Volume 2 Summer 2011
Journal of the Temple Undergraduate History & Social Sciences Association
www.tuhssa.org The Dancing Intelligence of the Age Women of the Institute for Colored Youth, 1852-1903 By Melissa Garretson An Empire of Hubris Britain’s Defense of Empire through Singapore By David M. Scolari Urban Revitalization through the Improvement of Food Environments in Philadelphia By Korin Tangtrakul “Para que sepan que las mujeres valemos mucho” Transgressing Traditional Gender Roles in the Kaqchikel Maya Community By Heather Wehr Within These Few Square Miles The Lasting Impact of Urban Redevelopment and Residential Segregation in Pittsburgh By Matthew T. Jacob
The Double V Triumph of the 1944 Philadelphia Transit Strike 1 By Gregory Young
Perceptions Published Annually by TUHSSA Editorial Office TUHSSA Temple University, 1115 West Berks Street, GH937, Philadelphia, PA 19122-6089 E-mail: email@example.com 2011 Editorial Board Francis Terpening, Editor In-Chief Anna Berezowska, President Adam MacKnight, Vice President Cara Rankin, Vice President Zachary Groff, Associate Editor Faculty Advisor Dr. Jay Lockenour, Temple University
TUH SSA Perceptions is a peer-reviewed academic journal of original undergraduate research. As such, it is provided to the public free of charge. Any and all copyrights are held by the authors themselves. Distribution of Perceptions may be made without notification to TUHSSA. Manuscripts will be considered for publication during the Spring semester of every year, in accordance with the programming of the then-current TUHSSA leadership. Manuscripts for review should be sent to TUHSSA by mail at the address above or electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org. Details on preparations of manuscripts can be found on the back page of the journal. Any questions, comments, or concerns should be directed to TUHSSA through the means indicated above.
Contents Melissa Garretson The Dancing Intelligence of the Age Women of the Institute for Colored Youth: 1852-1903 1 David M. Scolari An Empire of Hubris Britain’s Defense of Empire through Singapore 25 Korin Tangtrakul Urban Revitalization through the Improvement of Food Environments in Philadelphia 39 Heather Wehr “Para que sepan que las mujeres valemos mucho” Transgressing Traditional Gender Roles In the Kaqchikel Maya Community 56 Matthew T. Jacob Within These Few Square Miles The Lasting Impact of Urban Redevelopment and Residential Segregation in Pittsburgh 79 Gregory Young The Double V Triumph of the 1944 Philadelphia Transit Strike 101
The Dancing Intelligence of the Age Women of the Institute for Colored Youth, 1852-1903 Melissa Garretson Even the most extraordinary women are not always remembered by history. Many historians view the past as a series of great events conducted by great men; they study the minutiae of politics and war and the major actors of these and declare that this was the past. In truth, this was not the past experienced by most people. While the making and shaping of policy certainly affected lives, it was not the bulk of the experience. Believing it was leads historians to forget about women, or at least to marginalize them, thinking themselves politically correct when they add women to the crock pot of history and stir. Moreover, women’s supposed lack of political participation is only one reason American Women’s history is difficult to study. Many women throughout history were actually very politically active, although women thrusting themselves into the public sphere are still often characterized by history as gruff, unfeminine and somehow distasteful. Suffragists became suffragettes. Husbands are still credited for the work of their wives. Obituaries of accomplished women list mostly the achievements of their fathers and spouses. Worse still, many women have been forgotten altogether. Such is the case for many of the female graduates of the Institute for Colored Youth. Many of these women were exceptionally accomplished in their academic life and later held prominent community positions but they have been largely forgotten. This paper tells their stories set against the backdrop of the debates over African Americans potential and ideas about women. The period of study encompasses the years between 1852, when the school first admitted female students, and 1903 when it finally returned to its origins as a farm school. This school nurtured a remarkable number of extraordinary women during that time; it produced writers, women’s rights activists and educational reformers by the dozens. In her autobiography, long time Principal Fanny Jackson Coppin cites numerous women she taught and considered accomplished. It is not mere coincidence that so many women from this institution vaulted themselves into the public sphere, attempting to improve both their lives and the world in general. Its female students and teachers were at the forefront of Philadelphia’s political sphere and yet are scarcely mentioned in the city’s historical
annals. Even the Institute itself did not proclaim the abilities of its women as accolades are mostly found as side notes to some other great person or event. Yet these women deserve both recognition and remembrance. These women deserve to be more than a footnote; at the time, they were headlines. With this in mind, this paper serves two purposes: one, it highlights the achievements of the women of the Institute for Colored Youth, a group mostly neglected or at the very least marginalized by historians. They were not initially part of the Institute’s plans for their school, but ended up benefitting tremendously from their education. There is little written about them that refers to their time at the Institute; in many cases, the only reference found to their education, community activity or very existence is in Fanny Jackson Coppin’s memoirs. Their varied legacies frequently point back to the influences of the Institute for Colored Youth and Coppin. This original piece of work fills a gap as there has been scant scholarship devoted to these women, and no works recognize them as a group. As a general student body, the Institute’s girls were lauded in the pages of black newspapers but, no matter how accomplished they were, little mention was made of them as individuals even during their lifetimes. Who were they? Was Coppin being dramatic when she lauded her female graduates, or did they actually go on to greatness? Secondly, this paper delves deeper into the lives of African American women in the urban north, specifically Philadelphia, during the latter part of the nineteenth century. The female students at the Institute for Colored Youth came from mixed backgrounds, some from affluent and prestigious families and some fairly destitute. Different girls at the Institute were likely dealing with varying sets of expectations. A lot has been written on the expectations of male graduates- should or would they be laborers, skilled workers or professionals, for example. The national debates on the ability of blacks focus mainly on expectations for and aspirations of men. Surely most black girls aspired to marriage and family but what about life in the public sphere? Was there something about their time at the Institute for Colored Youth that ingrained a sense of activism or was the north full of women with that spirit? The answer, the end, is a bit of both but leans heavily toward the school’s influence. A combination of remarkable women teachers, committed parents and the vision of Fanny Jackson Coppin made the female graduates of the Institute for Colored Youth among the most active and enlightened of community members. Finding information about these women is a challenge. The Christian Recorder, Chicago Defender, Philadelphia Tribune, and other newspapers of the time provided some information but were more likely to detail women’s eating and dressing habits than their politics and so were not always useful. Some of the best information to be found
was in the obituaries, although these often omitted personal achievements in favor of family information. More data on their lives was found in publications by their various causes. The best source was Linda Perkin’s dissertation on Fanny Jackson Coppin and the Institute for Colored Youth found in the Blockson Collection at Temple University. The collection also holds copies of Coppin’s autobiography, which served as a springboard for this whole process. Coppin’s energy and firm belief in the potential of her female students inevitably inspires curiosity about their lives. At the end of her book, she lists her notable pupils and praises their accomplishments. The truth behind her accolades does not disappoint but is not something found in history textbooks. Other primary sources provided information on both the Institute for Colored Youth and the lives of African American women. Quaker journals like the Friend’s Review and books of the time often listed information on the Institute and contained its annual reports. W.E.B. Dubois’ seminal work, The Philadelphia Negro proved helpful in explaining the world of Philadelphia’s black population during the period of study. Though not often quoted or referenced directly in the paper, this book provided a framework for understanding the lives of both women and men, domestic workers in particular. While the bulk of the information came from primary sources, some secondary sources provided some of the information on working women in the late nineteenth century. For example, census and other historical statistics concretely display the black/white, male/female disparities in the workforce. Furthermore, these disparities in the workforce directly relate to the disparities in education. Even the Institute for Colored Youth was not originally intended as a springboard for exceptional women; despite the fact that its later graduates were mostly girls, it was not started for them at all. Richard Humpreys bequeathed the sum of $10,000 to create a school for youth of African descent. He carefully selected thirteen of his fellow Quakers to undertake this operation to “’Instruct the descendents [sic] of the African Race in school learning, in the various branches of the Mechanic Arts, Trades and Agriculture, in order to prepare and fit and qualify them to act as teachers.’" 1 When the school opened in 1837, this broad spectrum of education was focused with a much more limited scope: it would be a farm school with an emphasis on manual labor that would bring in revenue. It ended up being more like a juvenile detention center for boys, with frequent runaways and discipline problems and little actual education. In 1848, the focus shifted from farming to mechanical work; boys would be apprenticed to black mechanics during the day and attend some academic classes at night. Essentially, “Richard Humphreys, Quaker Philanthropist,” Cheney University, http://www.cheyney.edu/aboutcheyney-university/documents/RichardHumphreys_QuakerPhilanthropist.pdf (accessed October 15 th, 2010) 1
this made it the first high school for African Americans in Philadelphia. 2 Although it was far from perfect, it filled a need in the community. As Fanny Jackson Coppin would later note, “In Philadelphia, the only place at the time where a colored boy could learn a trade, was in the House of Refuge, or the Penitentiary.”3 In 1852, the school moved to a new, larger location in the wealthy African American neighborhood of Sixth and Lombard streets.4 The Institute emphasized hiring African American teachers and its standards were quite high. In 1852, it placed advertisements in various black newspapers nationwide seeking “a competent Teacher… in the higher branches of an English education and the Classics. Satisfactory references as to moral character, literary acquirements, and ability for the government of such a school, will be required. A colored man would be preferred, qualifications being equal.”5 This need would prove difficult to meet. The next several years show advertisements like the above became increasingly desperate yet the Institute was not willing to lower its standards. An advertisement seeking a replacement for the male principal in 1855 declares “A number of applications have already been received from white Teachers, by the mangers [sic] are not disposed to accept any of these unless a competent Colored Teacher cannot be found. We hope one will be found, as there are those among ‘our people,’ amply qualified, who are, peradventure, ‘wasting their sweetness to the desert air.’”6 Interestingly, advertisements like this focused on hiring African American teachers but the school’s patrons were apparently most impressed by teachers of mixed descent. An odd addition to the school’s desire for black teachers appears in the Friend’s Review in 1863. The review lauds the teachers of the school who “bear in their complexion sufficient evidence that their ancestry must be traced to both sides of the Linda Marie Perkins, “Fanny Jackson Coppin and the Institute for Colored Youth : a Model of Nineteenth Century Black Female Educational and Community Leadership, 1837-1902,” (PhD Diss., University of Illinois- Urbana, 1978), 61- 63. Hereafter: Perkins 2
Fanny Jackson Coppin, Reminiscences of School Life, and Hints on Teaching, (Philadelphia: A.M.E. Book Concern, 1913) 23. Hereafter: Coppin 3
Wanted,” The National Era (Washington, D.C.), May 27, 1852, (in Accessible Archives, www.accessible.com.libproxy.temple.edu accessed October 15 2010) “Institutie [sic] for Colored Youth In Philadelphia,” Frederick Douglass’ Paper, (Rochester, NY), September 21 , 1855, (in Accessible Archives, www.accessible.com.libproxy.temple.edu accessed October 15 2010) 6
Mediterranean.”7 There was prejudice even among the benevolent Quakers. Later in this same issue, the board introduced the first year for girls at the Institute for Colored Youth. The plan was carried out less than enthusiastically; it was declared that “no disadvantage would result from allowing one side of the large school room with a separate entrance, to be used for the purpose.”8 Grace Mapps was hired as the female principal and could be considered the first extraordinary woman of the Institute for Colored Youth. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find information on Grace Mapps; various publications refer to her as Grace Mapps, Maps, Mapp, Mops and Mappa. She is also frequently confused with Sarah Mapps Douglass. There is no doubt, however, that she was a woman of ability. As the daughter of a Quaker trader and farmer father and a teacher mother, Mapps was a perfect fit for motley students at the Institute for Colored Youth. She was accomplished even before she began her teaching career; in 1852 she became the first African American woman to graduate from a four year college. She immediately began her work at the I.C.Y. and remained there for twelve years, only leaving to care for her ailing mother. In addition to education, she contributed much to literature. Although Fanny Jackson Coppin and other biographers note that she was prolifically published, few of her poems remain.9 At the same time that Grace Mapps entered the Institute, Sarah Mapps Douglass was refining her own brand of feminine education. Sarah Mapps Douglass was a relative of Grace Mapps; the family had been very prominent and very active in Philadelphia for some time. Sarah Mapps Douglass’s mother in particular had helped found the Female Anti- Slavery Society. The society even funded the school Douglass began for black children in the 1820s. Douglass remained incredibly active in the society and continued friendships with prominent abolitionists like the Grimké sisters, the Fortens, the Purvises, the Welds and Lucretia Mott. She also worked to end discriminatory practices among the Quakers. These discriminatory practices were indicative of their larger feeling of white superiority, as the I.C.Y. board of managers would exemplify in the following years. In 1853, Douglass merged her school with the 7Samuel
Rhoads and Enoch Lewis, eds., Friends' Review: a Religious, Literary and Miscellaneous Journal, Volume 6, (Philadelphia: Samuel Rhoads, 1853), 616 http://books.google.com/books?id=UysrAAAAYAAJ&printsec =frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false (accessed October 16, 2010) hereafter: Rhoads 8
Gale Group, “Grace A. Mapps,” Notable Black American Women, http://ic.galegroup.com.libproxy.temple.edu/ic/bic1/ReferenceDetailsPage/ReferenceDetailsWindow?displa yGroupName=K12-Reference&action=e&windowstate=normal&catId=&documentId= GALE|K1623000675&mode=view& (accessed November 2 2010) 9
Institute for Colored Youth and reigned over the entire girl’s primary department and continued her work there until her retirement in 1877.10 Sarah Mapps Douglass had ambitious and holistic views on how both girls and boys should be educated. In 1861, she and her fellow teachers invited parents to the school. Her message at the podium likely surprised, and perhaps insulted, the parents. Douglass urged parents that their children’s education depended on parental cooperation and chastised those who did not actively participate. She discussed “the slight excuses upon which the pupils are often kept from school, and the want of punctuality - which so frequently makes them tardy, with the consequent evils to the school and disadvantage to the scholars.”11 Perhaps in part due to her desire to educate her student’s parents, Sarah Mapps Douglass became a frequent lecturer. She spoke at the I.C.Y. but also in other various venues around the country. She even attended medical classes to increase her knowledge and subject breadth to pass on to her parents and students.12 Not only did 1853 see the introduction of girls to the Institute for Colored Youth but it also marked the opening of a reading room. The collection was remarkably extensive and even boasted live-in librarians James Bustill “and wife.”13 The room was open one day a week for women compared to three for men but the importance and frequency of use by women was stressed. Perhaps alluding to Sarah Mapps Douglass’s admonitions, the Friends Review stated: “In the addresses lately delivered at our meeting and examination, the speakers alluded impressively to the absolute necessity of the mothers being well educated, in order to insure the improvement of their children.”14 Again, the emphasis was on educating women for their roles as republican mothers more than for their own political, intellectual or social gain. While the equal education of girls and boys as well as the hiring of female teachers would drastically change the history of the school, it was not entirely altruistic. An 1869 Friend’s Review article on the Institute commented on the frugality of these goals. 10Gale
Group, "Sarah Mapps Douglass," Notable Black American Women, http://ic.galegroup.com.libproxy.temple.edu/ic/bic1/ReferenceDetailsPage/ReferenceDetailsWindow?displa yGroupName=K12-Reference&prodId=BIC1&action=e&windowstate=normal&catId=&documentId= GALE|K1623000112&mode=view (accessed November 2 2010) “Interesting Meeting at the Institute for Colored Youth,” The Christian Recorder (Philadelphia, PA), April 6, 1861, (in Accessible Archives www.accessible.com.libproxy.temple.edu accessed October 15 2010) 11
“Worthy of Encouragement,” The Liberator (Boston, MA), Dec 2, 1859, (in Accessible Archives www.accessible.com.libproxy.temple.edu accessed October 15 2010) 12
Making education co-ed was definitely cheaper than providing separate instruction for the sexes. In addition, the school hired “a large proportion of female teachers… to reduce the expenses within the narrowest possible limits consistent with a judicious and enlightened prosecution of the important work.”15 This is in contrast to their earlier ads for colored men preferred. It was in this climate of tolerance, if not welcome, for female scholars that Fanny Jackson Coppin was hired in 1865. She would prove the most influential person to ever set foot in the Institute and would forever change its path. In her autobiography Reminiscences of School Life, and Hints on Teaching, Fanny Jackson Coppin begins the tale of her life with the following touching dedication: “This book is inscribed to my beloved aunt, Sarah Orr Clark, who, working at six dollars a month, saved one hundred and twenty-five dollars and bought my freedom.”16 Coppin’s purchase from slavery was only the beginning of a life of overcoming prejudice against her skin and her sex. She worked hard for an early preparatory education and attended Oberlin College because it was the only institution offering degrees to black women. In addition, the curriculum for blacks was exactly the same as the one for whites- classes were completely integrated. Oberlin was not perfect. By 1861, only 245 of the 8800 total Oberlin students ever had been black and even fewer were women. Coppin felt the pressure: “I never rose to recite in my classes at Oberlin but I felt that I had the honor of the whole African race upon my shoulders. I felt that, should I fail, it would be ascribed to the fact that I was colored.”17 She also remarked that because she was not exactly encouraged in her studies she decided to dedicate her life to proving feminine equality.18 The result of this dedication is seen in her incredible female students. Fanny Jackson Coppin’s teaching career began even before she finished Oberlin. In 1863, she was assigned to teach a mixed race class; she did so admirably. She remarked that while she was given a class, it was with the understanding that if there were any complaints the school would not defend her.19 The courage it must have taken for this black woman to stand before a class of mostly white students is difficult for the modern mind to comprehend. In the end, there was only one complaint from a student and she Marmaduke C Cope, Alfred Cope, and John E. Carter, "Institute for Colored Youth," Friends' Review; a Religious, Literary and Miscellaneous Journal November 6, 1869, 164, http://www.proquest.com.libproxy. temple.edu/ (accessed October 24, 2010). 15
even managed to win him over by the end of the year. She became rather famous and something of a tourist attraction; people visiting the area would stop in to see a black woman teaching white students. She was not, however, hired as a permanent teacher. Oberlin would not hire its first black female teacher until 1948.20 She also began teaching night classes to the freedmen migrants of Oberlin during her last year. 21 On the heels of her successes at Oberlin, Fanny Jackson Coppin came to the Institute for Colored Youth in 1865. By 1866, enrollment in the girlâ€™s school doubled to eighty pupils.22 Coppin had become very respected by her peers at the Institute. When Principal Ebenezer Basset was appointed as the Minister to Haiti in 1869, she was elected as his replacement. Her appointment was not without controversy. Octavius Catto, another respected teacher at the Institute and a highly political, well- known man had also vied for the position of Principal. He was very vocal about his displeasure of a female superior and threatened to quit several times during his remaining tumultuous years at the Institute. The board, fearing his loss, ended up giving him a raise that gave him the same salary as Fanny Jackson Coppin.23 With characteristic humility, she did not mention this unpleasant episode in her autobiography. Catto and Coppin would butt heads many times, yet when he was murdered for his political activism, she was the only woman to speak in protest.24 Although she was well respected after speeches like those about Catto, Coppin was not always praised for her trailblazing. Despite promoting the first woman as the head of an institute for higher learning, the Arch Street Quakers who held positions on the Institute for Colored Youthâ€™s board should not be praised for their feminist thinking. It is likely that they chose Coppin mostly because they disapproved of Cattoâ€™s radical politics, not because they wanted to enhance the position of women in society. This branch was actually very conservative. They were adamantly against woman suffrage, segregated women in their meetings and had serious doubts over the intellectual capabilities of women. They even stopped advanced math classes for girls at the Institute for a time. Fanny Jackson Coppin was eventually able to convince them that
female difficulties with math were more the fault of the teacher than the student and the courses were reinstated.25 Under Coppin and her predecessors, the female teachers at the Institute taught the same types of courses as their male counterparts and they appear to be evenly divided. For example, in 1869 Octavius Catto taught natural philosophy but Sarah Mapps Douglass and Fanny Jackson Coppin taught anatomy and chemistry. 26 Coppin had big dreams for the education of black youth and did not seem to think these were too far- reaching to achieve. Most revolved around her high standards. In 1873, staffing challenges following Octavius Catto’s murder led to a less than optimal graduating class. Rather than graduate students she did not feel had learned enough, she extended their school year six months. 27 She was determined that the school not only be the finest around but also the most equipped to meet the needs of the community. She managed to change the Institute’s focus to that of a normal school and set about training her graduates to be teachers. The Quaker benefactors were skeptical of even this change, though they believed that teaching was the absolute highest African Americans could hope for as a career. To counteract their protests, in 1878 she made the normal school practically free by using the normal school students as teachers to preparatory students. In this way, the normal students paid for themselves and the Institute’s preparatory department could continue. The I.C.Y. board had been trying to close the preparatory school for years, but the segregated black public school system was not up to Fanny Jackson Coppin’s standards. She noted the struggles and disinterest of black public school students and placed the blame on the teachers. She always emphasized creative teaching with little reliance on textbooks or strict pedagogy. Her teachers would rely on their own knowledge and resourcefulness. 28 Her autobiography contains detailed instructions on how teach but always with an emphasis on engaging the learner and making lessons entertaining and pertinent. She stressed that teachers must know their subjects thoroughly and have a variety of lesson plans available.29 She felt that a normal, or teacher training, education should be a
“OV Catto: Board of Managers, Institute of Colored Youth Minutes, 1855-1866,” in Philadelphia Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (http://archives.pacscl.org/catto/resources/ Octavius_V._Catto_Transcription.pdf accessed December 2 2010) 26
Perkins, 118- 125
Coppin, 29- 115
mandatory part of every student’s program. This requirement was enacted in 1872. 30 Unfortunately, she was far too good at training teachers; she was plagued with staffing problems as her brightest normal graduates were recruited for higher status and better paying positions elsewhere.31 Coppin’s drive to make the school fit the needs of the community also resulted in the development of an industrial education department. Her autobiography is typically understated on this point; she merely pointed out that she saw the need and began to collect money to make it a reality. In truth, it was a hard fought battle. “I cannot mention the incidents which arose during this struggle and endeavor to supply this greatly needed want,” she penned in her autobiography. “We carried on an industrial crusade which never ended until we saw a building devoted to the purpose of teaching trades.”32 Although the school’s Quaker benefactors encouraged her to switch the focus from academics to industrial education in 1874, it was because they thought that blacks would never amount to more than teachers and needed manual- not skilled industrialtraining.33 Since Coppin had worked hard against this idea all her life, she dismissed this request. It was not until the 1876 Centennial Exposition that Coppin began to push for industrial education- a push that would eventually lead to the end of her career at the Institute. While attending the fair, Coppin was amazed that blacks were not allowed to work there except in the most menial positions. They were barred from all skilled trades in the city as well. Coppin believed that in order to rise above their circumstances, blacks would need to band together and help each other. She joined- as the only woman- a lecture circuit promoting industrial education for black boys and girls. For some of these lectures, she was introduced by none other than Frederick Douglass, who firmly believed in the cause.34 However, many disapproved of this plan and others simply misunderstood it. Since 1869, many blacks in Philadelphia had been doing better economically than in other major northern cities. The population swell of Post- emancipation migration and increased political activity of blacks led to a rise in racial hostilities but many still saw blacks as doing all right. What Coppin hoped to publicize was that they were doing well 30
in Philadelphia compared to other cities, but not compared to the white population anywhere. With so many former students entering the workforce, she was in a position to know. By 1890, three quarters of all black teachers in Philadelphia and the surrounding states were graduates of the Institute for Colored Youth and were only a part of the over 8000 students Coppin had educated. Yet even though the Philadelphia area’s blacks were better educated in part due to her efforts, they filled only 1.1% of all skilled trade positions.35 As a result of increasing industrialization, the Institute for Colored Youth’s Quaker board agreed to the industrial education plan in 1884. Many prominent blacks were disappointed and felt this debased them; they saw industrial education as the end of a classic literary education. Coppin just wanted her students to be able to support themselves. Her idea of self- help and industrial education was remarkably different from Booker T. Washington’s. Washington was gaining more notoriety and popularity with white benefactors around the same time Fanny Jackson Coppin was promoting her educational philosophy. While Washington espoused industrial education, it was not the skilled trades Coppin encouraged but menial, manual labor. Coppin believed that a good industrial education would open doors for her graduates, but that it should only be one component of a thorough and well- rounded education. She also thought, for example, that all teachers should have some medical training. 36 “The study room and the workshop,” she wrote “ought to have their hours so arranged that both can be advanced together.”37 Washington appeared to be winning the debate and the limited funding. In the 1890s, he was a frequent lecturer on education (mostly to all- white audiences) but never invited Coppin, whose qualifications to discuss education far outweighed his, to join him on the stage. Finally, Fanny Jackson Coppin decided she should investigate Hampton and Tuskegee for herself. What she saw there horrified her. It seemed to her that they were preparing blacks for the lowest of the low trades and telling them this was the best they could expect.38 Worse, the I.C.Y. board was asking her to make her school more like Washington’s. Still, Coppin persevered. She reluctantly hired white teachers for the Institute’s industrial department because no qualified black teachers could be found. Previously, the school had insisted on hiring mostly black teachers. Most impressively, she began a 35
Perkins, 170-171, 179, 195, 210
Perkins, 137, 171, 225
Perkins, 251- 256
campaign to pay for the department. Just as she had created a self- sustaining normal school at the Institute, she set about acquiring funding for her trade school in a manner that no white board member could criticize. She thought it was important that the black community pay for the school but knew most of them could not afford it. Consequently, she requested funds from everyone she came across but limited all donations to one dollar. The fund was built by the nickels and dimes of the black community and the school became one they could call their own.39 To further increase revenue, she began an exposition of her girl’s industrial work that became a highly profitable industrial exchange. Much of this work was geared towards domestic service. As a former household servant, Coppin had particular sympathy for domestic workers and recognized that it could be more art than menial service. “A woman,” she wrote, “should not only know how to cook in an ordinary way, but she should have some idea of the chemical properties of the food she cooks. The health of those whom she serves depends much upon the nutritive qualities of the food which she prepares”40 She hired top chefs as her culinary instructors. Fanny Jackson Coppin was acutely aware of how lucky she was to have received an excellent education. Her autobiography lists many passages like the above that indicate how important and valuable she believed education was for girls.”It may very well be said of women,” she wrote, “that while they are and were created second, they were not only created with body, but they were created also with a head, and they are responsible therefore to decide in certain matters and to use their own judgment.”41 She was unfortunate enough to be living in a time when girl’s education, especially education for African American girls, was not a high priority for the country. In her article "Preparing for the Duties and Practical Business of Life" Nina Lerman notes that even trades traditionally considered skilled were renamed when women did them; for example, tailoring became sewing and thus less prestigious though the same work. 42 It was exactly this kind of gender bias that Coppin hoped to avoid. Since I.C.Y. classes were mostly co-ed, Coppin could argue that both sexes received the same education.
