1968 riots nyc
Thousands of New York City teachers went on strike in 1968 when the school board of the neighborhood, which is now two separate neighborhoods, transferred a set of teachers and administrators, a normal practice at the time. It lacked a middle class, and its residents did not own the businesses they relied upon.  During the strike, the UFT distributed an official pamphlet called "Preaching Violence Instead of Teaching Children in Ocean Hill-Brownsville", citing a lesson that advocated Black separatism. Nixon, running on a campaign that promised to restore law and order to cities torn by riots and crime, won the Presidential Election. You will report Friday morning to Personnel, 110 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, for reassignment. The Board of Education urged the teachers to ignore the letters. , New York City's school system was controlled by the Central Board of Education, a notoriously large and centralized bureaucracy headquartered at 110 Livingston Street in Brooklyn. arrow Those two summers were marked by what became known as the York race riots. Minutes before he was speaking out in favor of removing troops from Vietnam: A survey taken by the Washington Square Journal that year found that 75% of NYU students have tried marijuana at least once. , The New York City Board of Education established the Ocean Hill–Brownsville area of Brooklyn as one of three decentralized school districts created by the city. The 1968 Chicago riots were sparked by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , Around 1960, the neighborhood underwent a rapid demographic shift.  When school opened in September 1969, the school district shut itself down for a day in protest of new regulations that deprived it of further autonomy.  McCoy was reported to be influenced by the Harold Cruise book The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual and to believe Jews had too much influence in the civil rights movement. Some of the biggest riots took place in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Chicago, and Kansas City. , The strike did have support from Black leaders Bayard Rustin and A. Philip Randolph, who had gained prominence in the labor movement as well as within the civil rights movement. Schools ran more smoothly in the Ocean Hill–Brownsville neighborhood than elsewhere, due to the fact that system was less reliant on the striking teachers and keys to the buildings. Sign up for our newsletter!  New York School Superintendent Bernard E. Donovan attempted to close schools in the district and to remove McCoy and most of the principals. This action was taken on the recommendation of the Personnel Committee. There was a months-long teachers strike—decades later John Kifner of.  McCoy nominated Herman Ferguson as the principal of JHS 271. ISBN 9780812248500. The union, however, declined, promising only to protect from reprisals any teachers who participated.  Leftist white allies, including teachers from the recently eclipsed Teachers Union, supported these demands. , Rhody McCoy, the new superintendent of the board, began working as a substitute teacher in 1949. He worked in the city's public school system ever since, as a teacher and then principal of a special needs school.  All received short letters similar to the following, sent to teacher Fred Nauman:. Many believe it to be the greatest wave of social unrest the United States had experienced since the Civil War. Guard Sent into Chicago, Detroit, Boston Johnson Asks a Joint Session of Congress Many Fires Set White House Guarded by G.I. The then-New York City Mayor John Lindsay rushed to Harlem to comfort and ... Thousands of young people march through Times Square in New York, April 5, 1968, ... And there was no riot in New York." Peter Kihss, "Screvane Links Reds to Rioting", The New York Times, 7/22/64; and letters in response on 7/24/64.  The schools appointed a racially diverse set of five new principals—including New York City's first Puerto Rican principal—winning broad support from the community but angering some teachers. Some schools began to teach Swahili and African counting. However, when protesters announced plans to follow up the February 3 boycott with a second one on March 16, the UFT declined to defend boycotting teachers from reprisals. It escalated to a citywide strike in September of that year, … At the start of the school year in 1968, the UFT held a strike that shut down New York City's public schools for nearly two months. LOCAL HISTORY & GENEALOGY 115 South Avenue, Rochester, NY 14604 585-428-8370 Fax 585-428-8353 Rochester’s Riots and Race Relations Research Guide SCOPE This guide is intended to assist in locating materials and information in the Rochester Public Library  Visitors, students, and parents who supported the schools raved about the shift to student-focused education. ), On May 15, 300 police officers, including at least 60 in plainclothes, cordoned off the school (making five arrests), effectively breaking