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Race Problem Seen in Los Angeles

May 24, 1963 - Los Angeles has a racial problem potentially as dangerous as the South’s, the Reverend Wyatt T. Walker (pictured center with Ralph Abernathy and Martin Luther King), an anti-segregation leader, said in Los Angeles today on his arrival from Birmingham, Alabama. Mr. Walker, executive secretary of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and chief of staff to Dr. King, said: “The major threat here, and in other large cities, is the tendency to ‘ghettoize’ Negroes as well as a lack of housing and the scarcity of employment opportunities.” He and Dr. King will speak at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles Sunday to raise funds for expenses incurred during the Birmingham demonstrations. The cost to the SCLC thus far has exceeded $300,000 for bail bonds and about $6,500 weekly in other expenses, Mr. Wyatt said. He said that on the night of recent bombings in the Negro sections of Birmingham he felt as if he were “at the edge of Hell.” “I didn’t see how a great race riot could be avoided,” he remarked. He said he hoped entrance of Negro students at the University of Alabama will be accomplished without violence, adding: “There are some cooler heads at the school than there are in the state government.”

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