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Race and Housing in the Postwar City: - page 15 / 23





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living in the Trumbull Park project. Mob terror and violence contin­ ued, but the blacks vowed that they would not be forced out of their new homes. Unfortunately, the racial conflict carried over into near­ by factories and affected black children attending neighborhood schools. The conflicts continued, with diminishing consequences, for a decade.30

Even the suburbs were infected with the spreading contagion of violent racial animosity. In 1953, when a black businessman from Brooklyn, Clarence C. Wilson, bought a lot and began building a house in suburban Copiague, Long Island, arsonists twice targeted

the unfinished house. build somewhere else, "KKK." According to

Neighborhood residents urged Wilson to as did a dozen letters to Wilson signed a detective hired by Wilson, neighborhood

spent a lot of


Negro move

in." To

whites said "they had weren't going to let a

to keep protect

Jews out and they his family, Wilson

ultimately decided to stay in Brooklyn.31 and Levittown, Pennsylvania, African

In Levittown, New American families

York were

harassed, mobbed, legally new suburban homes. As

challenged, and eventually forced out housing expert Charles Abrams wrote

of at

the time, the Levitts "simply wrote a standard provision deeds and leases forbidding Negro occupancy."32



The push for civil rights won significant legal support in 1954, with the Supreme Court's ban on school segregation. Nevertheless, the effort to maintain residential segregation continued unabated at the neighborhood level in many American cities. In that year, for instance, a dozen or more incidents of racist violence in Cleveland signaled the beginning of a coordinated movement to keep blacks out of white neighborhoods. A construction site for a black church was bombed; nine homes in the Mt. Pleasant section of the city were damaged by stones, paint, and tar bombs; a few African Americans were beaten by whites. According to local police officials, the vio­ lence was "the work of Negroes who wanted to call public attention to the fact that Negroes can now move into the neighborhood." Few in the changing neighborhoods believed such allegations.33

Similar racial battles took place in Philadelphia, Tampa, and


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