What you Should Know Before We Go:

San Diego's Unfinished Business

Carrol Waymon came to San Diego in September of 1964 to become Executive Director of the Citizens Interracial Committee (CIC).   He, and the group of Hispanic, Black and White leaders working with him 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.  On November 7, 2009 we will be celebrating the 40 th Reunion of the CIC It will take place from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 7, 2009, at Neighborhood House, 5660 Copley Dr., San Diego, CA 92111. Former Sheriff Bill Kolender will kick it off at 2:00 p.m. Dr. Carrol Waymon, an outspoken figure in the San Diego community during the five years of the CIC's existence, and since then, 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.  This will culminate in a Dinner and Youth Spotlight at 5:30 p.m.  It will be $40 a person, but scholarships, also will be available.  For tickets/reservations call 619-298-3162.

What follows is an interview with Carrol Waymon on his experience as CIC Executive Director.

TLC-Please describe for us what the Citizens Interracial Committee was?

CW- It was the official Human Relations Agency for the city of San Diego as appointed by, and directed by, the City Council on the recommendation of Mayor Frank Kern in 7/64.

TLC-What was its reason for being?

CW- In 1963 we had a toilet refuse incident here, where one of San Diego's leading businessmen caused raw sewage to be thrown down on a protest by members of the Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE).   Then, instead of the perpetrator of that act being punished, seven of the CORE demonstrators were arrested.  The inequity of the situation was obvious.

At the same time, all over the country, there were protests, and racist incidents were rampant. Nevertheless, in San Diego, the city fathers felt that this was a problem in far off places; they did not believe that we had any race problem.  Still, in 1963, they perceived the need to do something to handle the situation here.

First, they organized a Citizens Interracial Committee on a volunteer basis to quell any thought of revolution here, and this group met for less than a year.  Then, the city chose to hire a professional, Carrol Waymon, to head an official city committee on this matter

TLC- How was what the CIC was doing in San Diego related to what was going on in other cities?

C.W.  San Diego was like other cities in having racial problems.  There were riots in many cities.  San Diego, in hiring Carrol Waymon, was attempting  to ameliorate these problems and prevent riots.

TLC-What about differences between blacks and browns?

C.W.- Our staff was 40% Hispanic.  We always tried to represent both blacks and browns et al; that's why we called ourselves the Citizens Interracial Committee.

TLC-How successful were you in improving race relations in San Diego?

C.W.-Let me go over the areas where we were quite effective:

HOUSING:  We opened up all the cities in the county so all of us could live there without the KKK burning a cross onto our lawn. We removed the restrictive covenants, or had them nullified

EMPLOYMENT: We opened up opportunities for employment, and wrote the first Equal Employment Opportunity ordinances for city and county.  However not as much was achieved in the way of contracting.

SHOPPING: We made it possible for Black people to try on clothes in, and be hired by, department stores.

HOTELS: Blacks couldn't stay in any major hotel.  We helped to change that in the mid 1960s in the whole county.

RESTAURANTS: Blacks couldn't eat in a major restaurant.  We helped change that in San Diego County.

TAXICABS:  C.W. negotiated with Yellow Cab Company to hire more than just one colored person

EDUCATION: The Carlen 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 control of the courts for 20 years.

MEDIA: The biggest success involved the Union Tribune starting to run stories about the Black social set in 1966.

POLICE: There was a running battle between blacks and police.  In all areas of hiring there were few blacks.  CIC studied other U.S. cities, which lead to the  “City Community Dialogues,” and the hiring of two Negro sergeants.

TLC-What were the City-Community Dialogues?

CW-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 am. 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.

TLC- What were the CIC Forums entitled Design For Understanding?

C.W.-They was a series of 17 forums of 7 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.

TLC 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.  I would give them a D.  UT Newspaper has been changing in re 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 segregate again.  However, from where they started from until now, I'd give them a B.

Housing: Restrictive covenants no longer apply; technically we can live anywhere.  I would give this area an A+.

City/County Government: In their openness and acceptance of browns and blacks they get a D

Administration of Schools: They have not made enough attitudinal change-I'd give them a C.

S.D. Police Dept .: They went through some serious problems.  They have changed their attitudes somewhat. 

Employment:  I‘d give it a B overall.

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 3 rd 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.

TLC - 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 in society.

TLC-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.    It went on to say that, “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 said, “to a serious disaster.”

TLC: It is interesting that within five months of the “Sunday in The Park” incident and CIC's Report on it, future funding for CIC was halted on 12/31/69. 

The question remains “Within the constitu-tional 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,   pg. 82.)

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.