Thursday, July 21, 2016

It's been a difficult week, so I haven't posted much. TWO physician's appointments, a busted AC unit (and this is the hottest week of the year), and a major project...

It turns out it's the 50th anniversary of the Hough Riots, a major uprising by poverty-stricken blacks in Cleveland in 1966. Hough (pronounced "Huff") is a neighborhood in midtown, bounded by E. 55th, Superior Avenue, E. 105th, and Euclid Avenue. Once a middle-class neighborhood of mostly Jews and upper-middle-class WASPs, Between 1950 and 1960 the neighborhood became almost exclusively African American. The businesses remained white-owned, as did the housing. As with much urban decline in Cleveland, homeowners subdivided large homes into four to six small apartments.

The Second Great Migration was occurring at this time, as massive numbers of blacks fled the South after World War II and sought refuge in less-racist cities in the North. The problem was that Cleveland was de-industrializing at the same time, shutting down most of its automobile, steel, iron, and other manufacturing. There were no jobs in Cleveland for this in-migration of uneducated, low-skill workers. Blacks poured into Hough, with two-bedroom apartments sometimes containing as many as 15 people. Hough was a neighborhood of two- and three-story buildings, with no high-rise apartments.

Hough sank. Housing stock became dilapidated. The only businesses that stayed open were pawn shops, bars, wig stores, and nail salons. Only one or two grocery stores remained open; high-price convenience stores became the norm. Hough had one-third of the city's births, and half of those were to teenage single mothers. Although Hough had just 7 percent of Cleveland's population, it had 20 percent of its welfare cases. The median income in Hough was just 65 percent of the income elsewhere in the city. Crime was high, but the notoriously racist Cleveland Police Department often responded late to calls or not at all. The city's garbage collection was irregular, there were no housing inspections, and abandoned or closed building proliferated.

That major riots occurred in Hough is not, therefore, surprising.

During the riot, Mayor Ralph S. Locher, Police Chief Richard Wagner, Safety Director John N. McCormick, and the editors of The Plain Dealer essentially conspired to blame the riots on Black Nationalists and Communists. No kidding. There wasn't any evidence for this, and at no time (then or since) has any evidence been found. But just three days into the riots, they began a systematic campaign to divert attention away from racism, poverty, and police brutality, and began blaming the African American community itself for the riots. They even blamed welfare for encouraging single mothers to breed like rabbits, and common-law marriages for encouraging fathers to abandon families.

It was ludicrous.

Locher even got a grand jury to investigate the Hough Riots, and issue an official report confiming his "official narrative".

The "official narrative" was laughed out of town. The Cleveland business commmunity, which was mostly white, was terrified of another riot. The political culture in Cleveland had been to ignore social ills, while trumpeting Cleveland as a low-tax, small-government city with a superb business climate. Riots ripped the veil off that pig, and exposed it for what it was.

July 18 was the 50th anniversary of the Hough Riots. I didn't realize it until July 17. When I got to the Wikipedia page, the article was pure crap. So I had to rewrite it... That took four days.

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