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Chocolate CityA History of Race and Democracy in the Nation's Capital$
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Chris Myers Asch and George Derek Musgrove

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469635866

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469635866.001.0001

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How Long? How Long?

How Long? How Long?

Mounting Frustration within the Black Majority, 1956–1968

(p.320) Eleven How Long? How Long?
Chocolate City

Chris Myers Asch

George Derek Musgrove

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter begins with urban renewal, which destroyed the entire quadrant of Southwest Washington in the late 1950s. The catastrophic impact of urban renewal helped catalyze an era of grassroots citizen activism throughout Washington in the decade after the legal barriers to racial segregation had tumbled. From the late 1950s to the late 1960s, black and white activists fought back against the business interests and unelected officials who ran Washington, challenging embedded economic inequalities in the black-majority city. Mobilizing citizen power, they struggled to stem white flight, open economic opportunities, build affordable housing, end police brutality, and win home rule. It was a time of extraordinary social ferment, escalating tensions, and explosive confrontation as Washingtonians questioned the basic relationship between the city and the nation. Progress, however, did not keep up with expectations. Despite years of protests, negotiations, hearings, and reports about racial inequality, Washington remained separate and unequal, the divide between black and white only seemed to grow wider, and frustration within the low-income black community intensified.

Keywords:   Urban renewal, Segregation, Economic inequality, Affordable housing, Police brutality, White flight, Protests, Racial inequality

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