Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles This is the story of a black man. His name is Norman Font in L. A. And this is his Harlem apartment. What he wants, what he is. But you force him to be. It's what you are for He is you staring back through a mirror of poverty and despair, of revolt and freedom. Look at him and know that you destroy him is to destroy yourself. You are weary of the long, hot summers. He is tired of the long hungry winters. None of us are so far apart as it might seem. There's something about all of us that goes far deeper than blood are black and white. It is our common search for a better life in the better world. We march now over the same ground. New ones marched. We fight for the same things you still fight for. Our Children's needs are the same as those of your Children. We too are America. America is us. It gave us the only life we know. So we must share and survival. Look at us. Listen to us. Try to understand this. Our appeal is urgent. There is yet a chance for all of us to live in peace beneath these restless skies, it was damp and cold in the font in L. A apartment today, it was an especially bad our for normal senior. He just been laid off his railway job, where he worked part time as a section hand. He lay beneath a thin, crumpled blanket, trying to help 13 year old arrived with her homework. He said he had lain awake most of the night worrying because there was no food. Our money, none of the kids at winter coats. If it turned colder, it probably wouldn't be able to go to the school of following day. It's awful, he said. The black man always gets the walking papers first. He's the last to get called back. I've got 10 miles to feed here and then enough in that icebox to even feel the baby's stomach ain't much I can do about it. The white man does all the hiring. The white man does all the firing. When the hard work's done, we get sent home to wait until he feels like calling us back again. What can I do? I don't have educations, so I can't get anything better than what I got. That's why I hang onto this part time job with the railway. At least they get me five days notice Little Richard, who has three, kept pointing sadly at the goldfish bowl on the matter. Most of the goldfish had died from the cold the night before, Only one wiggled around slowly in the dirty green water. Richard could hardly talk. Fisher's dead fish is dead. He kept mumbling. His neck glands and mouth were swollen because he's been eating plaster from the well Cracks again, never still posit in his system from the lead paint. Both he and five year old Ellen had been in the hospital for this. I just don't know why those poor Children eat the walls or Mother said. Doctors say something about a nervous condition They have. Both of them nearly died from it. Once, Bessie finally appears to be a strong woman, especially in the early part of the day, when she looks younger than 39. But as the day wears home, she seems to age with it. By nightfall, she has crumpled into herself. All this crying and kneading and warning is about to drive me crazy, she said. this evening. No, I've got double trouble. My husband is a good man, but every time they fire him, lay him off. He takes that on me and the kids he gets. His little body starts nipping by the time he nips to the bottom. He's mad with the whole world. Then the kids and I get it. Especially Norman Jr November 16. Bessie Font in L. A. Has attempted to give warmth to this home, but it remains a prison of endless filth cluttered with rags and broken furniture. Her woman touched shows in the shape with style curtains, the dime store paintings on the Grammy walls, the shredded scatter rugs covering the cracked linoleum, the wax flowers and the outdated magazines. She slaps her urine soaked mattresses on the Children's bad and shakes her head and disgust. I just can't break them with a habit, she says. Not a night pass is one of them. Don't wet the bed. Even if there were sheets, I couldn't find the time to keep them washed now and then, once he's a little starts dressed, hand clean above the rubble, like a flower above a weed patch. It's amazing the way the kids keep their books back so neatly in all in the rubble. In the quieter moments, the older ones help the younger ones with their lessons. At such times, the house seems to be filled with love. Norman Senior is quiet, sharp and powerfully built despairs and his eyes, his words and his movement. But he hasn't given up yet. This whole building is crawling with Roaches and rats. It ain't fit for dogs, but what can I do? My wife's always trying to get into the projects, but they won't let us in until I get a steady job. So we're always finding ourselves right where we started from nowhere, November the 19th Today, as if she was recognizing