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Race and Housing in the Postwar City: - page 12 / 23

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to racial purity and separation suggests the pervasiveness of white fears and the apparent willingness to use violence to achieve neigh­ borhood goals.23

Neighborhood racial violence was not just a phenomenon in northern industrial cities. As early as the 1920s, Los Angeles had an Anti-African Housing Association promoting restrictive covenants and black exclusion in central areas of the city. As black migration to the West Coast soared during the war years, housing pressures mounted followed by racial conflict in spill-over neighborhoods. In September 1949, for instance, two black families who had moved into a white neighborhood on the southeast side of Los Angeles were ter­ rorized for five nights by white mobs. As the National Guardian

reported the incident, "sheriff's deputies stood by laconically

the

jim-crowers

howled

their

hatred."

More

bombings

and

while house

burnings

marred

transitional

neighborhoods

in

Los

Angeles

through

the late forties and early fifties, as white groups contested new frontier lines. In Orlando, Florida, in July 1951, white bombers apartment house that began renting to blacks. In Dallas, Texas,

urban hit an white

terrorists destroyed the crossed the color line

home of a black and bought in

man, Horace Bonner, after a white neighborhood.

he On

twelve separate occasions in American homes in Dallas's

1950 and 1951, bombers blasted racially changing areas.24

African

The deep South was not immune from the fever of second ghetto housing violence. In 1949, in Birmingham, Alabama, where racial zoning was "a spatial manifestation of white supremacy," dyna­ mite bomb blasts destroyed three newly purchased black houses in the white Smithfield area of the city. The bombings occurred shortly after Smithfield residents attended a city commission meeting and threatened violence if blacks continued moving into the area. The fol­ lowing year, after the city's racial zoning law was struck down by a U.S. district court, white bombers destroyed the house of Mary Leans Monk, a black woman who had purchased a home in a white neigh­ borhood and then led the court fight against residential segregation. More than fifty house bombings and burnings lit up Birmingham nights before the mid-1960s, as neighborhoods began turning over racially, earning Birmingham the unenviable label "Bombingham."25

19

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