Nina E Lerman, "Preparing for the Duties and Practical Business of Life: Technological Knowledge and Social Structure in mid-19th-century Philadelphia," Technology and Culture 38, no. 1 January 1, 1997 (in Proquest http://www.proquest.com.libproxy.temple.edu/ accessed November 6, 2010). Hereafter: Lerman 42
She did separate some of the industrial classes but made it a point to design many for both sexes.43 The very fact that she was actively preparing girls for actual careers was unusual since most girls were not trained to do more than be wives and mothers. As Lerman notes, “even institutions training women for work outside the home used the rhetoric of domesticity in descriptions of their programs… [they assumed] women might work for a while as teachers or mill hands, but ‘preparation for life’ meant preparation for housewifery.”44 Fanny Jackson Coppin knew, however, that her female graduates were likely to work outside the home long after marriage and hoped that this work would be more than pin money but a career. The following graph proves her right: nonwhite married women would continue to work in much greater numbers than married white women throughout the twentieth century.45 70 60 50 Percent of Working Married White Women
Percent of Working Married Nonwhite Women
10 0 1880190019101920194019501960197019801990
Fanny Jackson Coppin did not limit herself to educational reform. Her belief in the doctrine of self-help also led her to save the Christian Recorder. The Recorder’s profits had
“Table Ba425-469 - Female Labor Force Participation Rate, by Race, Marital Status, and Presence of Children: 1880–1990,” Historical Statistics of the United States Millennial Edition Online, http://hsus.cambridge.org.libproxy.temple.edu/HSUSWeb/table/seriesfirst.do?id=Ba425-469 (accessed November 30, 2010) 45
declined considerably and the publication was in danger of shutting down entirely. Coppin began a co-op to raise funds and got the paper back on its feet. It was again the combined money of the community rather than large sums from benefactors that made this possible, and Coppin hoped other cities were taking notice. “The people of the South, it is true, cannot produce hundreds of dollars, but they have millions of pennies; and millions of pennies make tens of thousands of dollars. By clubbing together and lumping their pennies, a fund might be raised in the cities of the South that the poorer classes might fall back upon while their crops are growing, or else by the opening of co-operative stores become their own creditors and so effectually rid themselves of their merciless extortioners.”47 This particular brand of self- help emphasized that blacks could achieve anything if they stuck together, not the accommodating philosophy of Washington that maintained they could make the best of a bad situation. The board of the Institute for Colored Youth, however, ignored the fact that Coppin had achieved exactly what she claimed was possible. In 1897, they suggested that the Institute focus more on manual skills. They were heavily swayed by the increasingly popular Booker T. Washington but also dismayed at the number of highly political activists the Institute was graduating. The community was nervous about this plan. “Industrial education,” wrote the Christian Recorder in 1898, “we certainly do need, but when it is to be gained by the sacrifice of the higher branches of education which the dancing intelligence of the age demands, that we shall have, and we believed sacrifice to be too great entirely. Let us hope that Mrs. Coppin's school be allowed to continue educating your youth in the good old way.”48 Coppin fought against the switch to manual education for years. She finally retired (though most think she was asked to leave) in 1902. She soon followed her preacher husband to Africa, where she embarked on the next phase of her life and attempted to save that continent and its women in particular.49 Washington disciple Hugh Browne was chosen as her replacement and the school was moved to a farm in Cheney, Pennsylvania. Oddly, the new facility was incredibly like the very first school created in 1837. The Recorder marked Fanny Jackson Coppin’s departure with great sadness: “The 47
“Institute for Colored Youth,” The Christian Recorder, (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), July 7, 1898, (in Accessible Archives www.accessible.com.libproxy.temple.edu accessed October 15 2010) 48
Perkins, 282- 294
industrial idea is henceforth to rule. We cannot… believe that the colored patrons of the school are particularly pleased with it either, but all must submit to the inevitable. We love the old school for what it has done and will ever remember gratefully the splendid record it leaves behind it.50 Fanny Jackson Coppin’s autobiography does not hint at any of this unpleasantness. Instead, she simply transitioned from describing her years at the Institute to describing her years in Africa. Of course, this trip to Africa was not the first time she went overseas to improve the plight of women. In 1888, she went to England to attend the Centenary of Missions. Here she rallied against a paternalistic church that “told the women repeatedly that they must not assume any ecclesiastical functions. This got me riled, and in reply I tried to make it plain that the Lord God alone gives the limit to the functions of woman's religious work.”51 Coppin did not think that women needed anyone to make their decisions: “it may very well be said of women, that while they are and were created second, they were not only created with body, but they were created also with a head, and they are responsible therefore to decide in certain matters and to use their own judgment.” 52 This is ironic considering how the board of the I.C.Y. handled her salary. Believing that she was not capable of managing her own funds, they withheld the majority of her pay and required her to come to them with requests for the money she earned. 53 Despite all that she accomplished, they still could not give her the respect she deserved. Her students certainly showed her respect and gratitude, as did her staff. Both would go on to do remarkable things in the spirit she fostered. She took care to hire the best of the best and so built a community of powerful women her female students could admire and emulate. To begin with, Mary Patterson was the first teacher Fanny Jackson Coppin brought into the Institute for Colored Youth and the first of these best of the best teachers. Patterson and Coppin were classmates at Oberlin. Patterson had actually graduated three years before Coppin (and was the first black woman to graduate from Oberlin) but came on as her assistant. There is some indication that relations between the two women were sometimes strained; for example, Patterson quit when Coppin was made 50“Commencement
at Institute for Colored Youth,” The Christian Recorder, (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), July 3, 1902 (in Accessible Archives www.accessible.com.libproxy.temple.edu accessed October 15 2010) 51
principal, likely because she had always lived in the more accomplished woman’s shadow.54 Patterson moved to Washington D.C. to head the M Street Colored High School as the first black woman to achieve this position. The school was already well regarded, but Patterson reformed the school in many ways, including changing it to a normal school. She was replaced by Richard T. Greener in 1872. Greener was likely chosen for his reputation as the first black man to graduate from Harvard University, but Patterson was reinstated when he accepted another position. He had also been on the faculty of the Institute for Colored Youth under Fanny Jackson Coppin. Patterson finally left her career because she refused to change the curriculum to an industrial one.55 Mary Patterson was the exception to the general trend that I.C.Y. teachers were former students. Another notable exception was Cordelia Jennings, who was also the first black public school teacher in Philadelphia. She had originally started a small school out of her home, but by 1864 her students numbered 150 and she qualified for status as a public school. She fought for its funding and was gratified to have it merge with the Philadelphia public school system. Jennings remained on as principal, making her the first black school principal in America. She eventually left Philadelphia to found the first black high school in Kentucky.56 With exceptional women such as these leading them, it is no wonder that the female students of the Institute for Colored Youth went on to lead such extraordinary lives. Not all of them went on to make their mark; many of them, despite Fanny Jackson Coppin’s predictions, are lost to history. It is difficult to say whether these women were not trailblazers or simply became casualties of a patriarchal system. Some of them are found again only in relation to their husbands. Fanny Jackson Coppin noted that Harriet Johnson, who became Harriet Johnson Loudin, was a principal in Allegheny. 57 The very fact that she is mentioned among the over 8000 students under Coppin indicates the high regard her principal had for her. Still, the only extant reference to her today is one sentence in a book chapter about her husband, Fiske Jubilee singer Frederick Loudin. It merely states that he “married a mild, tenacious woman named 54
R. Rasheed, "Lucy Diggs Slowe, Howard University Dean of Women, 1922-1937: Educator, Administrator, Activist," PhD Diss., Georgia State University, 2009, (In Educational Policy Studies Dissertations. http://digitalarchive.gsu.edu/eps_diss/55 accessed 1 Nov 2010). 56Albert
Barnett, "Women Of Reconstruction Days Didn't Have The Stature Of Sojourner Truth," The Chicago Defender (National edition), July 10, 1954, (In Proquest http://www.proquest.com.libproxy.temple.edu/ accessed November 1, 2010). 57
Harriet Johnson.”58 Whatever she may have accomplished in life has been reduced to two adjectives. Other women fared better. Dr. Rebecca Cole was only the second black woman to earn a medical degree in America and was an I.C.Y. graduate. Dr. Cole worked mainly with women, partially because this was a more accessible path for female doctors. She worked at Elizabeth Blackwell’s New York Infirmary for Women and children and taught poor women how to keep their families healthy. She went on to open and run several hospitals for poor men, women, and children.59 Another example was Julia Jones, a teacher at many schools including the I.C.Y. but also made a bold move into civics. Fanny Jackson Coppin noted that Jones was a director for the Civic Club of Philadelphia, president of the Women’s Union Missionary Society and president of the Women's Union Day Nursery.60 She was also on the committee that formed the National Association of Colored Women, along with such luminaries as Mary Church Terrell.61 Julia Songow Williams did a great deal in her life but had the misfortune of meeting a rather ignominious end due to, if her obituary is accurate, indigestion. Like many of her schoolmates, she was a teacher and principal all over the country. Her obituary states that she was “on the board of members for the Frederick Douglass hospital, VicePresident Women’s Union Day Nursery, member of the Allied Social Agencies Aid. [sic] National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, John Brown Association, and President of the Women’s Mutual Aid Society.” In her spare time, she was also a founding member of Philadelphia’s YWCA.62 Dr. Alice Woodby McKane served as Fanny Jackson Coppin’s secretary before graduating from the Institute for Colored Youth. She went on to graduate from the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania and from there went on to become “the only 58Andrew
Ward, Dark Midnight When I Rise: The Story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, (New York: Amistad Press, 2000), 275 “Dr. Rebecca J. Cole.” United States National Library of Medicine. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/video/66_1_trans.html (accessed 30 October 2010) 59
Million Members: Colored Women Have a National Organization. Union of Two Great Delegate Bodies in Washington Perfected. Every Society and Club in the Country a Member of New Body," Boston Daily Globe, July 24, 1896, (In Proquest http://www.proquest.libproxy.temple.edu/. accessed November 1, 2010). "Mrs. Jas. H. Williams Dies After Brief Illness; Led Active Useful Life," Philadelphia Tribune, November 8, 1928, (in Proquest http://www.proquest.com.libproxy.temple.edu/. accessed November 1, 2010). 62
black female physician in Georgia in 1892.”63 In 1893 she started the McKane Training School for Nurses with her husband assisting. The program was very thorough, rigorous and encouraged its graduates to pursue mission work in Cornelius McKane’s ancestral home of Liberia. In 1895 the McKanes went there themselves and set up a hospital in Monrovia. Alice McKane was so respected that “the U.S. government even appointed Alice McKane medical examiner for black Civil War veterans who had moved to Liberia from America.”64 Their time in Africa also prompted the McKanes to reverse their stance on Liberia; they began to encourage American blacks to stay in America and solve the problems there. Once back in Savannah, the McKanes began planning a hospital for women and children. Echoing Fanny Jackson Coppin’s belief that the black community could help each other in pennies and nickels, the McKanes asked black organizations (especially churches) to give small amounts. They eventually left their own hospital rather than share control of it by accepting funds from the white- controlled government. They maintained a private practice in Savannah specializing in women. The couple moved to Boston in 1909 and Alice became more involved in politics. “She was an advocate for women's suffrage, a Republican committee woman, NAACP member, and a published author. In 1913, she wrote a book on healing, The Fraternal Sick Book. Her book of poetry, Clover Leaves, written the following year, is in the collection of the Library of Congress.”65 Dr. Alice McKane was also a follower of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association. In 1921, she wrote a letter to the New York Age that criticized an unflattering article on Garvey that displays her passion and wit. She proudly proclaimed her membership in the UNIA, the NAACP, and the National Equal Rights League, and claimed that she identified with parts of each and so had to belong to each. She made it clear that she had been a victim “of mercenary exploitations by a dominant race”66 but she also referenced that these organizations work due to the power of both races working together. Still, she believed that “the white people should realize that no Charles J. Elmore, "Black Medical Pioneers in Savannah, 1892-1909: Cornelius McKane and Alice Woodby McKane," Georgia Historical Quarterly 88, no. 2 (Summer 2004) (In EBSCOhost http://web.ebscohost.com.libproxy.temple.edu/ehost/detail?vid=3&hid=9&sid=1703e0e1-9627-471e-930ad4cd30fc4834%40sessionmgr10&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=aph&AN= 13407856 accessed November 1, 2010). 63
Robert A Hill, ed., The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, Volume IV, (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983), 304. 66
matter how good their intentions are they cannot think in black, nor can black people in white.”67 Her letter shows a distrust of whites and her belief that people of color need to aid each other to overcome racial boundaries. Her life shows that she was not afraid to work very hard to overcome those boundaries for herself and others of her race. Helen Brooks Irvin was also an African American activist in the field of labor. Irvin was a teacher at Miner Normal School in Washington when she was asked to join the Labor Department. The Department recognized the inequality of working conditions between black and white women, and to do something about it they thought it would be a good idea to have an African American on staff.68 Irvin presented her findings on “Conditions and Industry as They Affect Negro Women” at the 1919 National Conference on Social Work. She described the phenomenon of women entering industry when men went off to war and demanded that all women be given the same working conditions as these men. She argued that the employment shortage could easily be solved if black women were given the opportunity to compete in the workforce as equals. She went on to describe the many industrial functions African American women provided in great and persuasive detail. She even claimed that white women were trying to keep black women in domestic service and sabotaged their efforts to enter the trades. She stressed cooperation: “Underneath the movement of Negro women toward industry there is nothing antagonistic to the common interests of the laboring classes; but on the contrary, there is the certainty that a hitherto unplumbed source of native labor may be developed into a valuable economic asset to the nation.”69 Gertrude Bustill Mossell was another, more recognizable I.C.Y. graduate who encouraged women to careers. She began a column in the New York Freeman where women could submit almost anything that interested them. It was a place to shine a light on women’s accomplishments and issues and it educated women on everything from laundry to medicine. In many ways it was reminiscent of a column Fanny Jackson Coppin’s wrote on and for women in the Christian Recorder.70 Like Irvin, Mossell stressed workplace equality for all people, regardless of color or gender. Also like Irvin 67
Carrie Brown, Rosie's Mom : Forgotten Women Workers of the First World War, (Boston: MA, Northeastern University Press, c2002), 117. 68
The Social Welfare Forum, Official Proceedings at the National Conference of Social Work, (Chicago: IL, Rogers & Hall Co., Printers, 1919), (In Google Books, http://books.google.com/books?id=CwcpAQAAIAAJ&pg =PR1&output=text accessed 3 Nov 2010) 521- 524. 69
and many of the other female I.C.Y. graduates, she combined teaching with another career- in her case, journalism. In addition to her column in the Freeman, she went on to write and edit for the Indianapolis World, and the Women’s Era. Many female I.C.Y. teachers and graduates also attempted to educate women through the press; Mossell exemplified this trend and was incredibly successful and far- reaching. Her tone often conveyed her privileged lifestyle. Her family was one of the elites in Philadelphia and so she had a tendency to write for upper class African American women. Still, she was deeply committed to ending discrimination. Like Fanny Jackson Coppin, she opposed Washington’s accomodationist philosophy and insisted on change over acceptance. 71 Mossell did manage to change journalism. She was the first black of either sex to work for the white Philadelphia Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Press and Ladies Home Journal. She wanted to change the way mainstream America saw not only African Americans but women as well. She was an ardent, outspoken suffragist and women’s rights advocate. She encouraged women in the trades, particularly journalism. In addition to her journalism, she wrote books about women and women’s rights.72 Mossell firmly believed in the power of the press to change perception and history: “We shall stand in the limits of this paper to glean here and there from what has already been accomplished, and encourage with counsel still greater effort.”73 Her book The Work of the Afro-American Woman is an inspirational piece depicting the lives of working black women- a great many were fellow graduates of the Institute for Colored Youth. In this book, she talks about accomplished black women in the hopes of inspiring more to public life. Still, she chose to write this book under her husband’s name. She devoted one section of this book to dealing with the chauvinism of the age. She challenged women to not simply be mindless pleasing mothers and wives but to use their wit and intellect. In the end, she believed, their husbands would respect them
Rodger Streitmatter, Raising Her voice: African-American Women Journalists Who Changed History, (Lexington: KY, University Press of Kentucky, 1994, (In Google Books http://books.google.com/books?id=CHx5tY6wQSMC&pg=PT1&lpg=PT1&dq=Raising+Her+Voice:+Afr ican-American+Women+Journalists+Who+Changed+History+%28Lexington,+Kentucky: +University+Press+of+Kentucky:+1994%29&source=bl&ots=W_rUIohBWQ&sig=eGpyuNgLuIkGOdjY bwaFf8hDkU4&hl=en&ei=Ln_ZTM3oEsOAlAfuiLH1CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3& ved=0CBsQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Mossell&f=false, Accessed 3 Nov 2010), 37-48 71
E. H. Bustill Mossell, “Letter from Gertrude E. H. Bustill Mossell, 1890,” in Noted Negro Women, Their Triumphs and Activities, Majors, Monroe Alphus, Chicago, IL: Donohue & Henneberry, 1893, http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com.libproxy.temple.edu/ladd/ladd.object.details.aspx?dorpID=1000541042 &fulltext=fanny%20jackson%20coppin (accessed 2 Nov 2010), 365
more.74 This encouragement of women indicates the pressure many were under to make their homes their worlds as it is telling women to buck the trend. Mossell’s book points to her desire that all women be more, and since she mentions so many of them, accidentally highlights the uniqueness of her classmates. The very nature of Mossell’s career virtually guaranteed her a place in history. A wealth of information from her pen is readily available in many periodical archives and so she is known to even the most casual student of African American women’s history. Yet even she was not immune to the chauvinism of the time: her obituary is titled “Widow of Dr. Mossell Succumbs at 92 Years.”75 Although this obituary lists some of her accomplishments, it spends much more time on her husband and family. Mary Elizabeth Murdah was similarly accomplished and focused, in her case in education. Murdah was the first Kindergarten teacher in Philadelphia. Her class met at the Church of the Crucifixion before it was integrated into the Philadelphia public school system, but her accomplishments did not end with this feat. She was in on the ground floor of the Women’s Auxiliary for Mercy hospital and the Philadelphia NAACP, and worked with Julia Jones in starting the Day Nursery. She was a firm believer that a woman should have interests outside the home: “The greatest mistake mothers make is to be a slave to their children” she proclaimed in a 1932 interview.76 She remained politically active for most of her life. She served on the Cooperative Committee of the United Campaign, which established something of a safety net for unemployed blacks, as a septuagenarian.77 Estellena Johnson was another pioneer of education. Her obituary lists the facts that she was a teacher in various areas, a member of the Women’s Auxilary to the D.C. Medical- Chirurgical Society and National Medical Association, and founded the Faculty Wives of Howard University. It neglects to include that she was also an
N. F. Mossell, The Work of the Afro-American Woman, (Philadelphia, PA: George S. Ferguson Co., 1908) 115125 74
"Widow of Dr. Mossell Succumbs at 92 Years," Philadelphia Tribune, January 24, 1948, (in Proquest http://www.proquest.com.libproxy.temple.edu/accessed November 7, 2010) 75
Rita Dix Burton, "This World Is Filled With Interesting Women But Are The Most Interesting Seldom Known: Mary Lindsay Murdah Is An Example of Fine Character and Her Life of Useful Service Is a Tribute to Real Womanhood--Yet She Has Never Been Publicized--And Doesn't Want It Now," The Pittsburgh Courier, City Edition, December 31, 1932, (in Proquest http://www.proquest.com.libproxy.temple.edu/, accessed November 9, 2010) 76
"Display Ad 7 -- No Title," Philadelphia Tribune, December 8, 1932 (In Proquest http://www.proquest.com/ libproxy.temple.edu/, accessed November 7, 2010). 77
accomplished poet.78 Her poetry, like fellow I.C.Y. graduate Sarah Daffin’s, “centered on arguing for radical in the (white) public sphere’s conception of black personhood, racial uplift through education and religion, and the centrality of textual production to those processes.”79 Caroline Le Count was another very successful student who became a successful teacher. She was engaged to her former teacher Octavius Catto when he was assassinated. She went on to become the principal of the Philadelphia school bearing his name. She is credited as the first person to desegregate Philadelphia’s trolleys. Soon after the 1867 law requiring integration was passed, “LeCount was forbidden to board a trolley at 9th and Lombard streets. When she showed a copy of the new law to a magistrate, he arrested the conductor and fined him $100.”80 She also helped found and was a vocal supporter of the Ladies' Union Association, which aided soldiers wounded in the Civil War.81 Dr. Caroline Still Anderson served as president of the Berean Institute and was one of the first African Americans to graduate from Philadelphia’s Women’s Medical College. She also helped start Philadelphia’s YWCA and practiced “medical and missionary work” in Philadelphia.82 She followed in Fanny Jackson Coppin’s footsteps and earned her undergraduate degree at Oberlin.83 Frances “Frank” Rollin was another woman of varied talents and legacy. She was a respected teacher but is best remembered for writing a biography on Martin Delany, Life and Public Services of Martin R. Delany. She was chosen by Delany after successfully "Estellena G. Johnson dies; founded H.U. faculty wives," Afro-American, December 16, 1978, (in Proquest http://www.proquest.com.libproxy.temple.edu, accessed November 9, 2010) 78
Eric Gardner, “African American Women's Poetry in the Christian Recorder 1855-1865: A Bio-Bibliography with Sample Poems,”African American Review Vol. 40, No. 4, The Curse of Caste (Winter, 2006), (in http://www.jstor.org/stable/40033755, accessed November 9, 2010), 813-831 79
Linn Washington and Bette Davis Lawrence, “Philadelphia’s Black Elite in the Shadows of History, 18401940,” Philadelphia Daily News, February 8, 1988, (in Infoweb, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.libproxy.temple.edu/iw-search/we/InfoWeb?p_action=doc&p_topdo c=1&p_docnum=1&p_sort=YMD_date:D&p_product=PDNB&p_text_direct-0=document_id =%28%200EB29AFF8D36FB15%20%29&p_docid =0EB29AFF8D36FB15&p_theme=newsbank&p_ queryname=0EB29AFF8D3&p_nbid=X54R56JKMTI4OTMzMDI5Mi43MDEzMjQ6MToxNDoxNTUuMj Q3LjE2MC4xMA accessed November 1 2010) 80
“Interesting Correspondence,” The Christian Recorder (Philadelphia: PA), April 14, 1866 (in Accessible Archives www.accessible.org accessed November 1 2010) 81
Linn Washington Jr., "They Made History: The Alexanders Showed the Way," Philadelphia Tribune, February 9, 1990, (in Proquest http://www.proquest.com.libproxy.temple.edu accessed November 9, 2010) 82
suing a ferry boat captain for denying her first class passage. Delany, as a high ranking Union officer, had helped her with the suit.84 As evidenced above, these women were incredibly varied in their gifts to the world, but it is notable that such a large group of extraordinary women came out of one institution. Many were from wealthy families but others relied on scholarships and the generosity of benefactors like Coppin, who often housed and fed her less privileged female students. Parents likely desired that their children be educated at the best school they could find- and for a long time, that was the Institute for Colored Youth. With the example of Fanny Jackson Coppin and the other female teachers, students learned that their sex was not necessarily a sentence to a life of domesticity or menial labor. Statistics would have shown them otherwise. Coppin’s adamant insistence that her students could achieve more is all the more striking when compared with their likely jobs. The table below shows the occupational groups of nonwhite females during the period of study and would have been reflected in the attitudes of the time. Table Ba1117-1130. Major occupational groups-nonw hite fem ales: 1860-1990 \1 Year
Professi Farm ers Propriet Manager Clerical Sales Craft Operativ Dom esti Other Farm Laborer onals ors s and Workers Workers Workers es c Service Laborer s Officials Service Workers s 1860
1. Data pertain to noninstitutionalized civilians age 16 and older w ho reported an occupation; employed persons only beginning 1940. 2. Excludes slaves.
Philadelphia may have actually lagged behind much of the nation in women’s career opportunity. In Dubois’ The Philadelphia Negro, Isabel Eaton’s special report on domestic Carole Ione Lewis, “Rollin, Frances Anne (1845-1901),” http://www.blackpast.org/?q=aah/rollin-francesanne-1845-1901, (accessed 1 Nov 2010) 84
“Table Ba1117-1130 - Major occupational groups–nonwhite females: 1860–1990,” Historical Statistics of the United States Millennial Edition Online, http://hsus.cambridge.org.libproxy.temple.edu/HSUSWeb/ table/downloadtable.do?id=Ba1117-1130# (accessed November 30, 2010) 85
service points out that an astonishing ninety-one percent of working black women in Philadelphia were employed as domestic servants at the time of the eleventh census. 86 The lives of the women of the Institute for Colored Youth are particularly impressive given that statistic and the expectations that would have gone with it. Many more likely echoed their experience but have been lost to history. They are all too often only found in the society pages as guests or hosts to parties and luncheons when they may have achieved as much or more than the women discussed here. Modern pedagogical theory believes that a studentâ€™s success depends largely on the expectations of his or her teachers. Whether recognized or not, their legacies are felt and appreciated by women of every color.
W.E.B. Dubois, The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study,â€? (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1899), 428.
An Empire of Hubris Britainâ€™s Defense of Empire through Singapore David M. Scolari In the aftermath of World War I, Britain committed to protecting its empire in the Far East through an expensive military base at Singapore. By establishing a military base at Singapore, the British government sought to hold on to its empire and the prestige that came with it. The history of the base shows the military, diplomatic, and economic constraints which limited British capabilities in executing its commitment. Flawed strategic and diplomatic thinking allowed Britain to continue with the construction of the base at Singapore despite mounting evidence of its vulnerability to attack if war occurred with an Asian power. At the conclusion of World War I, Britain was geographically larger and appeared militarily stronger than it had ever been; yet, underneath this global empire and military preponderance was an exhausted nation. Racked by war-time debt, an aging industrial base, and weak trade, Britain lacked the resources to effectively defend its empire. In addition, World War I had demanded great sacrifice from the people of Britain, and the British public was in no mood to support the military expansion necessary to protect the empire. A lack of will and resources meant the narrative of the construction of the base at Singapore became a tail budget cuts, delays, and truncations. Wishful and imaginative diplomatic and military planning justified the continuing construction of the base despite critical planning flaws. In the end, attachment to empire, rather than sound strategic thinking resulted in the construction of an inadequate base at Singapore that doomed the territoryâ€™s fall to Japan during World War II which stifled British participation in the Pacific theater. Hubris dashed Britainâ€™s hopes of holding on to its once mighty empire. Economic, Fiscal, and Psychological Position After World War I had ended, Britain faced dire fiscal problems. Nine months after Armistice Day, Austen Chamberlain, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, declared of
Britain’s fiscal situation, “The position grows daily more grave.” 1 According to the Chamberlain, Britain faced a massive deficit of more than £7,000,000,000, most of which came from war-time spending.2 G.C. Peden explains that tackling the massive deficit became a top priority for the British government in the 1920s and 1930s as British public opinion turned against massive military expenditures.3 As a balanced budget became the fiscal goal for the British Treasury, military expenditure became a prime target for reductions. At the same time Britain was staving off fiscal disaster, Britain’s crucial industrial sector, found itself hurt by war and later recovery choked off by the Great Depression in the 1930s. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Britain’s traditional industries of coal, steel, shipbuilding, and textiles saw massive declines in exports, while new industries failed to pick up the slack. This fall in exports was followed by a substantial drop in trade and financial services offered by the City of London. Accompanying industrial and financial decline was an immense widening of Britain’s balance of payment’s deficit. This decline ate into Britain’s capital reserves and threatened the overall integrity of Britain’s faltering economy.4 Alongside economic woes came changes to the psyche of the British people. According to Paul Kennedy, the British psyche changed in two ways. First, the considerable sacrifice in both blood and treasure given by Britons during World War I left deep scars on the British psyche. The British people had had enough of war and were no longer willing to rally behind the large defense budgets and buildup of arms necessary to defend the empire. The second change that was taking place amongst the British public was the growing popularity for social programs. After World War I, social service spending took off as politicians sought to improve their electoral chances by satisfying the ever growing appetite of the electorate for government services.5 As elsewhere in Europe, World War I and the Great Depression had left Britain severely weakened. Fiscally, she faced massive deficits that required immediate attention. Economically, Britain saw its industrial, financial, and trade sectors moribund and ultimately decimated by the Great Depression. Politically, British public Note by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Memorandum, July 27 1919, CAB/24/5, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives, (date accessed October 9, 2010). 1
G.C. Peden, The Treasury and British Public Policy, 1906-1959 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 130.
Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1976), 268-269.
opinion turned against heavy spending on the military and favored more spending on social programs while at the same also desiring some sort of budget discipline. It was within this hostile environment that the Singapore base project would have to survive in. By everyone’s estimates, the base would be expensive and time consuming because it would have to be built from scratch. With another war seemingly far in the future, the construction of the naval base at Singapore would struggle, and most of time fail to win funding and support against other priorities. Authorization At the conclusion of World War I, Great Britain possessed the largest and most powerful navy in the world. The Royal Navy possessed a total of seventy capital ships and hundreds of support and auxiliary vessels.6 By 1921, this force had shrunk to sixteen capital ships and significantly fewer support and auxiliary vessels in order to bring the Royal Navy into line with its “One Power Standard” established several years earlier. 7 The “One Power Standard”, a response by the British government to financial and political constraints, called for Britain to maintain a navy strong enough to defeat the navy of the next largest naval power. In 1920, a government White Paper, commenting on the gradual reduction of the Royal Navy, concluded that the Royal Navy was primarily an Atlantic fleet with smaller contingents scattered throughout the world.8 With the fleet shrunken and concentrated in Atlantic waters due to economic and political factors, a plan would be needed should war take place against other parts of the Empire. With British forces stretched thin, a search began for possible plans to defend the Far East. While studying Dominion naval policies between 1919 and 1920, former First Sea Lord and then Viscount John Jellicoe was the first to put forth the idea of a naval base at Singapore to protect Britain’s possessions in the Far East. As the need for a base in the Pacific grew, the Committee of Imperial Defence directed its Overseas Defence SubCommittee (ODC) to determine the costs and work associated with building a base at Singapore in line with the British Admiralty’s needs. After a month of study, the ODC endorsed the construction of a base at Singapore in order to meet future Royal Navy
Stephen Roskill, Naval Policy Between the Wars: The Period of Anglo-American Antagonism, 1919-1929 (London: William Collins Sons, 1968), 71-72. 6
needs. However, the British Treasury objected to the Singapore scheme based on its heavy fiscal costs.9 Prior to the 1920s, The Anglo-Japanese alliance had secured British possessions in the Far East. After World War I, growing fears of Japanese expansionism and the coming end of the alliance led to increasing calls from the Dominions of Australia and New Zealand for the reassertion of British power in the Far East. 10 The calls for support from the Dominions in the Far East weighed heavily on the British government. At this time, the United States was also expressing its willingness to protect Australia and New Zealand should Britain fail to provide adequate protection. 11 Thus, British policy makers felt that a failure to support the defense of the Far East would result in the loss of a key part of Britain’s empire. The only way that Britain could hope to defend its Far Eastern empire in a time of war was to send the main British fleet from its bases in the Atlantic to a properly equipped base somewhere in the Pacific. In a cabinet meeting on June 16, 1921, the British government of Prime Minister David Lloyd George voted to endorse construction of a naval base at Singapore around which Britain could conduct the defense of its empire in the Far East.12 The cabinet conclusion of June 16, 1921 illuminates the danger of British thought with regards to its empire. The cabinet conclusion states “The great importance of being in a position to tell the Dominion Governments that we have a Naval Policy was also emphasized…the main point [is]to say that we had a practical plan [which is] more important than actually commencing the work of developing Singapore at the moment.” 13 This statement reveals that the British government felt that it had to keep the empire together in order to maintain its imperial prestige. In 1923, Britain still suffered from war-time debt and a struggling economy. The British military had witnessed huge cuts in their budgets and its forces were spread thinly throughout the globe. Taking on the massive financial obligations that would be required to build a naval base at Singapore ran counter to Britain’s decreasing defense budgets. The public will was not behind such a plan. The result of trying to hold on to the Dominions would be an inconsistent and haphazard approach to the construction of the naval base 9
Ian Hamill, The Strategic Illusion. (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1981), 19-25.
Cabinet 50 (21), Conclusion, June 16 1921, CAB/23/26, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed October 9, 2010). 11
at Singapore. The cabinet conclusion foreshadows the problems that were to come when it states “Owing to existing financial conditions it will not be practicable to incur a large expenditure for this purpose in the immediate future…but it is the intention of His Majesty’s Government to develop the base as funds become available.”14 Flawed Thinking and Disarmament Britain’s plan to defend the Far East depended upon the main British fleet being able to transfer from the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea to Singapore.15 This transfer was central to Britain’s strategy; the base would be useless if the main British fleet was unavailable for deployment to the Pacific, and the Royal Navy could do nothing if it did not have a base. The central premise of availability for transfer of the fleet was the driving force behind the construction of a base at Singapore which in turn was central to reassuring the Dominions in the Pacific that Britain was serious about protecting them. Singapore became the symbol of British power and commitment to its empire in the Far East. Despite its representation of Britain’s firm commitment to the Far East, Singapore was a phony symbol of commitment. The British defense of the Far East relied entirely upon Britain being able to transfer the bulk of its fleet halfway around the world to a well-developed base. This transfer could only occur if Britain was not at war with another major European power. Therefore, Britain’s entire premise for defense of its empire in the Far East rested upon the necessity that Japan not ally itself with a European power. If Japan and a European power did ally together against Britain, Britain’s defense plans for the Far East would become moot. It was this flawed plan coupled with a desire to hold on to the empire that constantly kept Britain pouring scarce resources into Singapore in order to show that it was still a world power capable of defending its empire. Another sign of Britain’s inability to follow through on its commitment to the Far East took place soon after the decision was made to build the naval base. Towards the end of 1921, the United States invited the world’s principal naval powers to a naval disarmament conference in Washington, DC. At this conference, the United States put forward a proposal to limit both the number of capital ships and their size in an effort to avoid a naval arms race. Eventually, a ratio of 5:5:3:1.75:1.75 of capital ships was decided upon by the power of the United States, Great Britain, Japan, France, and Italy. This ratio had the practical effect of forcing the world’s naval powers to scrap many 14
Hamill, The Strategic Illusion, 17-40.
capital ships while at the same time, capital ship construction clauses limited the construction of new capital ships. According to John Ferris, the eventual reduction in capital ships amongst the world’s naval powers actually gave Britain a short term advantage over other naval powers. The Washington Naval Conference (WNC) codified British naval superiority for the next decade as Britain would remain the largest navy in the world.16 While the WNC preserved British sea power in the short term, it weakened long term British power. According to Corelli Barnett, as a result of the various treaties signed at the WNC, the Royal Navy would gradually become obsolete. The WNC removed the impetus for the construction of new capital ships equipped with the latest technology in Britain as the British government felt that the WNC eliminated the need for an expensive buildup of new capital ships. Thus, as Japan pursued construction of capital ships, and cheated on some of its building requirements, the Royal Navy found itself becoming obsolete as compared to the Imperial Japanese Navy.17 As Japanese sea power grew, Britain’s situation worsened in the Far East. Britain’s commitment to the Far East hinged on the British fleet sailing from its home ports in England to the naval base at Singapore. The Royal Navy’s need for a base from which it could protect its Far Eastern empire drove the decision to construct the base in Singapore. Yet, the WNC falsely indicated the beginning of an era of peace that Britons believed was coming to fruition. Thus, not only did the British government not want to spend more money on expensive new capital ships which were necessary to protect the base and the Dominions, but they also did not want to pay for the expensive construction of a new naval base at Singapore. Therefore, the WNC helped to further cripple both aspects of Britain’s defense plans for the Far East by reducing public support for these defense plans. Labour and Cancellation By 1924, little construction had been accomplished at Singapore in accordance with the two year near-zero funding policy of the British government. 18 Around this time, Britain’s defense policy towards the construction of the naval base at Singapore John Ferris, “Last Decade of British Maritime Supremacy: 1919-1929,” in Far Flung Lines: Studies in Imperial Defence in Honour of Donald Mackenzie Schurman, eds. Keith Nelson and Greg Kennedy (London, Frank Cass, 1997), 129-134. 16
Corelli Barnett, The Collapse of British Power (New York: William Morrow, 1972), 268-276.
