Civil Rights in 1967
Racial tensions erupted into
full-scale riots across the country and school
segregation was still rampant in the South in
1967, but there was some hope for improvement.
motivated violence hit some 50 cities in 1967,
from Newark, New Jersey, and New Haven,
Connecticut, to Fresno, California. The worst
riots occurred in Detroit, Michigan, in late July, with more than 40 deaths
and about $50 million in property damage over a
five-day period. President Lyndon Johnson responded to the violence by appointing
a commission, headed by Illinois Governor Otto
Kerner, to study measures to prevent future
riots. The commission met in August, but took no
Left: The Kerner Commission
meets at the White House. Governor Kerner is
seated at the President's right.
In October, President Johnson
recommended a $40,000,000 program to persuade
private industry to build new businesses and to
create jobs in urban ghettos. His most ambitious
legislative project in 1967 was an open housing
bill, but that bill was stalled in Congress.
With little actual help coming
from the nation's capital, an Urban Coalition of
22 business, civil rights, labor, municipal, and
religious leaders announced in August that it
planned to call for an immediate public-private
effort to find and/or create 1,000,000 jobs and
to build at least 1,000,000 housing units a year
for low-income families. In September, 350 life
insurance companies developed a program to invest
a billion dollars in slum redevelopment.
Louisville, Kentucky, was the scene of a drive to
break down patterns of residential segregation,
as was Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Right: Comedian Dick
Gregory and Father James E. Groppi participate in
a march through downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in
an effort to force open housing.
A study by the U.S. Civil
Rights Commission found that more blacks attended
segregated schools in the South in 1967 than when
the Supreme Court ruled against segregation in
1954. The same study also showed, however, that
the rate of admission of blacks to southern
colleges had increased. Another bright spot in
the fight to integrate schools was the election
of William Henry Fowler, a black, as assistant
superintendent of personnel for the Little Rock
(Arkansas) School Board, the same board which
had, less than a decade earlier, tried to
privatize its schools rather than integrate them.
Blacks also made significant
headway politically, thanks in large part to the
Voting Rights Act of 1965 and very persistent
voter registration drives by civil rights groups.
In Mississippi, blacks captured nominations for a
variety of political positions, most of them
local. Cleveland, Ohio, and Gary, Indiana, both
elected black Mayors, and Louise Day Hicks, an
opponent of school integration, lost her bid for
Mayor of Boston, Massachusetts. In Washington,
D.C., President Johnson appointed Walter E.
Washington, a black, as the first Commissioner
(Mayor) of the nation's capital.
President Lyndon Johnson
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