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Across Horizons - Episode 190

Across Horizons

Episode 190

Jan 11 1949


JANUARY 11, 1949

9:45-10:00 p.m.





WOMAN: (FILTER) This is a neighbor calling. Never mind who. I'm a decent Christian woman and I feel it's my duty to tell you there's talk against the likes of you. There's some high class respectable folk on this street who are aimin' to run you out. I'm tellin' you for your own good. . .better move out. . .fast!. . .or there's going to be trouble!



BOY: Mom says I shouldn't play with you. She says you're trash! You'd better beat it before I shove you in a garbage can. You're all trashy, that's what. (FADE) Trashy!. . .Trashy!. . .Trashy!. . .Trashy!


MAN: I'm a realtor that knows his business and I know I can get you a good price for your home. . .with enough profit, I'm sure, to take care of any inconvenience. Believe me, you'll be wise to sell out and move!


ANNCR: Tonight we take you ACROSS HORIZONS to tell you the true story of one street and its people. It might have happened on Main Street, Pike Street. . .or your street. It is a story that bears telling and it begins in a dingy downtown hotel in this city. From his bed by the window, a small boy lies watching the moving lights of a neon sign across the street. In the corner of the single room his parents are scanning a newspaper. (FADE) They speak with lowered voices so the boy won't hear. . . .

RUTH: Glenn!

GLENN: What is it, Ruth?. . .find something?

RUTH: Listen to this! (READS) "Not new but a substantial, comfortable home for growing family; good yard for the children." Glenn. . .a yard for Johnny!. . .

GLENN: Go on. . . .

RUTH: "Basement; close to shopping, schools and bus." Doesn't that sound wonderful?

GLENN: Never saw a want ad that didn't. Does it give the price?

RUTH: Let me see. . .yes. . .here it is: "Full price $7,000."

GLENN: Whew!. . .Seven thousand. . . .

RUTH: But, Glenn, down below it says "Available on easy terms." You've got a good job now and with the money we have in the bank, . . .

GLENN: Seven thousand. . .that won't be easy. . . .

RUTH: No, it won't be easy, but it's the most reasonable thing we've seen yet. . .and if it'll mean giving Johnny a chance. . .fresh air. . .a yard. . . .

GLENN: All right, honey, I'll go out tomorrow and look the place over.

RUTH: Just think, Glenn. A home of our own!

GLENN: Now don't go overboard, Ruth. It may be just one more disappointment. . . .

RUTH: I know. . .I know, but somehow I have the feeling that. . .well, it's like us, Glenn. . .substantial, comfortable. . .our kind of home!


JOHNNY: Can I help paint our new house. . .can I, Daddy?

GLENN: No, Johnny. I know you want to help but. . . .

JOHNNY: I can climb the ladder, honest I can. . .'cause I'm getting to be big and strong. . . .

GLENN: Yes, but not quite big enough, I'm afraid. Now you run along and play in the back yard. Daddy's very busy.

JOHNNY: Daddy, there's a man coming. . . .

GLENN: What?. . .oh. . .You'd better run along and play now. . . .

JOHNNY: O. K. (FADE) If you want me to help I'll be out in the swing. . . .

CHUCK: (COMING ON MIKE) Hello there. . .how's the painting coming along?

GLENN: All right so far, I guess.

CHUCK: Looks fine. My name's Chuck Peterson. . .live next door.

GLENN: Glenn Williams. Glad to know you.

CHUCK: I was telling the wife just last night we ought to get acquainted with our new neighbors. You're sure doing wonders to this place.

GLENN: Thanks. My wife and I are kind of proud of the place. It's our first real home.

CHUCK: Yeah, I know how it is. Glad to see somebody take an interest in the place. The way you're fixing it up, it'll improve the looks of the neighborhood a hundred per cent. But say, Mr. Williams. . .pretty slow work with that brush. . .thought maybe you'd like to borrow my spray gun.

GLENN: Well that's mighty nice of you Mr. Peterson, but. . .

CHUCK: Think nothing of it. I never use it. (FADE) I'll go get it. . . .

GLENN: Well, thanks. . .I. . .

CHUCK: (OFF) By the way, the missus wanted me to ask you if you and your wife'd care to come over tonight for a little pinochle?

GLENN: Sure. . .we sure would.

CHUCK: O.K. It's a date. . .neighbor.


WOMAN: Psst (MUSIC: "YOO HOO") Psst. . .(MUSIC: "YOO HOO") Psst. . .


MAN: The first thing you know there'll be more like them moving in. Our property won't be worth a nickel. I heard the real estate men say they're going to run them out of the neighborhood. . . .


WOMAN: (FILTER) Catch me letting my boy even so much as speak to that Johnny Williams!


