Connecticut History on the Web 


A World Apart: Connecticut's African Americans, 1914-1970


Below is a list of the readings used with this unit. You may go directly to a document or group of documents by clicking on its name, or you may scroll down through the whole collection.

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§ "A World Apart: Introduction" - a summary of the racial disturbances of 1967 - 1969 in Connecticut.

§ 10 Character Sketches of Connecticut citizens and leaders, for students to role-play in testifying before an investigative commission.

§ 2 Charts showing population changes in 4 Connecticut cities, 1920-1970.

§ "The Great Migration Begins" - excerpts from Emmet J. Scott's Negro Migration During the War (1923)

§ Excepts from "The Negro Population of Waterbury, Connecticut: A Survey by the Department of Research and Investigations of the National Urban League," by Charles S. Johnson, Director, in A Journal of Negro Life (Oct. and Nov., 1923).

§ Excerpts from the first report of Connecticut's Inter-Racial Commission (1944)

§ "A Review of the Social and Economic Condition of the Negro Population of Hartford, Connecticut," Conducted for The Council of Social Agencies of Greater Hartford and The Hartford Negro Citizens' Council by The National Urban League Department of Research and Community Projects (September-October, 1944).

§ "Connecticut Inter-Racial Survey" - a 1948 newsletter from the Connecticut Inter-Racial Commission.

§ "Spotlight on Civil Rights" - a 1952 newsletter from the Commission on Civil Rights.

§ "Civil Rights Bulletin" - a 1958 newsletter from the Commission on Civil Rights.

§ "Two Government Studies in the Civil Rights Era" - Henry G. Stetler's studies of racial integration and attitudes toward it in Connecticut, 1957 and 1961.

§ Annual Combined Family Incomes in the Greater Hartford Area, 1959 - a comparative chart.

§ "From a Symposium on Equal Education in Connecticut Held in 1965" - two speakers address education issues.

§ "The Waterbury Public Hearings of the Connecticut Human Rights and Opportunities" - excerpts from a report on the racial disturbances of the late 1960's.

§ Minority School Populations - a chart showing increasing segregation in schools since 1970. 

This site was created by Mark Williams, a history teacher at The Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, Connecticut, under a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council. Some of the materials published here were originally created by Mark Williams as Connecticut Case Studies, under a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council, and printed by the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. John F. Sutherland of Manchester Community College, Ronald P. Dufour of Rhode Island College, Thomas P. Weinland of the University of Connecticut, Tracey Wilson of Conard High School, Robert K. Andrian of The Loomis Chaffee School, and State Historian Christopher Collier served as consultants. The Connecticut Humanities Council is the State Committee of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The viewpoints or recommendations expressed in the materials on this site of are not necessarily those of the Council or the Endowment. Teachers are encouraged to print and make copies of these materials for their students.



An Introduction


In the late 1960's it seemed as though American cities were coming apart at the seams. In Newark and Detroit the nighttime sky was an orange glow many nights of the summers of 1967, 1968 and 1969, and it wasn't from the street lights, most of which had been broken. Connecticut, the "land of steady habits" was not immune to the outbreaks of violence that spread spontaneously across the nation, seemingly without any need for leadership, and definitely without any mechanism of control. Gone were the days when the protesting would stop and wait breathlessly while Dr. Martin Luther King and his colleagues met with government officials to hammer out new agreements and ever more powerful legislation against discrimination and poverty itself. Even though progress had been made and Black civic and religious organizations in the cities were breathing new life into the Black community, the days of reasoned arguments and "turning the other cheek" were passing away. In April of 1968 King had been shot down while standing on a hotel balcony in Memphis, and with him died an era of nonviolent protest and Black martyrdom to be replaced by the already surging Black Power movement.

This latter movement had emerged out of the ranks of King's own supporters, some of whom were frustrated with the slow progress toward equality. Younger civil rights activists like Stokely Carmichael were no longer sure even that integration should be the goal of the American Black population. Seeking instead to build pride, self-sufficiency, and political and economic power among the members of their race, they called for Black leadership of Black organizations, Black businesses and Black neighborhoods. Often their bitter rhetoric alienated even active white supporters of Dr. King. The more radical Black Power advocates, such as the Black Panthers, called on Blacks to arm themselves to resist forcibly police brutality and other forms of white domination of the Black community. Some did respond to the call to arms, and many more took up the harsh rhetoric, the simple message of which was that the patience of the Black community was running out and Blacks intended to take charge of their lives and their cities. Misunderstandings and tensions ran high, rumors spread rapidly, leaders on both sides vied with each other to be seen as strong and firm, and the result was a nationwide explosion.

The cities of Connecticut were the scene of racial violence every summer during the last three years of the decade. There were riots in New London, Norwalk, Stamford, Bridgeport, Waterbury, Middletown, New Britain, New Haven and Hartford. In New Haven, in August, 1967, a white store owner shot a Puerto Rican threatening him with a knife, and this action unleashed a series of incidents that fed on each other and eventually led to chaos in the streets. Mayor Richard C. Lee called a state of emergency and asked that the National Guard be brought to the edge of the city.