Cabinet 11 (23), Conclusions, February 23 1923, CAB/23/45, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed October 10, 2010). 18
changed. The newly-elected Labour government decided to cancel the construction of the naval base entirely due to international circumstances which seemed to question the logic of the base at Singapore. In light of the WNC, the Labour government, led by Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald, wanted to pursue a policy of further international cooperation through international institutions such as the League of Nations. The Labour government felt that the construction of the naval base at Singapore would create international tension and potentially hinder further international disarmament.19 Despite the Labour government’s cancellation, the halt on the work at Singapore was only temporary. At the end of 1924, another General Election was held in Britain in which the Conservative Party, led by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, took power. On the advice of the British Admiralty and on the requests from the Dominions in the Pacific, who provided significant funds for construction, Britain authorized further construction of the base at Singapore, and in effect rescinding the cancellation order of the previous government. The Admiralty argued that because of disarmament and budget cuts, it was imperative that Britain complete construction of the naval base; otherwise, the British Empire in the Far East would be totally defenseless. 20 A defenseless Far East was not going reassure skittish Dominions from considering leaving the British Empire. Thus, after a delay of almost a year, Britain reaffirmed its commitment to its empire in the Far East. As opposition to the abandonment of a base at Singapore reached its peak, a telegram from the Prime Minister of New Zealand, William Massey, protesting the Labour government’s decision to halt construction in Singapore, summed up the decision facing the British government: …protest earnestly on behalf of New Zealand against the abandonment of the proposal to make Singapore a safe and strong naval station because I believe that the Empire will stand as long as Britain holds the supremacy of the Sea but if naval supremacy is lost by Britain the Empire may fall… 21 Britain could pour more resources into defending the Far East and keep the British Empire and British prestige intact, or it could back away and watch as its empire disappeared. The telegram from New Zealand along with another telegram from Cabinet 21(24), Conclusions, March 20 1924,CAB/23/47, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed October 9, 2010). 19
Naval Base at Singapore, Memorandum, November 20 1924, CAB/24/169, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed October 9, 2010). 20
Singapore, Memorandum, March 11 1924, CAB/24/165, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed October 9, 2010). 21
Australia emphasized the loss of empire and prestige that would occur should Britain fail to follow through on its commitment to the Far East. Despite the lack of resources to commit towards Singapore and weak public support, Britain’s Conservative government committed Britain once again to empire. The “Truncated” Scheme While the new Conservative government renewed its commitment to a base at Singapore, the commitment was soon to take a different form. In 1925, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Winston Churchill, began questioning the need for a base at Singapore.22According to John Ferris, the British Treasury had asserted strong control over the military budget by 1925/1926. With the Treasury in control and always looking for balanced budget, it was going to be exceedingly difficult for the Admiralty to justify large expenditures on the naval base at Singapore. 23 Caught between military necessity and empire on one side and budget austerity and disarmament on the other, the Singapore base issue would again be fought over similar ground. Under Churchill, the Treasury questioned the Royal Navy’s spending on both ships and bases. The Treasury surveyed the international situation and criticized the Admiralty’s expenditure as not in line with then-current international realities. Churchill believed that the Royal Navy’s building program and construction of the base at Singapore were undermining British diplomacy throughout the world by making Britain’s favored stance towards disarmament hypocritical. In addition, the base construction and consequent shipbuilding program threatened the good relations Britain had with Japan as both actions made it appear Britain was taking an aggressive and hostile stance towards Japan. Finally, according to Churchill, the size and scope of the Admiralty’s plan for defense of the Empire was far in excess of what the international situation called for.24 With the Treasury bearing down on the Royal Navy budget, the Admiralty changed course. The Admiralty doubted that the Treasury would accept the budget for the base at Singapore. In order to preserve the project, the Admiralty developed a new design scheme for the naval base at Singapore. Originally, the base was to cost £ 12,000,000 for the facility and its accompanying defenses. In order to appease critics, the Admiralty 22
Ian Hamill, Strategic Illusion, 124-125.
John Robert Ferris, Men, Money, and Diplomacy (Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 1989), 158-159.
Estimates, Memorandum, February 5 1925, CAB/24/171, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed October 10, 2010).
offered a “truncated” scheme for the base which would cost £7,750,000 without defenses or various stores, equipment, and complexes. 25 This “truncated” scheme passed Treasury muster and was then approved by the British Cabinet. 26 Despite the reduction, the British Admiralty believed that the “truncated’ scheme would be adequate to maintain elements of the fleet during peace time; if war came suddenly, it could work with other ports in the Far East to handle the full might of the British fleet.27 The reduced scheme demonstrates the trouble the British government had in trying to fulfill its commitment to its empire in the Far East. No more than two years after the base had been reapproved; it was threatened with the axe for a second time. Again, British fiscal factors were threatening to sink the entire scheme of British defense in the Far East. Just like the Labour government before it, the Conservative government espoused a desire for military disarmament, better relations with Japan, and increased cooperation with the League of Nations. Despite the lack of will due to international factors and the scarcity of resources to fully construct, equip, and defend the base, the Admiralty dragged the government back from cancellation by recasting the base plan with far less equipment and defenses than had originally been deemed “necessary.” It is no coincidence that within two months after the truncated base scheme was approved, an Imperial Conference with the British Dominions took place in which the British presented the Dominions with its new base construction plan and asked for yet more contributions to it.28 Once again, the pressure to keep the British Empire together outweighed other considerations. For the rest of the 1920s, construction of the base at Singapore continued at a slow, but steady pace. For example, in April of 1928, the British Cabinet approved the construction of the first stage of defenses for Singapore.29 Later, in 1928, the British Cabinet resolved that construction was to continue into the future, albeit at a slower
Stephen Roskill, Naval Policy Between the Wars, 463.
Cabinet 50 (26), Conclusions, August 3 1926, CAB/23/53, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed October 10, 2010). 26
James Neidpath, The Singapore Naval Base and the Defence of Britain's Eastern Empire, 1919-1941 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1981), 103-104. 27
Stephen Roskill, Naval Policy Between the Wars, 463.
Cabinet 20 (29), Conclusions, April 4, 1928, CAB/23/57, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed October 15, 2010). 29
pace than before.30 Thus, after years of “rough seas” Britain’s commitment of resources to the Far East seemed to have been solidified by small, but meaningful allocations. Disarmament and Economic Crisis Just a year later, the resources for the base at Singapore were once again up in the air. The reason for the stoppage was the call for a new international disarmament conference in London. The Labour government which retook power in mid-1929 was still committed to international cooperation through disarmament. Under Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald, Labour wanted to cancel the construction of the base at Singapore in order to promote international disarmament. However, before the Conservative government left office, it had made contracts for additional work on the base that could not be canceled without significant financial penalty to the British government. Additionally, the British government would have to refund the Dominions’ significant contributions towards the base. These refunds would be yet another financial loss to Britain at time when it could ill afford further burdens. 31 Faced with these costs, the Labour government ordered that work that could be stopped should be stopped and all other work was to be slowed down as much as possible pending the outcome of the London Disarmament Conference. 32 The British Treasury strongly opposed the plan for the base in Singapore as it called for further austerity. The onset of the Great Depression strengthened the Treasury’s opposition as the Great Depression put additional pressure on the British budget. According to G.C. Peden, the Treasury had never stopped trying to squeeze more savings out of the military even after Winston Churchill had moved on from his position as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Using the Treasury’s argument for more fiscal austerity, the Labour Government was able to bolster its case to postpone construction of the base at Singapore pending further review. 33 The combination of a Labour government intent on international disarmament and the major economic crisis of the Great Depression threatened the Singapore base scheme for a third time. This episode shows just how fragile Britain’s commitment to Singapore Naval Base, Minutes & Notes, November, 19, 1928, CAB/24/199, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed October 15, 2010). 30
Neidpath, The Singapore Naval Base,117-118.
Cabinet 45 (29),Conclusions, November 6, 1929, CAB/23/62, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed October 20, 2010). 32
G.C. Peden, British Public Policy, 212-216.
its Far Eastern empire had become. In the past, when Britain remained committed to the Singapore base scheme, its limited resources did not permit it to make much progress. With its resources stretched thin by domestic and international commitments, economic trouble severely curtailed Britain’s ability to keep up the pace of construction at Singapore. Keith Neilson, commenting on Neville Chamberlain’s power within the new National Government that was formed by the major political parties to fight the Great Depression, highlights the third factor related to Britain’s economic troubles: the problem of public opinion. Keith Neilson writes “The new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Neville Chamberlain was perhaps the most dominant politician in the National Government due to his personality and the fact that the National Government would rise and fall on the basis of its ability to overcome Britain's economic woes (emphasis added).”34 Not only were Britain’s resources stretched thin, but the public exerted a tremendous amount of influence with regards to how those resources were used. The base at Singapore would have to again contend with public opinion that was worried far more with the economy and employment than military and foreign affairs. Battling economic woes and public opinion, the base at Singapore would also struggle against international events. About a year prior to the decision to slow the construction down on the base, several major powers, including Britain, signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact, an international treaty that outlawed war. This treaty, along with the Labour government’s push for new disarmament talks created the illusion of peace that dominated the minds of the British people and pushed British public opinion against military spending. In such an atmosphere of peace, the British government was hard pressed to move forward with additional funding for a base at Singapore. While plans for the naval base at Singapore faced strong opposition across the board, the decision to cancel it had, by 1929, been taken out of the hands British government and been put in the hands of the Dominions and colonies in the Far East. By the 1930s, when another Imperial Conference was held, Britain had spent £4, 148,000 on the base at Singapore of which the Dominions and the colonies in the Far East had contributed £2,259,000 or just over half of the total costs. 35 As mentioned before, this money would have had to been refunded back to their contributors had the base plan been canceled. The British government, facing financial strain, was unable to take on this considerable burden. Therefore, the only way Britain could unwind itself from its commitment to the Far East was to get the Dominions and the colonies to agree not to Keith Neilson, "The Defence Requirements Sub-Committee, British Strategic Foreign Policy, Neville Chamberlain and the Path to Appeasement," The English Historical Review 118, no. 477 (June, 2003), 654-655. (accessed October 8, 2010). 34
Neidpath, The Singapore Naval Base and the Defence of Britain's Eastern Empire, 118.
ask for reimbursement. Thus, British prestige and more importantly, money, became so heavily committed to Singapore that Britain could not turn back. British pride had gotten Britain into its Far East commitment, and money was now going to keep it in. Danger on the Horizon For the next two years, construction at Singapore remained suspended until 1931, when the international situation changed dramatically. In 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria, a territory in northeastern China. This invasion violated the League of Nations’ Covenant and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, both of which Japan has been a signatory to. The violation of these treaties meant that in theory, the League of Nations should have moved to stop Japan; however, both Britain and France, the de facto leaders of the League, took no action. Britain’s inaction was the direct result of it lacking either a fleet or a base from which to operate a fleet from in the Far East. 36 Throughout the 1920s, the construction of the base at Singapore had been put off as Britain assumed that war could be avoided through participation in international institutions. The Manchurian Incident exposed British weakness in the Far East. A review by the Committee for Imperial Defense stated: But in their present weak state these ports (Singapore, Hong Kong, and other Far East ports) would be liable to capture, or at least to the destruction of their facilities, before the arrival of the Fleet. Unless these ports have been strengthened adequately and reinforcements arrive in time, on a calculation of reasonable probabilities we should have to assume either that they would be captured or that their facilities would be destroyed in the first month of a war.37 Here, the key British weakness is revealed: the bases in the Far East lacked the proper defenses to hold off any Japanese attack. Thus, Britain could not force a confrontation with Japan because Britain’s hands were tied by the absence of a base at Singapore. With Britain’s commitment to the Far East revealed to be ineffectual in its current state, the British cabinet made the decision to again proceed with construction of the defenses at Singapore.38 By 1935, the construction of the base and its corresponding defenses were proceeding at a steady pace. A memorandum issued by the British War 36
Barnett, The Collapse of British Power, 298-305.
Annual Review for 1932 by the Chiefs of the Staff Sub-Committee, February, 1932, CAB/24/229.
Cabinet 50 (32), Conclusions, October 11, 1932, CAB/23/72, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed November 6, 2010). 38
Office states that most of Singapore’s defenses, except for the main 15-inch guns, antiaircraft defenses and additional garrison troops would be completed that year or in 1936.39 Later in 1935, Britain used a gift from the Sultan of Jahore to further accelerate the construction of defenses.40 In 1937, additional progress on the base was made and detailed in memorandum which stated: Under the Naval Deficiency Programme Singapore Dockyard should be completed, from the construction point of view, by the 1st April, 1939 [and] with the aid of H.M.S. Resource and: the facilities of Singapore Harbour Board, the normal work of maintaining a moderate size fleet at Singapore could be met [with the] present position as regards docking in the event of the fleet having to operate from Singapore is fairly satisfactory…”41 Thus, as World War II loomed closer and closer, Britain slowly readied Singapore for war. War and Operation Matador On September 1, 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany touching off World War II. As war raged across Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, the British government worried about Japanese aggression in the Far East. The concern was that the defenses at Singapore were inadequate and would not be able to withstand an attack by Japanese forces should war breakout in Far East. Britain feared that Japan would attack the Malay Peninsula, and then strike south to take Singapore. In order to stop this possible Japanese advance, the British devised Operation Matador, whereby British forces would launch counter-offensive operations against Japanese invasion forces in the Malay Peninsula.42 To successfully carry out Operation Matador, British commanders in the Far East needed additional troops and aircraft. Unfortunately for British forces in the Far East, The Infantry Garrison at Singapore, Memorandum, January, 1935, CAB/24/253, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed November 6, 2010). 39
Singapore Defences, Report, July 1935, CAB/24/256, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed November 14, 2010). 40
The Preparedness for War of Great Britain in Relation to Certain Powers by May, 1937, Memorandum, February 11 1937, CAB/24/268, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed November 14, 2010). 41
The Situation in the Far East in the Event of Japanese Intervention Against Us, Report, July 31, 1940, CAB/66/10/33, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed November 14, 2010). 42
the British government decided not to supply the requested reinforcements due to commitments in the Middle East and the Soviet Union.43 Instead, Britain dispatched the battleships, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, along with a small squadron of ships to try and deter Japanese aggression.44 This deterrence failed, and Japan launched an attack on British Far East possessions on December 8, 1941. The HMS Prince of Wales and the HMS Repulse, sent to deter and protect, were sunk within the opening days of the Japanese assault. Japanese forces then quickly advanced down the Malay Peninsula and by February 15, 1942, British forces in Singapore surrendered to Japanese forces which dashed any hope of British protection for the Far East. After nearly two decades of mostly neglected development, Singapore lacked the defenses to repel a Japanese attack without the full support of the main British fleet and significant numbers of troops and aircraft. The lynchpin of Britain’s entire strategy for defending the empire in the Far East depended upon Singapore. Without Singapore, Britain would be unable to fulfill its defense commitment to its Far Eastern Empire and therefore protection, one of the oft cited advantages of being part of the British Empire, would be non-existent. In spite of its clear importance, Singapore was never given the proper defenses: a powerful fleet and enough troops and aircraft to ensure that the island would be able to repulse attacks. Britain never had the resources to commit to Singapore and thus, when war came, Singapore was ill-prepared to resist Japanese aggression and its fall became one of the worst defeats in the history of the British Empire. In the end, Britain’s desire to preserve its empire in the Far East was outstripped by its limited resources and public support. What was supposed to be Britain’s powerful and everlasting symbol of its commitment to the Far East instead became the death knell of Britain’s once mighty empire.
Ong Chit Chung, Operation Matador (Singapore, Times Academic Press, 1997), 163-174.
W.M (41) 109th Conclusions, Conclusions, November 5, 1941, CAB/65/24/2, Cabinet Papers, British National Archives (date accessed November 14, 2010). 44
Urban Revitalization through the Improvement of Food Environments in Philadelphia Korin Tangtrakul Many post-industrial cities in America suffer from population loss, the loss of industry, decaying infrastructure and a number of socioeconomic ills including increasing and concentrated poverty. Philadelphia is no exception, having lost 160,000 manufacturing jobs between 1967 and 1987, accounting for over half of the entire industrial sector. 1 Given today’s growing movement to build sustainable societies and cities, emphasis on local food, urban agriculture and the utilization of green space for agricultural purposes is growing.2 Transitioning vacant land into community gardens and other forms of urban agriculture is becoming a solution to both the vacant land problem and the sustainability of cities. Research also suggests that urban agriculture in the form of farmers’ markets, community gardens, urban farms, etc., may also benefit the community by providing residents that have little food options with access to fresh and healthy foods, particularly in “food deserts”, or areas where disadvantaged populations have poor access to healthy, nutritious and affordable foods.3 In this paper I ask, for the areas of Philadelphia categorized as “food deserts”, what is the prevalence of urban agriculture, and how has it impacted the urban food environment? For the purpose of this paper, I consider the following forms of urban agriculture: community gardens, urban farms, farmers’ markets and CSAs (community supported agriculture). Though farmers markets and CSAs do not necessarily provide produce from within the city, they support local markets of food production, and provide inner city communities with fresh produce and most importantly provide an alternative to corner stores and convenience stores.
Stephen J. McGovern, “Philadelphia’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative,” Housing Policy Debate 17:3 (2006): 529-570. 1
Bethany Rubin Henderson and Kimberly Hartsfield, “Is Getting into the Community Garden Business a Good Way to Engage Citizens in Local Government?” Wiley Interscience (2009). 2
Allison Karpyn and Sarah Treuhaft, “The Grocery Gap: Who Has Access to Healthy Food and Why it Matters,” Policy Link and The Food Trust (2010). 3
What defines a Food Environment? In any setting, a Food Environment encompasses the influences around us that dictate what we eat. Food Environments can be shaped by surrounding food supplies, household eating habits, advertisements, and the processes of supply and demand. In food deserts, a food environment frequently consists of corner stores and convenience stores, with few options for fresh foods such as supermarkets or health food stores. While many people are influenced by their food environments, their food choices also reinforce and reshape those environments, 4 which can contribute to a worsening cycle of malnutrition in low-income neighborhoods. What some researchers find as most influential are “local food environments”, which can often be defined by race or economic factors. The geographical segregation of local food environments suggests a larger indication of race issues.5 Though there are many other contributing factors, segregation of food environments would likely lead to a negative cycle of a worsening food environment, as those living in a poor food environment will also be influenced to eat poorly from their neighbors. With contributing factors in consideration, this study looks at multiple processes that can happen to improve a food environment. A large contribution to this movement in Philadelphia has taken place through the form of urban agriculture, particularly community gardening. Though there are many ways to improve a food environment, community gardens are usually community-led and community-run, so that change comes from within the community, rather than from an outside entity. The History of Urban Agriculture Since its beginnings, urban gardening has had a historical significance in many large cities. Starting with Detroit in 1893, vacant lot gardening began as a relief effort for the poor to supplement their food supply. It then spread to larger cities such as Philadelphia. Through both World Wars, urban gardening was seen as an act of patriotism, as well as a form of survival. Facing food shortages, the Liberty Gardens of World War I and Victory Gardens of World War II were sponsored by the government to promote domestic food production, accounting for 40% of vegetable production in
Caorlyn C., Cannuscio, Eve E. Weiss and David A. Asch, “The Contribution of Urban Foodways to Health Disparities,” Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 87.3 (2010): 381-393. 4
Darcy A. Freedman, “Local Food Environments: They’re All Stocked Differently,” American Journal of Community Psychology 44 (2009): 382-393. 5
1943.6 Typically, community gardens were started on lands with low property values. As a result of the environmental movement of the 1970’s, the resurgence of community gardens in urban areas has been a symbol of nature, community and power in lowincome areas. This resurgence has been inspired by the large amount of vacant lands in cities all across America, as well as the failure of parks, playgrounds, and other forms of open space to provide sufficient community and recreational resources.7 Following this resurgence, the recent history of community gardening and urban agriculture in Philadelphia has a very unique story. The majority of gardeners up until the 1990’s were African American, Puerto Rican and Southeast Asian migrants. Gardening for these populations served more for cultural preservation and social interaction than for food production as had previously been seen throughout the United States. Also of note, Penn State’s Urban Gardening Program and The Philadelphia Green program counted about 500 gardens growing food, and almost 2,000 additional ornamental and green spaces.8 However, over the next decade or so, Philadelphia experienced a significant decline in these small garden spaces. There are three major reasons for this decline: The first is that many of the migrant gardeners had grown too old to garden, passed away, or moved to the suburbs. Secondly, Congress cut the funding for urban gardening programs in 1996, so Penn State’s Urban Gardening Program was dismantled and Philadelphia Green’s financial support shrank significantly. Third, Mayor Street’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative destroyed many community gardens in Philadelphia as part of the shift from community based vegetable production to real estate development and vacant land stabilization.9 Today, there are about 14 large gardens over one-half acre in size that produce roughly 80% of the summer produce for the city, and a little over 200 community gardens under onehalf acre size. These smaller gardens are found in every neighborhood of Philadelphia. 10
Hilda Kurtz, “Differentiating Multiple Meanings of Garden and Community,” Urban Geography 22.7 (2001).
Karen Schmelzkopf, “Urban Community Gardens as Contested Space,” The Geographical Review 85.3 (July 1995). 7
Domenic Vitiello and Michael Nairn, “Community Gardening in Philadelphia: 2008 Harvest Report,” Penn Planning and Urban Studies, University of Pennsylvania (2009). 8
The Benefits of Urban Agriculture and Community Gardens Urban green spaces play important roles in the environmental renewal of urban areas. Green spaces provide carbon absorption, storm water retention, humidity control, and prevent soil erosion.11 The concrete jungles of the city scene need these services to minimize the impacts of urbanization on local and global ecosystems. A brief review of the literature on urban green spaces has focused on the environmental benefits of these spaces. The practice of urban agriculture and the creation of green spaces for horticulture provide other benefits in addition to the environmental ones usually discussed. In this section the benefits of urban agriculture, specifically community gardens, are reviewed. Firstly, community gardens, one element of urban agriculture, are urban green spaces. As green spaces, community gardens provide an array of positive benefits. For example, In “A Hedonic Valuation of Urban Green Areas”, Morancho used three variables: garden plot or green space size, view of the garden or green space, and proximity of the housing from the green space, and measured the impact on sale price of the dwelling. Her findings were that distance from the garden or green space is most significant, displayed in a drop in housing price for every 100m further from the green space.12 In addition, Voicu and Been detail in “The Effect of Community Gardens on Neighboring Property Values” the potential positive and negative impacts on community gardens to the surrounding neighborhood.13 Their benefits include providing recreational space, creating a sense of community, and adding aesthetic value. On the negative side, they can become a venue for loitering or other undesirable social behavior as is commonly associated with vacant space. However, the positive and negative impacts a garden can have on a neighborhood is difficult to quantify, for community gardens vary greatly depending on the size, how long its been there, and the community it is in. Further, cities often experience a high turnover of renters as opposed to homeowners, who are less likely to be invested in improving the space. Voicu and Been’s regression modeled study reveal that community impacts have an Aurelia Bengochea Morancho, “A Hedonic Valuation of Urban Green Areas,” Landscape and Urban Planning; Science Direct (2003). 11
Ioan Voicu and Vicki Been, “The Effect of Community Gardens on Neighboring Property Values,” Real Estate Economics 36:2 (2008) 241-283. 13
immediate positive impact on the neighborhood’s property values that increase over time. As distance to the garden or size of the garden increase, the impact on property values decline. Though different in politics, size, and other elements, New York has been a focus in many studies on community gardens, and its proximity to Philadelphia makes it a valid candidate for comparison when considering climate similarities. From a study on Latino community gardens in New York City entitled “Culturing Community Development, Neighborhood Open Space, and Civic Agriculture: The Case of Latino Community Gardens in New York City”, Saldivar-Tanaka and Krasny found that “the majority of the garden sites had been vacant lots prior to community members organizing and cleaning them up” (7) which usually came out of the desire to prevent crime and litter accumulation in their neighborhood.14 This study found that community gardens in these neighborhoods provided a venue for social interaction among community members, for playing games together, meeting new people, and learning about what is happening in the neighborhood. Further, community gardens act as “communitymanaged open space”, providing poorer neighborhoods with open space to design and maintain themselves. Further, community gardens can be seen as a form of “adaptive reuse”, reclaiming a plot of vacant land for productive reuse. 15 The city of Philadelphia is seeking to make use of the tens of thousands of vacant lots, by the means of selling them to the private sector, or “maintaining some lots as open and green space” for the purposes of storm water management and increasing the “health” of the neighborhoods that lack such green spaces.16 For vacant property owned by the city, Mayor Michael Nutter is looking to “create new commercial agriculture ventures and new community gardens in the city”.17 As of 2007, only 10% of Philadelphia’s abandoned lots had been cleaned, leaving an ambitious task for Mayor Nutter. The “Next Great City” initiative claims that by cleaning and greening the vacant lots in Philadelphia … neighborhoods would
Laura Saldivar-Tanaka and Marianne E. Krasny, “Culturing community development, neighborhood open space, and civic agriculture: The case of Latino community gardens in New York City,” Agriculture and Human Values 21 (2004): 399-412. 14
Mark Tranel and Larry B. Handlin Jr. “Metromorphosis: Documenting Change.” Jounral of Urban Affairs 28:2 (2006): 151-167. 15
Tranel et al. 2006.
A. Nutter, “Greenworks Philadelphia,” City of Philadelphia (2009). Web. 20 October 2010.
experience significantly less crime.18 Furthermore, community gardens raise property values by up to 30%,19 whereas vacant lots lower property value by about 20%.20 Another benefit to community gardens is increasing access to affordable nutritious food, particularly in low-income communities. Studies have shown that residents that grow their own food are able to significantly lower their food bills. 21 However, according to these particular authors (i.e., Morancho, Salvidar-Tanaka, etc.), community gardens are seen less as a form of urban revitalization, but are more associated with gentrification. Gardens are often started by artists or higher-income residents, and are less often associated with African Americans, Latinos, or low-income neighborhood residents. However, when these groups do participate in community gardening, they are benefiting their community by cleaning up the neighborhood and providing a new social network.22 Urban Decay in Philadelphia In the context of improving food environments, there are two main indicators of urban decay: vacant land that could be potentially used for urban agriculture, and the prevalence of food deserts. In the following section, I will address both of these indicators and their occurrence in Philadelphia. Vacant Land As of 2001, the city found 30,730 vacant lots in Philadelphia, and about as many abandoned buildings.23 What to do with these vacant lots is a topic of much debate. The existence of vacant land threatens revitalization efforts, while lowering property values and providing a location for unwanted social behavior, such as loitering and vandalism.24 Philadelphia Green, a branch organization of Pennsylvania Horticultural Susan M. Wachter, and Kevin C. Gillen, â€œPublic Investment Strategies: How They Matter for Neighborhoods in Philadelphiaâ€?, Rep. The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. 18
"Clean and Green Vacant Lots.â€? Philadelphia: The Next Great City. Next Great City.
Wachter et al. 2005.
Salvidar-Tanaka et al. 2004.
Salvidar-Tanaka et al. 2004.
Society that aims to create green public spaces, is concerned with the city’s postindustrial status and prevalence of vacant land from the out-migration of the urban population.25 Prior to 2000, vacant lots were generally unattended by the city for years, becoming overgrown dumpsites, further contributing to depopulation and disinvestment. Furthermore, these vacant spaces are a financial inconvenience to the city, lowering property values and wasting government spending on temporary clean up projects. However, Philadelphia Green sees the potential of vacant lots in Philadelphia to become valuable assets for potential development and urban land reuse. They have several programs involving vacant land reclamation, which include their “Vacant Land Stabilization Program”, which targets areas that need “transformation”. Through a process of waste removal, then tree and fence installation, the project has greened over seven million square feet of previously vacant land over the past six years).26 Philadelphia Green has been a large contributor to preservation of vacant land and maintains 14 gardens in the city through the City Harvest program, while supporting many others. Over the past three years this project has helped feed 1,000 families per week during the growing season by donating over 64,300 pounds of grown produce. 27 Though many organizations, such as Community Development Corporations (CDC’s), view vacant land as a nuisance and a venue for unwanted behavior, Philadelphia Green’s mission reminds us of the opportunities vacant land provide for improving a neighborhood’s food environment. Food Deserts In regards to improving a food environment, one of the major problems in many urban settings is the presence of food deserts. A food desert is an area that does not provide adequate access to fresh and nutritious foods. Very often access to healthy, nutritious and affordable foods for low income inner city populations is restricted to corner stores and franchise drug stores, containing an abundance of highly processed, typically unhealthy foods, because these populations lack the ability to reach supermarkets and chain stores that provide affordable healthy food, typically fresh “Vacant Land Management” 2010 “Vacant Land Management.” Philadelphia Green. Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Web. 5 October 2010. 25
“Vacant Land Management” 2010.
City Harvest 2010. “City Harvest.” Philadelphia Green. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Web. November 2 2010. www.pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org/phlgreen/city-harvest. 27
fruits and vegetables.28 A US Department of Agriculture study from 2010 indicates that 23.5 million people lack access to food, which was defined as no supermarket within one mile of their home.29 However, this broad study does not address accessibility issues in cities, where access may not be defined by proximity, but rather convenient public transportation to the supermarket. A review of research carried out by a Philadelphia-based non-profit organization, The Food Trust, indicates that food deserts are most often low-income neighborhoods and African American communities. To supplement the lack of supermarkets many city dwelling households use corner stores. In “The Contribution of Urban Foodways to Health Disparities”, Cannuscio describes corner stores as a “hallmark of Philadelphia foodways”.30 While corner stores are abundant and easily accessible, they tend to offer a variety of unhealthy snack foods, but no fruits or vegetables.31 The items that are most frequently purchased are energydense, and have very low nutritional value. One of the largest issues associated with corner stores is the quality of food they provide for the convenient price. As various prior research shows, these kinds of snacks have nutritional impacts such as risk of obesity and dental issues, as well as behavior and cognition affects. While this has obvious implications for the families living in food deserts, the youth may be particularly affected. Students often stop at the corner store before or after school, averaging a purchase of 356 calories of snack foods, usually costing a little more than a dollar.32 Cannuscio’s study indicated that half of the fourth to eighth grade students in Philadelphia that were surveyed visited a corner store on the way to school, each trip purchasing the equivalent of 400 calories.33
Julie Beaulac, Elizabeth Kristjanssonn and Steven Cummins, “A Systematic Review of Food Deserts, 19962007,” Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice and Policy 6.3 (2009): 1-10. 28
Cannuscio 2010, 383.
Sean C. Lucan, Allison Karpyn and Sandy Sherman, “Storing Empty Calories and Chronic Disease Risk: Snack-Food Products, Nutritive Content, and Manufactures in Philadelphia Corner Stores,” Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 87.3 (2010): 394-404. 31
Kelly E. Borradaile, Sandy Sherman, Stephanie S. Vander Veur, Tara McCoy, Brianna Sandoval, Joan Nachmani, Allison Karpyn, and Gary D. Foster, “Snacking in Children: The Role of Urban Corner Stores,” Pediatrics (2009). 32
Figure 1A: Per Capita Income of Philadelphia Residents with Supermarket Distribution. Source: US Census American Community Survey, 2009.
