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The Stentorians are a fraternal organization of African Librarj firefightersbased in Los AngelesCaliforniaand founded in Its residents had initially been mostly white, but by the neighborhood had changed to predominantly black.

By it was home to two all-black, segregated fire stations Fire Station No. After the Supreme Pafd decision in Brown vs. Board of Education and other cases, Alderson asked the Los Angeles city attorney whether the decision affected his department, and was told that it did. Based on this, the Chief assigned black firefighters from the segregated fire stations to all-white fire houses, beginning what was to become a year of librwry for the LAFD.

Newspaper writers penned articles both pro [1] and con [2] integration and while firefighters came together while fighting fires, the rest of the time spent in the firehouse was for the most part their own. With the introduction of blacks to all-white firehouses, and in particular Fire Station 10, the customary rituals between brother firefighters turned to the dark side, and librafy firehouses became tense battlegrounds at night.

By the end of the following year some black firefighters had taken to libeary armed for their own protection, fearing retribution for some slight published in the papers or reported in the nightly newscasts or heard on radio broadcasts.

An early proponent ‘s under Editor J. Infirefighter Arnett Hartsfield, Jr. The organization took its name from the Greek root, stentormeaning a powerful voice. CBS Channel 2 news ran newscasts of recordings after a reporter provided the Stentorians with special microphones to record the night-long hazings.

The media had been critical of Alderson and remained neutral over his conflict with fire commission. Alderson retired at the end of the year and Deputy Chief Frank Rothermel became interim oibrary engineer, and he posted until Alderson’s successor was named.

Miller, not wanting to be in the same place as the man he replaced quietly went about the task. With some white firefighters backing integration and receiving punishment for it, the tide had turned against segregation and Miller went ahead and transferred black and white firefighters to Fire Station 7 at S.

The history alfd African-American firefighters in the LAFD began to take shape in the s and 50s when individual firefighters and officers began organizing and making lqfd voices librarg. As their numbers in the ranks grew, slowly at first but; with the return of many blacks after serving in the military overseas they stood firm that there was a place for them at the table of Civil Service. Many, once appointed, were ostracized [6] by their fellow firefighters, so the model of a fraternal organization was used across the country in forming groups.

Within those groups, black firefighters found solace among their brethren by holding their own affairs and allying themselves lirary other ostracized groups like the Jewish firefighters who were mostly Irish and Catholic white firefighters opposed being part of firehouse life.

The Battle for integration began with the Mayoral election of A month after taking office, he was given a petition backed by the NAACP [7] that protested that the LAFD did not represent the people it served because it was not integrated.

Alderson wanted no interference from city hall but then was beset on another front.

Before the results of this committee was heard, the commissioners ordered Alderson to integrate, which he began to do. By then, the firehouses that were integrated [9] became hellhouses for the black firefighters. Nightly hazing had become warped and degrading, and when 6 more blacks were sent to Old 10, the tension was palpable. Wearied by the year’s events and vilified by the Eagle’ s [11] campaign to remove the segregationist, Alderson announced that he would retire at years end.

The commission sheepishly let the dismissal drop, as it seemed they were being petty firing the retiring chief engineer. On December 6,a black man, Sam Haskins, born a slave in from Virginia, was listed in the census as an employed Fireman for the city of Los Angeles, assigned to Engine Company 4.


Stentorians – Wikipedia

Haskins was fatally injured on November 19, while responding to a fire call on 1st Street. When the steamer he was riding on hit a bump in the road, Haskins lost his balance and fell between the steamer’s boiler and the wheel.

He was the first firefighter of any race to die on duty with he Los Angeles Fire Department. The second black fireman, George Bright, was appointed to the Department two years later, on September 21, Ferguson that established “Separate but equal” as the law of the land.

He subsequently left to become the 3rd black patrolman in the LAPD. He became a firefighter and later an instructor. He retired in from the LAFD to practice law full-time. He fought to integrate the LAFD. His was the generation of black “firsts”, many of whom are remembered for the integration fights that led the full appearance of the Civil Rights Movement in America.

He was later appointed Civil Service commissioner by Mayor Tom Bradley and served as “Fire Chief for a Day”, achieving the chance at promotion he felt he was unfairly denied while a firefighter.

By the following September old 30 and 14 were integrated, all black firefighters formerly assigned at the segregated houses were transferred into 17 of the city’s 91 fire stations. Hazings still occurred, but along the lines of the traditional firehouse fare all probies endured. The long crisis year of finally ended for the LAFD. Bradley Garret and Tolbert Young were the first blacks hired after integration. Both are terminated unfairly during their academy training, which path Jim Crow practices now took in the FD.

In a black probie in the diversity class on Randalls Island, NYC collapsed and died during training at the FDNY Academy, leading the Vulcan Society to question whether blacks in that class were being unfairly targeted for drop-on-request. During the 60 years following Alderson’s departure, questions of whether he was a traditionalist protecting his department arose.

In looking back, the questions can be answered and several observations apply to the segregation years. The foremost question is whether was it his opposition to integration that caused the crisis year of chaos?

