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Hayley DeLaMare

Oral Interview

Interviewing my awesome Grandfather, Gary Richmond

DeLaMare: Where were you born?


Richmond: I was born in Los Angeles on Aug 29, 1944.

DeLaMare: When do you remember civil rights becoming an issue and what was
going on at that time?
Richmond: In my 9th grade year, at Elliott Jr. High School, the very first black student
ever to come to the school, showed up at my bus stop. She looked terrified. It was the last
stop before driving to school and nobody wanted to give her a seat, so I gave her
mine. She took it reluctantly and I just stood up and held on to a hand railing on the bus,
and rode to school standing up.
My buddy thought that I did it to make him look bad, and he pushed me and I said,
what's the problem? The he said, People are going to think I'm a nigger lover because
that left me sitting next to her." Then I said, "I let a girl sit down, because that's what
guys should do." That day, I must have had 20 kids tell me that it was funny that I made
Joey sit next to a nigger girl. Altadena CA was very racist, and your grandmas school
was not as racist. She lived near Compton, which was all black. So we they didnt have
that animosity. The girl's name was Lisbia, and she was from Panama. Lisbia's father
worked at a renowned Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) holding a doctorate in Physics.

I discovered her house was only a block away from mine and the neighbors were buzzing
about how our property values would crash. It was rumored that there were several
threats on their life and her family was gone from the neighborhood in 6 weeks. I was
ashamed of our town then, and I am still ashamed of how they behaved. The irony is that
Altadena CA is a predominately black community now that looks as beautiful as it ever
did. The following year, I graduated to Muir High School, which was 1/3 black. I was a
jazz bass player, even having my own bass, and all the best jazz musicians at my school
were black. Your world view changes when you hang out with people who love what you
love. I discovered that we really weren't much different at all, except they were better
musicians. Muir had a race riot in it's enormous parking lot and I found myself
surrounded by 10 of my jazz friends who said to stand behind them because then no one
would hurt me.

We were beginning to get reports of the civil rights movement and hear of large freedom
marches in the Southern United States. CA held the erroneous opinion that it was not a
racist state. But it was and ugly opinions were expressed more and more as the nations
racial tensions grew.

By the way Hayley...you might want to watch the movie "The Help It shows some of
what was going on and it's an excellent movie.

DeLaMare: Can you remember your first experience dealing with the Freedom
Movement?
Richmond: I became a Christian when I was 16, and joined an organization called Youth
For Christ. Next to the Boy Scouts of America. It was the second largest youth
organization in the United States. I was also attending a church youth group. It dawned
on me one day, that we only had two black kids involved in an organization of about 3
thousand. It also occurred to me that we had no black leaders. In an open leadership
conference in Yosemite CA. for YFC club directors, where we were planning our goals
and objective, I stood and asked how it could be that in such troubled times, we weren't
doing something to make it better. It started a major argument with the Youth For Christ
leaders. Some of us, fought hard to make it a stated purpose to reach out to black youth
and others said the black kids had their own leaders, and we didn't need to get mixed up
with them. There really wasn't much that a young, white, college student could do that
was effective other than demonstrate, holding up signs and walking back and forth to
protest something. Between being married, young, working and going to school, the civil
rights movement was something that I watched unfold on television.

DeLaMare: Do you remember Martin Luther King Jr. in the news? Do you think
he made an impact?
Richmond: Martin Luther King was very much in the news. And one of the most
inspiring speakers I've ever heard. His movement based on peaceful resistance, that he
learned from Ghandi, was effective and did lead to legislation to help Black people to

gain rights they had never attained since the civil war. It didn't escape my notice that
black leaders, who were considerably more angry and self promoting, were stealing the
spot light when they could and causing division where Martin Luther King had fostered
unity. Leaders like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Angela Davis to name a few,
reminded blacks of the injustices they had experienced and then sporadically, riots would
break out here and there until a huge riot broke out in Watts, and set back the movement
for several years.