the Sabbath best, they finally reached over and straighten the portrait of Christ that hangs above the baby's crib. Ask her if they were a religious family. Well, I guess we are, she said. At least we used to bay. We just don't go to church anymore. It's hard keeping faith in something when everything's going so bad for you. I teach the kids that prayers, and that's the best I can do. Seems to me the most important thing now is to try and get them some kind of education. That's why I keep their heads in those books. November the 23rd Thanksgiving Day. Bessie Fountain, Nelly and the Children were all sitting in the kitchen, warming in front of the oven this morning. When I arrived, there was no heat. There hadn't been any of the night before. The 10 of them had slept, huddled together and mattresses oven going all night. It was warmed over fish for breakfast. Sausages and eggs were being served for the Thanksgiving dinner. November the 25th 1967. I caught up with Mrs Fontaine, L. A. Today and the Board for Anti Poverty office of how you act. She had gone there with four of her Children for help. Bob Hagan, the board director. Satin is overcoat listening to her complaints. The poverty office has also been without heat for three days. Her complaints were common to Higgins ears, broken windows, hunger, rats, Roaches, garbage strewn Holloway's doors off the hinges. The heat list days when the wind whistles through the holes in the walls. The landlord looks and promises, but nothing happens. But just let us miss that $70 rent one month and he's threatening to put us on the street, she said. Hagen promised help and ask her to come back to see him. The following week. November the 27th Bessie Fontanelli received a letter from her oldest son. Today his name is Harry, she said with a trace of sadness. In a rush, she sat in her coat with her back to the window light. He's got seven more months to go in the Pilgrim State Hospital for Narcotics. He got on that stuff when he was 15. I did everything I could, even took him to the police but won't. She was hung up. There was nothing to do for him to protect. Other kids have finally had to put him out. When he was about 18 years old, he went from bad to worse. I am soon Im's and she's been out there tears running down her place. It cost $4 1/2 piece for us to go out there and back, and that's too much for my husband, me to scrape up right now. I'd like to see him, though he's a good boy. Heart normal is a strange mixture and this talk there's a defiance for whites. The white policemen, the white butcher white clerk in the grocery are appliance store. His eyes have the hard glint of the older black men in Harlem. At 13 he is already primed for some kind of action. He is aggressive, determined and powerful, built for his age. But his hostility is balanced by an overwhelming tenderness. A times today, for instance, he lifted his baby brother Richard and smothered in rough kisses December the seventh. I have yet to see all the finalists sitting down and eating together. One of the kids will cry as hunger and Bessie Fontanel. It was grounds, a per sandwich of some kind. Norman seems to exist on tiny seven cents sweet potato pies from the grocery store. Richard, three year old was eating raw potato one day. Sometimes four of the younger Children hungry share one apple. But even if there was enough food for regular meals, the kitchen table is too small to accommodate all 10 of them. December the eighth. It was extremely cold today. Normal Senior spent most of the evening stuffing more rags into the broken windows and cracks his wife lay on the bed tired, fevered, with a bad cold. She had been up all night with Richard, was neck glands and lips were swelling again. Poor child. It's so bad, he can hardly eat anything. There's no money to call a doctor, she said. I'll came over to the hospital tomorrow morning. He's no better. December the 10th. There was a quite excitement in Miss Fontana Lee as she waited for the guards to bring her son, Ian. When he arrived, they embraced warmly as the guard watched Norman, senior, Bessie and Harry set down at the table and again talking. It was awkward for all of them at first. But since time was shot, the mother got down to the basic problem. I hope you come out good and clean airing. You've had enough trouble already. Oh, I'll be straight, Mama. It's just gonna take a little time to get everything out of my system. Everything will be straight number. I hope to God you never touch that stuff again. His answer stunned all three of us. Well, I don't know. I can't say for sure. I'll never go back on it. You see, I wasn't on her just cocaine, which wasn't so bad. Bessie front. Mila's eyes watered and Harris suddenly realized his words that hurt her. He choked out of sob and covered his face.