLY:

Well, I'll think about it.

DETROIT:

You can clean up quick in Detroit and after the war you can go back down South and retire.

HILLBILLY:

I could, huh?

DETROIT:

Sure. Report Monday?

HILLBILLY:

Yeah, mister, sure -- and thanks.

REASON:

Er, pardon me?

DETROIT:

Yeah, what?

REASON:

Why are you recruiting labor in the South, when you've already got a big supply of labor in Detroit?

DETROIT:

What are you talking about?

REASON:

The Negroes.

DETROIT:

(QUIETLY) Listen, bud, we're not hirin' any Negroes.

REASON:

But the War Manpower Commission has ordered that local labor had to be exhausted before you could go out--

DETROIT:

(QUICKLY) Maybe they did, but they're not enforcin' the order, and we don't want any black--

STOOGE:

(LOW) Hey, boss. I got a message for ya.

DETROIT:

Yeah? What is it?

STOOGE:

(WHISPERS)

DETROIT:

No? Is that a fact?

STOOGE:

Yeah. So you better do somethin' fast.

DETROIT:

Okay, okay. (TO REASON) Uh, pardon me, pal.

REASON:

Go right ahead.

DETROIT:

(CALLS) Hey, boy!

SOUTHERN NEGRO:

Yas, suh?

DETROIT:

Want a good job?

SOUTHERN NEGRO:

I sure do. What I have to do for it?

DETROIT:

Nothin' -- just come to Detroit.

SOUTHERN NEGRO:

Detroit?

DETROIT:

Sure! Work in the war plants makin' tanks and guns.

SOUTHERN NEGRO:

Sho' 'nough?

DETROIT:

On the level.

SOUTHERN NEGRO:

But I'm a field hand; I don't know nothin' about workin' in no factory.

DETROIT:

It's all right; we'll teach ya.

SOUTHERN NEGRO:

Well, I don't --

DETROIT:

You can make more in a month than you get in a year workin' in the fields.

SOUTHERN NEGRO:

Is that a fact?

DETROIT:

Yeah! Plenty of chance for advancement, too.

SOUTHERN NEGRO:

Advancement?

DETROIT:

Yeah! Nothin' to hold you back in Detroit. Why, if you make the grade, we might even promote you to -- straw boss.

SOUTHERN NEGRO:

You ain't just joshing me?

DETROIT:

No, sirree. And you'll be living in paradise in Detroit.

SOUTHERN NEGRO:

Paradise?

DETROIT:

Well, Paradise Valley.

SOUTHERN NEGRO:

Mister, that sounds too good to be true.

DETROIT:

I can count on you?

SOUTHERN NEGRO:

Yes, sir! You sure can, you sure can-- (FADES OUT)

REASON:

But, er, didn't you say a minute ago that you didn't want any Negro labor?

DETROIT:

Yeah. But I just got word that the boys back home have changed their minds. They've hired all the Negroes in Detroit and we gotta get more labor. Lots more.

NARRATOR:

More! Lots more. In three years, Detroit has imported five hundred thousand Negroes and whites, mostly from the South.

DETROIT:

(PROUDLY) That's right. As many people as live in New Orleans or the State of Arizona. It's a big operation.

NARRATOR:

It certainly is. But Detroit doesn't have houses for a half-million extra people. Detroit doesn't have enough streetcars and buses to move the State of Arizona back and forth from work. Detroit doesn't have enough parks, or movie houses, or bowling alleys to entertain an additional New Orleans.

2ND NARRATOR:

Today, it is impossible to rent a decent house within fifty miles of Detroit.

MUSIC:

BIG ACCENT ... THEN OUT BEHIND--

NARRATOR:

No houses. But jobs -- plenty of jobs -- for black and white, for native Americans and Polish-born immigrants. And all the prejudices of Detroit's polyglot population awaited the new army of war workers. Subversive organizers and native Nazi orators took to soap boxes outside a dozen war plants.

