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Race and Housing in the Postwar City: - page 16 / 23





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several California cities. In August 1954, for example, Wiley and Blanche Clark and their four small children moved into a white neighborhood in north Philadelphia. Three nights of mob violence by crowds of up to 1,000 badly damaged the Clarks' house and forced the family to leave under police protection.34 In Tampa, Florida, a black man, James A. Walker, a retired U.S. Army chaplain, bought a house on a ten-acre tract in a mostly undeveloped white

area called Lutz. to the ground.35

Within one week, In California,

white terrorists burned an African American,

the house Reynolds

McKenzie, and his family were Modesto neighborhood when a

driven out of their home in stick of dynamite exploded

a white on their

front porch. into a house

In in

Palo Alto, after William Bailey and a white neighborhood, members of

his the

family moved local commu­

nity improvement association tried to persuade them then badly damaged the house. In the Oakland area, being sold by a black realty firm were vandalized.

to leave and tract houses

This litany of neighborhood racial conflict and mob violence could be extended considerably. Suffice it to say that during these midcentury years, as the black migration dramatically intensified and as city neighborhoods began to experience racial succession, white people everywhere seemed easily riled up over the thought and the reality of African Americans moving into their neighbor­ hoods. The remarkable demographic shifts of the postwar era brought issues of race and urban housing to the forefront of public

policy today, of the

and public consciousness. Although they the neighborhood race wars of the period powerful role of race in recent U.S. urban

are largely forgotten serve as a reminder history. As early as

1901, the great African American scholar "the problem of the twentieth century is line."37 For the postwar city, the problem undiminished.

W.E.B. DuBois wrote that the problem of the color of the color line remained


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