WOMAN: I wouldn't want it repeated, but I heard that. . .psst. . .psst. . .psst. . .psst. ... A petition. . .imagine that!


CHUCK: It's dirty. . .rotten!. . .the way they're going about it, Glenn.

GLENN: It usually happens sooner or later, Chuck. Only this time I'd hoped. . .

CHUCK: Trying to get me to sign a petition against my own neighbor!

GLENN: Do you know who started it?

CHUCK: I don't know. . .some real estate men, I guess. This guy comes to the door. . .feeds me a line about how ninety per cent of the people around here are signing up. Said something about property values going down. . .before I got sore and slammed the door in his face.

GLENN: What do you mean?

CHUCK: I can't believe ninety per cent of the folks around here are against you living here. It's just a few stirring up trouble. . .That's my hunch and the Urban League agrees with me.

GLENN: The Urban League?

CHUCK: Yeah, I went down and told them the whole story. It's an old story to them. . .and they agreed to try and straighten things out around here. . . .You haven't a chance once these rabble rousers really get to work. Now it's threatening telephone calls, petitions. . .if that doesn't work. . .well. . . .

GLENN: It's my home. I intend to stay. . .no matter what. . . .

CHUCK: I tell you, Glenn, the Urban League can straighten this out if anybody can. It's their job helping build better community relations. There'll be no trouble. They don't operate that way. They're going to make a survey and find out just how many people, if any, are really against your living here. Then, while the rabble rousers are talking "Jim Crow" . . .the people from the Urban League will be talking plain common sense, and I'll bet the majority of the community'll be back of the League. . . .You wait and see. . . .



WOMAN: Good morning! I'm from the University. We are making an opinion survey for a committee of citizens and the Urban League on the subject of human relations. (FADE) If you don't mind I have a few questions I should like to ask. . . .


MAN: Do you feel that property values in your block have increased or decreased recently?


WOMAN: If a family of a different race moved into your neighborhood would you go out of your way to make them feel unwanted?



RUTH: (OFF) Is that you, Glenn? (PAUSE) Glenn? (PAUSE) (COMING ON MIKE) Why don't you answer?. . .Johnny! What are you doing home from school this time of day?

JOHNNY: I ran away.

RUTH: What on earth. . .you've been crying. . . .

JOHNNY: I have not.

RUTH: And look at your eye. Oh, Johnny, what is it this time?

JOHNNY: Nothing.

RUTH: Tell me. . .what happened?

JOHNNY: I got in a fight.

RUTH: You mustn't fight, Johnny. It's not right, and you're not strong enough. . . .

JOHNNY: I licked him, Mom. I had to.

RUTH: Why, darling?

JOHNNY: He said I was black and dirty and trashy. And he tried to shove me in the garbage can back of the school.

RUTH: Oh, no!. . . .Who was he?

JOHNNY: Billy Watson. (SLIGHT PAUSE) Mom, why am I black? Why do the kids make fun of me? (TEARS IN VOICE) Why am I so miserable? Why?

RUTH: I know it's so hard for you to understand, but some day you will. You see, Johnny, you're black because your father's skin is black and because mine is too. But it doesn't make any difference. . .you're still. . .

JOHNNY: It does too. . .the kids don't. . . .

RUTH: The kids. . .they don't understand Johnny. . .you're new to them. . .a new boy in school here. . .you're skin is a different color. . . .

JOHNNY: Won't my skin ever be white?

RUTH: No, son. . . .

JOHNNY: Then they'll never let me play with them.

RUTH: Yes, Johnny. . .they will. . .when they find that down inside you're no different than they are. . .when they find that you can play games as well as they. . .that you're just as nice. . .just as smart. . .in every way. . .then they'll respect you and like you. It won't be easy. Sometimes you may even have to fight if there's no other way. . .and I'm glad you won your fight with Billy Watson today, Johnny. . . .Now what do you say we scrub away those tears and then we'll go see if there isn't something special in the cookie jar.


GLENN: Will you have another cup of coffee, Chuck?

CHUCK: No thanks, Glenn. . .this is fine.

RUTH: (COMING ON MIKE) Well. . .I finally got Johnny to bed. I thought you two would be deep in a game of chess by now.

CHUCK: I didn't come over to play chess tonight, Ruth. I came to talk about a popular game where people are pawns.

GLENN: We were waiting for you to come down, Ruth. Chuck has the results of the survey.

RUTH: Oh. . .I see. . .is. . .is it bad?

CHUCK: No. . .it's quite encouraging. To get right to the point, the survey shows that only eight per cent of the people in the district signed the petition to get you out of the neighborhood. . .not 90 per cent as claimed by the local realtors. Eight per cent is a long way from 90.

