Aerial view of Levittown, PA: Built quickly using assembly-line techniques; affordable; and for whites only.
It is often assumed that segregation by race in cities and suburbs (particularly in the north) was and is a result of “natural” processes, even when those processes are the ugly expression of white fear. White flight to the suburbs, the logic goes, may be reprehensible, but it’s a predictable result when white people, guided by prejudice, felt their neighborhoods were in danger of being “taken over.” In reality, that does not accurately describe what happened in urban and suburban areas. The segregation of areas by race was more than a choice made by individuals; it was abetted and reinforced by private and public policies, laws, and regulations. (Note: The following post is, for the most part, about northern cities; southern cities may have followed similar patterns, but I haven’t researched southern cities enough to say that with any certainty.)
H/t to Eric Foner, author of the book, Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad (all citations listed as “Foner” refer to this book) and current events for inspiring today’s post.
First, some history. The fugitive slave clause of the Constitution came about at the behest of the SC delegation:
On August 28 the convention considered the fugitives from justice clause. Butler and Charles Pinckney attempted to amend this provision “to require fugitive slaves and servants to be delivered up like criminals.” Roger Sherman sarcastically countered that he “saw no more propriety in the public seizing and surrendering a slave or servant, than a horse.” James Wilson objected that this would cost the free states money. Significantly, this opposition came from two delegates who usually sided with the South. Butler wisely “withdrew his proposition in order that some particular provision might be made apart from this article.”57… …Immediately after this vote [on a commerce-related issue], Butler reintroduced the fugitive slave clause. Without debate or recorded vote, it too passed. 61 The last bargain over slavery had been made. The northerners who had opposed the fugitive slave provision only a day before were now silent. Source:The Covenant with Death and How It Was Made, Part 2
I’ve been grappling with the issues of privilege and effective allyship lately. Some of this has been prompted by my reading about the Movement; some of it by the Parkland students; and some of it by a survey I recently had to complete for an organization that asked, “Are you willing to engage in civil disobedience?” After some reflection, I realized my truly honest answer to the question was, “no” and that saddened me about myself. This post isn’t going to focus on my personal efforts to reconcile my ideals and my actions; it instead is going to highlight the actions of one ally as a means to encourage personal reflection and introspection.
Mary Modjeska Monteith Simkins, sometimes called the matriarch of Civil Rights activists in South Carolina
Modjeska Monteith was raised to be an activist, although it’s doubtful her parents would have phrased it that way. Her father, a master brick mason, and her mother, a schoolteacher who only quit teaching when Modjeska was born, were affluent by the standards of the day; their financial independence enabled them to stress the importance of racial pride, Christian mission, community service, and respect for education. Her father, the son of a white lawyer and his domestic servant (and a former slave), did not want his family to live subservient to the white world and emphasized the importance of supporting one’s own people. He kept pictures of famous black people in the home, and he made sure his family reached out to those neighbors who had less. Through their church, they often visited and cared for the ill or the desperately poor. The family supported black-owned businesses and were even part owners of a black-owned grocery store. Without realizing it, her upbringing was preparing Modjeska to be one of the “talented tenth.”
Our march route; about three miles on a sunny, but chilly, day.
I’m not quite ready to move on to the “what’s next” part of this movement, so I hope you’ll indulge one more diary about Saturday’s March for Our Lives. Alonso del Arte did a post on Saturday at the Orange about the Detroit march (Detroit students march for their lives), but I want to add my own observations and comments, as well as a few of the pictures I took along the way.
Sculpture dedicated to the Foot Soldiers of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement. Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Alabama
In the spring of 1963, the leadership of the SCLC and SNCC were determined to move on Birmingham, AL, viewed as the most dangerous city in Alabama (in part because it was the power base of Bull Connor). There were concerns that the Movement had stalled. Less than a year earlier, attempts had been made to desegregate facilities in Albany, GA, but the Albany police chief, Laurie Pritchett, had stymied their efforts at gaining national attention by meeting non-violent direct action with his own tactics of non-violence. Although protesters had been arrested, violence was kept at a minimum, and protesters were dispersed to jails throughout Georgia, depriving them of the ability to continue their protests in the jails. The leadership knew that Bull Connor, Birmingham’s racist Commissioner of Public Safety, would show no such restraint. If national attention was to be gained, and if the Kennedy Administration was to be pushed into action, it would take a major, but dangerous, push in Birmingham.
Leaflet issued by the Women’s Political Council calling for a boycott of Montgomery busses.
There are trailblazers and torchbearers. The trailblazer is the pioneer; the torchbearer follows and amplifies the path of the trailblazer. (There is no judgment implied in these designations, and one can be a trailblazer at one moment, while a torchbearer at another.) The students who sat at lunch counters in Greensboro and Nashville were trailblazers; one could make the argument that the Freedom Riders were torchbearers. Moms Demand Action/Everytown for Gun Safety are trailblazers; the students of Parkland and the March for Our Lives are carrying the torch. The Women’s Political Council of Montgomery, AL and Claudette Colvin, Mary Louise Smith, and Rosa Parks were trailblazers; Dr. King and the residents of Montgomery, who organized and conducted the Montgomery bus boycott, were the torchbearers. Today’s post is about the Women’s Political Council, without whom there would never have been a Montgomery bus boycott.
Open concept; unified color theme; minimal clutter. What more could a person want? (Pets, children, and red wine drinkers not allowed.)
There’s not going to be a political post today for the Village; I once again swapped my day with janesaunt at DK, so Thursday will be my Village political post both here and at the Orange. In the meantime, since so many of us are involved with or considering downsizing, moving, and decluttering, I thought it would be a good time to review many of the hints and tips available to us from the HGTV-like perspective, as well as the “been there, done that, still don’t have my own tv show” viewpoint.
The Dream: The KonMari Method of Decluttering
One of the tenets of Marie Kondo’s Japanes method of decluttering is to hold each object in your hand and ask yourself if the item sparks joy. If it does, it’s a keeper; if not, it gets tossed.
The Reality: There’s a Method?
And do bags count as an object, or do we have to open them up and hold each individual piece that was jammed into them 5-10 years ago?
The Dream: KonMari not for you? Use the Toss, Donate, or Save approach.
This is a way to declutter that is more clinical than emotional. Decisions still need to be made, but with boxes clearly marked as toss, donate, or save, the pressure is on.
The Reality: Check your local ordinances.
The Dream: Stainless steel appliances are still high on homebuyers’ wish lists.
The Reality: Does this count?
The Dream: When preparing your home for sale, it should be depersonalized so that potential buyers can envision it as their space, rather than as your home.
The Reality: Stock up on spackle, find the touch-up paint, and plan on spending hours patching holes.
The Dream: When selling one’s home, paint walls in neutral colors and utilize pops of color in your decor.
The Reality: Oh, c’mon…just took down all the pictures and patched the holes, and now it’s time to make my home look like a rental apartment? If bold is good enough for this house, it’s good enough for mine!
The Dream: If you have a room that has become a dumping ground, clean it out and give it a defined purpose.
The Reality: Your realtor might cry.
The Dream: Be creative, and keep to a budget by upcycling or repurposing existing pieces.
The Reality: Or not…
Happy spring cleaning, decluttering, staging, or moving!
I was raised in the Christian, United Methodist tradition, and it’s a tradition I still [mostly] embrace. I don’t proselytize, but sometimes there is a universality to a message one hears in church, and yesterday was one of those days.