Yes, but until then, Jim Crow laws supported segregation, which Alderson believed in, and he had convinced himself that his legal obligations under the city charter prohibited assignments based upon race, albeit that some of the city’s laws now ran against the rulings adopted by the supreme court [14] and made law everywhere across America.

Thomas Neusom and v. Loren Miller, By the s blacks and whites began marching en-masse to gain recognition culminating with the march on Washington and passage of the Voting Rights Act. The struggles of the Civil Rights era [15] had begun with the stands made by Civil Service workers such as those Old Stentorians who fought for fairness and diversity in the ranks of the LAFD. By recruiting and mentoring youth to apply for the title and later in the ranks of the Paramedics the s saw a rise in the number of black officers [16] and while occasionally there was racial tension [17] in the firehouse, the LAFD began to find itself under fire from the very communities they served.

In Watts exploded into riots and firefighters of every stripe came under fire while on duty. Arnett Hartsfield recounted in[18] “I had a degree in Law yet I went to work and cleaned toilets!.

Black firefighters across the country formed chapters and the gov’t civil service firefighters in Barbados, BWI became a member making the organization international. James Hill, a veteran 40yr Dallas, Texas Firefighter.

LAFD Station 37 | Friends of West LA

Both groups of Stentorians also belong to the International Association of Black Professional Firefightersa national organization promoting equality for the fire service nationwide. As a result of the allegation, librart Fire Chief threw out the exam causing countless candidates to fail the new exam. The allegations were false and the union and the Stentorians endured a rift in their otherwise cordial relationship.

The EDI was created as a response to this. Historically, Black firefighters had not been successful in attending the NFA for a variety of reasons. CarlHolmesEDI continues to exist today.

Through their involvement in the school system, the Foundation and the Stentorians have been able to offer community youth a viable alternative to the growing problems with gangs and drugs. The Stentorians have progressed and prospered over the years, becoming a well noted and respected organization in the community.


On opening day, Fire Chief Bamattre spoke to the Old Stentorians [26] and issued a formal apology for enduring a terrible lsfd during the integration of the LAFD during the mid s.

Station 30, along with station 14, integrated in and was later closed in It is now home to the African American Firefighter Museum and is dedicated to collecting, conserving and sharing the shared history and heritage of African American firefighters. The history of African American firefighters in Los Angeles spans more than years and provides a unique glimpse into the history of firefighting, race relations and segregation in the City. Alfd was one of two segregated fire stations where black firefighters worked in Los Angeles between and It was built in and served the Central Avenue community of the City.

It is now beautifully restored and has the original apparatus floor tiles, poles and kitchen out-building. It is libraary to the public as a museum. Old Fire Station 30 exhibits display a wide array of firefighting gear including vintage engines an hose wagon and a Pirsch ladder truckuniforms from LA County and LA City firefighters, New York badges and uniforms, helmets of all kinds, displays of African American women firefighters, photographs, and other paraphernalia and firefighting artifacts.

In the Stentorians of the City and County hosted the I. Convention and the traditional “Memorial March”, made its way down Crenshaw Blvd.

That year,an unmarked grave was re-made and the status of the occupant elevated. Deceased Fireman Sam Haskins was finally given an honorable burial when a headstone is placed over his remains in Evergreen Cemetery. For years, Haskins was buried in an unmarked grave and it was not known that he was the first Black Fireman in Los Angeles until the Los Angeles Times uncovered the story.

The Stentorians hold a place amongst the civil rights fights that took place in the mid-twentieth century that continues to the present day. Resistance to men and women of color still exists in fire departments across the country and even though discrimination is no longer overt, the numbers of firefighters in the ranks do not reflect the demographics of the populations served, hence the continued need [28] for such fraternal organizations.

Los Angeles Fire Department Museum and Memorial

As recently as lawsuits filed by fraternal organizations and joined by the Justice Department forced the City of New York to settle with the Vulcan Society of the FDNY in making minority appointments from the lists established by the Dept of Personnel inandleading to the most diversified classes in the history of that city’s fire oafd.

While there have been some improvements over the years, discriminatory hiring and promotional practices, which represent significant barriers for minority members of the LAFD, remain. Double standards, subjective judgements and institutionalized discrimination still serve as an effective barrier against equal and fair promotional practices. A review of minority members, in middle and upper level management positions, is clear evidence of the ongoing libray of discrimination faced by our members.

The LAFD has become polarized, not only within itself, but also within the high risk communities it serves. The Los Angeles City Council’s resolution This study was to review the entry level process and all procedures and factors relevant to promotion and advancement within the Fire Department as they relate to minorities and females. This represents an important opportunity for objective evaluation and for change. Ljbrary, we have a real stake in ensuring that the Personnel Department’s study objectively evaluates and highlights the LAFD’s present promotional and employment practices.

We are confident that an honest review of the present employment conditions in the LAFD will lead to the conclusion that a fundamental lack of equal opportunity librry and that certain safeguards, policies and procedures are needed to level the playing field. Where all members are treated equally, and job satisfaction is not only experienced by each member, but is also displayed to the communities in which we lafs and serve.

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