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New Civil Rights Committee Attracts 45 Volunteers for Work in Boston

By Hendrik Hertzberg

About 45 Harvard and Radcliffe students volunteered to work for the newly organized Civil Rights Co-ordinating Committee at its first meeting Thursday night. The students will work on three main projects which the Committee is staffing together with groups in Boston and Roxbury: a selective patronage campaign against firms with discriminatory hiring practices, a program to find housing for Negro elementary ghetto neighborhoods, and a tutorial program for Negro elementary and high school students in Roxbury.

The tutorial program has already started, with a staff of 50 teaching some 100 young people aged 5-19. Mel King, director of Roxbury's South End House, told the meeting that tutors are needed to teach elementary school students remedial reading, to help high school students having difficulty, and to operate a study center at the Boston Public Library. He also said that students could be useful in stimulating interest in education among Negro parents who feel alienated from the school system.

King said many students need remedial reading help because of cultural problems, including a lack of "inspiration at home." The teaching must be done by volunteers because there is no remedial reading program in Roxbury schools, which he criticized for their "failure to recognize that the needs of these kids, especially in the elementary years, are a bit different from those of kids in other areas."

"Tutoring is not as dramatic as walking in a picket line, but it just as surely pays dividends," King added.

Selective Buying

Carl Anthony of the New York branch of the Northern Student Movement told the 70 people at the meeting of his experiences in helping to organize a selective buying campaign against the National Dairy Company, makers of Breakstone, Bryers, and Sealtest products.

Anthony said that NSM workers, in their investigation to see if job discrimination existed at National Dairy, got little co-operation from management: the personnel directors didn't have the time to see them, or it was "against their policy to talk to students," or they kept no records of the races of their employees. "Finally we just went to the factories and counted heads."

At Sealtest, NSM found ten Negroes employed in a work staff of 1500, well under one per cent. Anthony and his co-workers showed management these figures, and presented them with a very sepecific ultimatum either they would hire 22 Negroes and 15 Puerto Ricans within a month, "or we'd tell all our friends to stop buying Sealtest products."

"What we didn't tell them was that we had spent all summer making friends," he added drily. "We have put a substantial dent in Sealtest's business in New York."

Speaking in a broader vein, Anthony, a Negro, discussed the problems faced by white students who work in the civil rights movement. He spoke calmly and quietly, alternating ironic humor with a tone of personal intensity.

"There is a growing disaffection on the part of Negroes for participation by white people in civil rights activity," he declared. "Unfortunately, the sentiment is that the liberal is the most dangerous white man, even more so than the frank segregationist, because the liberal talks out of both sides of his mouth." He cited the case of Harry Golden, who had a Negro receptionist at the beginning of his journalistic career in Charlotte, N.C. But when his Carolina Israelite began to be read in the South, and many Southerners came to visit him, Golden "promoted" the Negro girl to circulation manager, where she could not be seen, and hired a white girl to take her place.

Must Define Role

Anthony said that the only real solution to the problem of white participation in civil rights work is to "put a kind of pressure on the white liberals to define what it is they're trying to do and why they're in the struggle. After all, when you go out of your way to help people you don't know, it's somehow not believable." He commented that "the black intellectual, separated as he is from his past, must also define his role."

Alluding to growing impatience of Negroes with non-violent methods, Anthony pointed to slave revolts as proof that the Negro is not "just a sweet, happy guy who could never bring himself to hurt anybody." Robert Williams' recent statement that he was the first American Negro to take up arms in defense of his people, Anthony said, shows how little knowledge Negroes have of their heritage, "One of the reasons it's good that the black man is kept in ignorance is what he might do if he knew about his past."

Take Legal Action

Susan B. Schwartz '64, after observing that "there is more than one kind of white liberal," described how the Co-ordinating Committee's housing drive will work. If a Negro is turned down by a real-estate agent, a white "tester" is sent around to try to rent or buy the same house. If he is successful after the Negro has been refused, legal proceedings will be instituted under one of several Massachusetts anti-discrimination laws.

After the meeting, one Committee said, "We are pleased with the turnout tonight, but we are sure there are many others in the community who are willing to do this kind of work and could benefit from it. We hope they'll get in touch with us.

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