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De-Segregation

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) took the lead in efforts to overturn the judicial doctrine, established in the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, that segregation of African-American and white students was constitutional if facilities were “separate but equal.” That decree had been used for decades to sanction rigid segregation in all aspects of Southern life, where facilities were seldom, if ever, equal.

On December 1, 1955, during a typical evening rush hour in Montgomery, Alabama, a 42-year-old woman took a seat on the bus on her way home from the Montgomery Fair department store where she worked as a seamstress. Before she reached her destination, she quietly set off a social revolution when the bus driver instructed her to move back, and she refused. Rosa Parks, an African American, was arrested that day for violating a city law requiring racial segregation of public buses.

On the city buses of Montgomery, Alabama, the front 10 seats were permanently reserved for white passengers. The diagram shows that Mrs. Parks was seated in the first row behind those 10 seats. When the bus became crowded, the bus driver instructed Mrs. Parks and the other three passengers seated in that row, all African Americans, to vacate their seats for the white passengers boarding. Eventually, three of the passengers moved, while Mrs. Parks remained seated, arguing that she was not in a seat reserved for whites.

Rosa McCauley was born in 1913 in Alabama. At age 20, she married Raymond Parks, who encouraged her to earn her high school diploma. The couple was active in the Montgomery Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). To successfully challenge segregated public transport, the NAACP knew it needed continued action. The new pastor at the local Dexter Avenue Baptist Church became the leader of the boycott - the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King insisted on nonviolent action to achieve the goal of justice. Her arrest sparked a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system. It also led to a 1956 Supreme Court decision banning segregation on public transportation.

African Americans achieved their goal of overturning Plessy in 1954 when the Supreme Court — presided over by an Eisenhower appointee, Chief Justice Earl Warren — handed down its Brown v. Board of Education ruling. The Court declared unanimously that “separate facilities are inherently unequal,” and decreed that the “separate but equal” doctrine could no longer be used in public schools. A year later, the Supreme Court demanded that local school boards move “with all deliberate speed” to implement the decision.

Eisenhower, although sympathetic to the needs of the South as it faced a major transition, nonetheless acted to see that the law was upheld in the face of massive resistance from much of the South. He faced a major crisis in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957, when Governor Orval Faubus attempted to block a desegregation plan calling for the admission of nine black students to the city’s previously all-white Central High School. After futile efforts at negotiation, the president sent federal troops to Little Rock to enforce the plan.

Governor Faubus responded by ordering the Little Rock high schools closed down for the 1958-59 school year. However, a federal court ordered them reopened the following year. They did so in a tense atmosphere with a tiny number of African-American students. Thus, school desegregation proceeded at a slow and uncertain pace throughout much of the South.

Another milestone in the civil rights movement occurred in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama. Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old African-American seamstress who was also secretary of the state chapter of the NAACP, sat down in the front of a bus in a section reserved by law and custom for whites. Ordered to move to the back, she refused. Police came and arrested her for violating the segregation statutes. African-American leaders, who had been waiting for just such a case, organized a boycott of the bus system. Martin Luther King Jr., a young minister of the Baptist church where the African Americans met, became a spokesman for the protest. “There comes a time,” he said, “when people get tired ... of being kicked about by the brutal feet of oppression.” King was arrested, as he would be again and again; a bomb damaged the front of his house. But African Americans in Montgomery sustained the boycott. About a year later, the Supreme Court affirmed that bus segregation, like school segregation, was unconstitutional. The boycott ended. The civil rights movement had won an important victory — and discovered its most powerful, thoughtful, and eloquent leader in Martin Luther King Jr.

African Americans also sought to secure their voting rights. Although the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteed the right to vote, many states had found ways to circumvent the law. The states would impose a poll (“head”) tax or a literacy test — typically much more stringently interpreted for African Americans — to prevent poor African Americans with little education from voting. Eisenhower, working with Senate majority leader Lyndon B. Johnson, lent his support to a congressional effort to guarantee the vote. The Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first such measure in 82 years, marked a step forward, as it authorized federal intervention in cases where African Americans were denied the chance to vote. Yet loopholes remained, and so activists pushed successfully for the Civil Rights Act of 1960, which provided stiffer penalties for interfering with voting, but still stopped short of authorizing federal officials to register African Americans.

Relying on the efforts of African Americans themselves, the civil rights movement gained momentum in the postwar years. Working through the Supreme Court and through Congress, civil rights supporters thought they had created the groundwork for a dramatic yet peaceful “revolution” in American race relations in the 1960s.

Integration was one of the dominant liberal ideals of the 1950s - at its heart is the conviction that to achieve full incorporation of blacks into American society as equals, persons of different races had to work, learn, play, and live together. One of the chief animating principles behind the liberal conviction for integration, perhaps chief among them that prejudice was irrational, and its negative effects could be counteracted through education, counseling, effective legislation, and practical demonstrations of the efficacy of integration, or what was called social engineering.

When Rochdale Village opened in southeastern Queens in late 1963, it was the largest housing cooperative in the world. When fully occupied its 5,860 apartments contained about 25,000 residents. Rochdale Village was one of the most tangible products of a period in New York City's history, from the mid-1950s through the mid-1960, that can be seen, in retrospect, as the apogee of the belief in integration, in theory and in practice. To be sure, support for integration was often shallow and tentative; the opposition was often effective and tenacious; and the final results were in many ways frustratingly meager. Nonetheless, there was a surprisingly wide consensus, often starting from vastly differing perspectives, that reached the conclusion that integration was possible, practical, and necessary, and was the best way to resolve the city's growing racial tensions.

The bitterly divisive 1968 teacher's strike doomed integration in Rochdale. The strike, which directly pitted blacks against Jews in ever escalating volleys of rhetorical violence, irreparably destroyed the fabric of the integration in Rochdale. After the damage wrought by the 11-week strike had cleared, there was no longer a constituency, or political future, in supporting integration. The key to successful integration is quality public schools; without them, any attempt to create stable integrated housing will fail.

Anti-discrimination legislation in New York City were the most expansive anywhere in the United States, which by the late 1950s covered public housing, publicly assisted housing, education, public accommodations, publicly assisted housing, and multiple unit private rental property. This expanding scope of open housing legislation could be read in the multiple ways. The more complacent could imagine that history was on the side of integration, though others were angered that the anti-discrimination ordinances largely relied on moral suasion for their enforcement, and were largely ineffective.

New York City remained the same, in both in its housing and its schools, it remained one of the most segregated cities in the United States, especially in black outer borough neighborhoods like South Jamaica. The only difference between then and now is that segregation is now taken for granted and accepted, as an unalterable facet of urban living.

The case United States v. Fred C. Trump, Donald Trump, and Trump Management, Inc. [Docket / Court 73-1529 ( E.D.N.Y. )] was brought against Fred and Donald Trump, and their real estate company, in 1973. . The complaint alleged that the firm had committed systemic violations of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 in their many complexes--39 buildings, between them containing over 14,000 apartments. The allegations included evidence from black and white "testers" who had sought to rent apartments; the white testers were told of vacancies; the black testers were not, or were steered to apartment complexes with a higher proportion of racial minorities. After two years, the matter settled with a consent decree, signed June 10, 1975. It included the ordinary disclaimer of liability (the settlement was “in no way an admission” of a violation"), but prohibited the Trumps from "discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling." The Justice Department called the decree “one of the most far-reaching ever negotiated.” In his autobiography, Donald Trump took a different view: “In the end the government couldn’t prove its case, and we ended up making a minor settlement without admitting any guilt.”





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Page last modified: 06-10-2017 19:05:48 ZULU