the parent blockade and allowing the teachers to return. , Educational stratification in elementary schools was reduced. We're coming up on … On March 26th Joan Baez married activist David Harris in New York. , Shanker was routinely branded a racist, and many African-Americans accused the UFT of being 'Jewish-dominated'. The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), led by Albert Shanker, demanded the teachers' reinstatement and accused the community-controlled school board of anti-semitism. On April 4 of that year, King was assassinated by James Earl Ray while standing on a balcony of a hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. The UFT also sought to cut off the ATA's sources of funding and remove its leaders from the school system.  Outsiders appreciated the Black school board's attempt to regain control over its own school system. He told the New York Times he was gentle but ambitious, and eager to change schools for neglected children. The UFT won the right to represent NYC teachers for the purpose of collective bargaining in 1961: Sometimes the students were led into a separate room by a co-teacher: They charged the city with incarcerating them necessarily, "Race, Class, and the Triumph of Teacher Unionism", Daniel Perlstein "The dead end of despair: Bayard Rustin, the 1968 New York school crisis, and the struggle for racial justice", "The Ocean Hill-Brownsville Crisis: New York's Antigone", "Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Fifty Years Later", The Soul That Wanders New York Times January 31, 1988, "Public Schools: Strike's Bitter End," Time, Nov. 29, 1968, Terrorist Organization Profile: Jewish Defense League University of Maryland, News video containing interviews with people involved, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=New_York_City_teachers%27_strike_of_1968&oldid=1002752730, Education labor disputes in the United States, African-American history in New York City, Wikipedia articles needing clarification from October 2012, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 25 January 2021, at 22:16. , When the original teachers were restored to their posts at JHS 271, students refused to attend their classes. , Parents in Brownsville generally supported the governing board. , In 1967, the ATA opposed the UFT directly over the "disruptive child clause", a contract provision that allowed teachers to have children removed from classrooms and placed in special schools. Just 10 days after Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, a draft riot broke out in New York City and quickly turned into a race riot. Margaret Sanger chose Brownsville as the site of America's first birth control clinic because she knew the community would be supportive. Share your email address to get our top stories each day.  Some described him as a militant follower of Malcolm X, and the UFT opposed the board's decision to appoint him in July 1967.  Following Brown v. Board, 4000 students in Ocean Hill–Brownsville were bused to white schools, where they complained of mistreatment. Most of these outside students were Black but some were white; some came long distances to attend the community–controlled schools. The Ocean Hill–Brownsville district lost direct control over its schools; other districts never gained control over their schools.  Some whites on the neighborhood's periphery lobbied with the school board against the building of a new school that would draw a racially diverse population. , In 1940, Blacks made up 6% of Brownsville's population.  The teachers were nearly unanimously Jewish. The nomination was withdrawn.  Shanker distributed 500,000 copies of a pamphlet some of his members found behind the schools in dispute worded "THE IDEA BEHIND THIS PROGRAM IS BEAUTIFUL, BUT WHEN THE MONEY CHANGERS HEARD ABOUT IT, THEY TOOK OVER, AS IS THEIR CUSTOM IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY", On December 26, 1968, Julius Lester on WBAI radio interviewed Leslie Campbell a history teacher who read a poem written by one of his students entitled "Antisemitism: Dedicated to Albert Shanker" that began with the words "Hey, Jewboy, with that yarmulke on your head / You pale-faced Jew boy – I wish you were dead." Ferguson had penned an article in The Guardian in which he wrote his ideal school would have lessons on "instructions in gun weaponry, gun handling, and gun safety" as survival skills in a hostile society. Prior to the boycott, the organizers asked the UFT Executive Board to join the boycott or ask teachers to join the picket lines. The governing board accused these workers of attempting to sabotage the project.  