The next month in Hartford leaders of the newly formed Black Caucus of the North End responded to the shooting of a Black youth by a policeman by calling for a march on the predominantly white South End to protest housing conditions and neighborhood segregation. Their march ended when they were blocked from their destination by 250 policemen wearing helmets and carrying riot sticks. That night Black youths ran wild in the North End, breaking store windows, setting fires, looting, and throwing bricks and bottles at passing cars, including patrol cars.

The violence reached its peak in the late summer of 1969 when mobs of Black youths in Hartford were fighting in the streets with state and city police, and damaged almost one hundred buildings, including a public library that was set on fire and a super market that was never to return to the North End. "The power structure reacts to riots and violence. This is the black man's only power," cried John Barber, spokesman for the Black Caucus.

What had happened? Earlier in the decade leaders of Black protest organizations had worked hard to build community organizations to revitalize the Black community, and had shaped their arguments for equality with reference to the fundamental tenets of Christian morality, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision of 1954. Organizers of the NAACP, the Urban League, and CORE in Connecticut were supportive when the mainly white-led North End Community Action Program (NECAP) of Hartford had staged sit-ins and other direct action protests against local hiring practices, but their rhetoric did not seem to offend the majority of the population. Their actions were aimed at developing community educational and cultural programs that would combat poverty and lack of racial pride in the long run. Even when tempers flared in New Haven over a new busing program, the press and white leadership stood behind the Civil Rights movement. For years Black protesters enjoyed the support of liberal whites such as Don Noel of The Hartford Times, who wrote,

Hartford - and Greater Hartford - must face up to new costs. Many Negroes need no special services; need only an honest chance to compete equally. But many are far behind, and the special services to help them catch up will cost money - more money than Hartford alone may be able to afford.

Every social scientist is convinced that money spent helping people in useful, productive lives is money well invested. A growing number of private citizens are equally convinced that corrective expenditures are a moral responsibility.

The combination of brains, money, imagination and determination that built Constitution Plaza can build a new place for the Negro in Hartford.

That was a white man writing in 1963. By 1969 many of those sympathetic "private citizens" he spoke of were shocked by the militancy of Black protest in the streets of Hartford and other Connecticut cities; furthermore, those whites not in shock seemed to be unanimously advocating "law and order," - the use of police action on whatever scale necessary to put an end to actions they saw stemming from "outside agitation." Meanwhile, the Black community had seemingly rejected the idea that white money was the answer to their problems. Blacks had replaced whites in the leadership of civil rights organizations, militant Blacks like John Barber were telling their followers that "Jesus didn't tell us what to do when we got hit on the other cheek," and the streets were littered with glass while Mayor Richard Lee, a man with a national reputation for effective urban management, threw up his hands in despair.

The reform consensus that had characterized the early years of Lyndon Johnson's presidency had swiftly fallen apart, to be replaced by distrust, anger, and hatred on all sides of all public issues. As the NASA landed a man on the moon, only to be criticized for taking money from needy people on earth, as the increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam dragged on, dragging President Johnson into early retirement, it appeared that a race war was coming to the streets of the cities of Connecticut. Moderate leaders in city halls, state agencies, churches, civil rights groups, and police stations watched in shock as their pleas for calm fell on deaf ears. Those who were being heard were the ones who had already chosen a side to be on, and the gulf between the sides was rapidly widening.

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Character Sketches for the Role-Play

[Note: The information on the role sheets was derived from numerous sources, including articles in July and September, 1967 issues of The New York Times and The Hartford Courant; John Barber, "by," Connecticut Life, November, 1967; a special section of The Hartford Times reported and written by Don O. Noel, Jr., November 24, 1965; Time, September 1, 1967; Newsweek, September 4, 1967; The New York Times Magazine, September 3, 1967; Talking about Connecticut: Oral History in the Nutmeg State, ed. by Bruce M. Stave and John F. Sutherland (1985); and State of Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, Waterbury Hearings of the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (1969). Two of my students, Jared Synnestvedt and Erika Hanson, designed four of the roles.]

Jonathan Parker

Hartford Resident


Jonathan Parker, age 19, a high school graduate and unemployed, lives in the North End of Hartford, Ct. "We don't want nobody's promises," he says. "We want some action. Some jobs, and we're not talking about summer jobs. You don't believe it but these guys out here don't care. They'll die if they have to." He is tired of hearing about programs and statutes and not seeing any difference in his life. His mother tells him he should calm down, stay off the streets, and get a job - but what jobs are there, where else does he have to go but the streets (certainly not to church as she suggests, and he's hardly going to sit around their dingy little apartment while it falls down on him!), and what good has calming down ever done anybody?