In an attempt to map the food deserts of Philadelphia, Figure 1 displays the distribution of supermarkets in the context of per capita income. The points in the map in blue mark all of the locations for the following supermarkets: Fresh Grocer, Superfresh, Acme, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Cousin’s, Shop ‘N Bag, Save-A-Lot, Thriftway and Pathmark. There is a one-mile radius around each supermarket to show what would be considered as areas of “food access” (within the one-mile buffer) and areas of “food desert” (outside of the one-mile buffer). The “food desert” areas are instead typically populated by convenience stores and bodegas, feeding those residences with highly processed foods such as cookies, candies and sodas, instead of fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, it is important to note that these supermarkets may not provide a substantial produce section, if at all, or for a competitive price. Food accessibility encompasses not only distance, but also affordability and convenience. Therefore, it would be wrong to
assume that just because regions of high poverty have access to supermarkets in terms of distance, that they would consequently have access to healthy, affordable foods. Though Philadelphia has its food deserts and requires a revitalization of food environments in many neighborhoods, there are a variety of organizations all over the city that have contributed to the food movement, both small and large scale. Some of these organizations are community gardens, some community development corps, and some citywide non-profit organizations. This study explores the scope of work of such organizations, and how they seek to improve the food environments of Philadelphia. Improving Food Environments In order to evaluate the progress Philadelphia is making to improve its many food environments, Table 1 lists an inventory of organizations that are in some way contributing to this effort. A snowball research method using an online search engine was implemented to create an inventory of organizations in Philadelphia that have missions focused on food culture, food production or vacant land revitalization for urban agriculture. The shortfall to this method is that the search was limited to organizations that have websites. There are hundreds of community gardens that do not have websites and likely in many neighborhoods of the city that may not be accounted for by the non-profits in the organization inventory. Also, many new organizations emerge or some gardens arenâ€™t kept up with, and ultimately this list will always be in flux. The inventory does include community development corporations (CDCs) and revitalization corporations that are listed as members of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations or on the list of partners with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Of the participating CDCâ€™s, the ones listed on the inventory have specified interests in revitalization and greening. Due to the vast number of community gardens in Philadelphia (today there are anywhere between 300 and 600 community gardens), the ones chosen include those that are highly influential and have specific track records of improving food accessibility in the neighborhood. They are often larger scale endeavors that reach out to communities beyond their own, while smaller gardens often address their immediate neighborhood or members. Also included are some food distribution services that specifically aim to promote a better food environment, such as Philabundance, but did not include all of the ones in the city because of the immense number of them and the variety of focuses within each organization. From this inventory of organizations, seven organizations with mission statements very closely related to this study were of particular interest and sought out for more information: Mill Creek Urban Farm, Prestonâ€™s Paradise, Seeds for Learning, The Food
Trust, Urban Tree Connection, and Weavers Way Co-op. Data collection took the form of formal, semi-structured interviews in the form most convenient for the organization, which included phone, email, and in-person interviews. Results From the online search, there are 21 organizations in Philadelphia that have been involved in improving food environments through community gardening and vacant land reclamation, nutrition education, food access, urban agriculture, and local food production. Table 1 displays these organizations, highlighting some of the projects that have been particularly important in revitalizing food environments. Also included are key words that help identify what kind of work each organization does, which varies from urban agriculture, to vacant land revitalization, to nutrition education, to food distribution. These were assigned by evaluating the organizationsâ€™ mission statements. Figure 2: Per Capita Income in Philadelphia with Distribution of NGA Gardens, Farmersâ€™ Markets and Food Environment Improvement Organizations. Source: US Census American Community Survey, 2009.
Using the map from Figure 1, Figure 2 also displays per capita income, but used different points. In purple are the organizations from the inventory in table 1, which can be their headquarters or an actual community garden or farm. Green designates farmersâ€™ markets run by the Food Trust. There are 30 markets run by this organization, but many other independent markets in the city. In green are the community gardens registered by the Neighborhood Garden Association. This consists of a very small number of community gardens, about 30 of the hundreds of gardens in the city. Since it is nearly impossible to locate every single community garden in Philadelphia, with more popping up every season, this is meant to show a distribution of community gardens, with the understanding that many more exist, perhaps in the less represented neighborhoods. There seems to be a distribution of these organizations, gardens and markets throughout most of the city, with the exception of the Northeast and the Southwest. However, the areas of high poverty seem to have a fair distribution, with concentrations in Center City, West Philadelphia, lower North Philadelphia, and South Philadelphia. Table 1: An inventory of Philadelphia organizations involved in local food production, food culture, or vacant land revitalization
Organization East Park Revitalization Alliance Farm to City Greensgrow Farms
Projects Environment, Nutrition farmers' markets, community supported agriculture (CSA's) Nursery, Market, CSA
Jewish Farm School MANNA (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutritioin Alliance)
Norris Square Neighborhood Project
local food, urban agriculture, food distribution greening, food distribution, food access, vacant land food access, urban agriculture food distribution, nutrition education food access, urban agriculture, nutrition education
Mill Creek Urban Farm Nicetown CDC
Key words vacant land, nutrition education, urban agriculture, greening
Community Land Care Program,50Food Cupboard
greening, vacant land, food distribution, food access greening, urban agriculture
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
Philadelphia Green: City Harvest, Vacant Land Restoration, Community Gardens, Neighborhood Parks
Philabundance Philadelphia Orchard Project
Seeds for Learning
food access, food distribution greening, food access, vacant land weekly farmers' market, community gardens, intensive backyard agriculture project The Farm Program, The Marketplace Program
SHARE Foods Program Slow Food Philadelphia
The Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative
urban agriculture, food access, nutrition education
nutrition education Corner Store Initiative, Farmers' Market Program, Nutrition Education
Urban Tree Connection Weavers Way Coop (and farm) White Dog
greening, local food, urban agriculture
food access, food distribution local food urban agriculture, nutrition education
Teens 4 Good
The Food Trust
vacant land, greening, urban agriculture
Weavers Way Coop Marketplace Fair Food
local food, urban agriculture, food access, nutrition education vacant land, urban agriculture, greening food access, local food, nutrition education local food
From the semi-structured interviews with the seven organizations, some understanding of the scope of work of each organization can be gained, as well as how each contributes to urban revitalization. These points are detailed below. The Food Trust A project that the Food Trust has embraced in order to increase food access in Philadelphia is the Farmers’ Market program. There are currently over 30 farmers markets in the Philadelphia region run by the Food Trust, and countless others that have been introduced independently as farmers’ markets gain popularity in the city. In an effort to incentivize low-income residents to shop at farmers’ markets, the Food Trust farmers’ markets (as well as others in the city) accept food stamps, and provide coupons for those that purchase a certain amount using their food stamps card. In another branch of the Food Trust, there is a new program called the Healthy Corner Store Initiative. This program partners with corner storeowners to create the Philadelphia Healthy Corner Store Network. To become a member of this network, corner storeowners must introduce two new healthy food items from each of the following categories: fresh fruits and vegetables, preserved fruits and vegetables, dairy, whole grains, and proteins. This program’s mission is to revitalize 1,000 corner stores over the next two years that are in areas of low-income at high risk of obesity.34 The Food Trust also looks at corner stores or convenience stores in their food access studies. In cities such as Detroit and New Haven, a large majority of low-income African American communities lack healthy, high quality foods in nearby neighborhood stores. Across the nation, low-income neighborhoods have 30 percent more convenience stores than middle-income neighborhoods at the zip code level.35 The prevalence of low-quality food stores has many associated health impacts, such as higher risk for obesity and diabetes. Further, the Food Trust claims that healthy food retail businesses may revitalize neighborhoods that are low-income, having found that 4,860 jobs in 78 underserved communities in Pennsylvania have been created or retained from new or revitalized grocery stores. This initiative, called the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative contributes to the overall health of the neighborhood, and has increased access for nearly 500,000 residents of low-income communities.
“Healthy Corner Store Initiative” 2010 “Healthy Corner Store Initiative.” The Food Trust.
Though an area of limited research, grocery stores are said to generate high foot traffic and stimulate local economies by attracting other small businesses in the vicinity.36 Preston’s Paradise There are several groups in West Philadelphia that have been collaborating to create a better food environment through urban farming, farmers markets, community gardens and educational workshops. A small community group, Preston’s Paradise, is a backyard community garden that has been working towards expanding the variety of fresh produce in the neighborhood. Though only in existence for four years, this organization runs eight gardens in the neighborhood, some from vacant lots, and others from neighbors’ yards. Though they sell their produce in a mobile cart on the street, they have found that many people do not know what to do with the collard greens they are selling. They are hoping to bring culinary skills back to home, so that community members are more willing to expand the variety of foods they purchase. The problem is less about awareness of the food being there, but more on what to do with it, and that kind of knowledge is lost with each generation. For that, they offer workshops to teach the community members how to cook and preserve fresh foods, which they have been providing for the community at lower than market price for the past few years. Mill Creek Urban Farm Preston’s Paradise neighbor farm to the West is Mill Creek Urban Farm, which aims to improve food access for the immediate neighborhood in Haddington. Though Mill Creek has run very successful summer programs and workshops in the past, one of their concerns is people unwillingness to walk. They notice that many customers drive to the market, or to the grocery store. While they do attract many community members, they are hopeful to expand their range of impact to the less fortunate that don’t have access to a car, but can maybe walk to the farmers market. In this instance, awareness seems to be an issue, but popularity is steadily increasing. Urban Tree Connection Also in West Philadelphia, Urban Tree Connection has worked to reclaim vacant land and utilize it for vegetable production. This, they see, is a valuable form of urban revitalization for it is community-led and community-developed. The lot where many 36
of the CSA foods are produced used to be a crime-ridden abandoned lot, but is now a communal space for, “actively participating in the process of growing, distributing, cooking, and preserving the food they eat”37. This empowers the community members to take control of their land as well as their food supply. Weavers Way Co-op In North Philadelphia, towards the Germantown area, Weavers Way Co-op has been an influential player in increasing food access. The new branch on Ogontz Avenue is not a typical co-op, in that it doesn’t employ community members to man the store and provide a discount for groceries. Rather, customers can sign up as a member and get a small discount. The location for the branch was sought out by the Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation as part of their streetscape revitalization plan. Though this branch does not carry all organic and local produce (due to price and lack of demand), they host a Food Trust farmers’ market once a week, and support the urban farm at Martin Luther King High School. Seeds for Learning In addition to the farmers’ market, the leaders at the urban farm at MLK High School run the Seeds for Learning program. They employ high school students to run the farm and work at the farmers’ market, and are delighted to have the students that work on the farm take home something from the farm. The largest obstacle in Philadelphia, they say, is not a lack of access, but a lack of awareness. The food issue is grounded in “a historical race/class issue intertwined with the food system”38. Unfortunately, the underserved communities have been relying on bodegas and processed foods for so long that it has become part of their food culture. The manager of the garden says he has taken his fresh produce to the bodegas in the neighborhood, put it on the shelves at a competitive price, and watched the produce rot. He also attributes this to people being “aliens to the kitchen”39, and being comfortable with the prepared and processed foods available at the corner stores.
Preston, Annie. 2010. Interview by Author. Philadelphia, PA, November, 19.
Bolden-Newsome, Christopher. 2010. Interview by Author. Philadelphia, PA, August, 21.
Philabundance Philabundance is a citywide organization with a very different focus, but is an important contribution to improving Philadelphia’s food environments. Rather than agricultural production, this organization manages food distribution, providing fresh fruits and vegetables to over 200 families in Philadelphia. They work to revitalize neighborhoods by promoting choice and dignity, so that families that receive food make healthy choices, in hopes that they can sustain themselves. Conclusion In conclusion, the wealth of organizations in Philadelphia is immense, and the scope of their work covers a wide variety of issues, including vacant land revitalization, various forms of urban agriculture, food distribution, and challenging corner stores’ food supply. Though individual community gardens in Philadelphia have been on the decline over the past couple decades, there remains a network of vital organizations that contribute to the larger food environment of the neighborhood, or even throughout the entire city. Indeed, through the diligent work of these organizations, many of the low-income communities have a concentration of food resources within them. Even though many of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods have few options other than corner stores and inaccessible grocery stores, the array of farmers’ markets, community gardens and CSA’s is expanding to reach many neighborhoods in the city, as demonstrated by Preston’s Paradise, Seeds for Learning, Mill Creek Urban Farm and the Food Trust. Organizations like Urban Tree Connection and Philadelphia Green further the work of local food producers by identifying potential vacant land, and opening them up to be utilized by the community, if not for more food production, then for communal space. This network of activity coincides to make crime-ridden neighborhoods the center of production, often through the means of communitydeveloped programs that engage students and community residents to impact their own neighborhoods. Though bodegas will likely populate Philadelphia streets in the future, and awareness of healthier food options could be more widespread, the expansion of local food production and healthier food environments gives underprivileged communities the opportunities to improve the health of themselves, their foodways, and their communities.
“Para que sepan que las mujeres valemos mucho”1 Transgressing Traditional Gender Roles in the Kaqchikel Maya Community Heather Wehr Indigenous peoples throughout the world have increasingly become the subjects of focus for various human rights groups and NGOs. With over half of its population identifying as indigenous, Guatemala provides an example of a country dealing with these various efforts from the international community related to issues such as cultural maintenance, language revitalization and political representation. Despite the international focus on indigenous populations of Guatemala, in this case mostly the Maya, these peoples live in a second-class position within the country and have historically been excluded from the mainstream Guatemalan economy and political spectrum. Over sixty percent of the eleven million people living in Guatemala today are of Maya descent. The Kaqchikel are the third largest Mayan language group, with around 405,000 people and occupy areas of the central highlands in the departments of Chimaltenango, Sacatepéquez and Sololá (Carey 2006a, 7). Major cities within this region include Antigua, Chimaltenango, Tecpán, and San Antonio Aguas Calientes. The Kaqchikel Maya provide an interesting perspective for study in particular due to their close proximity to global cities such as the capital (Guatemala City), Antigua and Chimaltenango. In these areas, the notion of traditional Mayanness is used and manipulated by indigenous peoples themselves as well as by society in the tourism industry, challenging and creating new sources of power and definitions of identity. Frequent interactions with ladinos and foreign tourists in these areas also creates an environment for increased cultural interaction and change. Upon questioning, most Maya people, both men and women, recognize the complementary nature of traditional gender roles within their society, with men occupying public space and women tending to the home and private realms. Despite this duality, the nature of the tasks relegated to women put them in a subordinate 1
So that they know we women are worth very much.
position. As historian David Carey points out in Endangering Mayan History, Kaqchikel women have been subordinate to the state, ladinos2 and Maya men throughout history (Carey 2006a, 6). Their subordinate position over the years has often limited the amount of social, political and economic power women have been able to obtain, but when the subtitles of these communities are reexamined, new information about Kaqchikel women can be discovered. This paper will explore the case of the Kaqchikel Maya, and the ways in which women in this society have transgressed gender roles to gain power. Through each instance in which Kaqchikel women gain power, the importance of public action and voice for these women can be seen. By manipulating the traditional role of the woman in their society, Kaqchikel women have been able to move from the traditionally female private to the traditionally male public realm, gaining power and respect by working in such positions as midwives, community radio station volunteers and more recently, as vendors in the tourism industry. Thus traditional Maya gender roles assume a new importance in contemporary Kaqchikel society, because they provide a foundation for women to exercise power in the public sphere of a continually globalizing society. Moreover, resistance efforts such as the Pan-Maya movement often employ these traditional gender ideals and depend on women as social reproducers, therefore isolating Kaqchikel Maya women from the movement’s work when their actions transgress gender norms. The Formation of Identity in Guatemala The notion utilized by the Pan-Maya movement that Maya women are the keepers of tradition within their communities is an assumption that has persisted by both Guatemalans and foreigners. Various studies conducted by anthropologists, health officials, and other intellectuals during the 1970s and ‘80s were dedicated to women, but essentially concluded that they were domestic beings, and bearers of Maya traditions. In a 1975 study conducted by the Instituto Indigenista Nacional of Guatemala, it concluded that the main purpose of women was to serve as the base of the family and Maya culture. While attempting to validate the roles of women by referring to them as “activas participantes” 3 of the family and community, the study still reduces the public power of women to the roles of wife and mother (Instituto Indigenista Nacional 1975, 32). The terms Ladino and Ladina in Guatemala refer to people of mixed racial ancestry. In this paper, Ladina refers to any woman who does not ethnically identify as Maya. 2
A collection of bilingual Spanish and Kaqchikel works by poet Juan Yool G. expresses this same theme of the responsibilities attributed to women in his poem “Ri B’isnen” or “Tristezas.” The poem questions a young woman as to why she left her family, went to the city, dyed her hair and started speaking a “nueva idioma.”4 She is interrogated for acting as an agent of change and modernization rather than maintaining Mayan language and culture. The second half of the poem serves as a testament to the woman’s indigenous roots, recognizing her ancestors and village as her place of origin. The story of this woman has become a common one in Kaqchikel villages, especially due to their proximity to modernizing cities like Antigua and the capitol (2004, 34). Both ladina and indigenous women have been struggling for equality and public recognition for decades in Guatemala. The first women’s movement in Guatemala took place in the 1920s under the rule of the dictator Manuel Estrada Cabrera. The women participating in the movement were all elite, intellectual ladinas from the capitol known as the “Generation 20” who established a recurring column in a prominent literary periodical known as Sociedad de Gabriela Mistral 5. As Marta Elena Casaús Arzú explains in her article “La voz de las mujeres guatemaltecas en la década de 1920”, how society created a public space for women to express themselves: “les posibilita construirse como una asociasión cultural, generadora de opinión pública, que puede trascender, por primera vez en el país, del espacio doméstico al espacio público en material de género”6 (Casaús Arzú 2001, 204). Despite the fact that the movement did not include any indigenous women, it did acknowledge the need for indigenous peoples to be included as citizens of Guatemala, and incorporated this idea in the statement of its goals (Casaús Arzú 2001, 198-199). Though limited in influence for indígenas, the work of the Sociedad de Gabriela Mistral began to create a public outlet for the voice of women in Guatemala and made the public claim that both women and indigenous peoples should be treated equally. In stark contrast to other Latin American nations, such as neighboring Mexico, who went through a period of nationalism during the Mexican Revolution the ladina women’s movement of the 1920s in Guatemala took place prior to any nationwide movement for indigenous rights. During this period of nationalism in Mexico, an understanding of ethnic identity was built on a national level with an emphasis on 4
The Sociedad de Gabriela Mistral was the first literary periodical in the Guatemala in the 1920s with a column consistently written by women; also refers to the group of Ladina writers and poets who wrote for it. 5
It was possible for them to construct a cultural association, a generator of public opinion, that for the first time in the country could emerge from the domestic space to the public space through a genre 6
mestizaje, or racial mixture, recognizing the existence and importance of the country’s indigenous past. Such a process never took place in Guatemala, which accounts for the continuing efforts of the indigenous community working towards acceptance and rights, as well as the popularity of the Pan-Maya movement. This Pan-Maya movement began in the mid 1980s, springing from the violence and turmoil of the Guatemalan civil war and La Violencia. The roots of the movement lie in a Maya cultural awakening which began to take place in the 1970s in places like Tecpán where young Maya peoples began to exhibit a heightened interest in their cultural heritage. In other areas like Quetzaltenango, Maya leaders also began forming political parties during this same time period (Fischer and Hendrickson 2006, 73). Later in the 1990s, in light of the increased pressure to reach a peace agreement, the movement altered its solely cultural focus to incorporate the search for political power for Maya peoples. The Pan-Maya movement known today seeks to create a voice and political force for all Maya peoples on a national level, with focuses on human rights, cultural preservation and inclusion in the national identity of Guatemala. Vital to this movement is the creation of a Maya ethnolinguistic identity and an “essential linking of Mayan languages with the ideal of a unified Maya pueblo (people/nation)” (French 2010, 30). Linguists of the Pan-Maya movement often romanticize Mayan languages and the Pre-Columbian past to emphasize unity, erasing the differences among the various Mayan language groups that exist in Guatemala today. The necessity to conflate these various Maya groups can be understood in the context of a Guatemala that is going through a formative period following a brutal civil conflict that spanned most of the second half of the twentieth century. Various highland Maya communities were targets of genocide against the Guatemalan people, and were stripped of any rights or confidence in their government. Current efforts to reclaim these rights seek strength in numbers by uniting all indigenous peoples within the country in hopes that their voices are heard. Defining Public and Private within Kaqchikel Society The notion of a public is a central element to the exploration of women’s power. The categories of public and private were first explored by Habermas in the 1960s, which applied specifically to studies of the bourgeois public sphere, but have since been applied to various fields such as politics, linguistics, etc. (Hill 2001, 83). As much of these subsequent studies have done, the terms of public and private in this paper will be used as mobile concepts; folk notions concerned with groupness, interest and communication (Gal & Woolard 2001, 7). For much of history the notion of a public
when it concerns women has been a public space of exclusion. In this dichotomy, women are traditionally considered to move within the private realm and therefore any public actions or speech made by women has not been viewed as legitimate. The actions of Kaqchikel women have not been viewed as legitimate for a variety of factors including their status as indigenous peoples, as well as their often lower economic status and their gender. The commonly accepted public activities for Maya women, i.e. activities that conform to patriarchal society’s gender norms, include working as merchants, vendors, washerwomen, and other daily chores that took them outside of the household (Carey 2006a, 33). As June Nash emphasizes, these jobs that women perform to enter the modern sectors of the economy often serve a “reproductive” function (Nash and Saka 1976, 9). The instances in which Kaqchikel women have bent these gender norms and acted in the public sphere outside of the previously mentioned activities mark moments when they move from vehicles of tradition and reproduction to agents of change. Little emphasis is placed on the colonial period and movement to independence in Central America, and for the most part, the region served as somewhat of a “backwater” area between Mexico and South America. Following independence, Guatemala maintained a similar social geography as well as political and economic structures of the colonial period with various strong foreign influences present in the country running the agricultural industry. This period of neo-colonialism took place officially from 1880-1930, then continued throughout World War II via importsubstitution agriculture (ISI) and arguably persists today. During much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Kaqchikel Maya migrated to the Pacific coast to work on plantations under these neo-colonial conditions. Most of the work was in the coffee industry, an area often dominated by German farm owners in which male labor was openly and actively recruited. Despite this fact, women and their children often accompanied the men on their labor migrations to work as well. While overall agriculture was still considered man’s domain “coffee groves defied a sexual division of labor; women and men performed the same tasks” (Carey 2006b, 518). Women and children found themselves working alongside men in the coffee industry, but another need rose for the workers: food. Women, seen as the cooks and providers of food for the family, thus needed to fulfill this need as per the gender norms within their society. The Kaqchikel women drew on this aspect of their role in the family and society: “women’s traditional skills-- channeled into entrepreneurial activities-- could also empower them” (Carey 2006b, 503). Women were traditionally expected to provide food for their husbands and families and thus took on the role of preparing food for the men who worked on the coffee plantations, often after working as harvesters themselves. For
some the job was too consuming, and these women chose to completely devote themselves to making tortillas for the men, three times per day. These women are referred to by the Spanish term molenderas. Molenderas and Migrations The economic and social repercussions of the work done by the molenderas reveals the nuanced workings of micropower within systems of domination (Carey 2006b, 501). As mentioned earlier, regardless of the demographic data shown of the employees, agriculture was still viewed as man’s work. In an anonymous interview Cristina, an indigenous woman from El Quiche, expresses this sentiment clearly: “I learned how to farm just like a man" (Anon 1983, 103). When women performed tasks inherently viewed as masculine, they were not viewed as equals, but were instead seen as transgressing their roles. Kaqchikel women from San Juan Sacatepéquez who worked at the Osuna-Rochela plantations were paid the same amount as children-- less than half as much as men (Carey 2006a, 79). As a woman performing man’s work, she was not considered worthy of equivalent pay. Working as a molendera was a completely different story, as making tortillas fit within the realm of work assigned to women. Kaqchikel women transformed their role as cooks into the role of the breadwinner of the family. Many hardworking molenderas earned more money than even the men who were working at the plantations, but this newfound economic power did not come without its own repercussions. In a sense, once women earned a certain amount of money they “purchased” their own autonomy (Carey 2006a, 63). Many of the most successful molenderas either left their husbands by choice, or were forced to do so according to prescribed gender norms. For some women, the power they received from their new economic status allowed them to leave abusive partners and purchase their own land. For others, new economic power meant losing their husband as the machismo was too strong within Guatemalan society to allow the woman to earn more than the man of the household. As Carey explains, women who earned more than men almost had to live on their own due to gender hierarchies (Carey 2006b, 505). In this instance, public power in the form of economic success served as a method of exclusion rather than inclusion into mainstream Kaqchikel society. The molenderas were reaching such great levels of economic success that they were no longer only serving the purpose of reproducers for the men in society as described by Nash, but were producing a surplus of money and power for themselves. Women are most commonly associated with the private realm, so
their entry into the public space via economic prosperity challenged traditional gender roles, thus separating them from their husbands. Overall, during the coastal labor migrations of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Kaqchikel women were able to manipulate and micromanage the prevailing structures of power and gender norms in order to create a public space for themselves. They were even able to find a way in which they could earn money for themselves within the dominate neo-colonial framework that often kept indigenous laborers in a subjugated position. Women did not simply receive the changes that came along with the migrations, but actively served as agents of changes within the process. Carey explains the process clearly: â€œBy migrating to the coast, Kaqchikel women created spaces-- both psychological and physical-- for themselves within and beyond the confines of their communitiesâ€? (Carey 2006b, 533). The role of the molendera did not defy the boundaries of femininity, but the economically lucrative, public molendera did. Previously, women performed the activities involved with making tortillas privately, in their own homes, and did not make money for it, or at the least, not to the degree which took place when women were making tortillas for entire labor forces. Even today, as Keys demonstrates, the private work performed by Kaqchikel women that does not receive payment is not viewed as work but only as gardening, weaving, cooking, cleaning, etc (Keys 1999, 91). As Carey further explains: by bridging a private activity (grinding corn and cooking for the family in the home) with a more public presence (grinding corn and cooking for coastal laborers), molenderas increased more than their income: they also expanded public spaces in which Maya women worked and in this way made their worth more readily apparent to family and community members (Carey 2006a, 88). Many Kaqchikel women received payment for their labor for the first time in their lives during these migrations. This phenomenon provided complimentary repercussions within the home, and it should be noted the uniqueness of the situation: these events were able to take place when the normal social structures were not in place. Although entire towns migrated to work on the plantations or fincas, they were in a new, unchartered space where structures of power were different and malleable. This displacement is similar to that discussed by Sarah Blue in her study of the Guatemalan refugee NGO which was founded in Mexico with extraordinary results (Blue 2005). Female Guatemalan refugees in Mexico were able to be fully incorporated into development and NGOs within this pseudo-society in a way that would not have been able to take place within their original communities. The same occurred with Kaqchikel women-- they were able to
channel a source of micropower based on preexisting gender roles in order to create a public space in which they could work and earn a successful wage. They were literally in a physically different space (on the Pacific coast), and therefore able to forge a psychological and economic space for themselves within their labor communities. The Knowledge and Power of Midwives While working as a molendera provided women with economic power, other types of power have historically been granted to women in areas such as childbirth and child rearing where they dominate in knowledge. Midwives have held an important role for hundreds of years, serving entire towns and gaining respect with the work they do. Garcia emphasizes the respect garnered by midwives or comadronas in her study of reproductive knowledge and health in a Kaqchikel village: “Hay dos comadronas indígenas que atienden todos los partos y que gozan de gran prestigio en la comunidad”7 (Garcia 1977, 55). As Garcia states, these women gain a certain degree of prestige for the work they do in the community, and are sometimes considered to possess certain magical powers associated with childbirth (Instituto Indigenista Nacional 1975, 34). In some instances, it is even believed that midwives are “chosen” to serve their communities in this capacity and their denial of this gift would result in negative consequences (Carey 2006a, 36). The study of midwifery directly relates to the discussion of feminine forms of public power in Maya society because the duties and roles of the midwife defy gender boundaries, thus allowing these women to exert power and express themselves in public displays not often afforded to all women. An important characteristic of the midwife is marital status, she is either a single woman, widowed or never married. Due to this status, rumors circulate concerning the sexuality of midwives since they are without men, thus not adhering to the gender norms of the village. Maya social norms dictated that midwives were not allowed to be sexually active while attending births, which could last for a few days at a time, so if a midwife was married, she was sexually free from her husband (Carey 2006a, 37). In this way, midwives are not transgressing the role of women as reproducers for the maledominated society since as widows or single women they do not reproduce themselves. Due to these transgressions of standard gender norms, many midwives were derogatorily discussed as being unfeminine and aggressive towards men. The fact that midwives are able to not only live privately and thrive without husbands, but also move about space as respected public figures of their domain without having to submit to the higher authority of a man, placed them in a realm of their own. By operating 7
There are two indigenous midwives that carry out all the births and enjoy great prestige in the community
outside of patriarchal control and knowledge midwives emasculated the very men who sought to subjugate women (Carey 2006a, 49) Despite the liberating nature of their power “midwives [are] as likely to consider themselves alienated as emancipated” (Carey 2006a, 37). Midwives are public figures defying gender norms that must enter the private lives of women who are abiding by the very norms which the midwives’ abilities stop them from accepting. In the second chapter of his book, Carey reconstructs the life of a prominent midwife Germana Catú, who was discussed by many Kaqchikel women, but no men, during the collection of his oral histories. Germana lived from around 1879-1966, and served as a prominent member of her community as a midwife and lay leader in the group Catholic Action8. She exemplified many of the characteristics of the midwife discussed above, and the oral histories provide an interesting perspective to this work as they demonstrate the ways the midwife was viewed by people. Many women indicated that Germana was a strong woman who “assumed an assertive, extraverted role when women were to be reticent in public” (Carey 2006a, 33). She was able to gain this power and public role due to her profession, but her commitment to public community leadership with Catholic Action demonstrates that her public influence went beyond that of a midwife. Germana’s situation was also unique as she was able to gain respect from Kaqchikel women as well as ladinas, serving as a midwife in their births as well. She not only defied gender norms, but racial and ethnic tensions as well by serving as a strong, public female figure in her community. In terms of power, Germana, along with all midwives, had access to both the public and private worlds of the community. Due to the nature of the work, midwives are regarded public access at all hours of the day since children may come at any hour. While most Kaqchikel women were not confined to the private sphere of domestic life, their public activities such as working and socializing, were still only permitted within the confines of a specific schedule, i.e. market time, only during the day, etc. (Carey 2006a, 33). As mentioned earlier, “midwives were recognized as a necessary if problematic exception” to public access and expression (Carey 2006a, 34). Their work permitted them to move about freely in public space in order to serve the women of the village, and in some cases, midwives like Germana Catú took this to another level of public power, expressing herself and participating in other community activities as a leader. The role of the midwife in Maya society serves as a clear example of the micropower a woman was able to possess due to her vocation. By requiring midwives to enter the A new element to Latin American Catholicism in the 1930s and 40s that consisted of groups of lay leaders, many of which were women, who sought to regain control of churches from traditional forces like cofradías 8
homes of women in order to deliver their children, the job allowed for women to access the public sphere with a degree of freedom not normally granted to females. The specific case of Germana Catú, a prominent Kaqchikel midwife, exemplifies the notoriety one midwife was able to receive within her community, as well as the ladino population. The power within this role originates form a source that is purely feminine: reproduction and birth. Men never enter this realm to work as midwives as men do in the U.S. to work as obstetricians, so in this sense, the power was always vested in women in this area. Midwives were able to take off from this point, and develop their power in public speaking, often acting more open and extraverted than other Maya women. Beginning in 1953, the Guatemalan Ministry of Health began challenging traditional midwifery by attempting to Westernize medicine in the country, eliminate the midwife and require certification, but the practices of these women endure (Carey 2006a, 46). During this encounter, Maya midwives were forced to defend and attempt to legitimate their power as indigenous women, along with century’s worth of knowledge and traditional practices related to childbirth. Most midwives, including Germana Catú, received the training required by the government and continued serving their communities now as licensed, official members of the working public 9. During this encounter “midwives were as dependent upon communities to maintain culture and ethnomedicine as Maya were on midwives to defend and uphold their distinct ways of life and knowing” (Carey 2006a, 47). Being a woman and working as a midwife were two closely connected identities, therefore the idea of women as protectors of Maya traditions applied to this situation as well. Maya midwives were not only working as practitioners delivering the children of the village, but they were continuing and carrying on traditional methods of medicine, spirituality, etc. In the case of midwifery, it seems that the women were able to legitimate their traditional practices through the governmental licensing programs, proving to the Western medical authorities that the knowledge of the midwife was indeed valuable and successful in these communities. In Garcia’s study, she emphasizes this point and states that: “Partiendo de esta informacion se ha concluido que la forma tradicional como se efectuan los partos no contribuye a las tasas de mortalidad materna ni es responsable significativamente de la mortalidad perinatal”10 (Garcia 1977, 72). Traditional midwife practices were effective and not responsible for infant deaths. Not only were women able to take on the role of powerful public leaders granted a great 1953- Ministry of Health requires all midwives to receive official training course offered by a Western nurse or doctor. Those who did not take the course by 1955 were considered to be operating as illegal midwives. 9
