The Charlotte News

Wednesday, December 14, 1938


Site Ed. Note: In follow-up to the previous day's editorial on the Supreme Court decision in the Gaines case, appears "How About Reciprocity?" We doubt that this editorial is by Cash, but it may be. It may even be a little sarcasm, if one reads it a couple of times. For, the Supreme Court decision itself made it quite clear that the sort of proposal suggested would not pass muster, as Missouri had attempted just the same sort of thing, that is paying for tuition at out of state schools. Note that here the editorial appears to suggest, slightly different, that there be an exchange-student sort of policy, perhaps such as that with foreign students. Still, it would not have worked under the law, because it would have compelled African-Americans to attend professional programs out of state, not a voluntary program such as that involved in foreign student exchange. We suspect, therefore, that if Cash was the author, he was stating it as further paradox, trapping the notion ultimately that integration was the only logical solution, without ever saying it.

Again, the previous day's editorial, almost assuredly by Cash, expressed reservation as to the effects attempted integration would likely have on race relations in 1938, but counsels good will and candor from both sides of the fence. And, indeed, of course, even when integration began to be attempted such as in the public schools of Little Rock in 1957, at the University of Georgia in 1961, the University of Mississippi in 1962, and the University of Alabama in 1963, when George Wallace stood in the door, even as to these quarter century later dates, in the deep South anyway, there was resistance, and often violent resistance, to integration, not candor and good will, at least not from many whites and deep South governors and legislators. Brickbats, taunts, the rest, accompanied this integration, even so late as then in the 1960's. (Not to forget the resistance in South Boston to busing as late as the fall of 1975.) So, could it have been accomplished earlier without far worse repercussions, before the War, before there were returning men who had fought bravely, black and white, side by side for the same patriotic cause, to stop militaristic Nazi-Fascist madmen?

By contrast, in North Carolina, while there were court battles over the nature of accomplishing integration in the public schools, court battles which persisted until 1971, (see Swann, et al. v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 US 1 (1971)), the schools themselves, including especially the institutions of higher learning, did eventually, if slowly, integrate peacefully in the 1960's and early 1970's.

But it is also to be remembered that the North Carolina Legislature passed a resolution in 1955 in the wake of Brown v. Board, stating: "The mixing of the races in the public schools within the state cannot be accomplished and if attempted would alienate public support to such an extent that they could not be operated successfully." As a consequence, little was attempted toward integration of the schools until 1965 when integration began in earnest in North Carolina's public schools, including the state university, notwithstanding that some sporadic integration in small numbers had taken place in the public schools of the four largest cities since 1957.

And similar to the Texas situation leading to Sweatt v. Painter, it took Federal Court intervention, ordering the first enrollment by black students in the University of North Carolina graduate and professional schools in 1951. It was not until 1955, still early of course by Southern standards, that the University of North Carolina voluntarily admitted its first four African-American undergraduates. And that despite the liberal leadership of Frank Porter Graham as the University president from 1930 through 1949 when he resigned to accept an interim appointment from the Governor to the Senate and, then in 1950 running unsuccessfully to hold the seat against the Raleigh lawyer whose race-baiting campaign was managed by Jesse Helms.

Indeed, it was not until 1947, when an African-American was elected to the Winston-Salem Board of Aldermen, that any African-American had held public office in North Carolina since Reconstruction. When CORE sponsored the earliest freedom rides by bus into the South the same year, challenging the traditional practice of segregation, it was in the University's hometown, Chapel Hill, Duke's hometown, Durham, and in the ordinarily politically moderate Asheville, that the riders were arrested.

So it went.

North Carolina, perhaps the mildest of the lot of Southern states, still, in absolute terms, was institutionally racist, even if more paternalistic in its manifestation than overtly inhuman or violent; yet racism in any institutional form was never truly benign as to its ultimate impact on individual human beings, always invidious, always limiting, always stifling of the individual's ultimate worth and aspiration to higher achievement. For how was it to be perfectly qualified to become a doctor, a lawyer, a professor of mathematics, yet to be told one could not go to school at the state university to achieve this goal; that one must instead, if at all, attend the costlier school out of state, the school whose standards of admissions for out of state students would be inevitably tougher, regardless of race? Whose degree, even once honorably obtained, would be of less account perhaps with the home folks?