GEORGIA JERK:

I'd rather see Hitler and Hirohito win than work beside a nigra on the assembly line!

NARRATOR:

Detroit was dynamite. The fist fight on the Belle Isle Bridge set off the fuse. By the dawn of Monday, June twenty-first, Detroit blew up.

MUSIC:

FOR A RACE RIOT ... THEN BEHIND--

NARRATOR:

That bloody Monday, Woodward Avenue, the wide boulevard which divides the city, became a hunting ground upon which no Negro was safe. Along Hastings Street, in the heart of Paradise Valley, bands of Negroes, fired by rumors, smashed the windows of white storekeepers, overturned the cars of white motorists, and were shot by the police. On Woodward Avenue, a hundred thousand white men armed with lengths of pipe and beer bottles beat up Negroes until their arms ached.

MUSIC:

FOR CHAOTIC VIOLENCE! ... THEN SUBSIDING BEHIND--

2ND NARRATOR:

And in the great factories of Detroit, which proudly claims the title of "Arsenal of Democracy," few men worked that day. From bloody dawn to bloody dawn, in that single day, these insurrectionists wasted one million man-hours.

MUSIC:

SOMBER ... THEN BEHIND--

2ND NARRATOR:

How many of your sons will die for lack of the tanks and planes and guns which Detroit did not make that day?

MUSIC:

SLOWLY FADES OUT, AS IF ASHAMED

NARRATOR:

We lost Bataan -- gallantly. We surrendered Corregidor -- with honor. We were defeated at Detroit by ourselves -- in shame and humiliation.

MUSIC:

BROODING, FOR PUNCTUATION ... THEN OUT

NARRATOR:

But not all Detroit went blind with blood lust that hot Monday. There were black people and white people whose conduct proved them, first of all, to be human beings. There was a prominent Negro doctor who was leaving his office on his way to an emergency meeting of city officials at the Negro Y, when the white druggist in his building called to him.

DRUGGIST:

Dr. Johnson? Dr. Johnson?

JOHNSON:

Oh, Mr. Stuart. You shouldn't have opened your store this morning.

DRUGGIST:

I didn't know how bad it was. Now I don't know what to do.

JOHNSON:

Well, you'd better close up and go home.

DRUGGIST:

I'm afraid they'd mob me before I got to Woodward Avenue.

JOHNSON:

Yes. Yes, they might. I'll tell you, you lock up right now, and I'll drive you through.

DRUGGIST:

But you'd be taking a chance, too.

JOHNSON:

You're my friend, Mr. Stuart.

MUSIC:

WARM, BRAVE ... THEN BEHIND--

NARRATOR:

And the white man was driven through the threatening, jeering Negro mob by his colored friend to safety, close to the "no man's land" of Woodward Avenue.

MUSIC:

FOR PUNCTUATION ... THEN OUT

NARRATOR:

And there were white people, too, who acted with sanity and bravery on that insane day.

SOUND:

BELLS OF STREETCAR

BIZ:

MURMUR OF ANGRY MOB

NARRATOR:

In a streetcar crawling through the mobs on Woodward Avenue, sat a woman and her daughter.

YOUNG WOMAN:

Oh, mother, look at them beating up that poor man!

MOTHER:

It's disgraceful! Outrageous!

YOUNG WOMAN:

Oh, look, the mob's coming toward this car.

MOTHER:

Now don't get excited, Elsie.

YOUNG WOMAN:

There's a colored man sitting across the aisle. Oh, mother, I'm afraid--

MOTHER:

No! They won't get him. (URGENT) You, mister -- you! Come here!

OLD NEGRO:

Yes, ma'am?

MOTHER:

Quick -- get down here under the seat!

YOUNG WOMAN:

Mother, what are you going to do?

MOTHER:

Be quiet, Elsie -- spread out your skirts so you hide him.

YOUNG WOMAN:

Oh.

OLD NEGRO:

(UNDER SEAT) God bless you, ma'am.