deal of freedom, but there were also able to navigate the attempts by the ladino government to legislate their work by legitimating traditional Maya practices. The efforts of the government to “westernize” midwifery and medicine in general were just the beginning of the greater movement to modernize Guatemala which continues to actively shape the country today. The government’s desire to impose Western standards to the medicinal practices of Guatemala (i.e. limiting authority of indigenous medical practitioners and replacing them with hospitals and doctors) should come as no surprise since historically, the upper class and the governments as a whole have sought associations with outsiders in order to mark themselves as “modern” within the neoliberal framework, an element which has yet to coexist with the culture and the indigenous peoples of the country. Tourism and Transnational Influences More and more people from all over the world travel to Guatemala to visit its rainforests, volcanoes and ancient Maya ruins. Due to this vibrancy, tourism has become the top industry in Guatemala following agricultural exports, and thus has had an effect on everyday life for most people. The center of much of this tourism and trade takes place in the Kaqchikel area, in the colonial city of Antigua. With cobblestone streets, colorful buildings and various ruins of churches, the city is known for its beautiful architecture and stunning location in between three volcanoes: Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. All of these factors make Antigua an ideal tourist spot, and many people from the United States and Europe travel there every year to travel, hike, and learn Spanish. The paradise that is Antigua, Guatemala exists within a bubble to a certain degree, surrounded by highland villages with inhabitants who lead lives quite unlike the antigüeños (inhabitants of Antigua). As anthropologist Walter Little describes it, Antigua is a transnational borderzone city (2004a, 83). It is on the boundary of Western and Maya culture. It is here that the foreign, ladino and indigenous forces all come together to mix, compete, and share with one another. This exchange has brought economic opportunity to many Maya peoples in surrounding villages that come to Antigua to work as vendors, especially women, in the market and around town, as well as performing demonstrations of traditional practices such as weaving and making tortillas. From the foreign perspective, the market place is seen as a feminine social space (Little 2004a, 145). Women are most often the vendors of any items related to tourism, as well as much of the produce, meat, etc. Walking by any shop of “traditional” or Maya products will most likely force you to interact with a female salesperson, and most books, postcards and calendars of indigenous peoples in Guatemala display
images of markets full of colorful women selling their wares. Markets are often associated with traditional ways of living, and thus seeing a woman in a market selling a patterned weaving to a tourist is viewed as a normal, authentic expression of Maya culture. This association of women with markets may stem from the belief that women represent and serve as the reproducers of Maya culture, and most visibly, because many women vendors still wear the traditional Maya woven top and skirt, commonly referred to as traje. When tourists encounter Maya men, they are most likely not wearing a distinguishing garment to vouch for their authentic “Mayanness” and therefore are not recognized as Maya by these foreigners. Due to this judgment, women have continued to work as the primary sellers in tourist markets because they are able to interact more deeply with tourists as authentic representatives of Maya culture, the untouched “other” many tourists seek to interact with during their stays in Guatemala. Later on this discussion, it will prove interesting to see just how similar a foreigner’s assessment of Maya identity via dress and language is to the assessment of indigenous identity performed by the Pan-Maya movement. Walter Little’s has published numerous works analyzing the interactions and processes taking place in the Companía de Jesus Mercado de Artesanía, a traditional artisan market staffed by mostly Kaqchikel vendors in Antigua11. As he explains, “Maya women who sell handicrafts to tourists are public figures” (Little 2004b, 527). Most of the stalls at this market are primarily run by women whose husbands only come to the market to work if their wives need to perform some other imperative task away from the stall. Moreover, women in the tourism industry are the primary economic actors in public space, often placing men in a secondary position in terms of power and economic success. Since these Maya women are outside of the home for many hours each day, men have begun helping out at home—for instance, doing laundry and cooking meals for the family. These practices mark a shift away from the strict sexual divisions of labor commonly observed in Kaqchikel villages (Little 2004a, 172). Even today, most men in Maya villages consider it a display of their own economic success to prohibit their wives from working outside of the home (Little 2004a, 163). On the other hand, Little highlights that this shift of general roles is not resented or seen as anything but necessary for the financial success of the family since women are upheld as bearers and reproducers of Maya culture and therefore more successful vendors to skeptical tourists. In one of these examples, an older man in his fifties was doing laundry for his family even though his daughter was home because it needed to be done. Upon questioning as to why he was doing this typically women’s work he replied “You know that my wife is in Antigua today” (Little 2006a, 143).This difference may reside in the 11
(e.g. 2000, 2004a, 2004b)
tourism tradition of towns like San Antonio Aguas Calientes that have interacted with tourists for many years, therefore slowly transitioning through the change in gender roles. This expression of public power for Kaqchikel women resides in a new transnational context, unlike any of the previously discussed examples. As discussed earlier, the market to which the Kaqchikel vendors are appealing is a foreign one, comprised of peoples moving back and forth between their home countries and places like Guatemala sharing their language, culture and money. The Guatemalan tourism industry, despite the social realities of inequality in the country, seeks to market its indigenous culture from the modern Maya as well as the ancient ruins of sites like Tikal. This translates to an inverted social hierarchy within the tourism industry, not only for women and men, but Maya and ladinos as well. Little mentions this idea as well stating, “Mayanness, or Indianness, holds more value in the transnational contexts of tourism than Ladinoness.” (Little 2004a, 154). This fascination with indigenous culture in Guatemala has developed to such an extent that ladinos often visit tourist markets to buy souvenirs such as key chains to send to relatives in other countries as representations of their own country, despite the fact that they are not part of indigenous culture themselves. Another factor involved in the transnational nature of the industry is its ability to contribute to change within Kaqchikel Maya communities. Tourists visit a town like Antigua, bringing their various cultural practices, and share them with Maya women. When a female tourists asks a Kaqchikel woman about gender roles in their homes, this causes the Kaqchikel women to question their own roles, therefore developing their concepts of gender, work, public space, freedom, etc (Little 2000, 175 ). Even on the most basic level, Kaqchikel vendors in Antigua meet young women who dress differently and travel the world without spouses, which at the least begins a dialogue about cultural practices that may affect their own communities in one way of another. Another form of tourism that exemplifies the porous boundary between the public and private realms brought on by foreigners involves demonstrations in the home. Most of these take place in towns such as the previously mentioned San Antonio Aguas Calientes, bringing tourists into the “traditional” homes of Maya families to watch weaving demonstrations, make tortillas, and eat Guatemalan food. Little studied this activity in his work as well, analyzing the performance within a particular family. Women are seen as bearers of culture and are therefore able to participate in these performances, although they are “acting” Maya. The more these performances take place, the less “traditional” the towns are becoming (Little 2000, 179). By emphasizing their private role as domestic beings and bearers of tradition, these women are able to
enter the public realm of the tourism industry, turning their homes into transnational spaces. Choices of Language Brigittine French’s work discusses another example of Kaqchikel women acting as agents of modernity in the municipality of Chimaltenango. She conducted linguistic fieldwork in the city, studying the opinions of various indigenous peoples in reference to Mayan languages and Spanish. As Mayan languages are often viewed as iconic representations of the Maya people, and women often are seen as the bearers of tradition and language maintenance, women become particularly important as representations of Maya personhood via their language choices. Her conclusions on young Kaqchikel women exemplify the current ways in which these women are acting to shape their own, modern worlds and public spaces. In contrast to many of their antepasados, “these young indigenous women identify as agents of modernity rather than bearers of tradition” (French 2010, 111). As discussed previously, this vision of Maya women has been held for many generations in nearly all images of Guatemala presented to the rest of the world, as well as in academic scholarship until recent years. In French’s study, more women identify themselves as monolingual Spanish speakers than men. Their decision to identify themselves as monolingual Spanish speakers places these women in start contrast to traditional roles of females in language choice. Many of these same women also identify themselves as speakers of a Mayan language, mostly Kaqchikel, but they primarily associate themselves as monolingual Spanish speakers. As French states: “Their dual identification as indigenous women and as Spanish monolinguals underscores alternative linguistic ideologies connecting tradition with identity in nonessentialist ways” (120). This is to say, the idea that indigenous women must identify themselves as primarily Kaqchikel or Kiche’ speakers in order to legitimate their traditional and indigenous identity does not need to exist anymore. During research in the highlands among young indigenous women working as announcers at community radio stations, many girls wore traje, but did not speak an indigenous language. They did not identify themselves as any less Maya, but simply were modernizing and using the language they felt best benefitted their lives. Additionally, French noted that women identified as speaking Spanish when transgressing gender norms, an idea that suggests they view Spanish as a way to modernize and change their current status as women within their societies (French 2010, 123). When women are not acting as reproducers for society, but are instead creating and producing economic capital on their own for their own advancement, they
are no longer adhering to traditional gender norms and more often than not, are using Spanish in these endeavors. Although this provides an interesting lens through which power and gender can be analyzed, the idea of Spanish as a liberating language for women does not hold up when concepts such as ladino machismo persist. In French’s work, she also mentions various issues associated with the larger PanMaya movement in Guatemala. As mentioned earlier, this ethnonationalist projects seeks to unite all Maya peoples into one group in order to increase their social and political influence. It has often been used by various tourism campaigns as well, seeking to connect all of the modern Maya peoples of Guatemala to the ancient Maya who once inhabited the archaeological sites. French discusses the ethnolinguistic political project of the movement which seeks to marry Maya people-hood with Mayan languages (French 2010, 111). This suggests that an emblematic feature of Maya identity involves speaking a Mayan language, a characteristic which is no longer true in the case of many people. Moreover, the Pan-Maya movement upholds the woman as the reproducer of Mayan languages, invoking the same sentiment of indigenous women as the keepers of tradition which has been brought up time and time again throughout this paper (French 2010, 111). In the example of the young indigenous women living in Chimaltenango, these women identify themselves as Maya, but also as monolingual Spanish speakers. Does this form of identification mean that these women are any less Maya? Have they lost their Mayanness by migrating to the city of Chimaltenango and modernizing their linguistic practices? What makes a person Maya? French seeks to assert that this idea could not be any more false, but that these women are acting as agents of modernization and change. According to the Pan-Maya movement, addressing women’s issues in particular would divide the power within the movement itself, and it is therefore discouraged. This idea implies that the young women of Chimaltenango are not only agents of modernization in terms of gender, but linguistics and politics as well. In their case study of Tecpán, a Kaqchikel Maya town, Fischer and Hendrickson dealt with similar issues of language and identity. In many ways, language and dress serve as successful markers of identity since they are the most readily identifiable. The problem arises when the Pan-Maya movement uses these assumptions in an attempt to freeze identity and freeze people. These efforts cannot take place because identities, especially markers of ethnic identity, “are dynamic objects, constantly defined and redefined through experience” (Fischer and Hendrickson 2003, 99). The importance of this idea cannot be underplayed, for it is the very malleability of the concept of identity that allows women to use it to their advantage for various purposes. By attempting to freeze Maya women in the position of social and cultural reproducers of the Maya
community, the Pan-Maya movement fails to recognize the fluidity which exists in defining identity and ethnicity. During the summer of 2010, I interviewed a young Maya girl working at a Chimaltenango community radio station called La Otra Radio. She wore traje and lived in an entirely indigenous village, but did not speak Kaqchikel. Her radio station in particular did not broadcast at all in Kaqchikel, although they did express interest in the idea. Eva identified with being indigenous, wearing traje, and eating traditional foods, the only difference was that she did not speak a Mayan language. Her village in general had very much indigenous pride, but when I asked her whether or not people spoke Kaqchickel she responded, “Muchos no hablan porque los padres no inculcan el valor” (Peren 2010). Here she states that many people do not speak Kaqchikel because she believes their parents to not instill in them the value of learning it. This exemplifies French’s point; women are not bound to living as reproducers of tradition but instead make strategic choices in reference to language, modernizing and acting as agents of change especially in urban areas such as Chimaltenango and Guatemala City. Even more, entire villages are now making these choices in modern Guatemala. It should be noted that the traditional dress of women often referred to as traje, serves as a particularly important representation of Maya cultural and receives special emphasis from the Pan-Maya movement. In a recent publication in relation to the weavings and clothing of Sumpango, another Kaqchikel town, a cultural institution within the town, Gorrion Chupaflor, made the following statement in reference to women’s clothing: “We oppose the disappearance and devaluation of Mayan traditional clothing because in the traditional attire of the women of Sumpango lives the spirit of the Kaqchikel people” (Yax Te’ 2006, 11). Not only do women uphold Maya cultural identity via language but through their clothing as well, which has become a visual representation of Maya personhood. Moreover, this serves as another situation in which the Pan-Maya movement invokes longstanding traditional notions of women to support their cause for cultural unity and recognition. The actions of women in regards to their language choices do not always align them with the stance of the Pan-Maya movement. The young indigenous women who identify themselves as monolingual Spanish speakers are acting as agents of change, not passive vehicles merely accepting the changes around them, but they are also placing themselves in a position of vulnerability. By transgressing gender norms and not acting as vehicles of “tradition” which would include them in the popular Pan-Maya movement, these women are excluding themselves from the future that the movement is working for. In some instances, they may even be accused of working against the movement by refusing to simply identify themselves by indigenous characteristics
alone such as language. The Pan-Maya movement is acting as a public enforcing gender norms while at the same time attempting to empower Maya people. This idea demonstrates how even modern political and social movements struggle to include women’s issues. Overall, the simple act of choosing a language to speak carries many implications, especially in a country like Guatemala with so many factors at play such as globalization, Pan-Mayanism, migration, etc. Community radio stations have provided another outlet through which women, both ladinas and indígenas, are creating spaces for their voices to be heard. These stations are run completely by volunteers and solely serve their communities in a not for profit capacity. In the Kaqchikel town of Sumpango, Departamento de Sacatepéquez, Angelica expressed these ideas stating that working on the radio was “abriendo un espacio” for women in her community (Cubir 2010). Ironically, Angelica worked in a traditional female position as a weaver to support herself, but has also become very active in community radio. At this particular station, the majority of the volunteers are women, so they play an important role in the livelihood of the station. At another station in Chimaltenango that identified culturally as Kaqchickel Maya, a young girl named Eva stressed during the interview that she wanted to express to the other women in her community that women do matter and should be valued by society (Perén 2010). It should be noted that neither of these young women spoke Kaqchikel, and neither one of their radio stations featured programming in Kaqchikel. On the other hand, both women wore traje everyday and expressed a great amount of pride for their indigenous roots. These examples stress the idea that Maya culture and language do not always come hand in hand, but manifest themselves in various forms in the globalizing world. In addition to stations in Todos Santos Cuchumatanes, Sumpango and Chimaltenango which were mostly indigenous, I also visited ladina women working at a radio station in Ciudad Vieja. The women at this station expressed no interest in furthering the voice or rights of women in their communities, and only worked on-air as the hosts of the children’s program every Saturday. This sentiment stood in stark contrast to me when compared with the work of the indigenous women of neighboring communities. It seemed as though the ladinas at this station were content with the gender roles they were fulfilling at the station, and did not seek to develop their public voices. In this sense, it seemed that Kaqchikel women were more proactively pursuing forms of public power and expression within their communities while continuing to embrace their indigenous culture.
A Modern Social Movement and the Persistence of Traditional Gender Roles Maya peoples in general and even to a greater extent, Maya women, have been kept in a subordinate position within Guatemalan society from the Conquest to the presentday. In situations such as this where unequal structures of wealth and power are at play, forms of resistance always form as a response. As Nash points out, these types of popular movements serve as a hope for offering survival strategies and create alternatives to the various economic and political crises in Latin American countries. These types of popular movements articulate themselves at the local level and are based on people’s needs (Nash 1995, 15). The Pan-Maya movement formed in this way as a response to the struggles facing the Maya people of the country following the civil conflict and serves as an avenue for Maya peoples to uphold their own cultural and ethnic identities while fighting for public voice and power in Guatemalan society. When looking more deeply at situations in which Kaqchikel women seek a similar form of public voice, the conflict with the Pan-Maya movement can be analyzed and better understood. By looking at the town and Tecpán more closely, many of the problems discussed throughout this paper can be better understood and a clear example of the Pan-Maya identity struggle can be seen. Tecpán is situated along the Pan-American Highway in the department of Chimaltenango and takes pride in its ability to maintain good relations with ladinos, a common feature of the Kaqchikel Maya due to their close proximity to predominantly ladino areas of the country (Fischer and Hendrickson 2003, 5). Despite the fact that a few highly educated Tecpanecos are leaders within the greater Pan-Maya movement, there is little activity within the town itself. The Tecpanecos involved in the movement have since moved to Guatemala City to have better access to opportunities in professional development and politics to further their own interests. These elite members of the Pan-Maya movement were described as “more Maya than the Maya” by one local Tecpaneco (Fischer and Hendrickson 2003, 77). This statement captures the separation of the intellectuals of the Pan-Maya movement and the Maya peoples of local towns. One criticism of Tecpanecos and their lack of cultural maintenance work and connection with the Pan-Maya movement states that they are too concerned with making money (Fischer and Hendrickson 2003, 76). Kaqchikel women have been similarly criticized, for example, for speaking Spanish as a means to advance themselves economically and socially. By attacking the practices of the Kaqchikel people of Tecpán who do not adhere directly to the prescribed, static view of identity supported by the Pan-Mayanists, the movement divides the Maya people. It should
instead take a deeper look at the processes which take place at the local level in places like Tecpán. Fischer and Hendrickson state this struggle in Tecpán quite frankly in the following excerpt from their case study: “In Tecpán, hundreds and hundreds of Maya men who don’t wear traje, children who don’t speak Kaqchikel fluently, and families that would never go to a Maya diviner still consider themselves unquestionably Maya and suffer the prejudices of a larger world that sees them as Indian and hence inferior” (77). Not only do citizens of Tecpán view themselves as Maya despite the possibility of not wearing traje or not speaking Kaqchikel, but they are still viewed as Maya by members of Guatemalan society and thus remain in a position of oppression. The elite members of the Pan-Maya movement fail to recognize this reality when they seek to link Maya personhood to fluency in a Mayan language in essentialist terms. These divisions restate the points made earlier in reference to the malleable and dynamic nature of ethnolinguistic identity. Maya peoples, and therefore their cultural, religious and social practices, have been in contact with Spanish and foreign influences for over 500 years, continually adapting and persisting in new and different ways. No one singular element of Maya culture defines a person, since each individual has the choice to view themselves as Kaqchikel or not. The very nature of the categories of ladino and indígena proves that identity is a changing idea since these terms are merely social constructs. Fischer and Hendrickson again state this process of changing Maya identity throughout history emphasizing, “this process continues still, as the Maya adapt and redefine their culture in the face of an ever-changing post-colonial political system and an increasingly invasive world market system—all the while retaining a subjective sense of their culture’s continuity” (61). Maya culture not only continues, but continues to change and express itself in new and innovative ways in this every changing, ever globalizing modern society. The actions of Kaqchikel women exemplify this change through language, ethnicity and identity as they redefine and reconfigure the categories utilized by the Pan-Maya movement. Young women working at community radio stations in Kaqchikel towns like Sumpango and Chimaltenango wear traje everyday and speak on the radio about women’s issues and their indigenous culture but are not fluent in Kaqchikel. French’s work demonstrates that women are more and more likely to self-identify as monolingual Spanish speakers despite a clear sense of indigenous identity. Citizens of Tecpán travel to neighboring ladino towns to work and make money, leaving behind their traje and sometimes Kaqchikel in hopes of a prosperous future. Female vendors work in Antigua everyday, interacting with tourists, espousing their indigenous Maya identity and often earning more money than their male counterparts. All of these women are bending gender norms by not only working in public and assuming
positions of power, but by reconfiguring the view upheld by the Pan-Maya movement that women are reproducers of language and culture. On a local level, Kaqchikel women are resisting the authority of the greater Guatemalan society and the Pan-Maya movement in their quest for economic and social power. Conclusion Overall, throughout history Kaqchikel women have acted as agents of change seeking to develop their public voice and power, often through the manipulation of their perceived status as bearers of Maya traditions. For many women, this power and voice have been acquired through economic means, beginning with the molenderas of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. By assuming their traditional role as tortilla makers, women were able to gain considerable power by earning more money than their male counterparts working on the coastal plantations. In many ways, this economic independence isolated the women from both men and other females since this power defied accepted gender roles. Midwives face a very similar fate, gaining public respect for their skills while also isolating themselves from other women. When Kaqchikel women enter gendered public spaces typically dominated by men, they isolate themselves and are seen as masculine. Rumors surrounding single women midwives and even molenderas question their sexuality for this very reason; they have entered the male dominated space and therefore cannot be accepted as sexually feminine while also commanding power that is normally only afforded to men (Berger 2006, 61). Kaqchikel women of today continue to enter the public realm, often acting as agents of modernization. In the tourism industry, women perform the public role of the authentic Maya, the living representation of traditional practices, and therefore are highly successful vendors. Due to their public success, the spouses of female vendors are often relegated to the private realm, a role Guatemalan men are not used to assuming. Young women migrating to large cities for work are often leaving behind their Mayan languages for Spanish, and along with it, the traditional ideas surrounding women and culture. Women work at community radio stations as announcers, creating spaces for women to speak to their communities about issues concerning them. Along with this work, the women receive training in technology and community journalism, areas often dominated by men, but which are beginning to accept women as well. The involvement of women at community radio stations varies considerably, often based on the attitudes of the male directors of the stations. When data from the Kaqchikel area is compared with other indigenous areas, it appears as though young indigenous women are working on more progressive radio programs and gaining even more influence than
their ladina counterparts throughout the country. The historical nature of the Maya woman and power as well as the close association between women and culture allow them to speak on the radio with authority to their communities as agents of change instead of keepers of tradition. The legitimacy of public speech from women was once relegated only to matters surrounding language, culture and family, but is now being expanded by these young women working in community radio stations throughout Guatemala today. The role of a woman and her ability to live alone and own land has only been limited by custom and culture (UNICEF 1994, 171). Throughout history, Kaqchikel women have consistently sought ways to enter the public realm and gain power and a voice for themselves. The greatest difference between the past and today exists in the accessibility of this power. Previously, the only ways for women to enter public, maledominated society was through specific occupations such as the molendera during the labor migrations or midwifery. Today, the opportunity exists for nearly any Kaqchikel woman to move to a city such as Chimaltenango, Guatemala City or Antigua, and pursue a life in the public realm. This could be through tourism, speaking Spanish, or working at a radio station, but the outlets exist for women to live and work in the public realm. Much of this change relates to transnationalism and globalization, with foreign presence and capitol opening new channels of exchange for women. Kaqchikel women have Facebook accounts and send emails, present reports on women’s rights on their radio stations, and live as single women. They have not left their indigenous culture behind, but simply do not depend on it to legitimate their power. Moreover, they no longer need to serve the traditional reproductive purpose in order to find this power. Reproduction, be it by bearing a child or maintaining and transmitting a Mayan language or culture, does not need to define the work of the modern Kaqchikel woman. For women in the tourism industry, this is less true, but by putting on performances, these women derive their authority from notions of tradition, yet enter public spaces as modern beings as performers, vendors, etc. BIBLIOGRAPHY Berger, Susan A. 2006 Guatemaltecas :The Women's Movement, 1986-2003. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. Blue, Sarah A. 2005 “Including Women in Development: Guatemalan Refugees and Local NGOs.” Latin American Perspectives 32(5):101-17.
Calel, Rosalío Saquic. 1973 “La mujer indígena guatemalteca.” Guatemala Indígena 8(1-2): 81-110. Carey, David. 2006a Engendering Mayan History :Kaqchikel Women as Agents and Conduits of the Past, 1875-1970. New York: Routledge. 2006b “Empowered through Labor and Buttressing Their Communities: Mayan Women and Coastal Migration, 1875-1965.” Hispanic American Historical Review 86 (3): 501-34. Casaús Arzú, Marta Elena 2001 “La voz de las mujeres guatemaltecas en la década de 1920.” Cuadernos Americanos 89 (Nueva época):198-229. Chasteen, John Charles. 2001
Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America. New York; London: W. W. Norton & Company.
Chuy Peren, Eva. 2010 Interview by author, 11 June, Guatemala. Interview notes. Cubir, Angelica. 2010 Interview by author, 21 May, Guatemala. Interview notes. Fischer, Edward F., and Carol Hendrickson. 2003 Tecpán Guatemala: A Modern Maya Town in Global and Local Context. Boulder: Westview Press. French, Brigittine M. 2010
Maya Ethnolinguistic Identity :Violence, Cultural rights, and Modernity in Highland Guatemala. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press.
Gal, Susan, and Kathryn Ann Woolard, eds. 2001 Languages and Publics: The Making of Authority. Manchester: St. Jerome. García, Bertha. 1977 “Creencias y conocimientos sobre biología de la reproducción en Santa María Cauqué” Guatemala Indígena 12 (1-2): 53-81.\
Hill, Jane H. 2001 “Mock Spanish, Covert Racism and the (Leaky) Boundaries Between Public and Private Spheres.” In Languages and Publics: The Making of Authority. S. Gal and K.A. Woolard, eds. Manchester: St. Jerome, 83-102. Instituto Indigenista Nacional 1975 “La mujer indígena en Guatemala (Principales aspectos socio-económicos).” Guatemala Indígena 10(3-4): 32-44. Keys, Erin Glenn. 1999 “Kaqchikel Gardens: Women, Children, and Multiple Roles of Gardens Among the Maya of Highland Guatemala.”CLAG Yearbook (25)89-100. Little, Walter E. 2000 "Home as a Place of Exhibition and Performance: Mayan Household Transformations in Guatemala." Ethnology 39 (2): 163. 2004a Mayas in the Marketplace :Tourism, Globalization, and Cultural Identity, chapter 5, “Gendered Marketplace and Household Reorganization.” 1st ed. Austin: University of Texas Press. 2004b "Performing Tourism: Maya Women's Strategies." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture & Society 29(2): 527-532. Nash, June and Helen Ickan Safa. 1976 Sex and Class in Latin America. New York: Praeger Publishers. Nash, June. 1995 New Politics of Survival: Grassroots Movements in Central America, “Forward.” New York: Monthly Review Press. Gorrión Chupaflor and Yax Te’ 2006 The Clothing of Indigenous Women from Sumpango, Guatemala. Cleveland: Yax Te’ Books. Yool G., Juan 1994 Rub’is Jun Mayab: tristeza de un maya. Antigua, Guatemala, C.A.: Proyecto Linguistico Franciso Marroquin. Anonymous 1983 “Guatemala: Women in the Revolution.” Latin American Perspectives 10(1):103108.
Within These Few Square Miles The Lasting Impact of Urban Redevelopment and Residential Segregation in Pittsburgh Matthew T. Jacob “If Birmingham because of its steel production is the ‘Pittsburgh of the South’, in the area of human relations, Pittsburgh is the Birmingham of the North.” Byrd R. Brown, President of the Pittsburgh chapter of the NAACP, delivered these profound words in 1963. By the time of Byrd Brown’s poignant statement, Pittsburgh had fallen into patterns similar to many other urban centers of the North. The influx of AfricanAmericans from the South in search of better treatment and greater opportunities over decades resulted in drastic consequences for the African American community of Pittsburgh. Although from 1910-1970, Pittsburgh’s African American population expanded 309% from 25,623 to 104,904, African Americans had made only meager gains in politics, employment, housing, and other areas. 1 Prior to 1950, the Hill District was the geographic and cultural center of the black community and home to nearly half of the city’s African Americans. African-American communities also developed in Pittsburgh’s East End neighborhoods such as East Liberty and Homewood-Brushton. However, Pittsburgh’s Renaissance of the late 1940’s would lead to significant relocation of thousands of African-American families. In the Lower Hill, over 8,000 people were forced to relocate as a result of the creation of the Civic Arena and nearly 3,000 people were forced out of East Liberty due to the Penn Circle project leading many African Americans to dub urban renewal as “Negro Removal.” Additionally, these projects did not improve the neighborhoods that they transformed; instead, the projects fragmented geographical and cultural communities and gradually devoured the neighborhoods they were designed to improve. Naturally, African Americans went where they could find housing and the black neighborhoods of Pittsburgh’s East End were often the recipients of displaced families; consequently, the black neighborhoods of the East End became some of the most concentrated areas of “Steel City Is Called Birmingham Of North at Big NAACP Rally,” 1963. Pittsburgh Courier (1955-1965), June 15, City Edition; Joe Trotter and Jared N. Day. Race and Renaissance: African Americans in Pittsburgh since World War II (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010), 203 1
African Americans in the city. While Pittsburgh’s population suffered a drastic decline as a result of the general collapse of its steel and iron industry, the African American population remained relatively the same and each decade Pittsburgh is near the top of the list of most segregated cities. No region in Pittsburgh is more emblematic of this trend than the East End which is divided upon racially delineated boundaries intentionally drawn during decades of segregation. It is the objective of this essay to show the lasting impact of the deliberate concentration of African Americans in Pittsburgh’s East End and what the implications are for the future integration of the city.2 Early Pittsburgh and the Great Migration Prior to the Great Migration of the 1900’s, African Americans had come to Pittsburgh for a variety of reasons. According to historian Peter Gottlieb in his work Making Their Own Way: Southern Blacks’ Migration to Pittsburgh 1916-1930 black communities existed as early as the construction of Fort Pitt at the fork of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. Pittsburgh was home to numerous freed slaves prior to the Civil War and decades later African Americans were used as strikebreakers in the region’s notable steel strikes. The Pittsburgh region would become a prime location for African Americans migrating from the South after 1910 in search of better treatment and better pay in the iron and steel industry. While for some migrants, their hopes would be realized, but many others would find that the North was not what they had imagined. 3 African Americans migrated from the South for numerous reasons such as the boll weevil epidemic, de jure racism, and violence to name a few. In Abraham Epstein’s study The Negro Migrant in Pittsburgh written in 1918, Epstein states that of over 400 migrants who answered why they left the South, 325 stated better wages and opportunities as a reason and 288 of these respondents claimed better treatment was a deciding factor. Migrants came to Pittsburgh through a variety of means. For some, labor agents who painted a glorified picture of Pittsburgh as a modern city with abundant employment opportunities were the main influence on their migration. For others, the most important indicators of a migrant’s potential success in Pittsburgh were the fortunes of other migrants. Migrants who had already made success sent news back “Urban Renewal Term for ‘Negro Removal’”. 1965. New Pittsburgh Courier (1959-1965), June 5, National Edition; U.S. Bureau of the Census. 2000. 2
Peter Gottlieb, Making Their Own Way: Southern Blacks’ Migration to Pittsburgh, 1916-1930 (Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 1987), 184. 3
to their family and friends and encouraged others to test the waters. When migrants arrived in Pittsburgh they were generally taken aback by the Steel City’s hilly terrain and smoky atmosphere leading some migrants to even compare Pittsburgh to what they thought hell must look like. Migrant workers, many accustomed to sharecropping, often expressed being awestruck by the massive industrial machinery of the factories in which they were employed. Those migrants who were employed were almost always relegated to the unskilled sector of the labor pool even if they were qualified for better positions.4 Perhaps nothing was more heart breaking than the housing conditions available to migrants in Pittsburgh’s black neighborhoods. Epstein compiled extensive data on the living conditions of African American migrants in Pittsburgh. For instance, only two percent of those questioned for the study lived in what could be considered a singlefamily private residence while the rest lived in rooming houses or tenements containing three families or more. Many of the rooms in Pittsburgh dwellings were significantly overcrowded and, like in many other cities, migrants in Pittsburgh were accustomed to lodgers used to offset the costs of rent. According to Epstein’s study migrant families had an average of 3.5 lodgers per family who often practiced the “hot bed” method in which one man would wake up and go to work and another would fill his bed and then repeat the process. Many residences were often buildings abandoned by whites or condemned by the city but converted to accommodate the influx of blacks to the city. Further, landlords often converted basements into rooming with no access to outside light or air besides one door and only a small portion of lodgings had indoor toilets. According to a housing study of the Hill District in 1929, more than 10% of the neighborhood’s residences were “uninhabitable” and conditions had changed little since the onset of the migration. The housing conditions for the vast majority of black migrants during the Migration can only be described as deplorable. The impact of slum conditions undoubtedly had a direct correlation with the health of African Americans in Pittsburgh: for the first seven months of 1917, the black death-rate was 48% greater than the black birth-rate while for the city as a whole the death-rate was 30% less than the birth-rate. The conditions of the North for migrants were far from ideal, yet the Migration grew every decade due to African Americans in the South who were willing to risk everything for better opportunities in the North. 5 4Abraham
Epstein, The Negro Migrant in Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1918), 27; Gottlieb, Making Their Own Way, 42; “War, Politics, and the Creation of the Black Community.” University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010. (http://www.upress.pitt.edu/htmlSourceFiles/pdfs/9780822943914exr.pdf (Accessed November 3, 2010). 5
Epstein, The Negro Migrant in Pittsburgh, 11,13,15,16,58; Gottlieb, Making Their Own Way, 69.
