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We're going to pick up where we got cut off by our failing tape from
last time. So why don't you start, Moe, by talking a little bit about how
the Salute to Freedom and the Negro History Programs evolved in the
The Negro History Program dates back from the time I came to
the union in 1954. It was, obviously, in February and it was done at
that time for the Drug Division membership, a portion of whom were
black. The programs were organized by the union, often in cooperation
with the North Harlem Pharmaceutical Association, which was a
professional organization of black pharmacists. The union had played a
very important role in the area of the right of black pharmacists to get
jobs, going back to the Thirties.
Were they in the union?
They were in the union. Most of the people were in the union.
Some were employers and were not in the union, so it was a mixture
of employers and workers. These were Negro middle-class, black
middle-class storeowners who had been members of the union, then
had become storeowners.
At any rate, in the early days, the programs featured Ossie and Ruby.
Ossie each year, would write a script for the event based upon the
most significant event in the struggle of black people of that given
year, whether it was a documentary about the Emmett Till murder
case or Montgomery boycott.
I remember the Montgomery thing. We had Ralph Abernathy was the
guest speaker. There was a guest speaker and there was a cultural
program. Ossie would write the program after I got to know him, and
that's the way it went up to the hospital organizing campaign.
At the time of the organizing of hospital workers, we began to
make plans for a program that year coming on the heels of the
Montefior victory in '58, so that the '59 program was based upon a
dramatization written by Ossie while he was in the musical “Jamaica,”
which was in the neighborhood, on Broadway. I would meet with him,
give him the material about what was happening, and he then wrote a
dramatization, and since he was in the musical “Jamaica,” it shouldn't
be a total loss, he got to perform in that program as the narrator,
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