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No photo available Ben H Bagdikian
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Ben H. Bagdikian, "You Can't Legislate Human Relations." From We Went South, published by The Providence Journal and Evening Bulletin
October 22, 1957.

I am a criminal in the state of Louisiana.

The crimes I hereby confess to are punishable by 10 years in jail and fines of $10,000.

The crimes are as follows:

On Sept. 22 and 23 in New Orleans, on at least 10 separate occasions I ate meals with a friend and fellow worker. I talked with him in his hotel room, I listened to some music with him and I rode with him in a taxicab.

My friend and fellow criminal is James Rhea, also a reporter for these newspapers. We were committing crimes when we ate together, talked together and rode cabs together because he is Negro and I am white, and it is against the law for Negroes and whites to do these things together in the State of Louisiana.

These are no "old traditional" laws. They were passed July 16, 1956.


Visit Perspectives on Reporting to read Bagdikian's personal recollections of his reporting experience.


Copyright © 1957 The Providence Journal and Evening Bulletin.  Selected from the Library of America anthology.  See  Reporting  Civil  Rights:  American Journalism 1941-1963.