Despite the standard of living in the North, there were some factors that could serve to assuage the condition of African American migrants in Pittsburgh such as the wages they received for work in comparison to the South. According to Joe Darden in an essay written for the Journal of Black Studies, 25% of blacks made $2.00-3.00/day in the South while 62% made this amount in Pittsburgh. Additionally, only 4% of blacks made $3.003.60/day in the South while 28% made this amount in Pittsburgh. Although wages were significantly better than in the South, the rent for housing was disproportionate to the wages earned by the renters and the conditions of the housing. In a 1926 survey, Pittsburgh renters paid an average 1/7th of their income on rent while a 1929 survey found that blacks in the Hill District spent about 1/4th of their income on housing. The disparity in rent payments led to transience; when migrants discovered they couldn’t afford to live in Pittsburgh, they moved on. Another cause that led to transience in Pittsburgh’s African American population was the fact that upward mobility in the workforce was very limited. Black common labor surged into the steel industry during the war time era which saw black representation in the workforce went from less than 3% prior to WWI to 14% in WWII; from 1910-1930 the proportion of unskilled labor in the black work force went from 66% to 90%.Yet, African Americans were practically absent from unionism due to racism within the unions’ white membership and their historic role as strikebreakers. In the unreliable steel industry, blacks were commonly subjected to the “last to hire first to fire” policies and every year the job market suffered, African Americans suffered at disproportionately higher rates. While African Americans had become a significant portion of Pittsburgh’s labor force, their role as generally unskilled and unorganized laborers often made African Americans vulnerable to racist policies that would leave many unemployed contributing to the challenges faced by Pittsburgh’s black community.6 As Pittsburgh’s African Americans became increasingly isolated within the labor force, they also became increasingly segregated within the city’s neighborhoods. While the Great Migration continued to bring more blacks to Pittsburgh, racially delineated boundaries began to emerge around the city’s neighborhoods. While African Americans had capitalized on wartime industry, they found it difficult to find housing and over half of Pittsburgh’s black population was concentrated in three of Pittsburgh’s twentyseven wards. By 1930, Pittsburgh’s segregation index had jumped to 71.6% due in part to a 47% increase in the black population. The central Hill District was home to Pittsburgh’s most highly-segregated census tract with a racial deficit of 8.03 meaning 8.03% of Pittsburgh’s white population would have to move into the area and 8.03% of 6Joe
T Darden, “The Effect of World War I on Black Occupational and Residential Segregation: The Case of Pittsburgh,” Journal of Black Studies 18 No. 3(1988) 301, 308
the black population would have to move out to make it a non-segregated tract(Based on the equation: S(segregation) = x(percent of white population in the city as a whole in a census tract) – y(percent of black population in a census tract)). By 1940, Pittsburgh’s segregation index increased to 74.9%; the central Hill District was still the location of Pittsburgh’s highest racial deficit registering at a staggering 10.69. The concentration of blacks in the Hill District was indicative of the neighborhood’s burgeoning influence in Pittsburgh’s black community as a whole; the Hill District would emerge as the cultural and political center of the region’s black community as African Americans continued to inhabit the slums and tenements close to the jobs available to those willing to work. 7 The Hill District and Pittsburgh’s Renaissance In the 1930’s, Pittsburgh’s Hill District was integral in the political shift away from “Lincoln’s Party”, the Republicans, to the Democratic Party in Pittsburgh, which was first signified by 58% of Pittsburgh’s vote going to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Presidential election of 1932. In 1933, the city elected its first Democratic mayor in twenty-seven years. One of the most important African American politicians was Robert “Pappy” Williams who is credited with solidifying the black-Democrat alliance and helping to elect K. Leroy Irvis to the state legislature in 1958 (later becoming speaker of the house in the state legislature) and Judge Homer S. Brown. 8 Homer S. Brown, born in Huntington, WV in 1896, was sworn into office as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in January 1935. He won as an independent in large part because of the African American voters of Pittsburgh’s Third and Fifth wards located in the Hill District. In 1946, the Pittsburgh Courier’s President Ira Lewis honored Brown by saying, “I respect Homer Brown because no threat can make him sacrifice his principles. He represents an ideal I wish every Negro could exemplify.” Brown was the first President of the Pittsburgh chapter of the NAACP and the first African American on the Pittsburgh Board of Education. Brown was also vital in the passage of the Fair Employment Practices Act, dubbed the “Brown Bill” and the creation of the Fair Employment Practices Committee. Brown’s legislative talents led to his recruitment by Pittsburgh leaders to work on the “Pittsburgh Package”, which would become the foundation for the creation of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), an authority proposed by the administration of Mayor David L Lawrence in 7Joe
T. Darden, Afro-Americans in Pittsburgh: The Residential Segregation of a People ( Lexington: Lexington Books, 1973), 13,15,17,18. Bruce Stave, “The New Deal, the Last Hurrah, and the Building of an Urban Political Machine: Pittsburgh Committeemen, a Case Study,” Pennsylvania History 33 No. 4(1966) 463; Trotter and Day Race and Renaissance, 86. 8
1946. The URA was granted the right to “acquire, improve, and condemn private property” or the right to use eminent domain. Brown advocated the Redevelopment Act that went into effect in 1953 because he saw it as the only way to mitigate the slum conditions of the Lower Hill. In 1949, Brown became the first African American judge elected to the Allegheny County Court, once again, this was largely due to the voters of the Third and Fifth wards. However, this position would put Brown in a conflicted position between his neighborhood and the legality of urban renewal. 9 Pittsburgh’s efforts to reshape the Central Business District and, later on, the Lower Hill would be hailed as Pittsburgh’s “Renaissance”. Part of the original plan called for a large civic auditorium in Pittsburgh’s Highland Park neighborhood, but this plan was bitterly opposed by Highland Park’s white, middle and upper-class citizenry, who, in 1949, launched formal protests against the plan in the form of a lawsuit seeking an injunction and a halt in planning. Additionally, Richard King, uncle to industrialist Richard Mellon who was one of Pittsburgh’s most influential men, owned a substantial portion of the proposed land. Although the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and City Council believed the Highland Park site was the most ideal, Lawrence sought to avoid conflict and further legal action from both Highland Park citizens and the most prominent businessmen in the city. Lawrence and other city officials would soon arrive at the consensus that the Hill District was the best site for the planned development. The Hill District was located close to the newly-developed “Golden Triangle” in downtown and the Lawrence Administration faced little political opposition in choosing the Hill District for redevelopment. The URA acknowledged that the Lower Hill posed a serious relocation problem, yet this problem may have been more acceptable for the Lawrence Administration than going up against some of Pittsburgh’s most powerful people.10 In 1956, Mayor David L. Lawrence delivered a speech at a Harvard University conference on urban planning. Lawrence’s speech outlined the plans for the Lower Hill that began with the Housing Authority’s job of relocating the 8,000 people who would be displaced by the project in what he terms as “massive slum clearance.” Lawrence also described the features of the planned state-of-the-art Civic Arena like its opening roof and the multitude of events it would host such as operettas, sports, and other spectacles. Lawrence concluded by saying, “the Triangle and the University district, “High Tribute Paid to Homer S. Brown,” 1946. Pittsburgh Courier (1911-1950), April 6th, City Edition; “Brown Introduces State FEPC Bill,” 1945. Baltimore Afro-American (1893-1988) Feb 17; Constance Cunningham, “Homer S. Brown: First Black Political Leader in Pittsburgh,” The Journal of Negro History 66 No. 4(1982) 310. 9
“Highland Park Battle,” 1949, Pittsburgh Press, July 23; Dan Fitzpatrick, “The Story of Urban Renewal”, Pittsburgh PostGazette, May 21, 2000. http://www.post-gazette.com/businessnews/20000521eastliberty1.asp(Accessed November 3, 2010) 10
which are now approaching each other through the process of redevelopment cover together only a very few square miles…it is on those few square miles of land that we function as a regional capital, that we become truly a great city.” Also within those “few square miles” was an area that thousands of people had called home for decades. While Lawrence envisioned the plan as the harbinger of a bright future, his speech was delivered in stark contrast to an article printed a year prior in the Pittsburgh Courier titled “Word on the Lower Hill: ‘Say Goodbye to Next Spring’, Residents, Old Landmarks Must Bow to Progress” by George Barbour in which he leveled a grim assessment of Pittsburgh’s renewal: Years may pass before the headache balls topple the last surviving landmark into a heap of masonry and twisted steel, but the machinery of Pittsburgh progress--the Urban Redevelopment Authority-- is already being lubricated to swing into full action. Barbour’s dismal imagery isn’t that of a city on the verge of greatness. Rather, Barbour paints the picture of an entire community caught in the voracious grips of urban renewal machinery. The same sentiments still remained when in a recent interview, Sala Udin, a Hill District resident at the time and leading figure in Pittsburgh, described these events as a time when “the whole sense of community stability was being…turned upside down and we were powerless to do anything about it.” The effects of Pittsburgh’s Renaissance were felt throughout every community in the city and it seemed that no one was safe from the URA’s wrecking-ball segregation. 11
In 1958, parishioners of the mostly Italian St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Parish on Fernando St. of the Lower Hill filed an injunction against the Urban Redevelopment Authority because the Authority aimed to destroy the church in the process of redeveloping the Lower Hill. Judge Brown ruled that Bishop Dearden should also be filed under the injunction because he was the title-holder of the church. Initially, parishioners had approved the plan believing it was absolutely necessary for renewal. However, when members of the St. Peter’s discovered that the Epiphany Church, only a block away, would be allowed to stand and that their land could be used for commercial and housing purposes rather than street realignment or recreational space, they protested. Attorney Louis C. Glasso, representing the parishioners, argued “the power of demolition has been abused” and that “the Authority has failed to show or present any evidence of any necessity for the demolition of this church.” However, Judge Brown dismissed the injunction in the presence of a courtroom audience of over Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, “The Point: Mayor Lawrence on Urban Design”, http://www.clpgh.org/exhibit/neighborhoods/point/point_n102.html#condemnations (accessed November 1, 2010); George Barbour , “Word on Lower Hill: ‘Say Goodbye to Next Spring’,” 1955, Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002), August 27, City Edition; Interview with Sala Udin. 11
three hundred parishioners allowing plans for demolition to continue. Judge Brown’s decision was a loaded ruling, yet both the State and Federal Supreme Courts upheld the decision. While Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice John C. Bell maintained the legality of the condemnation of St. Peter’s, he was clearly conflicted leading him to claim that the Urban Redevelopment’s actions were “outrageous, arbitrary, discriminatory, and unjustifiable.” Pittsburgh’s redevelopment, while primarily impacting African Americans, would affect all residents of the Lower Hill and the case of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic had essentially solidified the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s power to condemn any private property. If a church with the backing of attorneys, congressmen, and judges couldn’t stand up to the legal might of the URA’s wrecking-ball segregation, it seemed that nobody could12 The Civic Arena project, completed in 1961, displaced 8,000 people who were primarily African American and destroyed 1,300 buildings including 400 businesses. Amongst the buildings that had to make way for progress was the Bethel African Methodist Episcopalian Church, the city’s oldest black church. Pittsburgh’s Renaissance wasn’t just displacing people; it was breaking up the cultural ties of black and white communities throughout the city. Although the redevelopment project did create housing, most of this was out of the price range of many African American families and only half of these families qualified for public housing. In the wake of the Lower Hill Development, 53% of displaced black families relocated to public housing compared to 6% of white families. Only 7% of blacks found private housing compared to 51% of whites and 21% of blacks found “substandard” private rental housing compared to 1% of whites. URA official Irving Rubinstein referred to the relocation process as “absolute chaos… we didn’t know what to do.” Sala Udin described the method of relocation as an act that set whites on a “trajectory for wealth accumulation based on home ownership… while black families sent to public housing had no wealth accumulation option.” Eventually, residents of the Hill District drew a line in the sand at the corner of Centre Avenue and Crawford Street where a billboard was erected that bluntly stated, “NO REDEVELOPMENT BEYOND THIS POINT.” The “Freedom Corner,” as it came to be known, stands today as a monument to the perseverance and will of Pittsburgh’s black community. However, the damage had been done: the Lower Hill experienced a drop in population from 17,334 in 1950 to 2,459 by 1990. In the wake of the “chaos” ushered in by the Renaissance, Pittsburgh would gain national recognition, David Lawrence would ascend to the office of the governor, and billionaire financier Richard
“St. Peter’s Refused Injunction,” 1958, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 12; “St. Peter’s Demolition is Ordered,” 1959, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 5. 12
K. Mellon would be compared to the likes of Pittsburgh’s past philanthropists Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie. 13 The Civic Arena that had taken so much from Pittsburgh’s black community gave little back to them. Courier journalists noted that the Arena only employed African Americans in “token” positions and the almost complete exclusion of African Americans employed at the Civic Arena during its dedication ceremony. One bewildered African American on hand for the dedication ceremony proclaimed, “this does it; we’re even left out of left field!” The Courier found that the Civic Arena had only hired four black ushers (one of whom promptly quit), one sweeper, and a handful of blacks as janitors, porters, and cleaners of whom only these positions had guaranteed hours. In October of 1961, the NAACP in conjunction with the Urban League, the Negro American Labor Committee (NALC), and the Greater Pittsburgh Improvement League (GILP) planned strong protests unless the Civic Arena improved its hiring policies. The “Civic Arena episode” was emblematic of the breaking point for many of the African American community’s leaders. NAACP President Byrd Brown (son of Homer Brown) summarized this mentality when he stated, “we have been very patient in Pittsburgh on this kind of treatment but… we are determined to get our fair share of employment. In Pittsburgh today, the Negro population is approximately 15% but 30% of the unemployed.” Only a week later, the Courier ran a headline proclaiming “Arena Improves Hiring Policy.” The article attributes the change to the mass demonstrations of the NAACP and the NILC. African Americans had been guaranteed positions in skilled areas of work and an African American would sit in on all job interviews as a check on discrimination. The article quoted Pittsburgh resident Mr. Scott as saying, “the Civic Arena episode should prove to the disbelievers what can be accomplished in the City of Pittsburgh with just a little united effort.” Mr. Scott concluded his statement with a ringing endorsement saying, “Join the NAACP today!” 14 “Could They Do Otherwise?”: Urban Redevelopment Spreads to the East End As the “headache balls” toppled the remnants of the Lower Hill, the URA also had designs in place for the neighborhood of East Liberty. Prior to urban renewal, East Liberty was only 30% African American and was home to many of Pittsburgh’s white Trotter and Day Race and Renaissance, 55; “Word on Lower Hill: ‘Say Goodbye to Next Spring’,” 1955, Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002), August 27, City Edition; Trotter and Day. Race and Renaissance, 71; Dan Fitzpatrick, “The Story of Urban Renewal”, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 21, 2000; Udin Interview. 13
“‘Jim Crow’ Hovers Over Civic Arena,” 1961, Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002), September 23, City Edition; “‘Hire More Negroes at Arena!’” – NAACP, 1961, Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002) October 7, City Edition; “Arena to Improve Hiring Policy,” 1961, Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002), October 28, City Edition. 14
merchant class. Two prominent factors would play a role in the redevelopment of East Liberty. First, East Liberty merchants feared the rise of suburban malls would threaten their business and a group of merchants proposed a plan for the neighborhood’s economic revival to the URA. Second, the demolition of the Lower Hill and the displacement of families forced a strain on the housing of Pittsburgh. Black neighborhoods in Pittsburgh couldn’t accommodate every displaced black family while white neighborhoods often wouldn’t accommodate them. At a 1959 luncheon meeting with community businessmen at East Liberty Presbyterian Church, executive director of the URA, Robert B. Pease outlined the goals of East Liberty’s Penn Circle plan. Pease emphasized that the plans were “drawn up with the focus on the shopper.” The concept, designed to facilitate business, was to reroute traffic around East Liberty in a four-lane circle (Penn Circle) around a pedestrian mall. Penn Circle would connect to downtown with the construction of a new highway thus making it easier for traffic to arrive in the business district of East Liberty. Aside from the plans for business, the redevelopment called for three large apartment complexes along the Penn Circle arteries as well as dozens of other small public housing units totaling 1,800 apartments and homes. The renewal plans of the URA and housing authority for East Liberty would encompass roughly 254 acres and 1,200 families. Planners asserted that East Liberty’s prosperity was in perpetual decline and they viewed their plan as being in the best interest of East Liberty and the city as a whole. In June of 1960, a Pittsburgh Post Gazette column claimed, “[sic] blight, unsightly and deadly has spread over the district like an infection: planners say that seven out of every ten houses there are ‘substandard’…Uncle Sam has his wallet open. It remains only for City Councilmen to give them the green light. Could they do otherwise?”15 In 1960, the Pittsburgh City Council approved the Penn Circle plan by a 7-1 vote in front of an overcapacity crowd. Following the Council’s decision, the Pittsburgh Press commented, “Those affected by it [the ruling] are either supporting it or reconciled to it… this program is bound to increase the desirability of the East Liberty district and of other nearby areas of the East End.” In October of 1961, Mayor Joseph M. Barr resided over the groundbreaking ceremony of the project. Barr referred to East Liberty’s “DDay”(D meaning demolition to its residents) as “probably one of my happiest days.” What was a happy day for Mayor Barr was a day that ushered in uncertainty for thousands of Pittsburgh’s residents and bore striking resemblance to Pittsburgh’s other notable redevelopment project. Witnessing the spectacle of destruction, a Pittsburgh Trotter and Day, Race and Renaissance, 72; Dan Fitzpatrick, “The Story of Urban Renewal”, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 21, 2000; “A New East Liberty?” 1960, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 17; “East Liberty Renewal Plans Moving Ahead,” 1959, Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002), July 25, City Edition; “East Liberty Renewal Awaits U.S. Green Light This Week,” 1960, Pittsburgh Press, April 1; “ A New East Liberty?” 1960, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 17. 15
Courier observer asked, “will the East Liberty project be little more than an encore to the chaos that was visited upon the now demolished Lower Hill?” 16 In retrospect while speaking to a Pittsburgh Post Gazette reporter in 2000, former URA executive director and Penn Circle architect Robert Pease said, “the scheme [Penn Circle], we thought, was a good scheme, but it didn’t work.” Pease, seemingly trying to make amends with his decisions, detailed the reasons that the plan he had supervised failed. For one, Pease said, “suburban malls were developing so fast, East Liberty never had a chance.” Additionally, the road plan that had practically transformed a residential neighborhood into a mall depended upon the construction of a highway that would connect the neighborhood to downtown: a project that never happened. Consequently, the Penn Circle artery only fractured East Liberty rather than connecting it to the rest of the city. White families took advantage of redevelopment to quickly sell their land at higher values and move out rather than live in low to moderate-income housing. A significant amount of small business couldn’t afford to purchase the newly developed parcels from the URA and didn’t return to the neighborhood: one study found that “of 575 businesses displaced in the 1960’s, only 292 remained in 1970.” The businesses that remained had a significantly smaller clientele than before. By 1960, East Liberty was over 70% African American and the neighborhood would lose more than 4,500 residents over the next four decades.17 Pittsburgh’s Changing Racial Landscape For decades the Hill District was indisputably the center of Pittsburgh’s African American community; the neighborhood was home to cultural and political icons such as August Wilson, Daisy Lampkins, K. LeRoy Irvis, Homer S. Brown, and others as well as nearly half of Pittsburgh’s black community. The census tracts that constituted the Hill District were the most segregated in the city. However, due to urban renewal, Pittsburgh’s African Americans were forced to find new places to call home. African American communities that were relatively small before Pittsburgh’s Renaissance became the new homes of many black Pittsburghers. Neighborhoods like the Northview Heights, Beltzhoover, and St. Clair became increasingly black. Additionally, suburbs close to the city limits were becoming solidly black such as Penn Hills and Wilkinsburg. However, the largest trend of African American population shift in “East Liberty Progress,” 1960, Pittsburgh Press, November 29; “Will East Liberty Project Be Repeat of Lower Hill?” 1961, Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002), October 28, City Edition. 16
Dan Fitzpatrick, East Liberty Then: Initial Makeover had Dismal Result, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 23, 2000. http://www.post-gazette.com/businessnews/20000523intro3.asp(Accessed November 3, 2010); Trotter and Day. Race and Renaissance, 72. 17
Pittsburgh was towards the East End in neighborhoods like East Liberty, Larimer, and Homewood. According to Joe T. Darden in his study on residential segregation in Pittsburgh, “while most tracts in the Hill District decreased in segregation, most tracts in Homewood-Brushton increased…By 1970, the most segregated tract in the city was no longer located in the Hill District but in Homewood.” Homewood’s black population increased from 13% in 1940 to nearly 70% in 1960 in the wake of an exodus of the white residents. Pittsburgh’s East End wasn’t solely African American neighborhoods; white communities in Point Breeze, Squirrel Hill, Shadyside, and parts of Oakland bitterly opposed integration and, as a result, the East End became increasingly defined by racial boundaries. 18 Joe T. Darden’s 1973 study, Afro-Americans in Pittsburgh: The Residential Segregation of a People, aimed to prove the hypothesis that, from 1930-1970, racism, more than any other factor, was responsible for the high level of segregation in Pittsburgh’s black neighborhoods. Darden proved this hypothesis through statistical analysis as well as a close examination of housing complaints lodged against real estate agents in Pittsburgh for this time. In 1970, residential segregation was at roughly 71%, a decline from the peak levels in 1950 of nearly 76%. However, the mean level of segregation in terms of housing and rental cost for the city at this time was 39.3%, which was a 31.2% difference from the level of segregation. This meant that if all blacks lived in low rent and low value housing and all whites lived in high rent high value housing, the levels would have been equal. Further, Darden claims, “correlation and regression analysis then demonstrated that from 1940 to 1970, only 7 to 18 percent of the segregation that existed could be explained by housing cost. Clearly, this analysis confirms the hypothesis that the high level of residential segregation in Pittsburgh has not been caused by housing cost inequality.”19 In the same study, Darden compiled data on housing complaints from the periods of 1959-1970 to demonstrate the degree to which racism effected allocation of real estate. The data is limited because prior to 1959, “no enforceable legal measures against racial residential segregation in Pittsburgh were available in Pittsburgh.” During this period, 51.1% of complaints were leveled towards real estate brokers or salesmen and 33.9% were directed at the owners of the dwelling in question. The vast majority of these claims, 90.9%, were in regards to apartment or house rental with 7.2% regarding house sale. The neighborhoods with the highest percentage of complaints were white neighborhoods that bordered black neighborhoods. For instance, Oakland-Shadyside, bordered by the Hill District and the East End, was responsible for 27.9% of all 18
Darden, Afro-Americans in Pittsburgh, 21.
Ibid, p.27, 39
complaints. East Liberty was next on the list at 15.6%, which is surprising since it is predominantly black but this could be explained because a few white census tracts remained in the area close to the border with Shadyside. Squirrel Hill, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, was fourth on the list with 8.1% of complaints. Most complaints regarded failure to process or accept applications (79.3%). Prior to 1965, most white real estate brokers had never shown an prospective African American homeowners property in white segregated areas believing that once the property was sold to blacks, whites would not fill it in the future. While there were regulations to offset racism such as the Fair Housing Law of 1959, its provisions were ill-enforced and its penalties were weak at best; as a result, there was little incentive or reason for a white broker, accustomed to racist practices, to change their selection process.20 Clearly, real estate brokers played one of the most significant roles in the segregation of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods, yet African Americans found it extremely difficult to join the ranks of Pittsburgh real estate agencies. One of the most important real estate groups in Pittsburgh was the Greater East End Multi List Company. When Robert Lavelle, a well-qualified black man, applied for membership to Multi List in 1965, he was twice denied admission with the only explanation being that three quarters of the membership of the Company had not approved his application. In 1967, Lavelle filed a suit in Federal court claiming that he was banned membership based on race. Lavelle also claimed that his exclusion was a violation of the Sherman and Clayton antitrust laws because the East End Multi List aimed to prevent interstate commerce and African Americans from owning or renting houses in white neighborhoods. Lavelle’s claim was settled in court without a judicial ruling from Judge Rabe Marsh; the East End Multi List agreed to admit Lavelle and amend its bylaws to allow more transparency in membership applications. Because Judge Marsh didn’t have to rule on the case, there was no official legal precedent set. However, the case gained national notoriety when the Wall Street Journal declared it to be a civil rights victory. Michael Davidson, who helped to represent Lavelle, believed that the case set numerous legal precedents in terms of application of Federal Law to private organizations who hold substantial power in the public sector. Davidson also believed the settlement was indicative of a “practical method of integrating neighborhoods.” While the legal representation of the East End Multi List didn’t want to concede defeat, it was clear that the case had opened the doors for black brokers in Pittsburgh. Black brokers were now encouraged to try and join the ranks of Pittsburgh’s real estate agencies in order to be entitled to the resources and listings that these agencies possessed. Additionally, black brokers facing discrimination had an ally in the 20
Ibid, p. 41, 43-44
Legal Defense Fund, the company that represented Lavelle. The Fund promised to fight against discrimination in “quasi-public organizations that wield power in black communities.” Robert Lavelle’s efforts had enabled blacks to break down one of the greatest obstacles to residential segregation in Pittsburgh. However, while black brokers could facilitate desegregation in some white neighborhoods, they couldn’t necessarily get white people to move into black neighborhoods and many of these neighborhoods would remain highly segregated. Up until his death in July of 2010, Lavelle was regarded as a champion of Pittsburgh’s black community. Lavelle had left a lasting mark on Pittsburgh; his tremendous undertaking had broken racial barriers and facilitated desegregation. The Dwelling House Loan and Savings Company run under Lavelle’s supervision facilitated the process of homeownership for countless Africa-Americans who had been neglected by other banks. Lavelle’s legacy has served as inspiration to all of Pittsburgh and his grandson, Daniel Lavelle, is the sitting councilman for the 6th District representing the Hill District. Following his death, Lavelle’s friend commented, “In this city, they’re always building buildings, but nobody’s building people. That’s what Bob Lavelle did.”21 As a result of urban renewal and white neighborhood exclusivity, Homewood emerged as Pittsburgh’s main African American neighborhood. Homewood, which prior to 1950 was home to Irish and Italian families, was now home to some of Pittsburgh’s most influential leaders. Like the Hill District of the 30’s, Homewood’s political significance relied heavily upon grass-roots organizations that had realistic and attainable goals in mind to enhance the conditions of the black community. One of Homewood’s most notable political figures was William Bouie Haden. Haden was a divisive figure: he was a passionate advocate for the common man yet his criminal record and often intimidating demeanor made him a polarizing force. Haden and his group, the United Movement for Progress, could often be found on the frontlines of political battles. In 1967, the United Movement for Progress pressured Homewood grocery stores into hiring black managers. In 1968, Haden was one of the leading activists who questioned the Pittsburgh Board of Education’s neglect of primarily black schools leading to increased transparency in the Board’s operations. Haden is probably best known as the face of black militancy in Pittsburgh. In 1968 Homewood was in a state of chaos in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Pittsburgh didn’t suffer the same amounts of violence as other major cities due “Civil Rights Lawyers Claim Legal Victory In Housing Bias Case :As Result of Accord in Court, A Realtor Group Agrees to Admit Negro, Change Bylaws.” 1968. Wall Street Journal (1923 - Current file), October 3; Christian Morrow, “Community Icon Lavelle Dead at 94,” 2010, New Pittsburgh Courier,July 7. http://www.newpittsburghcourieronline.com /index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2489:community-icon-lavelle-dead-at-94&catid=38:metro& Itemid=27(Accessed December 4, 2010). 21
largely in part to the containment of violence to certain neighborhoods and because 4,500 National Guardsmen were dispatched to try and settle the rioting, which in the course of five nights had resulted in 1,300 arrests, one death, 515 fires, and $620,000 in damage. According to Kenneth Heineman in an essay for Pennsylvania History, Haden and other community leaders asked the police to let communities such as Homewood police themselves, but the Pittsburgh police were reluctant given Haden’s criminal record. While the police were quick to blame Haden and his supporters, a 1968 Human Relations Commission report headed by the Catholic Church and Bishop Wright blamed racism within the Pittsburgh Police Department and “counter-insurgency” tactics for contributing to the chaos of the riots. Not long after this report, news broke that the Pittsburgh Catholic Church under the supervision of Bishop Wright had given a $12,000 grant to Haden, which had been used to purchase guns and ammunition (a claim that was not denied by the Church). Angry whites marched on St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oakland and hung an effigy of Bishop Wright with a sign attached saying “Bouie’s Puppet on a String.” Consequently, the church didn’t renew any grants with Haden’s organization. Racial tensions were at an all time high in Pittsburgh and the “Iron City Trinity” of Democrats, white unionists, and Catholics, was disintegrating. Working-class Catholics had become wary of leftist activists in the Church and the black community as a whole, so they sought to continue to exclude blacks from their neighborhoods, congregations, and workplaces. Heineman wrote, “If there were any doubts that activist clergy and Democratic politicians were on the outs with socially conservative unionists and working-class Catholics, the primary and general election results of 1972 should have removed them.” George McGovern was antiwar and pro school busing, which would alleviate de facto school segregation by busing white students to black schools and vice versa. Richard Nixon, the Republican candidate, handedly won Western Pennsylvania. Some of Allegheny County’s Democrats had voted for Nixon and 19% of Allegheny’s registered Democrats didn’t vote at all. 22 The Impact of Residential Segregation and Black Political Activism Prior to this era, Pittsburgh often ignored racial tensions and the problems of residential segregation, yet, in doing so, Pittsburgh was only delaying the inevitable. Decades of residential segregation and inequality had led to a litany of urban problems. Trotter and Day. Race and Renaissance, 105; Kenneth J. Heineman, “Reformation: Monsignor, Charles Owen Rice and the Fragmentation of the New Deal Electoral Coalition in Pittsburgh, 1960-1972,” Pennsylvania History 71 No. 1(2004), 59; Catholic Fund Aid to Haden Terminated, 1969, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 3; Kenneth J. Heineman, “Reformation: Monsignor, Charles Owen Rice and the Fragmentation of the New Deal Electoral Coalition in Pittsburgh, 1960-1972,” Pennsylvania History 71 No. 1(2004), 71-72. 22
Legislation that was meant to address injustices was often a mere formality or loosely enforced. While the region suffered a drastic decrease in total population, Pittsburgh’s black population only declined slightly each decade. There are a variety of factors that could explain this. For one, many white Pittsburghers moved out of inner-city neighborhoods and into the suburbs. By contrast, many African Americans at this time simply couldn’t afford to move or were restricted from moving as shown by the evidence in Darden’s study on residential racism. Lastly, only a small portion of the African American community (compared to whites) was employed in the region’s steel and iron trade, which went into decline when it faced foreign competition. Whites left the region in a response to unemployment, but the industries such as service, transportation, and other more menial jobs that constituted the majority of black jobs in Pittsburgh remained. For instance, in 1960 “laborers” was the top job of black men, second was janitors and porters, and third was truck drivers. These jobs ranked second, ninth, and fifth respectively for the city as a whole meaning that while the jobs that employed most white Pittsburghers were disappearing, the jobs that employed most black Pittsburghers remained.23 Although the economic terrain of Pittsburgh was in a state of flux at this time, the status of Pittsburgh’s African American community remained relatively static. Beginning in the late 1960’s, white Pittsburghers were leaving the city in epic proportions, yet the black community remained and solidified. A unified sense of black consciousness and political activism had manifested itself in neighborhoods like the Hill District, East Liberty, and Homewood. The African American community often came together to oppose policies of the city that would perpetuate problems that had plagued their communities for decades. One of the top priorities of Pittsburgh’s African American community was education. Education or the lack thereof was often at the core of other problems such as unemployment, poverty, crime, poor health, and so on. Thus, African American parents often attempted to insure that their children had access to the best education possible. In 1975, the student body of Westinghouse High School in Homewood was 99.9% black. Overcrowding and discipline had become a major problem within Westinghouse, so the school board relocated Westinghouse’s eighth grade students to the already allblack Baxter Elementary School in Homewood. This move forced the younger students already at Baxter into other overcrowded and mostly segregated schools and made Baxter a completely black school for seventh and eighth graders. Homewood parents objected that their children were being moved from one inadequate facility to another even though there were plenty of sufficient locations. Gladys McNairy of the Pittsburgh 23
Trotter and Day. Race and Renaissance, 213.
