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March 25, 1956 - Image 12

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1956-03-25
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Page Four


Sunday, March -25, 1956

Sunday, Mordi 25, 1956


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(EDITOR'S NOTE: The writer,
who has grown up in South,
bases these observations on a re-
cent visit to Richmond, Virginia)
1HE South of today and tonight
is a land of silent tensions.
Wherever one walks there is the
mask of fear and distrust. And
the Negroes and whites who yes-
terday were at least talking and
laughing with each other now pass
by with their faces expressionless
and their tongues still.
The law-makers of Washington
think they have an answer, and
the editorial pages of the Northern
newspapers are brimming over
with solutions. But looking upon
the pained, black and white faces
of Dixie the observer realizes that
the answer to human problems
must come as much from the heart
as the mind.
The basic problem is still there;
still, as much as it ever was, more
economic than racial. The same
poor Negroes and the same poor
Whites are competing for the same

menial, marginal jobs. The Negro,
as he always did remains a pawn;
but this time in a new and more
difficult role. The South, caught'
in its own dilemma, is raging mad;
-not at the Negro-but at the
"damnYankee" government that is
trying to control it.,
Whatever may or may not be
said for an enforced abolishment1
of segregation these things do{
remain: There are the memories
handed down by word of mouth
from the Civil war. Memories of
burned plantations, raped women
and the sudden, horrible decadence
of a way of life. The Southerners
are a talking people and their1
words only make the legends grow
bigger. There are, as we said, the1
spoken memories.1
There is, as well, a hostility to-;
ward Northern capital that has1
exploited, and continues to exploit,l
the manpower and natural re-
sources of the Southland. And ,to1
the average Southerner, the fed-I
eral government is still personified
by the "Revooner" chasing the1
illicit moonshiners through thez
hills. Washington, for all its prox-

Imity, is still as remote to Rich-
mond as San Francisco.
ABOVE and beyond the line of
reasoning there is the immedi-
ate, overt action. The small, white
newsboy doesn't look up as he yells,
"Read all about the Lucy case,"
into the ears of a passing Negro
lady who doesn't look down. And
the black and white boys who were
once fishing partners have for-
gotten, somehow, either to speak
or to smile.
In the libraries of the homes of
New Orleans and Mobile freshly-
cleaned rifles lean poised in the
corners of polished walnut rooms.
Men are speaking again in soft
voices of a once-lost cause. And
the listener is not left doubting
that these men would fight and
die-not for or against the Negro-
but for the freedom of their own
personal beliefs and way of life,
no matter how right _or wrong
those beliefs and that way of life
might be.
The universities and colleges
that were becoming receptive to
mixed classes, in mind at least, have

now built a defensive wall of hos-
tility around their campus grounds.
Autherine Lucy has assumed the
status of General Grant and the
prospective Negro student is told,
"The Northern colleges would just
love to have you. Go North, young
lady, go North!" The clinging vines
of Ivy have become fragile bars of
stainless -steel.
The liberal voices of professors
and preachers in Richmond, At-
lanta and Chapel Hill are gradu-
ally being stilled. He who speaks
for the Negro now is speaking
against the South. And he who
speaks against the South is quite
likely to find a wooden cross burn-
ing on his lawn. The Ku Klux Klan
is again donning its anonymous
and cowardly robes.
THIS, then is Southland, U.S.A.
post Anti-Segregation. A South
not as it should be, but as it most
certainly is. The law has been
passed and tested in the courts,
and the editorial writers have of-
fered their many varied solutions.
Still the problem remains.

The old Southland of mint julips
and magnolia blossoms has long
since disappeared, finding its clos-
est reality today in the fiction of
Faulkner, Welty and Capote. But
the social mores have carried over
into a newly industrialized clime
dotting with sprawling chemical
plants and textile mills. The neigh-
borly intimacy of a rural society is
disappearing, and the black and
the white men are becoming
Is anti-segregation enforced by
the courts really the answer? No
one, including the Southerner,
really knows. But here and there
one finds a glimpse of what might
tend to create a mutuality among
peoples. There was, for instance,
the Richmond barber who said to
us, "I wouldn't trust any Negro
in the world except Harvey."
"Who is Harvey?" We asked.
"Harvey," the barber replied
with a smile, "is my friend."
And friendship, one of the more
elusive facets of human relation-
ships is still to be earned by the
white and black men of Dixie.



