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Negro children at an early age see that they are not accepted as equals in American society. Dr. Coles repeated a Negro youngster's explanation of why she drew a picture of herself sitting in the back of the schoolbus which took her from her neighborhood to a predominantly white elementary school.

"... [T]hey say they are going to stop us from coming
here soon, and so no more bus rides."

I pressed on, "But why are you sitting where you are in
the picture?"

"If we are going to leave anyway, we might as well sit in
the back and then we can leave when we have to, then we

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Dr. Coles told the Commission that Negro children "become confused and, at a very early age, filled with despair and depression" at the discrepancy between the ethic or rhetoric of equality in the North"what is proclaimed"—and the actual fact-"what is". He explained:

They doubt what is, they doubt the value of what is and
become rather bitter, rather scornful, rather cynical, and I
think at times, rather willful and unable to study, or un-
willing to study. Many of the children I have talked with
in Cleveland, just as the children I have been seeing now,
for almost two years, in Boston, see this world with a preci-
sion and a clarity that I must say that I have not always
seen. They see what jobs they will or will not be able to
get. They see the futility of even the training programs
that are offered them because they know the jobs that they
will be trained to do will not be available to them in
unions or in business.

They see themselves as cornered and they see the school
as, in a sense, a mockery of society rather than a reflection
of its best attributes.34

Miss Patricia Delgado, speaking for a group of Spanish-speaking high school students in San Francisco, testified about their frustration at what they feel is the hypocrisy in American society:

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[W]e go to school and we all want to go to college. We want a good education and we set out for it. ... We try to go to school and . . . the first thing we do is stand and we say the pledge. The pledge says that this is a free country and everything.... We go in our history class and we learn what a free country it is. Then we walk out of the

school doors and it is the end of it. You go back to your crummy little house and try to get a crummy little job and all you know is that your accent is different from everybody else's and so you just can't make it.35

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[M]ost of the apartments are just rooms. Very few of
them have complete baths and hot and cold water, the
necessary things, the things that are required healthwise
they don't have, very few of them, hot and cold water, heat
and this type of thing. You just don't find too many apart-
ments in this area that have this type of thing.1

This was the way Mrs. Charlotte Gordon described the housing in her slum neighborhood in Gary. Housing in other slum areas often lacks the basic qualities which most Americans take for granted. Mrs. Rowena Stewart, a resident of Boston's South End, commented on the condition of housing in that area:

[A person] rents a broken-down room for $21 to $24 a
week that is rat infested and has cockroaches running all
over the place. There are holes in the ceiling where the
plaster has fallen down and the people have to share a
bathroom. The so-called furnished apartments usually
contain a few chairs, a table and an old rusty bed. . . .
Frequently, social workers tell families to move out of
these homes where the rents are too high, but they never
find them decent homes where rents are lower.3

Mrs. Carnella Turner spoke of the conditions in her apartment at the Alhambra Village, a large tenement in Cleveland's Hough area which had been the scene of a rent strike staged by a civil rights group known as the Ohio Freedom Fighters:

The apartment was very dirty, an undecorated apartment.
The plaster in the bathroom was all cracked up and

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the bath tub, the water dropped by drops, just a drop at
a time.1

When the Freedom Fighters inspected the building they found many violations of the Cleveland housing code, including open sewage lines and leaking gas lines in the basement. At the request of the Freedom Fighters, housing inspectors confirmed the violations and condemned the building as unfit for human habitation."

The attitude of the owner of the Alhambra-subpenaed before the Commission-was that tenant complaints and notices of violations from the Division of Housing and the Division of Health were "part and parcel of any building whether it is here or Pepper Pike or the Gold Coast." He claimed that he had attempted to correct conditions as tenants complained about them. The Alhambra file in the Cleveland Division of Housing, however, showed that identical recurring violations had been reported each year since 1962.7

The tenants in the Alhambra had a landlord whom they could see and to whom they could complain. Many slum landlords, however, are corporate entities in which responsibility is so diffuse that there is no one to whom tenants can readily express their grievances.


Mrs. Hattie Mae Dugan lived with her 13-year-old daughter in a three-room apartment consisting of a bedroom, a vestibule which served as a second bedroom, a small kitchen, a toilet and a bath. There were windows in only one room and none in the bathroom, in violation of the Cleveland Housing Code. The plumbing was bad, the ceiling damaged, the hallways poorly maintained. The front door of the building had no lock. After-hour clubs were operated in vacant apartments in the building. One vacant apartment had been vandalized and left open in a state of disrepair for weeks. Mrs. Dugan was not sure who owned the building because the certificate of occupancy was not posted as required by law.

She described what happened when she tried to complain about lack of adequate facilities in her apartment:

I'll tell you when you start complaining about that par-
ticular building no one seems to want to own the building.
When I first started to complain, I started with one realty
company and I complained so long and loud they sent
someone else out and then I complained to him and they
sent someone else out.... Now we complain-it's five of
us are complaining now.... The only time anybody
really wants the building is when it is time to pay the rent
and after then nobody wants the building

When Negroes began moving into Cleveland's Hough area in 1957, landlords subdivided apartments and reduced services. Mrs. Velma Woods-the second Negro to move into the Clevelander, a 40-unit apartment building-described how maintenance was cut back:

When I moved into the Clevelander in 1957, there were
two families of custodians. One family would start to
work at 7 o'clock in the morning until 3 in the afternoon.
One of the husbands worked mornings and the other of
the husbands worked in the evenings.... [T]hey kept it
very clean, . . . it was a fabulous apartment, they really
kept it up.

Then, no sooner they got the white people out and nothing
but the colored in, they moved a custodian in there with
about nine children, and they stopped keeping it up. It
just went down, down, down until it was . . . dilapi-


Morris Thorington, a Negro businessman in the Hough area, explained how buildings in the area deteriorated "day by day," eventually forcing the residents to move elsewhere and leaving the buildings to stand vacant and abandoned:

They move to a building that is a little bit better, a build-
ing in which the plumbing is a little less bad, a building
in which maybe the roof doesn't leak or a building where
you do have some type of toilet facilities. So nobody wants
this [deteriorated] building and they left because it is even
worse than the one to which they moved, God knows that
is bad enough, so it stands there. The landlord won't do
anything with it and the city won't do anything with it.
It just stands there....

Urban Destruction


The inadequate housing, blight and deterioration described by witnesses in Hough were not alleviated by that city's urban renewal program. In Hough, urban renewal was, in Mr. Thorington's words, "urban destruction." Houses scheduled to be demolished were "still there, abandoned. They are nothing but a meeting ground for hoodlums, prostitutes or what have you."

They are just there, just shells, that deter anybody that
wants to come in the area from three or four, five blocks
away, because they are scared. These vacancies are bad.

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