School Board called the plan “a rerun of past and present efforts to contain Black students in Homewood and the Hill District with inferior facilities and unequal education.” Irene Lavender, a mother of a pupil affected by the plan, stated, “I want my child to receive a good education…If they[the School Board] keep blacks from getting good educations then they will continue to consider blacks as unqualified.” Essentially, the Pittsburgh School Board was perpetuating segregation rather than attempting to dismantle it as ordered by the state; black parents eventually took their case to the Common Pleas Court. Initially, Judge John Flaherty allowed Baxter to remain open, but upon appeal he ordered the school closed in 1976.The School Board appealed Flaherty’s decision to the State Supreme Court and entered litigation with Baxter Elementary parents. By 1978, Baxter students were reassigned to numerous schools including the newly built Reizenstein Middle School on Penn Avenue which bordered the white and black segregated neighborhoods of the East End. White East End parents opposed this plan claiming that the addition of more black students to Reizenstein, which was already 60% black, would turn it into a segregated school. However, the reassignment went as planned and Baxter Elementary was converted into Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts School in 1979. 24 As a result of the racial residential segregation of Pittsburgh’s East End crime, poverty, blight, and other problems festered. For decades, Homewood had been at the center of Pittsburgh’s gang violence. In the early 1990’s, gang violence in Homewood fueled by the crack cocaine epidemic exploded leading some residents to refer to their neighborhood as the “Wild West.” Many Homewood youths strayed away from the education at Westinghouse High School citing a bleak future as their motive. As was often the case for many gang members, they had no contact with their fathers and their mothers had become alcoholics or drug addicts. Without guidance or guardians, Homewood youths formed gangs for protection and acceptance. Sean Booker, a member of the 456 Crips, said that gangs rarely had disputes because Pittsburgh’s drug kingpin William Boyd ruled the trade with “an iron fist.” However, following Boyd’s imprisonment in 1991, the closely-knit drug organization that Boyd had created disintegrated into small gangs competing for business in the lucrative drug trade at the same time that crack cocaine was becomming a national epidemic. In Allegheny County from 1974 to 1996, the homicide rate for black males between the ages of fifteen to twenty-four increase from 69 to 130 per 100,000 persons. While blacks represented only 11% of Allegheny County’s population in 1993, young black
“Baxter Middle School Controversy.” 1975. New Pittsburgh Courier (1969-1981), July 19, City Edition; Flipping and Harris. 1975. “Homewood-Brushton Parents to Use Force If Necessary.” New Pittsburgh Courier (19691981), August 23, City Edition; Caren Marcus. “Board Meets Secretly on Baxter.” 1978, Pittsburgh Press, July 19. 24
males between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four constituted 39% of the county’s homicides. From 1990-1994, 150 black youths were murdered. The surge in gang violence was a gaping wound in Pittsburgh and something had to stop the bleeding. The seemingly endless shootings led to a Gang Peace Summit and numerous marches such as when 1,000 black men gathered in Homewood in 1993 to display alternatives to gangs. Psychologist Harold Maxwell, an organizer of the march, told the New Pittsburgh Courier, “we’re losing our youth” and that “conditions for Black men resemble slavery with drugs, gangs and guns as the masters.” In 1996, City Councilwoman Valerie McDonald of East Liberty said the levels of violence were “much higher than what can be tolerated” and that “drugs are the bottom line” for contributing to gang violence. McDonald went on to note that communities suffer the most from gang violence because “no one wants to relocate to a neighborhood that has a track record for violence.” While representatives differed on how to quell the violence and the Pittsburgh Police tried to downplay the significance of gangs, Rashad Byrdsong of the Homewood Community Empowerment Association said the city had to work with community leaders to provide alternatives to gangs and that “[sic] violence affects all of us, it affects families, and families make up communities. And communities make up nations.” 25 However, community action was not enough to suppress violence in Pittsburgh’s inner-city neighborhoods. Although many gang members were arrested following the peak levels of violence in 1993, senseless killings continued and communities were often gripped with fear. Following the killing of a Westinghouse High School honors student in February 1999, residents held a town hall meeting with police. Many told stories of how they lived in constant fear of gangs. Residents lamented that they could not call the police for fear that officers would respond to their houses thus bringing the attention of gang members. 26 In 2002, the New Pittsburgh Courier printed an article that cited community fears of resurgence in violence because many of the gang members that had been arrested in the 90’s were set to be released from jail. Richard Garland, executive director of Homewood-based Youth Works, said “a lot of things have changed since these guys got put away… some of them could be victims.”Again, police officials claimed that gang resurgence was probably blown out of proportion, but many convicted felons were due to be released with nowhere to live or work. Richard Garland claimed, “We keep “Gangs Are All They Have.” 1994, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 26; Trotter and Day. Race and Renaissance 157; Nathaniel Wilkes, “East End Group Seeks To Reduce Young Male Deaths.” 1996, New Pittsburgh Courier, September 14; “1,000 Black Men March For Troubled Pittsburgh Youths.” 1993, New Pittsburgh Courier, March 13; Deepak Karamcheti. “Community Death Warrant”. 1997, New Pittsburgh Courier, February 15. 25
Sonya Toler. “Fear Grips Pittsburgh Community.” 1999, New Pittsburgh Courier, February 27
pushing these guys back to the underground economy. I don’t want them to go back to the streets.” By the end of 2003, community fears were realized as Allegheny County’s homicide rate surpassed the record levels of 1993 totaling 125 homicides in the county. Seventy-four of these killings were in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Councilman Sala Udin said that the “rock-bottom cause was the continued, almost unabated, trafficking of drugs and guns in this region.” 27 Moreover, in a report done by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services found many troubling statistics in regards to crime and Pittsburgh’s African American population. The report found that in 2005, young black males were increasingly the victims of homicide at a rate of 284.2 per 100,000- a rate sixty times greater than the city average and fifty times the nationwide average. Additionally, although blacks accounted for 27% of Pittsburgh’s population, they accounted for 80% of all homicide victims from the years of 1997-2007. While the identity of the offenders in these cases is not always known, for those that are known, half are under the age of twenty-five, 80% are black, and 93% are male. The report also discovered that the areas with the highest rates of violent crime victimization coincided with Pittsburgh’s most segregated neighborhoods: Homewood, the Hill District, and the North Side were the most concentrated areas of homicide and the East End was the location of over a quarter of all Pittsburgh homicides. Further, the highest concentrations of homicide in communities outside of the City of Pittsburgh were in predominantly black communities such as Wilkinsburg, Penn Hills, and McKeesport all located in the Eastern portion of the county. For many observers, the location and scope of violence indicated that Pittsburgh’s violence was an intra-community problem and that it was most heavily concentrated in high-poverty and mostly black neighborhoods. The DHS report acknowledged that a “myriad” of factors contribute to violence that affects primarily “impoverished communities of color.” The report offers a long list of recommendations, some that have already been attempted, but it may have overlooked a key problem. As of 2008, 82 percent of Pittsburgh’s police force was white and only one officer of the graduating class of thirty-four was black. According to police chief Nate Harper and Tim Stevens, chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project, the problem is that African Americans don’t often consider law enforcement as their first option. Stevens said that, “it’s not the most natural choice… it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have issues Charles Brown. “Prison release of ex-gang member prompts fears of bloody summer”. 2002, New Pittsburgh Courier, June 1; “Allegheny County Approaches Record Homicide Rate.” 2008, Associated Press, December 28. http://kdka.com/local/Allegheny.County.homicide.2.895788.html (Accessed November 3, 2010); “2003 Ending Deadly” 2003, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 23. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_172101.html (Accessed November 3,2010); 27
with the police, and you don’t want to be seen as the enemy, so you don’t join.” Stevens went on to compare an all-white police response to an incident in a black community as similar to an “invasion force” that only facilitates racial tensions. The statistics speak for themselves and it is clear that crime will continue to be one of the largest problems in the Pittsburgh region so long as city officials and communities remain apathetic to the issues at the core of urban crime.28 Modern Residential Segregation in Pittsburgh From 1970-2000, Pittsburgh remained near the top of lists of most segregated cities. As the white population steadily declined the black population remained almost the same. Each decade, Pittsburgh’s African American population became a larger percentage of Pittsburgh’s population as a whole; in 1910, blacks represented 4.8% of the population, by 2000 they constituted 27.1% of Pittsburgh’s total population. Neighborhoods like Homewood and the Hill District were still home to Pittsburgh’s most segregated census tracts and East Liberty and Larimer in the East End were clearly predominantly black neighborhoods. In 1970, East Liberty’s African Americans represented 21.2% of the neighborhoods population, by 2000 they would represent 72.5% and Homewood was roughly 98% black and the most segregated neighborhood in the city. For the purposes of this paper, the same methodology was used to analyze the 2000 Census as had been applied by Joe T. Darden in his study Afro Americans in Pittsburgh: The Residential Segregation of a People. The statistic that is analyzed is the “racial deficit” of certain neighborhoods given the data available in the Census. The racial deficit is not as precise of a measure of segregation as the “segregation index.” Unfortunately, the segregation index requires a study of Pittsburgh’s entire population and precise mathematical calculations which is simply beyond this paper’s research capabilities.29 When analyzing the racial deficit in Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods in 2000, it appears that, for many neighborhoods, not much has changed. Homewood, overall, has a racial deficit of 9.8. In the Hill District, as a whole, the racial deficit is 11.7. It would appear on the surface that the Hill District is the most segregated area in Pittsburgh as of 2000. However, a closer examination is needed. These numbers essentially only represent the 28Erin
Dalton, Michael Yonas, Latoya Warren, and Emily Sturman. “Violence in Allegheny County and Pittsburgh.” Allegheny County Department of Human Services. 2007-2008. http://www.alleghenycounty.us/uploadedFiles/DHS/ About_DHS/Report_and_Evaluation/violence_crime_alleghenycounty%281%29.pdf (Accessed November 3, 2010); Sadie Gurman, “Police need diversity for trust leaders say,” 2010, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 14. http://www.postgazette.com/pg/10226/1080067-53.stm (Accessed Decemeber 4, 2010). 29
Trotter and Day. Race and Renaissance, 203, 226.
percentage of Pittsburgh’s black population that lives in each neighborhood because the white populations in both neighborhoods are so low that they hardly have any impact on the equation: S(segregation) = x(percent of white population in the city as a whole in a census tract) – y(percent of black population in a census tract). When analyzing the individual census tracts the highest racial deficits are found in East Liberty(4.8), Homewood North(4.79), East Hills(4.03), and Homewood South(3.91). In comparison, the racial deficits in individual Hill District neighborhoods are: 2.2, 2.49, 2.25, 2.73, and 2.04. If the racial deficit of all of the East End’s black neighborhoods is juxtaposed to the Hill District’s it is nearly twice the amount: 19.5 for the East End compared to 11.7 in the Hill District. In addition, it is important to note that Pittsburgh’s East End does include white neighborhoods, and it is unclear to even the oldest of Pittsburgh’s residents exactly where the East End begins and where it ends. What is clear is that the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh’s East End are racially delineated. When the racial deficits of white neighborhoods are examined, high deficits of blacks are found in Point Breeze South (1.87), Shadyside(3.6), Squirrel Hill North(2.82), and Squirrel Hill South(5.1). These numbers show what percent of Pittsburgh’s black population would have to move in and what percent of Pittsburgh’s white population would have to move out to make non-segregated census tracts. It is also important to note that there are highly segregated census tracts throughout Pittsburgh in Manchseter, Fairywood, Northview Heights, and Saint Clair Village, but these neighborhoods are mostly isolated from one another and have significantly smaller populations than the tracts of the East End or the Hill District. This analysis is truly just scratching the surface and a more comprehensive study similar to that of Joe Darden’s work is necessary to develop a better comprehension of the severity of residential racial segregation in Pittsburgh from 19702000, yet it is evident from this statistical analysis that the neighborhood’s of Pittsburgh’s East End remain highly segregated. The Prospects for Future Integration Today, the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh’s East End are clearly defined by racial boundaries. African Americans have progressed into neighborhoods that had been predominantly white for decades in the city as well as the suburbs. However, it is clear that the neighborhoods that are highly segregated within the city have changed little since their transformation into predominantly black neighborhoods in the 1950’s and 1960’s. This transformation was often not voluntary; African Americans were forced from one home to another in the name of progress for the city of Pittsburgh. Finding a
new home was rarely easy as African Americans faced opposition from the white community as a whole and were more often than not forced into specific neighborhoods defined by race. Historically, Pittsburgh’s African Americans have been stripped not only of housing and institutions, but also of community and cultural ties causing tensions and conflicts that last to this day: conflicts that are intertwined and selfperpetuating causing division not only in the black community, but in Pittsburgh as a whole. If there is progress to be made, crime, poverty, violence, health, and education are all paramount and these issues must be comprehensively addressed: one problem cannot be separated from the others with piece-meal measures because they are all one and the same. Neighborhoods such as the Hill District, Homewood, and East Liberty have been neglected by the city for decades; consequently, these areas are the center of Pittsburgh’s most daunting urban problems. One does not have to look far to find a dilapidated row house in Homewood or to find a senseless shooting in the news in Pittsburgh’s East End. It is often easy for the common Pittsburgher to ignore these neighborhoods entirely. However, Pittsburgh, which was ranked as the country’s most livable city in 2009 and 2010, can’t afford to ignore its most daunting problems and neglected neighborhoods. To do so would be to perpetuate a history of injustices that made many of these neighborhoods what they are today. When asked what he thought of the future prospects for the integration of Pittsburgh, activist and former City Councilman Sala Udin tersely claimed “they’re bleak”. Udin went on to state that “unless there arises from within the Pittsburgh community enlightened, white, political leadership that sees to the advantage of all of Pittsburgh to dismantle segregation… then Pittsburgh will remain racially segregated.” Addressing the priorities of Pittsburgh’s most segregated neighborhoods should be the next logical step in Pittsburgh’s long history of revitalization and progress. Perhaps the words of David Lawrence’s 1956 speech would be better applied to the segregated communities of Pittsburgh today, for “it is on those few square miles of land…that we become truly a great city.” 30
Interview with Sala Udin conducted by Matthew Jacob.
The Double V Triumph of the 1944 Philadelphia Transit Strike Gregory Young On August 1, 1944, William Barber left his house for work feeling “like a pioneer.” 1 He was one of eight black Philadelphians promoted to be a motorman for the Philadelphia Transit Company (PTC). The company had a policy of not hiring blacks for such positions but the federal government’s Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC) had mandated that the company abolish this discriminatory practice in order to maximize the city’s wartime labor force. Barber knew that breaking this color barrier “was a big thing,” but he had no way of knowing just how big an issue it would become.2 As he waited to catch a trolley to get to work, his pride turned to confusion as no trolleys came and the others waiting were just as unsure as to what was happening as he was. It was not until he went home and turned on the radio that he found out that the entire transit system had been shut down because nearly 6,000 PTC employees had gone on strike in protest of the eight black workers’ promotion. What ensued would be a nearly week long strike in which the city found itself in a state of turmoil with its wartime production slashed, racial violence racking the black ghetto and aspirations for equal employment opportunities halted by obdurate racism. In response to these problems, the combined forces of the federal government and local Philadelphians were able restore transit service and wartime production, prevent a race riot and abolish the discriminatory policy of the PTC thereby setting the tone for future advances in fair employment practices. The U.S. Army’s seizure of the transit system, and the triumph of non-discrimination policies, was not just a victory for the federal government’s wartime production efforts but also a dramatic victory for black Philadelphians; one that would help transform the city in the coming years. Though the strike had a significant impact on the city of Philadelphia it has largely been studied from a national perspective. The strike’s importance to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s war time agenda and to the continuing national struggle for civil rights has been well documented. Allan M. Winkler’s 1972 article The Philadelphia Transit Strike of 1944 is an insightful text that draws from local newspapers, government documents and census data to chronicle the event. In many ways Winkler’s approach represents one of the general approaches historians have taken when writing about this issue; 1
Doris Kearns Goodwinn, “No Ordinary Time” (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994), 538.
Winkler places primary significance on the interactions between strikers and the federal government and the challenge the strike posed to the FEPC and the country’s wartime effort. The study ends on August 17th, 1944, the day the Army restored control to the PTC and the federal government withdrew involvement. In this ‘national’ approach, the strike is seen as an anomaly that dramatically validated Roosevelt’s wartime effort and the spirit of New Deal government.3 Another important approach to studying the transit strike can be found in Philip A. Klinkner’s comprehensive history of American civil rights, The Unsteady March: The Rise and Decline of Racial Equality in America. Klinkner’s approach also views the strike from a national perspective but focuses on civil rights issues more so than issues of the war. In this ‘civil rights’ approach, the significance of the transit strike is its contribution to the long standing struggle for racial equality before the law. Indeed, Klinkner even notes, and rightfully so, that the strike was “the first time since Reconstruction” that “the federal government used the military to enforce a civil rights measure.” 4 He further locates it within the civil rights struggle by elucidating how A. Philip Randolph’s March on Washington Movement sparked the creation of the FEPC, the agency that in turn fomented the Philadelphia strike. To Klinkner, the strike was, “Perhaps the most crucial moment in the FEPC’s history,” and the FEPC’s success over the Philadelphia strikers helped it to desegregate the Los Angeles transit system and “greatly enhanced [the FEPC’s] influence in other cases,” across the country. 5 In both the ‘national’ and ‘civil rights’ approaches, the historical importance of the 1944 transit strike was its validation of the FEPC and the resulting effects that this had on either the wartime agenda or on the country’s civil rights struggle. While both Klinkner and Winkler provide valuable insight into the precursors of the strike and its national relevance, what they leave relatively untouched is the impact that the strike had on the city of Philadelphia itself and the black community that was at the heart of the strike. One of the most important topics that is left untouched is how the demographic makeup of the city influenced the way in which the black community handled the hate strike. More specifically, how the social structure of black Philadelphia influenced the degree of violence during the strike and why this violence did not erupt into a race riot. In addition to this, the ‘national’ approach and the ‘civil rights’ approach fail to locate the transit strike within the larger context of Philadelphian history. Treating the strike as a federally fomented anomaly that coincidentally 3
Allan M. Winkler, “The Philadelphia Transit Strike of 1944,” The Journal of American History 59. 1972, 73-89.
Philip A. Klinkner, “The Unsteady March: The Rise and Decline of Racial Equality in America,” (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 192. 4
occurred in Philadelphia, these approaches neglect the fact that strike was a confluence of both local and national interests. Finally, by ending their studies once federal involvement is withdrawn, these approaches fail to document the enduring effects that the strike had on Philadelphia and its black community. In order to address these topics, it is first necessary to outline the general composition of 1940s black Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s Black Neighborhoods in the 1940s In 1944, black Philadelphia was a rapidly expanding population spread throughout much of the city. As in most cities of the urban north, Philadelphia’s black community had been burgeoning due to the influx of southern migrants during the First and Second Great Migration. From 1920 to 1940, the city’s black population nearly doubled, from 134,229 to 250,880. Relative to other ethnicities, blacks had risen from 7.4% of the population in 1920 to 13.0% in 1940. A 1947 study estimated that another 25,000 blacks had come to the city by 1944. Thus, at the time of the transit strike, the black population was around 275,000, sixty percent of whom were born outside the state of Pennsylvania.6 Unlike other northern cities, the influx of migrants did not create a solidified black neighborhood in Philadelphia. Instead, Philadelphia’s black population remained dispersed throughout the city; the most solidly black neighborhoods were in South Philadelphia’s historically black 5th and 7th Wards that W.E.B. DuBois studied in his landmark book The Philadelphia Negro, in West Philadelphia along the Market Street corridor and in North Philadelphia along the Broad Street Subway corridor. These neighborhoods, especially in South and West Philadelphia, were in close proximity to the central downtown area and encircled it on three sides (the Delaware River formed the eastern border). Aside from physical distinctions, each neighborhood’s specific history led them to also have distinct characteristics. South Philadelphia had been a historically black neighborhood formed at what was once the city’s outskirts and was initially composed of black laborers who worked at the docks of the Delaware River. This area was the densest black ghetto in Philadelphia.7 However, as the central city grew in the early to
G. Gordon Brown, “Law Administration and Negro-White Relations in Philadelphia” (Philadelphia: Bureau of Municipal Research of Philadelphia, 1947) 26-29. 6
Mark Frazier Lloyd, “Notes on the Historical Development of Population in West Philadelphia,” West Philadelphia History Community Center,” http://www.archives.upenn.edu/histy/features/wphila/stats/census_lloyd.html (Accessed November 29, 2010). 7
mid 20th century, gentrification encouraged black South Philadelphians to migrate to the more remote West or North Philadelphia. As blacks migrated from South Philadelphia, West Philadelphia grew as a destination for middle class blacks. In 1900, there were 7,137 African Americans living in West Philadelphia compared to 121,868 whites. By 1920, both groups had more than doubled in size. However, 1920 was the peak of white population in West Philadelphia and while the white population began to steadily decline, the black population continued to grow. By 1940, there were 57,274 blacks living in West Philadelphia representing approximately 23% of the total population compared to the 6% that it represented in 1900.8 The growth of West Philadelphia’s black population would be rivaled only by that of North Philadelphia. North Philadelphia’s growth was intrinsically linked with Philadelphia’s rise as an industrial and manufacturing city. Throughout the early decades of the 20 th century, North Philadelphia had become the home of various industrial facilities. Largely due to its proximity to manufacturing facilities, North Philadelphia became the premier destination for southerners who had migrated north. North Philadelphia also offered the most opportunity for an expansive black neighborhood. While blacks in South Philadelphia and West Philadelphia were tightly mingled with other ethnic communities, North Philadelphia was less developed and by 1944 rivaled South Philadelphia as the city’s premier black ghetto. North Philadelphia, a part of which would later come to be known as “The Jungle” for its racial rioting, would also be a hotbed of violence during the 1944 strike.9 The Early Stages of the Strike At 4:00 am on August 1, 1944, countless commuters stood stranded and confused at transit stops throughout the city. Though it had been threatened for some time, the strike came as a surprise to the city. Labeled a “sneak attack” by the Philadelphia Tribune, the work stoppage brought the city to a halt. 10 Though many PTC workers reported for work as usual, strikers “persuaded” working PTC employees to strike with them. There are reports throughout the strike that this type of persuasion included violent threats.
Matthew J Countryman, “Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia,” (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006), 158. 9
“An Appeal to Reason,” Philadelphia Tribune, 5 August 1944, 1.
By mid morning, all 1,932 street cars, 564 buses and 59 trackless trolleys were idled. 11 By noon, all trains of the Broad St. Subway and Market St. elevated line were idle as well. A city full of pedestrians were now stranded throughout the metropolitan area unable to make it to work or, in the case of those who had made it to work before the strike, were desperately trying to figure out how to get back home. The suddenness of the strike left the city in a state of shock as it collectively struggled to find ways to overcome the loss of municipal transit. Crowds of would-be hitchhikers gathered around inoperative transit hubs vying for the help of passing drivers. The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that Philadelphians “pooled cars, jam-packed trains12, hitchhiked rides, filled cabs to capacity and crowded into trucks. And long weary lines of them walked.”13 Some of these walkers became “involuntary hitchhikers,” as good samaritans with cars insisted on picking people up.14 Seven surely-surprised Philadelphians were given a lift in the Mayor’s car after Mayor Bernard Samuel instructed his chauffer to pick up as many stranded people as he could on his way home.15 Adding to the chaos was the fact that this was not merely a municipal matter but also a federal one. By grinding the city to a halt, the strike had brought the country’s second largest wartime production city to a standstill. 16 With many wartime industries being located in remote industrial sections of the city, it was especially difficult for workers to make it to these vital production centers without public transportation and with automobile traffic and gasoline being tightly rationed. In Northeast Philadelphia, the Frankford Arsenal would report a 30% absentee rate. Four miles south, in the Kensington section of North Philadelphia, the Cramp Shipbuilding Corporation, whose facilities were reopened in 1940 at the cost of $22 million to the Navy, reported similar rates. In South Philadelphia, even further beyond the southernmost terminal of the Broad St. Line, the integral Navy Yard initially reported 1,000s absent from work while even further south, the Sun Ship Building and Dry Dock reported a “loss of 8,000 man hours,” as approximately 1,000 failed to report for the 8:00 am shift.17 The Army’s thirteen installations totaled an average of 17% 11
George M Mawhinney, “War Production Suffers Slump through Walkout,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 August 1944, 3.
Non-PTC regional trains were still running.
Dorothy Dougherty, “Crowds ‘Thumb’ Rides Homeward,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 August 1944, 1.
“7 Are Given Lift in Mayor’s Auto,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 August 1944, 1.
Louis Ruchames. “Race, Jobs and Politics: The Story of FEPC,” (New York: Columbia University Press, 1953) 112.
Eric J Cudd, “War Plants are Hard hit on 2d day of Transit Tie-up,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 3 August 1944, 3.
absenteeism; the Quartermaster Market Center was the highest at 40%, followed by the Signal Corps Storing and Issuing Agency at 35% and five others of at least 15%. In total, the War Manpower Commission estimated a 20% absentee rate for all civilians involved in the wartime effort during the first two days of the strike. The problem was exacerbated as heavy rain on August 2nd discouraged walkers and further depressed turnout. The Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock reported 200 more workers absent on the second day of the strike than on the first. As one unnamed worker stated, “I can’t work all day, and then spend the rest of the time trying to get home and back again.”18 By cutting off transportation to these manufacturing centers the strike became a clear threat to the city’s wartime production which ultimately brought the strikers at odds with the federal government. The federal response to the strike was swift and federal attempts to adapt to a lack of public transit were in some ways as makeshift as the local Philadelphian response. During the 1st day, Army and Navy officers appealed to PTC strikers in eight car barns to return to work but were “received without sympathy.”19 To adapt to the continued work stoppage, the Navy Yard, Frankford Arsenal and Fort Mifflin all used trucks to transport civilians to and from work. The Navy Yard’s transportation service followed the route of the PTC’s G-Route which serviced southern and northern West Philadelphia with some modifications extending to the 69th St. and City Hall transit hubs.20 Early in the morning on August 2nd, two Army motorcades of twenty five trucks arrived in Philadelphia from New Jersey’s Fort Dix to help transport civilians.21 Though helpful, the military’s transportation initiatives were costly; not only did they require the usage of extra gasoline but they also required military personnel to spend their time doing the job of transit workers instead of working in the war production factories. Similarly makeshift initiatives were instituted by the various offices responsible for wartime rationing in the attempt to blunt the impact of the strike. Rations had to be increased citywide as the loss of the transit system increased reliance on automobile and pedestrian traffic. The Office of Price Administration (OPA), the wartime office responsible for rationing resources, announced that emergency gasoline rations would be issued to A-card holders on a day to day basis. Later, the OPA would also issue extra shoe coupons for those forced to walk long distances due to 18
Ibid., Worker’s quote and originally reported absentee rates.
Mawhinney. “War Production,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 August 1944, 3.
Philadelphia Trolley Tracks, “PTC Street Map 1944,” http://www.phillytrolley.org/streetmap/ptc_street_map.html (accessed November 28, 2010). 20
“50 Army Trucks to Carry Civilians,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 August 1944, 3.
the strike. Cabs were also allotted emergency gasoline rations by the Office of Defense Transportation and their two hundred mile per day limit was lifted. While these initiatives helped relieve the immediate problem of worker absenteeism, they were not a substantial solution. Rear Admiral Milo F. Draemel lamented, “I believe it is not too much to say that [the strike] may delay the day of victory.”22 By August 2nd, federal officials had already outlined the steps necessary for an Army takeover. In understanding the transit strike’s impact on black Philadelphia, it is paramount to note the concurrent interests of the federal government and the black community. Ending the strike was of critical importance to the national war effort and in addition to this, it was also important that the strike ended without backing down from the principles of Executive Order 8802 and the FEPC’s fair employment mandate. To have a mandate defiantly rejected would set a national example that would jeopardize the legitimacy of the already uncertain power of the FEPC. Joseph Sharfsin of the FEPC reaffirmed that “non-discrimination [is] part of the manpower administration under which the whole nation is operating under” and that “any suggestion for modifying or suspending the orders of the federal government would be, of course, rejected.”23 With the Army threatening to take over in support of this stance, the full force of the federal government was used to break the traditional de facto racism that acted as a glass ceiling for black Philadelphians. To have the mandate rejected would have been simultaneously been a setback to the federal government and the local black community. Conversely, a victory over discriminatory employment practices would be beneficial for both groups. For black Philadelphians, the strike was an affront to the principles of the Double V campaign: victory over fascism abroad and victory over discrimination at home. One of the black PTC motormen trainees, Thomas Allen, commented that the strike “makes me wonder what my brother, Master Sergeant Wilbur J Allen is fighting for in Italy.”24 Similarly, Charles White, a black employee at the Frankford Arsenal, was arrested after he hurled a paper weight at the Liberty Bell at Independence Mall before yelling, “Liberty Bell. That’s a lot of bunk!” When asked why he assaulted the bell, an icon of local and national importance, he stated that he wanted “to attract attention of Government authorities to this transit tie up.”25 He was not alone in this cause, though 22
Mawhinney. “War Production,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 August 1944, 3.
“Wonders about Strike,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 4 August 1944, 4.