It became clear to activists in the 1960s that the Central School Board was uninterested in pursuing mandatory integration; their frustration led them away from desegregation and into the struggle for community control. The New York City teachers' strike of 1968 was a months-long confrontation between the new community-controlled school board in the largely black Ocean Hill–Brownsville neighborhoods of Brooklyn and New York City’s United Federation of Teachers. , The UFT's program for poor Black schools was called "More Effective Schools". , The newly Black Brownsville neighborhood had few community institutions or economic opportunities. , 70% of the district's new hires were neither Hispanic nor black, and half of these were Jewish.  The UFT opposed both involuntary assignment and extra incentives for experienced teachers to come to poor schools. These urban riots were unplanned and mostly attacked property of white owned businesses rather than people, before this most American riots involved brutal attacks against … The ATA felt that New York City's teachers and schools perpetuated a system of entrenched racism, and in 1966 it began campaigning actively for community control. This was far from New York's only moment of upheaval during this tumultuous decade.  The returning teachers were told to go to an auditorium to meet with Unit Administrator McCoy. The 1968 Democratic National Convention is seen as one of the most significant cultural and political watershed moments of the Vietnam Era. Comment below or Send us a Tip. , In 1964, Bayard Rustin and Reverend Milton Galamison coordinated a citywide boycott of public schools to protest de facto segregation. On April 4th, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis; racial violence broke out in cities all over the U.S. On April 23rd, a rally was held at Columbia University by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), protesting "the university’s relation to the Institute for Defense Analysis, the school’s allegedly ‘racist’ policies in relation to the surrounding Harlem area, and disciplinary probation in effect against some of the SDS leaders." On September 9, 1968 93% of the city's 58,000 teachers walked out. , The UFT held a philosophy of limited pluralism, according to which different cultures could maintain some individuality under the umbrella of an open democratic society. It was, a newspaper account accurately reported, "the largest civil rights demonstration" in American history, and, Rustin argued that "the movement to integrate the schools will create far-reaching benefits" for teachers as well as students. University of Pennsylvania Press. The city's Board of Education and the Ocean Hill–Brownsville board both announced on the same day that the schools would close..  Junior High School 271, which became the nexus of the strike, was constructed in 1963 to accommodate Brownsville's expanding population of youth. When the New York Police Department descended upon the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, the violent raid sparked six days of riots and protests—and launched an LGBTQ revolution.  A statistical study published in 1974 found that teachers—white and Black—of Black students were significantly more likely to oppose the strike. The Jewish population consistently elected Socialist and American Labor Party candidates to the state assembly and was a strong supporter of unionized labor and collective bargaining. The governing board of the Ocean Hill–Brownsville Demonstration School District has voted to end your employment in the schools of the District. By 1950, their numbers had doubled. Cole Wilson for The New York Times Today, the dominant image of Columbia 1968 may still be of mostly white radicals hanging out the windows of the occupied buildings. RW Apple, "Police Defend the Use of Gunfire in Controlling Riots in Harlem", The New York Times, 7/21/64.  The events surrounding the strike were a factor in the decision by Meir Kahane to form the Jewish Defense League.. Songs released that year included The Beatles' "Hey Jude" (this was the year. , Once created, the new administration of Ocean-Hill Brownsville began to select principals from outside the approved civil service list. The strike pitted community against union, highlighting a conflict between local rights to self-determination and teachers' universal rights as workers. , In the years before the strike, Brownsville's schools had become extremely overcrowded, and students were attending in shifts. Movements that had been building along the primary fault lines of the 1960s—the Vietnam War, the Cold War, civil rights, human rights, youth culture—exploded with force in 1968. The ATA called for community-controlled schools, educating with a "Black value system" that emphasized "unity" and "collective work and responsibility" (as opposed to the "middle class" value of "individualism"). , Some members of the school community, as well as the New York Civil Liberties Union, accused Shanker of playing up antisemitism to win sympathy and support. The photo won a Pulitzer Prize, and was part of what began to sway the U.S. public opinion against the war. Campbell asked Lester "Are you crazy?".  The dismissals were also condemned by the American Jewish Congress.  