SOUND:

BANGING ON STREETCAR DOORS ... CAR STOPS, DOORS OPEN

BIZ:

MURMUR OF MOB GROWS LOUDER

MOBSTER:

(CALLS, FROM OFF) Any nigras inside?!

MOTHER:

There are not!

MOBSTER:

(OFF) Okay, ma'am! Just wanted to make sure! (TO MOB) All right, boys! Let's-- (SWALLOWED UP BY MOB)

BIZ:

MOB FADES OUT AS--

SOUND:

STREETCAR DOORS CLOSE ... STREETCAR STARTS

OLD NEGRO:

(UNDER SEAT) God bless you, ma'am. God bless you.

MOTHER:

Now, you stay right where you are until we get out of this. (TO HERSELF, SCORNFUL) Those hoodlums! I've lived all my life in Detroit and today I'm ashamed of it!

MUSIC:

BRIEF BRIDGE ... THEN OUT

NARRATOR:

And there were three sailors that bloody Monday who proved how much courage a mob has.

BIZ:

MURMUR AND SHOUTS OF HOODLUMS, LOUD AND ANGRY

HOODLUM:

[There's one!

2ND HOODLUM:

Get the black b--!]

YOUNG NEGRO:

Let me go! I ain't done nothin'! I'm just on my way home from work--!

HOODLUM:

Ah, shut up, you dirty--

SOUND:

SMACK!

YOUNG NEGRO:

(CRIES OUT IN PAIN)

2ND HOODLUM:

[Lemme get a crack at the son of a--]

SAILOR:

Hey! Let that man go! Let him go!

HOODLUM:

(IRONIC) Well! The U.S. Navy to the rescue! (SARCASTIC, TO YOUNG NEGRO) Hey, you got friends, eight-ball!

SOUND:

SMACK!

YOUNG NEGRO:

(CRIES OUT IN PAIN) Don't -- please -- [for the love of God,] don't--

SAILOR:

Let him go!

BIZ:

HOODLUMS GROW QUIET DURING FOLLOWING--

2ND HOODLUM:

What's it to you, sailor?

SAILOR:

I'll tell you, bum!

HOODLUM:

Who you callin' a bum?

SAILOR:

I'm just payin' off a debt! There's a colored guy on my ship that saved the life of one of my buddies!

BIZ:

HOODLUMS SCOFF AT SAILOR

HOODLUM:

(IRONIC) Aw, you got me weepin'.

SAILOR:

Ace, give this fellow a hand.

2ND SAILOR:

Right. (TO YOUNG NEGRO) Come along, kid, we'll get you out of this.

YOUNG NEGRO:

(RELIEVED) Thank you, sailor, thank you.

HOODLUM:

Listen, gob, if you didn't have that uniform on, you wouldn't get away with that!

BIZ:

HOODLUMS MURMUR AGREEMENT

SAILOR:

O-kay, I'll be glad to oblige -- I'll take it off! (TO 2ND SAILOR) Ace, ya better peel off your jumper, too.

2ND SAILOR:

A pleasure.

SAILOR:

Would you mind holdin' these for us, kid?

YOUNG NEGRO:

Sure thing, sailor.

SAILOR:

Okay, you punks. Do you want to take us on one at a time or both together?

BIZ:

HOODLUMS MUMBLE THEIR RELUCTANCE

HOODLUM:

(COWED) Well, we ain't pickin' no fights with white men. We're after colored guys.

SAILOR:

Yeah! And you're stirrin' up the kind of trouble we went to war to stop! Now, you jerks better get off the streets before the army gets into town and starts using you for target practice!

MUSIC:

MILDLY TRIUMPHANT (WITH A HINT OF "ANCHORS AWEIGH") ... THEN MORE SOBER, BEHIND NARRATOR--

NARRATOR:

Late that night, the army finally did arrive, and for the first time in twenty-four hours, a fitful peace reluctantly fell on the debris-filled streets of Detroit. The score--

2ND NARRATOR:

Eighteen hundred arrested. Eighty-five percent Negroes.

