Oral Histories

Interview of Earnest Preacely

Member of the Black Congress and the Long Beach Community Improvement League.
Twenty-Five Years of Community Organizing and Institution Building in the Aftermath of Watts: 1965-1990
Social Movements
African American History
Community Activism
Biographical Note:
Member of the Black Congress and the Long Beach Community Improvement League.
Stevenson, Alva Moore
Preacely, Earnest
Persons Present:
Preacely and Stevenson.
Place Conducted:
UCLA Center for Oral History Research offices in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Alva Moore Stevenson, Series Coordinator, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; B.A., English, UCLA; M.A., African American Studies (Latin American Concentration).Stevenson prepared for the interview by perusing the files of Congress member Alfred S. Moore and various primary and secondary sources related to the Watts Rebellion of 1965 and urban unrest in the U.S.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Preacely did not review the transcript, and therefore some proper names may remain unverified.
5 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series documents community organizations and institutions that arose in the aftermath of the Watts Rebellion to address issues such as education, employment, healthcare, housing, transportation, and police harassment. The first phase of the series involved interviews with key organizers of the Black Congress, an umbrella organization of Black activist groups whose purpose was to reconstruct the community.
Childhood in Vicksburg, Mississippi—Migrating to California and living in Los Angeles briefly—Childhood in Wilmington—Moving to San Pedro—Importance of land ownership—Education at Banning High School—Coach at Banning mentors Preacely—Role of the church in Preacely’s family life—African American workers in the Long Beach Naval Shipyard—Occupations of parents and other family members—Sexual harassment of Preacely’s mother in Vicksburg—Importance of land ownership—Emphasis on education—Racial composition and dynamics of Vicksburg—Japanese internment camps—Japanese farming in the South Bay area—Tracking of African American students—Restrictive covenants—Racial composition of South Bay—African American entrepreneurship—Student at Fresno State College—African American students who lived in San Joaquin Valley—Black-owned businesses in San Joaquin Valley--Becoming politically active—Parents’ views on race and the civil rights movement—Service in the United States Army—Political involvement of American students in local area—Electing African Americans in Long Beach—Role of United Methodist Church in community outreach—Community Improvement League and Headstart Program—Views on Saul Alinsky’s confrontational philosophy—Parallel Institution-Building—Brotherhood Crusade—Avalon Carver—Economic, cultural, and political analysis of Long Beach—Community activism in Long Beach—Meeting Black Congress founder Walter Bremond, Jr.—Key players in Black Congress—Training in community organizing—Interactions with Jewish Federation—Payment for community organizing activity—Presence of government agents in the movement—TALO (Temporary Alliance for Community Organizations)—Purpose of Rumor Control—Jim Buggs and Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission—Bringing militants and the professional class together—Addressing educational inequities—Role of Walter Bremond and his vision for the Black Congress—Black United Fund—Brotherhood Crusade’s persona as a militant organization—Formation of the Black Congress—Black Think Tank—Organizing teachers—Council structure of Black Congress—Addressing the stigma of mental health issues and suicide—Role of class divisions in the Black Congress—Leadership of the Black Congress.
Undergraduate studies at Fresno State College—Inducted into the draft—Serves in the Far East—Employed by Los Angeles County—Graduate studies at Claremont Graduate University—Emphasis upon education and religion in Preacely’s home—Influence of his high school coach—Commitment to education—Project TUTOR (Community Improvement League)—Value placed upon land ownership—Influence to pursue careers in teaching and social work—Social scientists in the Black Congress—Beginnings of the Black Congress—War on Poverty—Employment with Neighborhood Adult Participation Project (NAPP)—Father Dubet—Working the fields with Mexican farm workers to document labor conditions—Hiring of first African Americans in key city positions—Union organizing—Kenneth Clark study—Twelve disciples as training metaphor—Nationalism vs. pragmatism—Use of arms—Tommy Jacquette— Organizing teachers in Los Angeles Unified School District—Parallel institutions--Need for Brotherhood Crusade and its effectiveness today—Being both a social activist and fundraiser—Need for young, bright leadership in African American organizations—Definition of Parallel Institution Building—Advantages of black-owned institutions—Key players in Black Congress—Role in choice of the director of the UCLA Afro American Studies Center—Accessing governmental resources—Southwest Regional Educational Lab—African American officeholders who participated in the Black Congress—Black policemen and firefighter who participated—Other segments of African American community who participated in the Black Congress—Religious community participation—Mission and purpose statement.
Effect of nationwide civil rights movement—involvement in SCLC and NAACP—philosophical differences between NAACP and younger generation—War on Poverty—relationship between War on Poverty participants and Black Congress—1965 Watts Rebellion—rumor control—meeting following Watts Rebellion—Kedren Community Mental Health Cemter—growth of gangs —allies outside the community—effects of integration—the Black church—involvement of the church with the movement—philosophical differences within the Black Congress—Blacks in the antiwar movement--organizational allies of color—response to Martin Luther King’s assassination
Preacely’s organizational involvement after the Black Congress—Long Beach elections—Project Tutor—Evelyn Knight—Community Improvement League--Joe White—Presbyterian and Methodist churches and community organizing—Neighborhood Adult Participation Project [NAPP]—Tommy Jacquette—efforts to eradicate poverty--Benita Fortner—Drivers Education--North American Aviation—Nate Holden—TRW—Operation Bootstrap—Ted Watkins—The East Los Angeles Community Union [TELACU]—Margie Reese—Deaths caused by lifestyle—Prostate cancer—sensitivity training—Terra Fuel—Lessons of Sixties institutions for current problems—Black churches as model for economic development