The adjustment in North Carolina, when integration did come, was not without occasional friction, but by and large went smoothly, certainly without violence or stunts of the type which required military intervention as in Mississippi and Alabama. (We remember ourselves some controversy in the early 1970's at the University of North Carolina about accommodating the Black Student Union in campus facilities; but we also remember that in 1972, the student body elected its first African-American president, who was quite popular on campus, at the same time the town of Chapel Hill had its first African-American mayor, and the first of any predominantly white town in the state, completing his first four-year term. We also recall nothing in the way of racist reaction to the integration of the public schools in a larger city in North Carolina in 1965, not to say there was not some level of resistance to its coming about in some quarters, in some fewer quarters even still probably.)

Thus, whoever authored the below editorial, whether Cash or Dowd or someone else, one could speculate that perhaps the suggestion was the result of over-caution on the subject, even in 1938, that institutions of higher learning in the South, at least in North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee maybe, were ready by 1938 for integration without violent backlash? But, with an overtly race-baiting Senator from North Carolina, Jesse Helms, still to come, and to come largely from the very retrograde backlash in the rest of the state accompanying school integration, busing in particular, (yet, "busing" always being merely a code-word, the goal being by avoiding it to arrest aborning the practicability of integration), Cash or whoever else wrote this editorial was probably correct in asserting what would likely happen as a result of too quick efforts at integration, even if, by the end of the day, it proved the only way to go about it after centuries of apartheid, dander-up as a result or not.

For, by the 1950's, we stress again, it was becoming ever more clear that the concept of delay was merely an excuse never to do what conscience, justice, and the Constitution demanded, full integration of society, and had so demanded since the country's founding, even if not made entirely clear and explicit as to the impact on the states until the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment with its Equal Protection clause in the wake of the Civil War, nevertheless, with that issue thus resolved for all but the Confederates, Southern and Northern and Western, since 1868.

Progress toward integration, we posit, was considerably helped after 1940 by The Mind of the South itself and its teaching in the colleges and universities through the period of integration. So one cannot separate out that impact from the larger issue, in criticizing Cash or anyone else for a less affirmative approach to the matter in 1938, suggesting, as here, whether said sardonically or seriously, exchanging the students with students from Northern states rather than either integrating or building separate professional schools for African-Americans.

In perfect hindsight and reading it strictly on its face, candidly, we cringe at the editorial below, and find it wholly unacceptable. But, fewer and fewer of us were mature citizens in 1938, if we were alive at all, and we therefore tend to forget or fail to realize in the first instance how entrenched these earlier notions of separation were in 1938. No city in the country was without completely segregated neighborhoods; indeed, even today, this type of informal segregation is still more the rule than not, in or outside the South, save within some inner city neighborhoods. Churches still, by and large, remain informally segregated. So, it is well to remember that, when reading the editorial below, there was genuine and real concern as to the impact, not just on the campus, but in the hinterlands away from the campus, which integration might likely trigger. For the taxpayers ultimately support these state-supported institutions. Would therefore the ultimate payee for such integration at that time have become the young adolescent in Podunk, N.C., wishing to attend an integrated school, finding himself on a night ride, finishing it at the end of a rope? With such behavior still in evidence at the time, though lessening considerably, these were legitimate concerns, not expressions of personal discomfort at the concept of integration in the abstract. In all likelihood, the University of North Carolina could have easily and peacefully integrated, of itself, as to its own student body, in 1938. That still does not say what might have happened as a result, however, down in Podunk.

Nevertheless, we confess, we would find the editorial more refreshing had it forthrightly advocated integration. But we couple that thought with the recognition that had it done so, the opinion would have been treated dismissively, as unrealistic, in all likelihood, even by the liberals of the community; by the conservative traditionalists, as nuts; by the racists as death-wish. No one of that era, not even black leaders themselves, certainly not the Administration, not even progressive educators, were advocating integration, as it was simply thought impracticable at the time without untoward results--as it proved to be, even later.

A dilemma indeed for that time. But one which was not to be resolved by pushing the matter off onto the Northern states or advocating same, (not to mention, as we have said, that the Court's ruling precluded it in any event). Especially so, in light of the fact that through 1930, fully one-third of North Carolina's population was black, decreasing slightly to about two in seven by 1940, (compared to 21% in 2000).