MUSIC:

SOMBER ACCENT

2ND NARRATOR:

Six hundred injured. The majority Negroes.

MUSIC:

SOMBER ACCENT

2ND NARRATOR:

Thirty-five dead.

MUSIC:

SOMBER ACCENT

2ND NARRATOR:

Twenty-nine Negroes.

MUSIC:

SOMBER ACCENT

2ND NARRATOR:

Seventeen of them shot by the police.

MUSIC:

SOMBER ACCENT

NARRATOR:

Accomplished?

2ND NARRATOR:

Nothing.

MUSIC:

SOMBER ACCENT ... THEN OUT

NARRATOR:

Two nights after the troops arrived, the class of 1943 was graduated at Northeastern High School. Its members included twenty-nine Negro boys and girls. The sincere words of the commencement speaker that night seemed tinged with bitter irony.

SPEAKER:

(ECHO) See if you can analyze the problems of today. See if you can work out your own destiny through democratic processes. You must if democracy is to survive. The world cannot go on half-free and half-slave. (FADES DOWN, CONTINUES BEHIND--)

NARRATOR:

In the park outside the high school, eighty policemen stand on guard. And behind them, little groups of hoodlums, toughened by two days of street fighting, gather in the shadows.

SPEAKER:

(FADES UP) Democracy is more than just casting your ballot. It is something that must be lived twenty-four hours each day. It is learning to live collectively. (FADES DOWN)

NARRATOR:

A lesson their elders had proved that they had not learned. A challenge, difficult to accept, when you have, for two days, watched democracy go up in the smoke of burning automobiles and trickle away in the bloody gutters.

MUSIC:

SCHOOL BAND PLAYS INTRODUCTION TO "AMERICA (MY COUNTRY, 'TIS OF THEE)"

STUDENTS:

(SING) My country, 'tis of thee
Sweet land of liberty-- (CONTINUES BEHIND--)

NARRATOR:

It is nearly over, the last moments of their four years together. Their last song together -- black and white voices blending.

STUDENTS:

(SING) Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims' pride-- (CONTINUES BEHIND--)

NARRATOR:

The hoodlums out in the park hear the song through the open windows. The mob begins to form. The policemen stiffen, glance nervously about.

STUDENTS:

(SING) Let freedom ring!

MUSIC:

OUT

NARRATOR:

And then the song is over, and with congratulations and well-wishes cut short by the ten o'clock curfew, the Negro and white members of the Northeastern High School Class of 1943 step out into the world.

BIZ:

HOODLUMS SHOUT ANGRILY ... THEN MURMUR THREATENINGLY DURING FOLLOWING--

NARRATOR:

(URGENTLY) The police line wavers. The girl graduates in their summery dresses cringe. The boys stand there a moment indecisively.

BOY:

I'm not gonna let them think they can scare me. Come on, who's walking my way?

2ND BOY:

I'll go with you.

3RD BOY:

So will I.

NARRATOR:

The three classmates -- two Negro, one white -- start down the street. Across the way, behind the line of police, the mob paces them.

BOY:

Don't walk too fast.

2ND BOY:

Jeez, I'm bein' inducted into the army next week -- to fight for them.

3RD BOY:

Doesn't seem worth it.

NARRATOR:

At the street corner, the mob breaks through the police line -- sweeps across the street, and then suddenly halts.

SOUND:

TRUCKS MOTOR UP, THEN STOP

NARRATOR:

Four truckloads of soldiers with fixed bayonets roll up to a stop.

OFFICER:

(SHOUTING ORDERS) All right, boys, on the double -- clear the area!

