Video footage from the 1960s of a meeting between middle and upper-class Black people went viral last month after a user tweeted it out. In it, the attendees discuss why they don’t want an influx of more lower-class Black people from the South migrating to Los Angeles.
The footage, which has a faint watermark denoting it is from the archive of an organization whose name isn’t clear, was shared by Twitter user @Northstartv1, who describes themselves as a Black American archivist and photographer.
“A Group Of Wealthy Black People Discussing How They Felt It Was Bad That Low-Income Black People From The South Began Migrating To Los Angeles In The Late 1960s,” @Northstartv1 tweeted on Nov.20, along with the clips.
“By 1970, there’ll probably be a million negroes in this city and I know that people are concerned about this,” one woman says. “They may not talk about it very often, but I certainly heard them shudder in church when he said that there’s be a million negroes in Los Angeles.”
“We shudder because we’re saying, in essence, the majority of these people are not like we are,” a man responds. “Maybe some of us felt we left the South because we were getting away from this problem. We are part of this exodus too, but we are a little, maybe, embarrassed by the fact that we’re going to have a mass of them come in that’s going to create a tremendous social problem in the community to which we find a great deal of difficulty relating to.”
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One woman made a faint attempt to put a positive spin on the good that could come from more Black people migrating to Los Angeles, but she still insulted them.
“Well, I might sound like a do-gooder, but I really am not, and I’m somewhat of a snob; but I do think that with these people coming in who are not our intellectual equals nor are they of our sociological bracket … They don’t have to be a handicap to us,” she said.
“They’ll find their own level. Now I do sound like a snob, but I don’t mean it this way; but they’re used to living a certain way and they too might rise up above their origin and might one day be our associates,” the woman continued.
Another man at the meeting passionately expressed his disdain for the steady stream of Southern Black people coming to Los Angeles during the time.
“The whole tone of this meeting is a way of setting ourselves up as little puppet Jesuses … We can’t help anyone else until we help ourselves,” the man said. “The negro has had two professions … Many of us have come out here to escape from this second profession of being a negro and we are out here a while and we’re working in our own field and then we find out that here are these same problems falling on the heels of 1600 negroes a month that come into Los Angeles! Now this gives us problems!”
The group is discussing the Great Migration, which took place in two major waves from 1910 to 1970, according to a report by writer Jay Harold.
The video footage also showed Black people saying they did not identify as a negro.
“When I wake up in the morning, I don’t look in the mirror and say you are a negro; therefore you will face life in a certain way. I see myself as a person just like all the people that I work with and the children that I deal with and they’re all people,” the woman who spoke first in the clip added.
A Black man in Atlanta echoed the woman’s sentiments in a separate clip shared by @Northstartv1 said to be from 1967.
“All Americans, and I am an American, we think this way. There’s no other way to think,” the man says. “I can’t think African. I can’t think Irish. I can’t think Norwegian. I have to think within the structure of the society which I’m in, which is a white society. They’re values are imposed on me and I think this kind of way.”
“I don’t think of myself as being a negro. Never until recently have I really been concerned that I am a negro. I thought all the while that I was an American,” he continued.