Although the school district itself was quite small, the outcome of its experiment had great significance because of its potential to alter the entire educational system—in New York City and elsewhere.  Mayor John Lindsay issued a statement countermanding the district's decision and condemning "anarchy and lawlessness".  One sign displayed in the window of the occupied school read, "Black people control your schools". In 1968 and 1969, there was a war on in York. One Black teacher included on the list, seemingly by accident, was quickly reinstated. Violence and chaos followed, with blacks flooding out onto the streets of major cities. The New York City teachers' strike of 1968 was a months-long confrontation between the new community-controlled school board in the largely black Ocean Hill–Brownsville neighborhoods of Brooklyn and New York City’s United Federation of Teachers. ", In September, the New York Radical Women organized a protest of the Miss America pageant, and as, On Halloween night in Washington Square Park, the Youth International Party sponsored.  (At the same time, other teachers were staying off the job as per UFT instructions.  The UFT contained a high proportion of Jews. Margarita Levin letter disputes Felicia R Lee's January 16 Coping column which referred to riots following 1968 assassination of Rev Martin Luther King as civil disobedience (S) The June 1969 riots at New York City's Stonewall Inn marked a raucous turning point in the fight for LGBT rights. , However, the district still relied on the school board for funding, and many of its requests (e.g., for a telephone and new library books) were reportedly met slowly if at all. A Puerto Rican group in the Ocean Hill–Brownsville neighborhood burnt Shanker in effigy.  As much as the 1960s was a time of vibrancy, culture, and wealth, it was also a time when little cracks started to slip into the background of daily life, usually left unnoticed, warning of the collapse to come.  The schools expanded the role of Black and African history and culture in the curriculum. , Reports on the 1967–1968 school year were generally positive.  When the city did not grant these powers, the district's parents initiated a boycott of the schools. In February 1968, some ATA teachers helped to produce a tribute to Malcolm X that presented African music and dance, and glorified Black power; the UFT successfully asked that these teachers be disciplined. Gothamist is a website about New York City news, arts and events, and food, brought to you by New York Public Radio. , In the following weeks, hostility continued between the returning teachers and their students and replacement teachers.  Some called its policies 'race-blind' because it preferred to frame issues in terms of class. When they refused to vacate their positions, Donovan called in the police. The Experiment, from The Atlantic and WNYC Studios, is a new weekly podcast that looks at the powerful ideas that shaped the United States—and what happens when America’s big ideals collide with people’s everyday lives. The strike created a serious rift between white liberals, who supported the teachers' union, and Blacks who wanted community control. Some were arrested on trespassing charges. Under this program class sizes would shrink and teachers would double or triple up for individual classes. Part of the broader King-assassination riots that affected at least 110 U.S. cities, those in Washington, D.C.—along with those in Chicago and Baltimore—were among those with the greatest numbers of … Two short years after 1968, the year the United States endured a series of cataclysmic episodes of politically tinged bloodletting, historian Richard Hofstadter observed that … The newly created school district, in a mostly black neighborhood, was an experiment in community control over schools—the dismissed workers were almost all white and Jewish. The subway fare was 20 cents (it is raised to 30 cents in 1970). In the event you wish to question this action, the Governing Board will receive you on Friday, May 10, 1968, at 6:00 P.M., at Intermedia School 55, 2021 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, New York. The average marijuana user at NYU is "male, 20 or 21 years old, living off-campus and majoring in the social sciences. Chicago “West Side” Race Riots – 1968.  Furthermore, Brownsville was frequently ignored by Black civil rights organizations such as the NAACP and Urban League whose Brooklyn chapters were based in nearby Bedford-Stuyvesant and were overall less concerned with the issues of the lower income Blacks who had moved into Brownsville, thus further isolating Brownsville's population. Citing increased crime and their desire for social mobility, Jews left Brownsville en masse, to be replaced by more Blacks and some Latinos. © 2021 New York Public Radio. On June 6th, Robert Kennedy is assassinated. , In April 1968, the administration sought additional control over personnel, finance, and curriculum. At the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, a mere block from where tourists marvel at street performers while eating ice cream, is a site of one of the most brutal riots in New York City history. , On May 9, 1968, the administration requested the transfer of 13 teachers and 6 administrators from Junior High School 271. The Washington, D.C., riots of 1968 were a four-day period of violent civil unrest and rioting following the assassination of leading African American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., on April 4, 1968. These changes corresponded to overall increases in segregation and inequality in New York City, as well as to the replacement of blue-collar with white-collar jobs.  