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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
I pressed on, "But why are you sitting where you are in
"If we are going to leave anyway, we might as well sit in
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
They see themselves as cornered and they see the school
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:
[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
[M]ost of the apartments are just rooms. Very few of
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
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 bath tub, the water dropped by drops, just a drop at
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-
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
Then, no sooner they got the white people out and nothing
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-
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