James Wolfinger, “Philadelphia Divided: Race and Politics in the City of Brotherly Love,” (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), 142. 25
he was certainly the most dramatic protestor documented. Other individuals and groups vied for federal attention as well. The local NAACP, the Philadelphia Metropolitan Council for Equal job Opportunity and black Philadelphia Magistrate Joseph Rainey all made direct appeals to President Roosevelt for federal intervention with one telegram stating that “community and national interest necessitate[d]” it.26 An editorial in the Philadelphia Tribune vociferously attacked the work stoppage as a sneak strike “comparable to the sneak attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor,” and claimed that “Hitler’s bombs could not have stopped so effectively the industrial life of the third largest city.”27 Significantly, such opprobrium was not limited to the editorial pages of the black press. Throughout the duration of the strike, The Philadelphia Inquirer ran no editorials or articles sympathetic to the strikers. Instead, in every issue, editorials and cartoons questioned the patriotism of the strikers and lamented the damage they were doing to the war effort, to Philadelphia’s national image and to Philadelphia’s domestic race relations. One editorial surmised that “[the strikers’] refusal to return [to work] is, like their attitude toward Negro workers, indefensible.”28 Even Mayor Samuel, who was at times uncooperative with the FEPC’s attempts to end the strike, was compelled to publicly condemn the strike as “un-American and intolerable.”29 Other condemnations came from groups as varied as The Red Cross, the Philadelphia League of Women Voters and the United Federal Workers Local 118. Perhaps the most condemning statement against the strikers came from Major General Philip Hayes after he was placed in charge of the Army’s transit takeover: “Delay in restoring full operations is measured in the blood of American soldiers overseas. Those that obstruct our operations have that blood on their hands.”30 What these statements reveal is a general anti-strike consensus. This consensus was a defining characteristic of the 1944 strike; outraged and determined disapproval toward the hate strike was espoused by not only the black community but also by the general public, the press and the federal government. In contrast, the strike had no organized support outside of the immediate group of strikers. Consequently, this united and outspoken opposition to the strike would also 26
“City Group Asks F.D.R. to Take Over,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 3 August 1944, 4.
“Appeal to Reason,” Philadelphia Tribune, 5 August 1944, 1.
“Up to the Army: End This Strike,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 5 August 1944, 6.
“Return to Work Urged by Samuel,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 3, 1944, 4.
Walter W. Ruch, “Philadelphia Strikers are Defiant as Federal Officials Map Course,” New York Times, 5 August 1944,
help reduce racial tensions and instances of violence due to the lack of pro-strike antagonists. However, racial tension was still exacerbated by the hate strike and the specter of race riots loomed heavily, especially during the first two days of the strike before the Army arrived. The Looming Specter of the Detroit Riots of 1943 Though the PTC workers had made threats to strike against the promotion of the black workers as early as January 1944, when the strike occurred, the reason was not openly stated. Strikers merely claimed to be sick and even Mayor Samuel publicly professed to have “no knowledge as to why the stoppage of transportation has occurred.”31 For many in the general public, the reason behind the strike remained uncertain. This uncertainty was eliminated on the night of August 1 st, as the leaders of the strike held a mass meeting attended by 3,500 PTC employees at a PTC car barn at 10th and Luzerne St. This car barn, located in industrial North Philadelphia just north of the area’s black neighborhood, would become the unofficial headquarters of the strikers’ steering committee. The committee was led by veteran white motorman James McMenamin and ex-union leader Frank Carney. At this August 1 meeting, they publicly confirmed that the strike was in protest of the promotion of the eight black workers. McMenamin began by clarifying that the strike did not result from a labor issue but was “strictly a black and white issue.” 32 Carney clarified further by stating, “We won’t go back to work until they take the negroes off.”33 In no uncertain terms, the strikers confirmed that the protest was about maintaining the discriminatory policy of the PTC. The openly racial rhetoric and the confirmation that the strike was a hate strike evoked fears that Philadelphia would follow in the trend of recent race riots. In just the prior year, Detroit, New York City and Los Angeles had all experienced race riots. The Detroit riot was the most similar in that it stemmed from growing tension between whites residents and blacks that migrated north to the city in search of FEPC encouraged wartime jobs. On the surface, the Detroit riot seemed foreboding; in late May 1943, a hate strike gripped the city and less than a month later street fighting snowballed into the biggest race riot of the wartime era.34 Amidst the chaos and racial 31
Mawhinney. “War Production,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 August 1944, 3.
“Union Balked Parlay, Strike Leaders Claim,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 August 1944, 3.
Andrew E. Kersten, “Jobs and Justice: Detroit, Fair Employment, and Federal Activism during the Second World War,” Michigan Historical Review 25, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 92. 34
animosity of the transit strike, Philadelphians feared that the city was ripe for similar turmoil. Local NAACP President Theodore Spaulding would later write that on the first two days of the Philadelphia strike, racial clashes “seemed inevitable” and that “all of the ingredients of a first class race riot were boiling and brewing…”35 Clarence Mitchell, Associate Director of FEPC Field Operations, wrote at the time that the strike was “unquestionably” an “explosive issue in the Negro community,” and that “a deep feeling of resentment was expressed on every hand and it was not difficult to hear numerous arguments on this score.” 36 In Detroit, rumors of murder and rape spread through the community and incited violent retaliation. In Philadelphia, there were a “great many rumors” about racial clashes that began circulating too; rumors that people had been killed and that rioting had already started. 37 Despite the fact that these claims proved to be unfounded, they nevertheless heightened the fear that rioting was very possible if not inevitable. Upon learning of the strike early in the morning on August 1 st, the Philadelphia police had prepared for anything by mobilizing its entire force. The police department ordered all police that were currently working the midnight to 8:00 am shift to remain on duty until relieved. Likewise, officers scheduled to work from 4:00 pm to midnight were ordered to report for duty as soon as possible. By August 2 nd, more than 4,000 regular police officers and 10,000 auxiliary officers were either on duty or on call. All days off were cancelled for the duration of the strike and the State Guard was standing by. The police force was operating to its maximum capacity, even carrying nightsticks for the first time in 18 years, in order to stem the disorder caused by the hate strike. 38 To aid this effort, Mayor Bernard Samuel, in conjunction with Director of Public Safety James Malone and Pennsylvania Governor Edward Martin closed all taprooms, liquor stores and clubs. They also prohibited the sale of alcohol in restaurants and cabarets within eleven hours after the strike began. The city had been turned dry in order to prevent drunken disorder that could foment rioting. These actions were not simply focused on keeping the black community in check but were also targeted against white strikers and strike sympathizers. In fact, it was two taprooms near the strikers’ headquarters, the Luzerne St. car barn, that city officials closed first, thereby taking preemptive measures to subvert white antagonists. Malone had heard of disturbing 35
Theodore Spaulding,"Philadelphia’s Hate Strike." The Crisis, September 1944, 281.
Denton L. Watson, ed. “The Papers of Clarence Mitchell Jr.: Volume II, 1944-1946,” (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2005) 342. 36
Ralph Cropper, “4000 City Policemen Mobilized in Tie-up,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 August 1944, 5.
rhetoric being used by the strikers and/or strike supporters that were congregated at taprooms at 12th and Luzerne St. and 9th and Pike St. (both within a block of the PTC car barn).39 The closing of these two taprooms presaged the closing of the rest. This is significant because it suggests that the city officials were taking an even-handed approach and not repeating mistakes of past race riots by focusing primarily on suppressing black antagonists while turning a blind eye to white antagonists. Further exemplifying this top down city wide approach to riot prevention, the city even cancelled that night’s Phillies game so as to avoid having a large gathering of people who might act en masse.40 The effort to suppress violence was not simply a top down municipal effort but also a grassroots effort within the black community. Local leaders mobilized to retain order as well. Five lodges of Negro Elks patrolled African American neighborhoods in sound cars urging restraint. Churches from the surrounding area sent groups to help the peace effort. Tens of thousands of handbills encouraging order were distributed by churches and other community organizations.41 Spaulding and the Philadelphia NAACP alone distributed 100,000 handbills on the second day of the strike that read, “Keep you Heads and Your Tempers!... Treat other people as you would be treated.”42 Along with Assistant Secretary of the national NAACP Roy Wilkins, Spaulding went in person to areas in south, north and west Philadelphia that had reports of racial clashes in order to urge peace and diffuse tension. In a statement to the Inquirer, would-be black motorman Thomas Allen, exemplified the message being spread throughout black Philadelphia by stating that throughout the outrage, “we Negroes must avoid strife and carry ourselves in a sane and respectable manner so that we will be respected.”43 This call for rational calmness dominated the general message emanating from Philadelphia’s black leadership. The black newspaper, the Tribune editorialized, “The TRIBUNE appeals to colored citizens to exercise restraint. Resort to violence is unwise and will hinder rather than help the achievement of our demands. Above all, do not repeat rumors.” 44 It would seem that the masses heeded such advice; throughout the strike, the feared race riot never broke out. 39
The car barn stretched along Luzerne St. from 12th St. to 10th St.
Robert Ewing, “Liquor Stores, Taprooms Closed,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 August 1944, 3-5.
Brown, “Law Administration” (Philadelphia: Bureau of Municipal Research of Philadelphia, 1947) 126.
Allen M. Winkler, “The Philadelphia Transit Strike of 1944,” the Journal of American History 59, no. 1 (June 1972): 82.
“Wonders about Strike,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 4 August 1944, 4.
“Appeal to Reason,” Philadelphia Tribune, 5 August 1944, 1.
The reasons for the lack of rioting are multi-faceted. One African American leader involved in suppressing violence during the strike surmised that “The absence of violence was due to the Negroes and not the police. Negro leaders did a big job in making the Negroes know that it was up to them to be decent citizens.”45 Some uninvolved black citizens agreed, telling the Philadelphia Bureau of Municipal Research that “The police handled the P.T.C. strike fairly well, but the people had the most work to do.”46 Another stated that “The police handled the P.T.C. strike all right, but there was never any real threat of a serious riot.”47 This view credits the discipline of the African American community for restraining itself despite agitation and not resorting to violence. However, this view overlooks the fact that despite the best efforts of Philadelphia’s leaders, both black and white, substantial amounts of race based violence did occur. Violent confrontations happened throughout the first two days of the transit strike with the ever present possibility of an isolated racial clash snowballing into city wide rioting. In the Detroit riot of 1943, it was a fight unrelated to the city’s hate strike and subsequent rumors of that threw the city into four days of turmoil. In Philadelphia, similar fights took place throughout black neighborhoods but primarily in North Philadelphia. By August 3, three hundred people, mostly black, were in court accused of street fighting.48 How many of those were accused of street fights stemming from racial antagonism is unknown but the details of specific cases reveal that racial violence occurred on a consistent basis. Random assaults by African American teenagers against whites and white owned businesses were the most pervasive form of violence. On the first day of the strike, a gang of black youths spilled the coal out of a truck’s bed at 23 rd St. and Ridge Ave. Stuck behind the spilled load was John Young, a white man, who got out of his car to protest only to be beaten with a brick. Four other people that were riding in his car were injured too. A block away at 22nd St. and Ridge Ave. a jewelry store’s window was smashed by a brick. The proximity would suggest that this crime was perpetrated by the same youths but it is worth noting that a total of 175 windows were reported smashed throughout the North Philadelphia area west of Broad St. By the next day, that number would nearly double to 300 smashed windows. At 11 th and Norris Sts. 45
Brown, “Law Administration” (Philadelphia: Bureau of Municipal Research of Philadelphia, 1947) 126.
“10 are Injured in Street Fights,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 August 1944, 4.
patrolman John O’Donnell was struck in the head with a milk bottle thrown through his car window. This incident was part of a larger occurrence that resulted in the Chicago Tribune reporting that a seven block section of North Philadelphia was covered in broken glass from hurled milk bottles. The next day, twelve youths ranging in age from 16-18 were arrested at 26th and Diamond Sts. for again littering the streets with milk bottles. Other victims of individual assaults included a fifty year old man of undisclosed race at 21st St. and Columbia Ave. (now Cecil B. Moore Ave.) and a 49 year old man whose skull was fractured by youths at 47 thSt. and Woodlawn Ave.49 Each of the first two days of the strike saw volatile incidents that threatened to erupt into larger disruptions. This threat was heightened due to two particularly egregious incidents that occurred three blocks from another. The first happened on August 2 nd when five African Americans attacked a grocery store owner at 24th and Stewart Sts. The 50 year old owner retaliated by shooting one of the assailants. Though he was defending himself, an angry mob formed, smashed the windows of the store, and terrorized the owner’s wife who was trapped in the upstairs apartment. A newspaper reporter was also trapped in a store across the street. Even though an angry mob had formed, it remained isolated and eventually dispersed. The next day, three white men drove into the middle of black North Philadelphia and shot a black thirteen year old at 22 nd and Master St (the boy did not die). It is unknown whether these events were related; both may have helped fuel the haphazard violence that was centered in North Philadelphia but they did not provoke rioting. The fact that they happened only three blocks apart exemplified the fact that, though no full on rioting had broken out, certain sections of North Philadelphia were hotbeds for racial violence. 50 After hundreds of arrests and scores of hospitalizations on the first two days of the strike, a heavy rain on August 2nd not only soaked countless pedestrians throughout the city but also suppressed violent incidents.51 From 10 P.M. August 2nd to 10 A.M. August 3rd, there were no reported incidents. This peace was shattered shortly after 10 A.M. when black youths stoned the window of a laundromat at 12th and Diamond Sts. Later in the day, in one of the few principled acts of violence documented, three adolescents demanded that a white grocery store owner close her northwest Philadelphia store for IBID; William Mensing, “Injured Grocer Shoots Assailant in Strike Disorder,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 3 August 1944, 4; “Rioting Flares in Philadelphia,” Chicago Tribune, 2 August 1944, 1. 49
“Injured Grocer,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 3 August 1944, 4; “Autoists Shoot Boy, 13; Strike Violence Wanes,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 4 August 1944, 5. 50
“Injured Grocer” Philadelphia Inquirer, 3 August 1944, 4.
the duration of the strike. Only after she refused to comply were her windows smashed too. By this point it was apparent that the peace from the night before was only temporary. In order to further suppress violence, Mayor Samuel closed all poolrooms throughout the majority of the black sections of North Philadelphia. In total, twenty five pool rooms were closed in the 40th, 23rd, 31st and 12th police districts, which was roughly the area from Lehigh Ave. in the north to Poplar St. in the south and from the Schuylkill River in the west to 6th St. in the east. This initiative was a reaction to and a confirmation of North Philadelphia’s specific role as the most violent community during the strike. 52 This raises the question of why it was North Philadelphia that reacted the most violently of all of the black communities. The answer to this question goes back to the history of Philadelphia’s black communities. One sentiment within the black community, represented by the following statement, implicitly blamed the southern migrants, “The majority of events occurred in North Philadelphia where in-migration is the greatest.”53 Though this statement may be biased against the character of southern migrants, it touches upon a larger point. North Philadelphia was the city’s most rapidly growing black ghetto. It offered cheap and dense housing in close proximity to North Philadelphia’s growing industrial area. The impoverished nature of the community that made it attractive to migrants in the first place was the underlying cause of its unrest during the strike. Clarence Mitchell pointed out that the “clashes which did occur happened in neighborhoods which for the most part give trouble each night.” 54 Indeed, many of the incidents would better be described as opportunistic crimes as opposed to principled retaliation. Despite this, each clash threatened to spark a larger upheaval even if it were not related to the discriminatory labor issues of the transit strike; this was the case in Detroit. However, Philadelphia successfully avoided rioting for multiple reasons. The first reason Philadelphia did not experience a race riot during the strike, was that there had been no build up of racial violence. In Detroit, outbreaks of racial violence and hate strikes had been reoccurring since 1941. A small riot broke out in 1942 as whites protested the creation of the Sojourner Truth Housing Project, a government project meant to house black war workers. Furthermore, there were six race related strikes in Detroit in the last two months leading up to the 1943 riot.55 Philadelphia had 52
“Autoists Shoot Boy,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 4 August 1944, 5.
Brown, “Law Administration” (Philadelphia: Bureau of Municipal Research of Philadelphia, 1947) 127.
Watson, ed. “The Papers of Clarence Mitchell Jr.” (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2005) 342.
Kersten, “Jobs and Justice” Michigan Historical Review 25, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 91.
no comparable history of racial tension. Secondly, the nature of the Philadelphia strike in ways discouraged rioting. The lack of a transit system made it difficult for rumors and/or fighting to rapidly spread in the heat of the moment. This is especially true considering the diffuse nature of Philadelphia’s black population. Finally, the most important reason there was no riot was the unified opposition to the strike. The combined opposition of the black community, the general public, the federal government and the press were crucial in keeping violence from getting out of hand. The press did its part by covering the strike in a responsible manner. Whereas on August 2nd, the front page of the Chicago Tribune declared that “Rioting Flares in Philadelphia,” the Inquirer’s headline read, “U.S. Army May Take Over as PTC Strikers Defy Pleas to End Paralyzing Tie up.”56 While the Chicago Tribune prematurely reported rioting, an act that Clarence Mitchell feared could itself promote rioting, the Inquirer downplayed the violence that did occur the night before and the paper’s headline let readers know immediately of the federal government’s involvement against the strike. 57 In addition to this, the press’ anti-strike consensus informed the general population of news pertaining to the strike in a decidedly pro-FEPC manner. In contrast to this antistrike consensus was the lack of a pro-strike force within local communities. The unpopularity of the strike meant that there were limited pro-strike antagonists to escalate tensions or incite violence. Given this, the combined efforts municipal officials and local leaders were still crucial in managing the dangers that did exist by preventing explosive scenarios and pacifying racial anger. One black Philadelphian stated that “What did the most good was the churches and other similar organizations getting out pamphlets,” that urged blacks to stay restrained and patient and to await the outcome of the strike. 58 This message of patience may not have been as effective where it not for the knowledge that the Army seizure was an ever growing possibility. These factors kept Philadelphia from breaking out in riots and were successful in managing and mitigating the violence that did occur throughout the first two days of the strike. On the third day, August 3, at 7:45 pm, President Roosevelt issued the order for Major General Philip Hayes and the United States Army to seize control of the PTC. Peace lasted throughout the Army occupation and fear of a race riot dissipated.
Chicago Tribune, 2 August 1944, 1; Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 August 1944, 1.
Watson, ed. “The Papers of Clarence Mitchell Jr.” (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2005) 342.
Brown, “Law Administration” (Philadelphia: Bureau of Municipal Research of Philadelphia, 1947) 127.
The End of the Strike Contrary to popular depictions, the Army takeover of the PTC transit system did not occur in a dramatic show of force. While many secondary sources include images of soldiers with guns and bayonets aboard local trolleys, most of these images are from the latter stages of the strike. To the disappointment of the crowds gathered to greet the troops, the initial takeover had much less fan fare. The August 4th Inquirer commented that “the Army had taken over, but quietly.”59 Army officials were reluctant to directly take over the system, preferring to leave matters in local hands and hoping that their initial presence would have “broken the back” of the strikers.60 Upon being authorized to seize the transit system, Hayes made no attempt to operate the system but instead ordered the strikers to “do your duty to your country by reporting to work” by 5:30 A.M. August 4th.61 James McMenamin and the striker’s steering committee replied by 2 A.M. that “every depot, garage and subway-elevated system unanimously voted” to not return to work without a “written guarantee” that the federal mandate to promote blacks would be cancelled.62 The strike leader defiantly asserted that it was “one thing to threaten us with an executive order, it is another thing to enforce it.”63 The stage was set for a showdown and McMenamin would find that he had underestimated the Army’s commitment to enforcing the FEPC mandate. On August 4, 1944, several thousand soldiers of the United States Army stationed in the city’s usually serene Fairmount Park were preparing to operate the transit system. Service was partially restored as non-defiant workers returned to work. During rush hour of the 4th, 15 trains were running on the Broad St. Line (there would usually have been 26), 24 trains were running on the Market St. Line (usually 42) and only one trolley was running instead of the usual 1,592.64 None of the usual 564 buses were operating and neither were any trains on the Ridge Avenue section of the Broad St. Line. By 8 P.M. the one trolley and the Broad St. Line had stopped running. Four hours later, the Market St. line stopped running as well. Though the service was sporadic, the strikers
“Eric J. Cudd, “Crowd Watches Army Takeover,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 4 August 1944, 1.
“P.T.C. Operation Fails, Strikers Defy Army,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 5 August 1944, 1.
George M Mawhinney, “Drastic Action to End Tie-up Expected Today,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 4 August 1944, 1.
“P.T.C. Box Score,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 5 August 1944, 1.
were losing leverage and Major General Hayes was losing patience with the strikers’ recalcitrance. As federal patience wore thin, the threat of legal action against the strikers mounted. The Department of Justice had previously warned that any person encouraging the strike may be in violation of the Smith-Connally Act which gave the government the power to seize industries threatened by strikes or under strikes that would adversely affect wartime production. On August 5th, James McMenamin, Frank Carney and two other strike leaders were arrested on violations of this act. Furthermore, Hayes finally moved the Army in with dramatic force; 5,000 troops entered the city to operate idle vehicles and protect the ones that were already running. He also gave the strikers a deadline of August 7th, 12:01 am to end the strike. If they refused, they would be fired and ineligible to work in any wartime occupation for the duration of the war, their draft deferment would be revoked and they too may be found to be in violation of the SmithConally Act, a violation whose penalty was up to $5,000 in fines and/or one year in jail. With its leaders arrested and heavy penalties looming, the strike was finally broken. On August 7th, 1944, Philadelphia’s transit system was operating with a lower absentee rate than usual. The Army remained in the city guarding the eight black motormen and PTC vehicles from any further disturbance. On August 17th, control of the system was restored to the PTC. The settlement of the strike was a resounding victory for black Philadelphia. The impetus of World War II brought the full force of the federal government against the traditional de facto racism that was characteristic of the urban north and Philadelphia in particular. Prior to the strike, Philadelphia lagged behind other major northern cities that already had black transit operators. New York City had 555 blacks driving buses and trolleys, Chicago had 104 black trolleymen, 15 bus drivers and 11 train conductors, Detroit boasted approximately 1,000 black men and 150 black women working as drivers and conductors and Cleveland had 190 black bus drivers.65 After August 1944, Philadelphia joined this list with eight black motormen. 66 The victory over discriminatory employment practices would have a lasting impact on the black Philadelphian community.
“Other Cities use Negro Motormen,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 3 August 1944, 6.
Though one of them, Frederick Todd, would quit before the Army returned control of the system back to the PTC due to religious reasons. 66
Philadelphia: A Changing City Not only did the transit strike result in the abrogation of the PTC’s discriminatory hiring practice it also proved the worth of an organization like the FEPC. Before the national FEPC finally faded away in 1946 there were already campaigns to establish a local FEPC for Philadelphia. The Council for equal Job Opportunity combined the efforts of various city organizations to push an “all-out campaign” in 1948, a crucial municipal election year.67 The Council pursued an aggressive information campaign that involved mailing hundreds of information kits and over 10,000 leaflets that advocated for a local FEPC. At the forefront of this campaign was Frank Loescher, a Jewish-American who had long been involved in the city’s movement for equal opportunity. Loescher would later write that a considerable amount of the leaflets were focused “on what the FEPC is and is not, for there are some fantastic ideas about FEPC.”68 (original emphasis) This lack of information is reflected in a 1947 Philadelphia Evening Bulletin poll that asked, “Have you heard (or read) about the work of the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC)?” 59% of blacks polled responded affirmatively while only 29.9% of whites did so. Those who had heard of it were then asked “What do you think it is?” Again, the blacks polled were more knowledgeable of the topic. 72.3% of the blacks queried answered correctly while only 52.3% of the whites did so.69 These statistics reflect the importance of the FEPC to the black community and the need for further information among the city’s white population. The elections of 1948 presented an opportunity to put the issue at the forefront. Leading up to the elections, the Council for Equal Job Opportunity and the Philadelphia Tribune polled all candidates on their stance toward a local FEPC. Since all twenty two seats of City Council and the office of the Mayor were up for election, the polls would essentially gauge the character of the next municipal legislating body’s stance toward fair employment. The Democratic candidates were enthusiastically for the bill. This enthusiasm was led by Democratic Mayoral candidate Richardson Dilworth who responded, “I am definitely in favor of state and municipal FEPC…I advocate that that Philadelphia immediately enact an FEPC ordinance…”70 A typical response from Democratic candidates for Council read, “I am 100% behind Mr. 67
Frank S. Loescher, “How Philadelphia got its FEPC,” The Journal of Negro Education 21, no. 1 (Winter 1952): 116
Brown, “Law Administration” (Philadelphia: Bureau of Municipal Research of Philadelphia, 1947) 51.
“Candidates Tell Where They Stand on Campaign Issues,” Philadelphia Tribune, 28 October 1947, 9.
Dilworth and the entire Democratic platform.”71 These responses were expected from the Democratic candidates but what surprised the Council for Equal Job Opportunities was the fact that about half of Republicans committed to supporting the bill and incumbent Republican Mayor Bernard Samuel stated that he would sign the bill if passed by City Council. Republican control of Philadelphia had been an unchallenged reality in the city since the late 19th century. Therefore, it was not surprising when the Republicans again swept the elections, nor was the defeat of the ardently pro-FEPC Democrats seen as a referendum on FEPC policy. Encouraged by the commitments made by Republicans to support their cause, the campaign for a Philadelphia FEPC continued after the elections into the next spring. After a series of contentious public hearings, the first attended by an estimated 500 proponents, the bill passed by a 19-0 vote (three councilmen abstained) that left even the proponents of the bill “flabbergasted” by its unanimity. 72 The passing of the bill and the creation of Philadelphia’s FEPC validated the legacy of the transit strike by continuing an aggressive pursuit of fair employment. As noted earlier, before the strike, Philadelphia lagged behind other northern cities in terms of fair employment in the transit system. However, with the creation of its municipal FEPC, Philadelphia came to be at the forefront of the movement for urban fair employment practices. By 1953, twenty six cities would have municipal FEPCs, Philadelphia’s was the fourth in the country. Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis had created theirs first. However, the Chicago FEPC had no means of enforcement rendering it highly ineffectual. In essence, Philadelphia was the first major city with a full fledged committee to prevent discrimination in employment. Within the next year after the committee was created, “the number of department stores hiring Negro cashiers, clerks and salespeople had increased greatly. Specialty shops and chain stores had expanded their employment of Negros. Public utilities and at least one insurance company had opened positions to them, and the Philadelphia Fire Department abolished segregation.”73
“Mayor’s Name Affixed,” Philadelphia Tribune, 16 March 1948, 1.
Ruchames. “Race, Jobs and Politics” (New York: Columbia University Press, 1953) 179.
Though the FEPC may not have been directly responsible for all of these advancements it was certainly an integral part of the same movement towards greater employment rights for black Philadelphians. The importance of the Fair Employment Practices Committee to the black community was that it gave African Americans a municipal resource to combat the de facto discrimination prevalent in the urban north. In one case handled in the FEPC’s first year, a black seamstress noticed that her and other black employees were being assigned larger, heavier garments that took longer to finish. White employees were receiving smaller, lighter assignments. As a result, blacks were able to finish fewer pieces since they were paid on a piece-work basis the effect was that they were being paid less than the white workers. The woman filed a complaint with the FEPC and after investigation a foreman was found to be responsible for discrimination. Two weeks later, the woman reported that the practice had stopped and that her weekly pay had increased as a result.74 In its first year of operation, the Philadelphia FEPC handled 204 cases, 97 of which had been settled with satisfactory adjustment as in the above case, 58 were closed due to insufficient evidence of discrimination while 49 cases remained open.75 Though the Philadelphia FEPC was not strong enough to end discriminatory practices it offered black Philadelphians recourse against them. It also was the beginning of bigger changes to the city’s stance on equal opportunity initiatives. The 19-0 vote that created the municipal FEPC foreshadowed the coming political shift away from the notoriously corrupt Republican political machine towards the more socially active Democrats. By the 1870s, Philadelphia was known as “a classic study in machine politics on the municipal level.”76 Republicans had held the Mayor’s office since 1884 and the party had survived the reform movements of the 1920s and 30s. However, this dominance had come to an end. Though Bernard Samuel was re-elected in 1948, he would be the city’s last Republican Mayor for at least the sixty two years leading up to this writing. The next two Mayors of Philadelphia would be two of the most vocal proponents of the local FEPC, Joseph S. Clark and Richardson Dilworth. With the Democrats in office, support for the FEPC and similar equal employment initiatives would be continued. Starting in 1951, these initiatives would have more power as the city of Philadelphia was granted a Home Rule Charter from the state of Pennsylvania. The Charter allowed Philadelphia Fair Employment Practice Commission, “First Annual Report of the Philadelphia Fair Employment Practice Commission,” 1. 74
Russell F. Weigley, ed. “Philadelphia: a 300 Year History,” (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1982), 436.
the city more freedom from the state and more ability to self govern. One of the first actions taken by the newly empowered Democratic Party was the creation of the Commission on Human Relations (CHR) whose mission it was to secure the “equal rights and equal treatment for all people regardless of race, religion or national origin.”77 Headed by Executive Director Frank Loescher, the CHR assumed the responsibilities of the Philadelphia FEPC and was the first of such agencies to be incorporated into the fundamental law of any city in the country.78 Conclusion The significance of these organizations (the Philadelphia FEPC and the CHR) is that they exemplify the rapidity of the changes that occurred in Philadelphia in the years after the transit strike. The strike brought the traditional practices of discrimination against the full force of the United States’ federal government and local Philadelphians striving against the unfair employment policies. The defeat of the PTC transit strike was a significant victory for the Double V campaign, furthering the war cause while at the same time advancing the status of black Philadelphians. This victory would continue over the next few years with the adoption of a local incarnation of the federal FEPC and radical political shift towards the committee’s proponents that helped bring Philadelphia to the forefront of municipal oversight of equal rights. To say that the transit strike caused these shifts would be an overstatement. However, it must be noted that the transit strike was a foreshadowing moment in Philadelphia’s history that directly improved the equal employment opportunities of black transit workers and was intrinsically linked to a near-decade long trend towards greater equal employment for black Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Commission on Human Rights, “Philadelphia Again Sets the Pace,” 1.
Manuscript Policy for
Perceptions Perceptions welcomes the submission of manuscripts from both currently-enrolled Temple University Undergraduate students and recently-graduated Temple alumni. Manuscripts should be of interest to a wide readership, and focus on topics pertinent to the study of History and/or the Social Sciences. While Perceptions does not have a specific policy on the admission of manuscripts being considered for publication elsewhere, it is heartily recommended that potential authors make themselves aware of possible limitations imposed by other avenues of publication. Manuscripts should normally be between 5,000 and 12,000 words, exclusive of footnotes. The latter should be footnotes, not endnotes, and conform to The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th edition. Submissions are expected to meet the highest standards of academic quality, have an original point, be in dialogue with all relevant literature, and either be based on new source material, or constitute an exhaustive and critical overview of the extent scholarly work done on a particular topic. They need to be written in flawless English, and provided with accurate and precise footnotes indicating the sources of the argumentation. If a submission complies with these standards, usually two TUHSSA members are selected to review the submission anonymously. The substance of these reports will be relayed to the author by the editor. On the basis of the reviewers’ reports, the editor decides whether or not to proceed with publishing. A completed manuscript, double-spaced with one-inch margins (right margin unjustified), is required for submission. Please send one copy of the article in MSWord as an e-mail attachment to email@example.com. The author’s name should be included on the title page only. Authors should also send a one hundred word summary abstract of the article and their e-mail addresses. Authors should also arrange to have the Temple University faculty member who assigned the project contact TUHSSA with a statement of endorsement. Evaluations of manuscripts takes place during the Spring Semester of the year of publication. We encourage inclusion of photographs, maps, and other illustrative material, which must be provided with authorization from copyright holders for these materials’ reproduction in Perceptions. Manuscripts are edited for organization, clarity, and consistency.
TUH SSA www.tuhssa.org