Box 7, Folder 18, Document 5

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Box 7, Folder 18, Document 5

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In the major cities of the United States,
tenements swarm with children, schools
are overcrowded and understaffed, and
people are out of work. Apathy over-
comes many. For others, frustration
erupts into violence.

The heart of the city’s problems is
the isolation of the people of its slums
from the benefits of the rest of the
metropolitan area. Discrimination in
employment, zoning restrictions, dis-
criminatory real estate practices, local
tax structures, political boundaries —
all protect the affluent from the claims
of the impoverished.

The slum’s problems are perpetu-
ated by powerlessness. Negro leaders
recognize that freedom cannot exist
without equality and that political and
economic power are essential parts of
equality. They are appealing to their
people to take pride in blackness and
unite in effective action. The challenge
to Negroes to overcome fear and paral-
ysis is accompanied by a challenge to
the white community to overcome its
fear and intransigence. These chal-
lenges must be met.

The American Friends Service Com-
mittee struggles against exclusion of
any minority from the mainstream of
American society. Its programs in the
cities concentrate on getting people to
recognize their own problems and take
initiative in dealing with them. The
programs search for new ways both to
break down barriers and to build self-
reliance — ways that can be copied and


Rm, 501, 41 Exchange Pl,, S. E., Atlanta, Georgia 30303

adapted by other groups in other cities.


In Boston, concerned with the problems
of welfare tenants, the Service Commit-
tee is bringing together tenants, small
landlords, and the welfare department
to find solutions to the problems of
apartments without heat, garbage that
stands uncollected, falling plaster, rats,
and roaches.

In Chicago the Service Committee’s
staff has been working with the Chicago
Freedom Movement headed by Martin
Luther King. Block clubs organized by
the Service Committee have been con-
verted to locals of the Union To End
Slums. Contracts are negotiated be-
tween landlords and tenants, specifying
the responsibilities of each. If negoti-
ation fails, the tenants may resort to
a rent strike in which rent is held in es-
crow by the bargaining agent.

Working in a depressed community
in Pasadena, California, the Service
Committee has helped organize a busi-
nessmen’s council, which is working on
upgrading businesses and supplying new

jobs. The staff has started youth pro-
grams for drop-outs and has helped
form a young adult group to work on
recreational programs and activities
for young people. It has started an
interfamily visiting program with
churches in the area to give families a
chance to know people and places out-
side their own neighborhoods.

A new program in West Oakland is
trying to establish communication
among groups in the community, and
between them and groups outside the
area. Distrust of the surrounding world
is so high that any meaningful communi-
cation is difficult. Seminars are being
planned to bring West Oakland residents
and outsiders together in a neutral at-
mosphere where they can explore mutu-
al problems. The final emphasis of the
program will be to stimulate the inter-
est and efforts of the wider community
in the problems of the people of West

In a densely populated area of San
Francisco, the Service Committee got
together parents who had complaints
about the elementary school, and this
group became known as the School
Committee. They decided the logical
place to work for changes was the PTA,
but the principal had repeatedly re-
fused to allow PTA meetings at night
when working parents could attend.
School officials continued to discourage
them. They petitioned the superintend-
ent, with copies to the press. Now, for
the first time in the history of the
school, there are PTA meetings at
night, and a parent has even been
elected treasurer.



Programs in San Francisco; Richmond,
Indiana; and a new program to start in
Atlanta link two of the Service Commit-
tee’s concerns — equal employment and
fair housing. A man’s ability to find a
job, and an employer’s ability to hire
him, may depend on his being able to
live in the vicinity of the plant. The
Committee feels that it is not enough to
make employment open to all regard-
less of race, but that housing must be
made available as well, and close to
the job. Staff members found one
government bureau in the suburbs of
Washington that must send a bus into
the city every day to pick up twenty
secretaries because racial discrimi-
nation prevents them from living near
the bureau. Many firms with govern-
ment contracts have equal employment
policies. The Service Committee works
with personnel people and executives of
these companies to help them secure
housing in the community for qualified
applicants of a minority group.


In 1951 the Service Committee re-
sponded to a crisis that developed in
Cicero, Illinois, following the move
of a Negro family into a previously

all-white area. Since then the Com-
mittee has been increasingly involved
in the drive to bring about equal op-
portunity in housing, believing that
members of any group should be able
to freely rent or buy in the neighbor-
hood in which they want to live.

In New York; Philadelphia; Chicago;
Xenia, Ohio; and Muncie, Indiana, the
staff of the Committee’s housing pro-
gram works with buyers, sellers,
builders, the real estate industry,
government agencies, concerned citi-
zens and organizations, and members
of the nonwhite community to open
more areas for nonsegregated living
and to create a receptive atmosphere
for minorities moving into all-white
communities, Staff members sponsor
housing discussions on TV and radio,
set up listing services to bring to-
gether the minority buyer and the will-
ing seller. They escort families to local
brokers to assure equal service, initi-
ate community education campaigns,
organize ‘‘good neighbor’’ pledge
drives, and hold buyers’ conferences
to inform minority families of their
legal rights and to provide them with
homebuying information and encour-

The Committee has helped form
fair housing councils, organized sur-
veys of community attitudes, and sup-
ported nondiscriminatory housing
legislation. It is now mobilizing

Negro buyers and renters to take ad-
vantage of new openings and to con-
front real estate brokers with the
need to change discriminatory prac-

The Philadelphia Metropolitan
Housing Program works with the Fed-
eral Housing Administration and the
Veterans Administration in develop-
ing an affirmative policy of nondis-
crimination. The present practices
of these agencies and others are
tested. Information is obtained on new
developments built with FHA money
and on foreclosures of FHA and VA
mortgages. A range of approaches to
the Negro community is tested, so
that home seekers can learn of hous-
ing opportunities throughout the metro-
politan area,






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