GLENN: Go on, Chuck.

CHUCK: Thirty-six per cent of the folks around here are willing to have Negroes in the district.

GLENN: That leaves a pretty big percentage of those who aren't.

CHUCK: Well, yes. . .but the folks who want to keep this neighborhood all-white are still in the minority. According to this survey, in addition to the thirty-six per cent who are willing to let you live here, there's another seventeen per cent who would go out of their way to make you feel wanted.

RUTH: That sounds fine, Chuck, but I'm afraid it'll take more than a survey to change the situation. The minister and some of the neighbors have dropped in to see us and wish us well, but I'm afraid there'll always be a few who'll stir up trouble.

CHUCK: Sure, that's just the point. . .Ruth, now that this survey has given the District Committee and the Urban League something to go on, they can be a strong force and influence on the few who talk democracy but don't quite get around to practicing it. . . .

GLENN: How about the real estate people ?

CHUCK: They haven't a leg to stand on. The survey shows that about a half of the people felt their property values had increased recently. Few said it had gone down and only two per cent gave a social reason.

GLENN: There's something I don't quite understand, Chuck.

CHUCK: What's that?

GLENN: According to this survey there is a definite so-called minority against us colored people. Just how is the District Committee and the Urban League going to convince them we're not "Jim Crow"? People don't change their views overnight. I know.

CHUCK: No, they don't. It'll take time. But there'll be folks working for you now, Glenn. . .talking for you in the schools, in the churches. . .leaders in the community will be behind you. You know, Glenn, winning a fight against intolerance is like winning a game of chess. . . .You can't sit back on the defensive with your king safely castled. . .to win you've got to assemble your forces and make an offensive play. . . .


TEACHER: Children, our class is like the nations of the world. Here are boys and girls of every race. I can see brown faces and white faces and black faces. . .but all these faces are alike. They're all scrubbed clean and shiny. Some of us have straight hair, some of us have curly hair. . .but inside we're all the same. We do our lessons together; we play games together. That's why sometimes we are more kind, more understanding than the grownups in the world. Sometimes some people think they are better than others because the color of their skin is different or they think differently. . .so they fight and there is war and misery. . .but in our class. . .in our little world, we know better. . . .


MINISTER: . . .And so neighbors, let us practice tolerance here at home . . .in our own neighborhood. . .on our own street. Let us observe the Golden Rule of Jesus. . ."As ye would have others do unto you. . .do ye also unto them."


WOMAN: (FILTER) Mrs. Williams? This is Mrs. Potter, Chairman of the P. T. A. We were wondering if you and Mr. Williams would care to attend our Wednesday night meeting. We (FADE) need the support of all the members of the school district and we thought you might be interested. . . .


RUTH: Hurry, Glenn. We're going to be late. . . .

GLENN: Late to see my kid make his debut?. . .not on your life. It's this tie. . . .

RUTH: Here, let me help you.

GLENN: Can't get over it somehow. . .the kids in school choosing Johnny to play a part in their skit. . . .

RUTH: And why shouldn't they?

GLENN: You know how it is, Ruth.

RUTH: He only has a few lines, darling.

GLENN: But it's a darned important part just the same. Say--what if he should forget his lines.

RUTH: He'll do fine. . .probably better than we even expect of him.

GLENN: Sure. . .sure. . . .You know, honey, I guess we're all doing better than we ever expected to. We're a long way from playing a leading role in this neighborhood but they have given us a minor part. . .it's a beginning. . .and like Johnny, we can be darned proud of our part.

RUTH: My, what a fine speech. Shall we go, Mr. Barrymore?


ANNCR: And now here is Mr. Robert Block, member-elect of the board of directors of the Urban League, to tell you more about tonight's story. Mr. Block.

BLOCK: The story of the Williams family dramatized tonight is but one of many similar stories to be found in the files of the Urban League. The Urban League is a Red-Feather agency of social work and one of the affiliates of the National Urban League, which are located in cities throughout the country. It is a part of a national interracial movement of prestige and influence gained through thirty-seven years of professional experience in the fields of industrial relations, community relations, housing and recreation. The Urban League is a living demonstration that Americans of all races, colors, and ancestries can and must work, live and play together in amity if America is to remain free and strong.


ANNCR: This has been the 190th in the series ACROSS HORIZONS, a program presented in the public interest every Tuesday evening by Station KXMO. Tonight's script was written by Larry Field. The program is directed by Doug Setterburg. In tonight's case you heard: ___________________. Sound was by Jim Britton. Eddie Clifford at the organ. This is ______________ inviting you to tune in again next Tuesday evening at 9:45 for another venture ACROSS HORIZONS.


ANNCR: This has been a KXMO radio production.