The boycotts coincided with unrest due to the April 4 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. During disturbances in JHS 271 three teachers were injured. , Membership in the American Federation of Teachers, the national union of which the UFT is a part, had increased dramatically during the 1960s, as had the rate of teachers' strikes. In July there were riots in Birmingham, Chicago, New York City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Britain, Rochester, Plainfield, and Toledo. It was a turning point in this way." , The UFT crippled the ATA during the 1970s through a lawsuit, filed under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, accusing the ATA of excluding white teachers. Washington, DC, took decades to recover from the 1968 riots.  In 1969 some charged that the schools underwent "a purge of militant black teachers". , Other parents sent their children to Ocean Hill–Brownsville because the schools there were operational. ", From the 1880s through the 1960s, Brownsville was predominantly Jewish and politically radical.  When the schools agreed to impose a standardized reading test in 1971, its scores had fallen.. In July 1967, the Ford Foundation issued Ocean Hill–Brownsville a $44,000 grant. , The strike ended on November 17, 1968, when the New York State Education Commissioner asserted state control over the Ocean Hill–Brownsville district.  The union filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission and tried to get Campbell fired. Students and teachers returned to a chaotic atmosphere in the fall. Do you know the scoop? They were opposed by Blacks, Latinos, and pro-integration whites, but nevertheless succeeded in functionally limiting the new school's racial makeup. , Shanker called the dismissals "a kind of vigilante activity" and said the schools had neglected due process. , Brownsville's teachers were members of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), a new union Local that had recently displaced the more leftist Teachers' Union (TU). The school's performance was low from the outset, with most students testing below grade level in reading and math, and few advancing to the city's network of elite high schools. The strike badly divided the city and became known as one of John Lindsay's "Ten Plagues". During the week of December 2 disorders by black students were reported in schools in four of the five of the city's boroughs as well in the New York City Subway. ) When in 1967 the Bundy Report, a creation of the Ford Foundation, recommended trying decentralization, the city decided to experiment in three areas—over the objections of some members of the white middle-classes, who disliked the ideological tendencies that black-controlled schools might embrace. 1968.". This termination of employment is to take effect immediately.  One school with a large number of Puerto Rican students became completely bilingual.  The district's third graders were shown to have fallen from four months behind before community control to twelve months behind after it.  Faith in the controllers of the school system was sinking lower and lower. The mind-boggling occurrences seemed to come out of nowhere, like the Viet Cong who set off a depth charge beneath the Johnson presidency with the Tet offensive at the end of January.". , When the teachers tried to return to the school, they were blocked by hundreds of community members and teachers who supported the administration's decision. In the Heat of the Summer: The New York Riots of 1964 and the War on Crime.  Some camped on school grounds overnight to prevent further lockouts by janitors and custodians. A series of citywide strikes at the start of the 1968 school year shut down the public schools for a total of 36 days. All rights reserved. This was the real front page headline of the NY Times on that day, but the first half carries a hint of wishful thinking, as 1968 was marked with demonstrations, more racial tension, and assassinations. It escalated to a citywide strike in September of that year, shutting down the public schools for a total of 36 days and increasing racial tensions between Blacks and Jews. He argues that the shift in coalitions after the 1968 strike pushed New York City to the political right for decades to come—in part because race came to eclipse class as the main axis of social conflict.  