While angry black leaders were stirring up trouble, even more racist whites were using
those situations to set back the progress Martin Luther had gained. Did Martin Luther
King make a impact...definitely! But arguably, the progress that he made had been
undone to a large degree by the current population of black leaders. Nobody has set back
Martin Luther King's work, more than President Barack Obama.

DeLaMare: How was the media changing during that time?


Richmond: The media was for the most part very supportive of the civil rights movement,
and as the years went by, the educational system was turning out more and more writers
who seemed to take a delight in dividing rather than uniting the people of the United
States. We had a succession of leaders, especially President John F. Kennedy and his
brother Bobby Kennedy attorney general who threw their support and their power behind
black citizens of the United States. Slowly but surely they attained a substantial number
of the most important rights that they had been fighting for. Most of us felt that justice
was being achieved and were thankful that the worst of the battle was over. I don't think

any thinking person thought we had cured racism. There would always be perhaps a little
racism in everybody on both sides of the issue, but we did feel like there was more of a
level playing field, and things would eventually smooth out. I am angry at the things that
have happened in Ferguson Missouri, Baltimore Maryland and more recently the
University of Mississippi. I don't think, these incidents bode well for our future, and we
are slowly being divided once again. I am praying that someone like Martin Luther King
will rise up and speak to the hearts of the people.
DeLaMare: What do you think helped and hurt peoples outlook on african
americans during that time?
Richmond: During that time, there was a constant flow of rumors, that Martin Luther
King was a communist, which made it difficult to give him wholehearted support in his
efforts. It has hurt the black community to have so many children out of wedlock, and
such a high percentage of them unemployed and living on welfare. Their crime rate is so
high in relationship to their population ratio, 13% of the population is black, but the
murder rates and felony rates are in the mid 30% rate in the total population. There is a
never ending list of entitlements that are supposedly designed to help them to do better in
these areas, yet nothing is working. A recent autobiography entitled Gifted Hands, has
been incredibly inspiring. It is the true story of Dr. Ben Carson. Dr. Carson is a pediatric
neurosurgeon trained at Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. He is the best in his field
and has an unending list of attainments. He started in total poverty, was raised by a
single parent mother who didn't know how to read, he was deserted by his father, and yet
because of a determined mother and her belief in him, he began to study. The world

opened up to him and the world's possibilities. He began to excel above all the students
around him. Both he and his brother, attained advanced degrees in their fields, and
historically, few have been his equal. Welfare is not going to solve our racial
problems. Ben Carson's example points the way to what will.

DeLaMare: Do you remember any experience when people were mean or hurtful to
African Americans?
Richmond: In my own life, I didn't see any direct acts of being mean or hurtful, but I
certainly heard a ton of racist remarks that demeaned and degraded black people.

DeLaMare: How have things changed today? Have they gotten a lot better than you
remember them being in the past?
Richmond: It's sort of a good news bad news situation these days. The good news is that
laws actually prevent discrimination in the purchase of homes, entry into schools, and
those laws are often enforced. So the good news is, bad people are forced to do good
things. The bad news is hearts haven't changed so much. The human capacity to hate for
whatever reason is still alive and well. Some things have gotten better than in the past,
but some things have become worse. Even though statistics clearly prove that black
youths are involved in murder and crime at exceedingly high rates, they want to blame
their problems on the police department. They definitely have more opportunities to
succeed than they ever had in the past and that's a good thing.

DeLaMare: How do you think California at that time was different than
Birmingham Alabama or Little Rock Arkansas?
Richmond: We had more freedom and occasion to mix together, work together, go to
school together, so we were a bit ahead of the game when the civil rights movement
began. It all depended in CA in what city you lived in. If you lived in Glendale or
Arcadia, you were no better off than if you lived in Birmingham AL. Another thing about
CA is that is was always more socially liberal. We weren't encumbered by evil ways of
thinking that had been in existence for over a hundred years. We were free to reach out
to other people more so than all of the other states in the United States.