SOLDIERS:

(OFF) All right, you guys, break it up! -- Move on there -- break it up -- get going! (ET CETERA)

BIZ:

SOLDIERS & HOODLUMS REACH A PEAK, THEN FADE TO SILENCE BEHIND--

NARRATOR:

Slowly, at the point of the bayonet, the rabble of Kluxers, cowards, and crackpots retreat into the shadows whence they came. Northeastern High School Class of '43 has graduated -- without bloodshed.

MUSIC:

RELIEF ... THEN OUT BEHIND--

NARRATOR:

So an armed peace came to the troubled streets of Detroit, and most of us, knowing little and perhaps caring less why such things occur, forgot about it. But not the rest of the world.

RADIO BERLIN:

(FILTER) Hello, here is Radio Berlin calling, in the Asiatic Service. The disturbances in Detroit have now also come to an end owing to the intervention of the troops whom Roosevelt dispatched to the scene. There is no doubt about the fact that the problem of labor and capital can not be solved by the present rulers of the U.S.A.

NARRATOR:

And listen to the Voice of Tokyo addressing the billion brown and yellow inhabitants of Asia--

RADIO TOKYO:

(FILTER) The Detroit riots of June the twentieth in which hundreds of Negroes were sacrificed to the altar of American white superiority complex was nothing more than the latest of acts of intolerable cruelty of the people who pay lip service to Democracy. How can America hope to bring an order of liberty and equality among the more complicated, vastly more difficult family of races in the world, when it can't manage its own race problem? It simply can't.

NARRATOR:

Those words have the ring of logic to millions of people all around the world -- millions who look upon us with justified suspicion. And the question those words pose is not rhetoric, but literal. The answer lies with each one of us. We cannot command the respect of mankind with the blood of fellow Americans upon our hands.

MUSIC:

[ORCHESTRA

NARRATOR:

What happened in Detroit can happen in many another American city, already has happened to a lesser degree in half a dozen. The responsibility for these acts of hideous violence lies ultimately at the doorstep of you, the decent law-abiding citizens to whom this open letter is addressed. It is you who will pay the final bill for the race hatred of your fellow Americans. Remember, these street riots are not new. They have their pattern -- a pattern cut in the streets of Leipzig and Berlin and Munich nearly a generation ago when gangs of German youth armed with beer bottles and lead pipe asserted their right to mob rule with the same brawling methods we have seen at work on our Main Streets. The pattern is the same, the victim similar. The minority which is most easily recognized. Adolf Hitler, who invented the technique, predicted long ago how well it would work here in America.

HITLER:

America is permanently on the brink of revolution. It will be a simple matter for me to produce unrest and revolts in the United States, so that these gentry will have their hands full with their own affairs.

NARRATOR:

What suckers we are.]

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

NARRATOR:

There are some places in the nation where citizens are showing common sense, tact, and tolerance. In Houston, Texas, for instance, last month, rumors were launched that there would be a race riot on Saturday, June nineteenth, when the Negro population celebrate the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in the festival they call Juneteenth. A committee of prominent Negro and and white citizens, headed by the mayor, stopped the trouble before it started -- with a full-page advertisement in the Houston papers which read--

HOUSTON:

Don't Do Hitler's Work. Stop circulating rumors which create tenseness and interfere with war production, and attend to your own business. The colored people of this vicinity are entitled to celebrate their traditional "Juneteenth" holiday on Saturday pleasantly and in peace, and the fact that they gather for their customary celebration on that day is no evidence of any intention on their part to create a disturbance. Law enforcement authorities are prepared to deal with thoughtless hoodlums, white or colored, who provoke trouble. Don't be a rumormonger.

NARRATOR:

There was no riot in Houston on June nineteenth because decent law-abiding citizens saw one coming -- and did something about it. Each of us can do the same thing in his community.

MUSIC:

SNEAKS IN, BEHIND--

NARRATOR:

It's not the people who serve on the committees and lead the parades and make the speeches who will stop race hatred. It's each one of us, each anonymous citizen keeping his head on his shoulders, his fists unclenched, and his mouth shut. We've got too tough an enemy to beat overseas to fight each other here at home.