Under the terms of the decentralization agreement, the teachers were returned to the control of the New York City public school system, where they sat idle in the school district offices. I think it's important for people to know the kinds of feelings being aroused in at least one child because of what's happening in Ocean Hill-Brownsville.". The reading skills of the district's eighth graders were shown to have barely improved by the end of their time in ninth grade. The UFT opposed the new principals denounced the Ocean Hill–Brownsville curriculum, saying that awareness of one's racial heritage would not be helpful in the job market. Rustin and Randolph were shunned from the black community due to their position.  Scholars have agreed with Shanker's assessment that "the whole alliance of liberals, blacks and Jews broke apart on this issue. In what became known as the “long, hot summer” of 1967, injustice stemming from the frustrations of poverty and unemployment, the systematic denial of employment opportunities by white-owned businesses and city services by white-led municipal governments, and mistreatment by white or mostly white police forces led to explosive confrontations between black residents and the forces that … When they arrived they were threatened and bullets were thrown at them by audience members, a pregnant teacher was punched in the stomach as she left the auditorium.  A coalition of Black and Puerto Rican UFT members, supported by members of other local unions, released a statement supporting Ocean Hill–Brownsville and opposing the strike.. The union also championed individualist values and meritocracy. Later, at the time of the 1968 school crisis, Brooklyn CORE leader Oliver Leeds and Afro-American Teachers Association President Al Vann would cite the UFT's refusal to support the 1964 integration campaign as proof that an alliance between the teachers' union and the black community was impossible. , Shanker emerged from the strike a figure of national prominence. , Bolstered by the civil rights movement, but frustrated by resistance to desegregation, African Americans began to demand authority over the schools in which their children were educated. The incident further divided the Black and Jewish Communities.  The TU, which contained active socialist and communist members campaigned actively for racial equality, desegregation, and other radical political goals. Lester replied "No.  The new district operated under a separate, community-elected governing board with the power to hire administrators. , Striking teachers were in and out of school during the first weeks of the year, affecting over one million students. The poem then goes on to say the author is sick about hearing about the Holocaust because it lasted only 15 years compared to the 400 years blacks had been suffering. They agreed to return on September 11 after the Board of Education ordered the reinstatement of the dismissed teachers, but walked out again on September 13, once it became clear that the Board could not enforce this decision. Most of these new residents were poor and occupied the neighborhood's most undesirable housing.  Some groups allied with the civil rights movement and Black Liberation struggles moved towards the creation of independent African Schools, including The East's Uhuru Sasa Shule in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Fewer grades were issued, and one school abolished grade levels completely. , In the New York City school system, regulated by a civil service examination, only 8% of teachers and 3% of administrators were Black. They were said to be instigated by a rally held by the City Wide Student Strike committee organized by Sonny Carson and JHS 271 teacher Leslie Campbell. NASA launched Apollo 8 on December 21st, and on Christmas Eve Americans watched a live broadcast as it became the first spacecraft to orbit the moon and return to Earth. By 1970, Brownsville was 77% Black and 19% Puerto Rican. More than 400,000 New Yorkers participated in a one-day February 3, 1964, boycott, and newspapers were astounded both by the numbers of black and Puerto Rican parents and children who boycotted and by the complete absence of violence or disorder from the protestors. What became known as one of John Lindsay 's `` Ten Plagues '' original teachers were told go!, Around 1960, the newly Black Brownsville neighborhood had few community institutions economic! White ; some came long distances to attend the community–controlled schools and whites... Powers, the New York Times, 7/21/64 was predominantly Jewish and politically.... 38 ] Visitors, students, and Kansas city, Reports on recommendation... The latest riots news, articles, videos and photos on the 1967–1968 year... To join the boycott or ask teachers to come to poor 1968 riots nyc public opinion the! Friday morning to Personnel, 110 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, for reassignment sinking lower and lower gentle but,! 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