Sunday, July 2, 2017

More On How The Federal Government Pushed Segregation In Places Like Levittown

See A Powerful, Disturbing History of Residential Segregation in America. It is review of the book THE COLOR OF LAW: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein in the NY Times. Reviewed by DAVID OSHINSKY. Excerpts:
"Homeowners in Levittown were forbidden to rent or sell to persons “other than members of the Caucasian race.” Asked about this so-called “racial covenant,” Levitt blamed society at large. “As a Jew, I have no room in my mind or heart for racial prejudice,” he said. “But I have come to know that if we sell one house to a Negro family, then 90 or 95 percent of our white customers will not buy into the community.”"

"the government at all levels and in all branches abetted this injustice. “We have created a caste system in this country, with African-Americans kept exploited and geographically separate by racially explicit government policies.”"

"The federal government guaranteed low-interest bank loans for Levitt to build them, and low-interest mortgages for veterans to buy them. The government also made clear that developers receiving these incentives must sell to whites only.

It didn’t stop there. In the 1950s, following a Supreme Court decision that restricted the scope of racial covenants, an African-American veteran bought a house in a second Levitt development outside Philadelphia. A white mob formed, the house was pelted with rocks and crosses were burned on the lawn. Amazingly, the black family held out for several years before moving back to a segregated neighborhood."

"the failure of racially biased police and public officials to protect African-Americans from unlawful intimidation."

"A research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, he quite simply demolishes the notion that government played a minor role in creating the racial ghettos that plague our suburbs and inner cities."

"a policy of de jure segregation in virtually every presidential administration"

"some of the worst offenses occurred with Franklin Roosevelt in the White House. One of his New Deal centerpieces, the Public Works Administration, built 47 public housing projects, all rigidly segregated, 17 for blacks, the rest for whites. His vaunted Tennessee Valley Authority put white employees in a “model village” of 500 homes, while blacks endured “shoddy barracks” far from their jobs. When war came, the Roosevelt administration provided housing for white defense plant workers, but only temporary, poorly constructed dwellings for black workers."

"The president, no friend of civil rights, argued that ending the Great Depression and winning World War ll must take precedence over divisive social issues."

"Stuyvesant Town, a 9,000-apartment complex built on Manhattan’s East Side in the 1940s by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. The process of construction began with the city condemning 18 square blocks of a racially integrated neighborhood and transferring the land to the company, which received tax relief as well. Met Life executives made it clear that Stuyvesant Town was for “white people only” — a policy that led to protests and a compromise whereby the company agreed to lease a handful of apartments to “qualified Negro tenants,” while building a “smaller development” for black renters in Harlem. By this point, however, Stuyvesant Town was almost fully leased. Blacks were shut out, and would remain so, because New York City’s rent control laws kept turnover low for the original white tenants and their “lawful successors,” while rapidly rising rents for its vacated apartments made the development unaffordable for even middle-class families. Today, African-Americans constitute a minuscule part of Stuyvesant Town, which sits in one of Manhattan’s most famously “progressive” districts."

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