September 1, 1945 p. 22
THE CANCELLATION by the War Department of the radio script dealing with discrimination in jobs for Negro vets, which was scheduled for broadcast as one in the series of Columbia Broadcasting's Assignment Home, puts that department on record as being one of the first governmental agencies to lose no time in reverting back to the pre-war policy of procrastinating on all questions dealing with Negroes now that the war is over.
Assignment Home, which has for the past 36 weeks been aired by CBS in collaboration with the War Department, has gone down without a hitch until V-J Day seemed in the bag [sic: no period] And then, of course, jobs for Negro vets, like all other Americans, according to the War Department, is a civilian concern and not theirs. This attitude is taken by the brass hats in spite of the fact that this very same program was requested last June by Truman Gibson, civilian aide to the Secretary of War. Also, it might be well to remember that the very first program on this series, dealt with the need for jobs and the many civilian problems facing the vet. Incidentally, the Army pulls out of the program next month and we can then better observe, CBS' peacetime policy on the Negro.
. . .
MANY PEOPLE have been of the opinion that CBS should have even aired the program on its own, but this they could not do even if they were so inclined since the script is the property of the Army and was written by Cpl. Arnold Perl on assignment by his Army unit with assistance from Robert Heller, CBS producer who is in charge of the program. We should bear in mind, also, that Columbia Broadcasting's policy on the Negro is not open to question at this time (they are in the clear for the moment, having done an excellent job during the war), but rather, it is the post-war policy of the War Department on the Negro which definitely is in question.
It is impossible to say now, what steps will be taken by Gibson. He is on vacation and could not be reached. It is the feeling of this column, however, that he has little or no choice in the matter but to resign (as did Judge Hastie) if the department is going to side-step any and all controversial issues dealing with the Negro vet. We have no illusions as to the tremendous and distasteful job facing Gibson. After all, the War Department is powerful and there is little reason to suppose that more than one or two of its members are interested in the welfare of the Negro. For the most part (if we judge by performances), I think it can be safely said that the department is made of men who would just as soon see Bilbo's plan to send all Negroes to Africa, come to pass. But can Gibson allow these odds, great as they are, to hamper the fight? He can not, anymore than can any other Negro adopt a do-nothing program.
. . .
THE WAR DEPARTMENT, powerful and tough as it is, can not be allowed to happily go on its merry way referring the Negro vet and soldier into sub-standard opportunities. There is a record now which the Negro has to work with. We have got to use that record for all it's worth. We have got to constantly remind these war lords, of the achievement made by Negroes in this war, of the blood our men have shed, of the supreme sacrifices which have been made and the broken homes which have resulted because of these sacrifices. It is high time that this, like all other governmental agencies realized that the Negro is here to stay, that he is every inch an American, that he, like all other Americans, helps to foot the bills of his government. Out of this war must come a new deal for the American Negro. We earned it and we shall have it.
. . .
AND WHILE WE ARE ABOUT the business of getting our rights as Americans, we must not overlook the fact that big business is moving in with all the vigor and ruthlessness they can summon in order to recapture their peacetime power and prestige. And, we must never forget that for the most part, that means shoving us down the ladder. It has not become popular yet to accept the Negro on an equal basis. I have in mind, the top executives of commercial radio. It is reasonable to suppose that a great deal of the air time which during the war was devoted to co-ordinating the war effort and creating unity at home, will of necessity be sold at enormous prices to advertisers. An advertiser has the right to say what shall not appear on his paid time but more than that, if he does not like the general policy of a radio station, he can always take his business to another network.
This is the same old pre-war swim we find ourselves entering.
. . .
*THE PHYSICAL BATTLE is over but can any of us deny that the battle for human and civil rights has just begun? I think not. It will be interesting to watch the War Department's procedure from here in and even more interesting to see if the various networks will sustain in a measure the very forthright handling of controversial material which won for them such high commendation.