Yet, all that said, in considering old Southern pride, especially that nesting in the smaller towns of the South, as the editorial writer no doubt understood, this appeal below probably had more wisdom to it than at first might appear for its time on its face. For who among them, in those small towns, would have rested easily at night with the knowledge that the great-grandson or great-granddaughter of their grandfather's old slave or later sharecropper or employee at the general store was, instead of receiving his or her doctorate or law or medical degree at Chapel Hill, having to go all the way up to Cambridge or New Haven, New York City or Philadelphia to get it? Who could have rested at that thought? Especially if their own or someone they knew was getting one at the University. No, that's an affront, suggesting we can't educate our own just as well as any Yankee school. And, come to think of it, our good and noble neighbor, the great local jurisprudential mind of our township here, ol' Judge Beane over there, read that decision last night and told us that, by gum, we couldn't legally do what that dumb editorial writer suggested anyway. Can't afford to build all these separate facilities. Can't send the students up north. So, maybe, only one thing left to do. 'Tis a far better thing, maybe, after all, to integrate--maybe, come to think of it.


And meanwhile, George and Gracie are arguing it all out on the radio in Gracie's long-standing conundruminimitable style. In fact, we can hear it now:


"Yes, Gracie."

"I was just reading about this latest Supreme Court decision."

"Supreme Court?"

"Oh, yes, George, I keep up regularly with them. They're so lovely in those black robes, with their foolscap, too. Don't you agree?"


"Well, I was reading that either we have to build new law schools and medical schools and graduate schools for a small number of students or we have to admit all qualified students to the schools we have."

"That's what it says, huh?"

"Yes. So, I was just thinking, doesn't it make much better sense to admit all the students to the schools we have rather than spend all that money we don't have to build new schools?"

"Well, Gracie, what about sending them to other states, maybe in exchange for a good backfield runner or two, pay their way? What's wrong with that?"

"Oh, that's a very clever idea, George. But the Supreme Court says that won't work."

"Oh? Why not, Gracie?"

"Well, the backfielders could play backfield just as well at home in their cute little suits and get more cheers from all their old high school girlfriends, too. And the students trying to become lawyers and doctors and professors in their home states could play law and medicine and teaching better there."

"And why would that be, Gracie?"

"Because, in their fields they are already where they will cure backs and back suits with motions and suit fieldbacks in too much motion without having to go back there."


"What, George?"

"Felt. You said 'feeled backs'. The correct way of saying it, Gracie, is 'felt'."

"Oh no, George, you misunderstood. Fieldbacks in motion often get hurt requiring doctors who field the pain, lawyers who pain to field, and professors, such as in physics, who mainly plainly study a field in back motion."


"Exactly, George. As that nice Mr. Newton back in high school always used to say, 'For every reaction, there is an equal and opposite action.'"

"I see. Goodnight, Gracie."

"Goodnight, George."

The Lily's Hire

Hon. Sheridan Downey, whom the New Deal, on his promise to be reasonable, took into fellowship in spite of pre-primary ridicule heaped upon him, is reverting to the California type. Because WPA "is demoralizing the country, it has got to go." Cheers from the right.

But wait. Hon. Downey's nostrum is to replace WPA with general pensions beginning at 50 or 60--in fine, to demoralize the country according to his own pet notion. And say what you will about WPA, it has at least the virtue of asking labor in return for its hire, whereas Hon. Downey would make senescent idleness the sole qualification. Hon. Downey, in fine, despite his acceptance by the more rational liberals, is still entranced with the theory that a marvelous prosperity may be achieve merely by demoralizing the old folks.

George Got Caught

George Burns, Gracie's friend, who has pleaded guilty to smuggling, didn't actually do the dirty work himself. George didn't, that is, conceal himself in some remote cove, and, at the signal of a lantern dipping three times, set forth in a small boat to take a package over the looming side of an incoming vessel.

George didn't, in fact, have to go any farther to sea than Park Avenue to get in touch with the United States Treasury. What he really did was to purchase smuggled goods--two bracelets and a ring valued at $4,885--from one Chaperau, the dark man in the case. And thousands of persons just as respectable as George have done the same trick with untroubled consciences, not for bracelets and rings, perhaps, but for perfumery and fine scarves and cloth[e]s. But George got caught.

And while we are sorry it had to be George, whose public personality is that of a normal, decent citizen, there is nothing like the arrest of some high-placed personage to emphasize the oft-forgotten fact that laws are laws and that their violation by polite people is no more tolerable than their violation by roughnecks and professional crooks.

Tap on the Wrist

Mr. Bumble's little homily to Hitler, Mussolini & Co. is very much as though Mr. Dewey were to attempt to deal with his gangsters by simply admonishing them that, after all, "murder will out," and "the wages of sin is death."

Whatever threat he may intend to convey in his sententious pronouncement that dictators do not generally last long and in his declaration that England and France do not need a treaty to stand together is totally vitiated by the record and his simultaneous assertion that he means to go right on pursuing his policy of "appeasement." For, by the record, the dictators have every reason to believe that "appeasement" means letting them have all their way.