MUSIC:

UP, FOR A FINISH ... THEN OUT BEHIND--

NARRATOR:

We hope that this open letter about the irreparable damage race hatred has already done -- to our prestige, our war effort, and our self-respect -- will have moved you to make a solemn promise to yourself that, wherever you are and whatever is your color or your creed, you will never allow intolerance or prejudice of any kind to make you forget that you are first of all an American with sacred obligations to every one of your fellow citizens.

Sincerely yours, The Columbia Broadcasting System.

ANNOUNCER:

Ladies and gentlemen, as a postscript to our open letter to you -- we present Mr. Wendell Willkie.

WILLKIE:

This is a time for serious thought and sober words. For the situation which flared so tragically in Detroit has its counterpart -- actual or potential -- in many American cities. Such instances of mob madness cannot be treated as single cases, because they are profound in their effect in this country and lasting in their impression throughout the world.

Two-thirds of the people who are allied with us do not have white skins. And they have long, hurtful memories of the white man's superior attitude in his dealings with them. Today the white man is professing friendship and a desire to cooperate and is promising opportunity in the world to come when the war is over. They wonder. When the necessities of war cease to make cooperation valuable to the white man, will his promises mean anything? Race riots in Detroit, Los Angeles and Beaumont, Texas do not reassure them.

The situation is grave both at home and, in its effects, abroad. We must therefore seek the basic causes and find the ways for their elimination -- practical, direct, positive ways.

One-tenth of the people in this country belong to the Negro race. In the spirit in which our independence was gained and our Republic established, there are certain things these Negro citizens are entitled to -- not as a matter of patronage or tolerance, but as a matter of right.

They are entitled to protection under the law. And, when their safety demands it, to prompt and vigorous enforcement of the law.

It is their right that there shall be no discrimination against them in the administration of the law, in federal, state, or local governments.

They are entitled to the same opportunity to acquire an education -- an education of the same quality as that given to other citizens.

They should receive the same per capita expenditure of public moneys for health and hospitalization as is allotted to other citizens.

They have a right -- as has every citizen -- to the elimination of all arbitrary restrictions on voting, through taxation or otherwise.

Their right to work must equal that of any citizen and their reward should be the same as the reward of any other citizen for the same job.

Their economic opportunity should not be limited by their color.

And last, they should have the rights of every citizen to fight for his country in any branch of her armed services.

These are [merely] rights that the Negro of our communities is entitled to share with every other citizen. We must see to it that he gets them.

But in addition to his rights are certain human needs which he also shares with his fellow citizens. And they, too, must be cared for. The most pressing today, for black and white, is adequate and decent housing. If this cannot be secured through the operation of our private economy, it is an obligation that must be undertaken by government -- preferably local but, if necessary, federal.

There is one thing further which seems to me to have a real bearing on the welfare of the Negro citizen. It concerns the Negro's political status.

Our two major political parties have their separate ways of approaching the Negro vote. One has a tendency to ask the Negro for his vote as recompense for in act of simple justice done eighty years ago. The other retains political power by, in effect, depriving the Negro of his right to vote in one part of the country, while seeking his vote in another on the plea of great friendship for his race.

Both attitudes must be changed. One party cannot go on feeling that it has no further obligation to the Negro citizen because Abraham Lincoln freed the slave. And the other is not entitled to power if it sanctions and practices one set of principles in Atlanta and another in Harlem.

Our whole purpose today is, with our allies, to defeat fascism. But all the forces of fascism are not with our enemies.

Fascism is an attitude of mind, an attitude which causes men to seek to rule others by economic, military, or political force -- or through prejudice. Such an attitude within our own borders is as serious a threat to freedom as is the attack without. The desire to deprive some of our citizens of their rights -- economic, civil, or political -- has the same basic motivation as actuates the Fascist mind when it seeks to dominate whole peoples and whole nations.

It is essential that we eliminate it at home as well as abroad.