Local Civil Rights Leaders to be Honored Sat. Nov. 7, Waymon Shares Memories, Dreams with ECM
By John P. Falchi
San Diego’s most prominent living civil rights leader, Carrol Waymon, PhD and others who championed civil rights in the 1960s locally will be honored on Saturday, November 7th at a 40th reunion program of the Citizens Interracial Committee (CIC) titled "What you should know before we go: San Diego’s unfinished revolution." In an exclusive interview this week with ECM, Waymon shared triumphs of the past, along with his hopes for the future.
November 5, 2009 (San Diego) -- Carroll Waymon, PhD, whom ECM previously interviewed on Inauguration Day, came to San Diego in September 1964 to become Executive Director of the CIC. This was the City of San Diego’s first human relations agency. He, along with Hispanic, black and white leaders, accomplished a great deal to reduce the tremendous amount of discrimination that existed in all aspects of life during the five years in which the CIC was in existence from 1964 - 1969. Saturday’s program will celebrate their achievements as the elders pass the torch to the younger generation in hopes of attaining goals yet to be fulfilled.
The event will take place from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. Saturday at Neighborhood House, 5660 Copley Dr., San Diego, CA 92111. Former Sheriff Bill Kolender, an early advocate of the CIC and an original CIC Board member, will kick off the event at 2 p.m. There will be a dinner and youth spotlight at 5:30 p.m.. The cost for the event will be $35. in advance, $40. at the door, with scholarships available. Contact 619-298-3162 or www.issesite.com/event.html for information and reservations.
Waymon, whose efforts leading the fight for equality have continued long after the CIC dissolved, will be honored for his leadership. Participants in panel and round table discussions include Bob Matthew, one of the first black principals in the San Diego City Schools, Clara Harris, a leader in advancing open housing and human relations, Gracia Molina de Pick, and Frank Saiz, noted community activists, along with many others who were instrumental in the success of the CIC. Students from local high schools will participate as respondents to the panel.
Asked by ECM how successful the CIC was in improving San Diego’s race relations in a variety of areas, Waymon cited these achievements:
Housing: “We opened up all of the cities in the County, so that all of us could live there without the KKK burning a cross onto our lawns. We nullified or removed the restrictive covenants.”
Employment: “We wrote the first Equal Employment Opportunity ordinances for city and county and opened up many more opportunities for employment.”
Hotels: “We helped make it possible for Blacks to be able to stay in the major hotels in the county.”
Shopping: “We made it possible for Blacks to be able to try on clothes in, and be hired by, department stores.”
Restaurants: “We enabled blacks to be able to eat in the major restaurants.”
Taxicabs: “We negotiated with Yellow Cab Company to hire more than just one colored person.”
Education: “The Cerlin case extended Brown vs. Board of Education to San Diego. Though filed in 1967 against the school board, it took until 1977 to get into court. Education remained under court control for 20 years.”
Media: “We got the Union Tribune to start running stories about the black social set in 1966.”
Police: “There had been a running battle between blacks and police. In all areas of hiring there were few blacks. CIC studied other U.S. cities which led to the “City Community Dialogues,” and the hiring of two\ negro sergeants.”
In a discussion about methods the CIC used to help effect change, Waymon offered the following:
ECM: What were the City-Community Dialogues?
C.W.: This was a major effort to get people of all races, colors, and creeds together with City and County governmental officials every other Friday from 9:00 a. m. to 12 Noon, and it went on for 27 months. It turned into a major vehicle for change. The purpose was to bring a new sense of urgency to the problem of race relations in the San Diego area.
ECM: What were the CIC Forums entitled Design for Understanding?
C.W: They were a series of 17 forums of seven weeks each. We met in churches, garages, meeting halls, in a series of discussions. Through them we began to let people know our plight. The consensus was that they did a lot of good.
ECM: Is the task of improving relations between the races very different today than it was 40 years ago?
CW: San Diego is a different city today. Let’s look at some of the changes:
Media-- A serious race problem is in the invisibility of people of color in the media. Why not have black anchor people? Channel 10 was the worst station at one time, and now they have become the best. I’d give them a B. The worst of the media has been KPBS. Public tv and radio, to this day, are discriminatory, with only one black reporter overall. Ken Burns’ documentary, “On Your Honor,” failed to give Hispanics adequate credit for their efforts in WW II. That is terrible. The UT Newspaper has been changing in regards to race relations. It hired a black reporter and later put a black on the editorial page, helping the image of the community to begin to change.
Education-The school district has gone from desegregated to segregated again. However, from where they started from until now, they are doing much better.
Housing-Restrictive covenants no longer apply; technically we can live anywhere.
City/County Government-They are still not very open and accepting of browns and blacks
Administration of Schools-They have not made enough attitudinal change.
S.D. Police Dept.-They went through some serious problems. They have changed their attitudes somewhat.
Employment-This is an area that has seen considerable improvement.
City Council-The first black, Leon Williams, was appointed to the San Diego City Council and the first Hispanic, Peter Chacon, to a seat in the CA Assembly, beginning at a convention that C.W. helped to set in motion and chaired.
Race Relations-The problem today relates, primarily, to keeping the educational system relevant to the needs of people of color and, secondly, to the attitudes toward people of color around the country that need to be changed.. . The new Lincoln High School was recently 3rd in the city in some of its test scores.
Prison System-This is considered the new plantation; the one institution that has not changed. The prison system and lynchings have been used to keep the males of color subjugated. Eighty per cent of all young men in prison for drugs are either black or Hispanic. The government should appoint a commission to change the system.
Waymon also discussed how the five year term of the CIC came to a close:
ECM: Could you shed some light on the disturbance in SE San Diego called “Sunday in the Park?
CW referred us to an article in the San Diego Evening Tribune, 8/12/69.
The Sunday in the Park Report of the CIC reviews the events of July 13. 1969, but does it in a context it calls “larger than that of SE San Diego, Mountain View Park, or of that day.” On July 13, 1969 there was a serious disturbance in the SE part of town. It resulted in the death of one black youth, several injuries and the arrest of 115 persons over a two-day period. Mrs. Donna Salk, President of the CIC Board, said the document “…was prepared to give an insight into what caused the confrontation in the park and to prevent it from being repeated.” The report itself did not condemn the police department “as a total department,” but questioned its philosophy in handling racial matters. “But, we do believe that whatever ultimately the specific incident proves to be, policemen were responsible for its turning into what became a confrontation spark, “ the report concluded, “to a serious disaster.”
ECM: Wasn’t there a lot of hue and cry about whether the CIC should have reported on this matter at all?
CW: Yes, soon the CIC found itself being investigated for the way it had been conducting its business over the previous five years, and within five months of the “Sunday in The Park” incident, and CIC’s report on it, future funding for CIC was finally halted on December 31, 1969.
The publication The CIC Story indicated that the question remains:
“Within the constitutional framework of our democracy can a governmental body fund a citizens group, without direct government control through its own politicians, to expose injustices perpetrated by public officials?” -- Citizens Interracial Committee of San Diego County, The CIC Story, presented to NAIRO Annual Conference, 11/18/69, p. 82.
In conclusion, Waymon offers his vision for the future.
ECM: What is your hope for the future in San Diego among the different races?
CW: I hope that in the next five years we can create a mechanism for working toward greater harmony and openness
John Falchi is founder of the Meta-Networking Group, P.A.C.E., and a development management consultant. He is a frequent contributor to this publication.