Certainly, that such is the only "appeasement" they are open to ought to be plain even to Mr. Bumble, from the action of the German Ambassador and his corps in refusing at the last minute to attend the Foreign Press Association dinner on the ground that Bumble's speech--calmly submitted to them beforehand--cautiously chided the German Press for having called Earl Baldwin a guttersnipe! That press never speaks without the consent of Hitler, and its utterances therefore have unofficial or semi-official status. More, Hitler has demanded--and largely got--the suppression of all criticism of himself in the supposedly free press of London and Paris.

In short, the Germans insolently claim for themselves the right to insult a former head of the English Government--Mr. Chamberlain's own sponsor--while at the same time denying to the English the right either to remark upon Hitler or even to protest! It is a fair picture of the whole Nazi attitude, and argues plainly that rational agreement with the Nazis is about as feasible as rational agreement with an irritable rattlesnake.

The Capricious Mr. Gorman

Francis J. Gorman, president of the United Textile Workers, is a shining example of what's wrong with unionization in this country. If ever a union has been subject to capricious leadership, it is UTW under Gorman. There is a good reason to believe that the bloody, costly 1934 strike, which he lost, was called primarily to aggrandize Gorman and permit a demonstration of his authority. It had quite the contrary effect, and was to show that Gorman pulled no great weight either with workers or managers.

Gorman himself probably realizes as much and was quick, when he saw how the trade winds were blowing, to go over to CIO with its more experienced methods. The fact that he carried UTW with him and re-routed its dues to the Textile Workers' Organizing Committee without any authority to do so, was another instance of caprice. Ultimately, the courts called him to task on the point and ordered an accounting. But by that time Gorman had discovered that whereas he had been the kingpin in old UTW, in TWOC he was but a subaltern and not a very popular subaltern at that. Hence his move to hold a convention of locals and form a new, reoriented UTW.

The textile union needs very badly to be straightened out in the matter of affiliation, whether with AFL or CIO or between them, and that decision, as well as the decision to whom dues are to be paid, belongs to the membership. But there is no reason for that membership to assume that Francis J. Gorman has any proprietary rights in the premises. In shifting from pillar to post he is one kitty who by rights should have lost his corner.

A Losing Game

How profitable is cotton growing in the South?

Well, in 1898, the average return per acre throughout the section was $10.76. From there on out until 1914, it averaged about $20 annually. The annual average for the period 1915-19 went up to nearly $50, and in 1919 itself was $60. Thereafter until the beginning of the depression, it stood at about $29. As against these figures, we have no cost of production figures with which to arrive at the exact truth as to profits--if any. But counting rent, labor, and fertilizer, as well as financing charges that average 40 to 80 per cent, you can guess pretty easily that, save in the war, the profits must have been mainly hypothetical.

And now in North Carolina, at least, we have some complete figures as to the present. The North Carolina Crop Reporting Service has been inquiring into the case and comes out with the following results:

Average gross cost in 1937 of growing an acre of cotton in the state less land rental... $36.20
Average gross, plus land rental.........................................................................................   43.30
Average return per acre on 1937 open market price of eight cents................................   28.16
Average return per acre from by-products.......................................................................     6.45

Average loss per acre in 1937 counting rent....................................................................   $8.79

The Federal Government, of course, made up that difference and also paid the farmer a slight profit, through the crop control and other benefit payments. Which is to say, of course, that the Federal Government is busily engaged in keeping the Southern farmer in a losing business.

How About Reciprocity?*

With the necessity imposed upon North Carolina by the Supreme Court decision of either admitting Negroes to its law, medical, and graduate schools or promptly providing such schools for them, it is well to take thought in anticipation of the demand, which will surely be made. We have to propose what we consider a perfectly swell suggestion.

In the University of North Carolina student body of 3,509 at Chapel Hill, there are no less than 536 young men and women from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. They come not because of the superiority of Southern educational institutions, but primarily because of price. It's a whole lot cheaper to get a university education in North Carolina than in those states.

And while we are glad to have them, especially the backfield stars, it is plain that North Carolina, by taking them off the hands of their own states, is not undeserving of some consideration in return. Especially since North Carolina, a comparatively poor state, has had to sweat and strain to provide educational opportunities for its own children. And since none of these five richer states excludes Negroes from its schools, why wouldn't they be entirely willing to reciprocate by taking such of our youths as we are not equipped to educate in return for the hundreds of theirs whom we accommodate at bargain rates?


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