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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Earl Brabb,
Dartmouth graduate who re-
ceived his master's degree from
Michigan, is spending a year of
study in Paris-ostensibly learn-
ing geology, but actually learn-
ing much more about the Paris
student, as this article testi-
COLLEGE education in France
is marked by characteristics
which the Michigan student, ac-
customed to mass education but
also inclined to comfort, may find
somewhat startling.
The rules for entrance are rig-
orous. It- isn't enough to be in
the upper 10 percent of your high
school class, a distinction which of-
ten suffices under the American
system, but the student is often
prevented from reaching college
by a series of tests. Those that
fail go into, vocational schools or
go to work.
Once you make it, however, edu-
cation is virtually free of charge.
My tuition at the Sorbonne was
three dollars, and food and lodg-
ing were heavily subsidized by the
government. , But in return for
this consideration, the amount of
work required is tremendous, even
at the elementary level. A com-
mon sight on Paris streets is the
seven or eight-year-old lugging
home a briefcase full of books for
study at home.
HE BIG handicaps are almost
total lack of student-professor
relationship until the graduate
level and poor facilities which
strongly influence the character of
the student.
In general the French school
buildings are very old, the equip-
ment is either outdated or lack-
ing, and there is little library space
for the student to study. Only
the technical schools with eco-
nomic importance are modern and
well-equipped, perhaps a point
for philosophic comment. The
French Institute of Petroleum near
Paris, for example, has a futuris-
tic facade of glass and stone, ex-
cellent equipment for study and
research and fine library space.
This is the outline of the sys-
tem. But the specific case is some-
thing amazing from an American's
point of view., I will describe the
geology lecture hall at the Sor-
bonne of the University of Paris.
THE HALL seats about 200 and
is in the form of an amphi-
theatre. Since only one-half of
the seats give a good view of the
blackboard, and since there are
over 200 students in each geology,
there is always a rush for seats.
The mob forms about 45 min-

impatiently waits for the last class
to leave. This means that the
door to the lecture hall is fre-
quently opened and slammed shut
and a few paper airplanes flown
through the crack in the interval.
A herald is usually slipped into the
class to give the alarm the minute,
the professor finishes the last
Once the alarm is given, pande-
monium breaks loose. All of the
students try to get through the'
door at once. The alarm has also1
been the signal for the late com-
ers to form a flying wedge and try
and crash through the mob.
ONCE through the door the stu-
dents leap madly across the
tiers of benches and triumphantly
plant a coat, two or three brief-
cases, or even their body across as
many places as they can secure.
Prior possession is considered in-
violate, and even the tip of a pen-
cil in an outstretched hand will
hold a place.
One of the most amazing para-
doxes of French society is that the,
battle for seats is led by the;
"weaker" sex, who make up about
60 percent of the class. The French
male waits i nthe cafe discussing
politics and philosophy until his
girl friend has won the battle for
him and secured him a place. At
the last minute before the class he'
strides majestically in and sits
A N UNPLEASANT aftermath of
the grand battle for seats con-
cerns the problem of ventilation.
There isn't any. The heat of battle
naturally produces a large amount
of body odor, and since only 16
per cent of Paris families have a
bathtub or shower, this effect is
not only lingering but accumula-
tive. I have never taken a ther-
mometer to class, but I will bet
that even in January the tempera-
ture is more than 90 degrees.
Once inside and seated, there is
a half-hour of boredom waiting
until the professor arrives. The
half-hour of waiting is passed in
different ways, nearly all involv-
ing the throwing of an object.
The most common object is the
paper airplane, usually made from
some leaflet passed out before
class ,(the French are even more
leaflet conscious than the Ameri-
cans. The Communists and the
Church seem to print the most).
Once the leaflets have been ex-
hausted, however, the quest turns
to other objects. Orange peels,
waste paper, erasers, chalk, and
apple cores are flung from one end.
of the hall to the other. The eras-
ers are usually well dipped in chalk
before throwing to achieve that

ANOTHER popular diversion is
occasioned by someone entering
the room with a hat on. There are
sentinels poised for such occasions
an dtheir screams of "Chapeau l
Chapeau!" alert the rest of V
class. The screaming is accom-
panietd by a stamping of feet and,
in the student restaurants, by the
banging of knives on the tin trays.
The noise continues of course until
the offender removes his or her
For some reason or other the
Africans seem to bitterly resent
taking off their hats and will resist
until it is obvious that the noise
will never stop unless they comply.
I once saw an African walk out of
a restaurant with his hat- still on
his hear rather than obey the
wishes of the crowd and remove it.
Nearly all the courses are mime-
ographed by a student co-opera-
tive. Since the courses do not'
change substantially from year to
year, a student can buy the notes
of the course for around 75 cents
and merely make additions or cor-
rections. The notes are particularly
valuable for the drawings, but the
organization is helpful also. Text-
books are very expensive and are
rarely prescribed.
L AST, but not least, is the ques-
tion of the love affairs of
French students. Although I am
certainly no expert on this matter,
a few observations are amusing. I
have seen a boy and girl exchange
kisses and caresses in the middle
of a classroom occupied by 200
students. What is even more re-
markableIs that no one of the
200 students made anysremarks.
This situation is also true on
the streets, in the subway and
in the restaurants, and is probably
one of the reasons why Paris is
called the city of love.
I have had many discussion with
the French students on this mat-
ter and they tell me that the usual
reason they embrace in public is
that there is nowhere else to go.
They certainly can't neck at home,
an old American' custom. The
morals of the French and in par-
ticular the French girls have been
directed and protected. by- the
Church for centuries, and even
today the French girls have very
little freedom - contrary to the
opinion of most Americans.
Another factor to consider is the
fact that Paris receives students
from all countries of the world, in
particular Germany and Scandan-
avia. These students bring with
them a different set of values
which are often confused by the
"tourists" as being French. Thus
sneaketh the French students.

Robert Kiley is a pai
the field of photography isc
graduated from Michigan's
ting a master's degree so th
way for a painter to make
painting shows in New York
As for as photography
interested in it, but has or
the medium for the last si>
page were taken in semi-da
to focus the camera," the p
ever, forced developing or
striking examples of photog


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