ethel’s words

Click your browser’s “Back” button to return to SmashingIkons

THE B.B.O.S.--THE SIXTIES

The Black Brothers Organizing Society was visible and respected in Central City Neighborhood of Salt Lake City and, no doubt, elsewhere. I knew them, with their black berets (is my memory trustable?) and their rather cheerful mien. I felt it to be a creation of hope, not antagonism.

We were so hopeful in those days. It was as if we were flexing power. The several governments responded to BBOS as if to a threat, but white women--working class and education-associated-- were fully comfortable with the Brothers.

But how well I remember a short-term Salt Lake City Police Chief, who had jumped into the position over our City from, we understood, a CIA post in South America. (There was no question that he came here from some kind of position there.)

One day, that Police Chief, along with what we dubbed his “body guards”, met with the Black Brothers in the Central City Community Center at Third East and Sixth South Streets.

We mature women--mostly white--who had gathered more to observe than to participate, were comfortable, and expected a fruitful “get acquainted meeting”. Alas, the police contingent were nervous. (That’s a bad sign--prejudiced approach.) The new Chief, an old man, was visibly trembling. What on Earth had he been told that caused such trepidation?

There was a positive result from the meeting: Greater trust and new camaraderie among the persons who attended.

Ethel C. Hale