He has seen on television how calm and reasonable civil rights marchers have been treated to the hoses and dogs of southern policemen, and he has heard the taunts of "nigger" in his own home town. Jonathan is so upset with the intense bigotry that plagues his race, that he joined about a hundred and fifty others, almost entirely Black and led by people like John Barber of the Black Caucus, in a protest march on the South End (mostly white neighborhood), which march led to numerous arrests and injuries. It was supposed to be a protest against segregated neighborhoods, but a lot of people remembered the shooting, a few days before, of a Black youth by a city policeman, an act which most people considered completely unjustified. When policemen showed up to shadow the march in large numbers, they drew angry cries from the marchers, and some of the marchers threw bottles at them.

Jonathan feels that the time has come that people won't listen to peaceful protests. "Whitey just wants us to think the only thing for us to be able to do is to join the army and get ourselves shot up in some rice paddy," he says, watching the unmarked police cars carrying white helmeted policemen with riot sticks circling his block. Instead of nonviolent protest, Black Power has been the main theme of his effort to effect change in his world. Unfortunately this involves throwing bottles at cars and even attacking people who represent the world he is challenging.

As a poor black teenager, he has grown up in an area which breeds skepticism and distrust. He attended school dutifully when he was young, thinking that the education he would get - the education his mother did not get - would insure him a job and a way out of the ghetto. Now he does not see that it will provide him either. He feels he went through a lot at school, listening to teachers who didn't understand him, learning about things that didn't interest him, studying history in books that talked about Black men as though they were children fit only for menial labor. He liked some of his teachers, but many of them, mostly white themselves, were, he could tell, simply looking down their noses at him and his classmates. He could see the city had made sure that all the Black students were set aside in schools by themselves - schools that were not as well kept up as the white schools in Windsor and West Hartford. It didn't take an education to see that.

Now he is striking back. If anyone wants to listen to him, he'll tell it like it is - and if they don't want to listen, he'll make them listen. "All Whitey understands is whether his store windows get broken. Well, if that's what it takes to get his attention, that's what he gets. If he wants to try tear gas, let him - it won't keep us down long."


Joseph Scarcella

Hartford Resident


Joey Scarcella, age 26, lives in the South End of Hartford, Ct. He has grown up in the predominantly white community and feels very strongly about the racial troubles that have beset his city. Although not totally against blacks, he does believe that white people can get jobs done better than their black counterparts. He realizes that Blacks are discouraged from taking up residence in his part of the city, but feels it is all for the best. "I think they'd be happier with their own kind," he says confidently. "Any colored people who move in here have no friends - they don't get along to well with us."

When disturbances began last summer, Joey, along with over a hundred others, waited for the angry black protesters marching through the streets of Hartford. The civil rights movement is becoming too violent and Joey wants to see the city put an end to the lawless activities of the poor Blacks from the North End. The march was broken up by police before it reached the South End, which was just fine with Joey. He wasn't interested in his part of the city being covered with broken glass as was upper Main Street. "These people have no respect for other people's property - they don't even care what happens to their own neighborhood!" he says shaking his head. "What kind of protest is it to ruin your own people's places?" He is skeptical about claims of Black people that there is no justice in America, and, while he was sad to hear of the shooting of Martin Luther King, he did not believe it was necessary to pass any special laws to protect Black people. "My grandparents came to this country without two nickels to rub together, and you can bet the people here got down on them and his kind," he says. "They lived in a run-down flat on the old East Side - couldn't even speak English. Every group has to work its way up - now Italians are respected and have good jobs and good homes. It just takes time - but you can't win respect by rioting."

Starting out as a stock boy for a small market in downtown Hartford, Joey has climbed over many blacks with an equal background and potential. Merely because of the fact that he was white gave him the upper hand in the job market, at least in his neighborhood. Realizing this, Joey feels a duty to contribute to a system which has now made him a part owner of a flourishing grocery store. He sees the Black community as "all right" as long as it stays a small Black community that leaves the other white sections of town alone. Joey is eager to treat Blacks with more respect and equality, but now that the city is being disturbed by riots and even deaths, he wants to try and stop the violence and go back to his normal life. Joey feels that the protesting about civil rights is absolutely absurd. The country has changed almost totally from where it was a hundred years ago and in his eyes the Blacks should feel lucky that they have almost the exact same rights as the whites. Asked if he would allow his children to go to school with Blacks from the North End, or if he would care if a Black family moved in next door, Joey simply replied, "You just have to let things develop naturally - let people do what they feel right doing, instead of forcing things on people. I don't know any Black people, and the more I hear about them, the less interested I am in knowing any or having my children know any."


John Barber

Spokesman for the Black Caucus


John Barber, a thirty-one-year-old black existential Christian, lives in West Haven with his family, and owns a restaurant in the North End of Hartford. Originally from Detroit, John came to Connecticut after completing four years at Morehouse College on scholarship, having enrolled at age 15: he had the good fortune of being a part of a family which encouraged college education. John continued his education at Yale University on a fellowship, where he excelled due to his strong will and intellectual curiosity. After his first year, he chose to major in political science, and later earned his master's degree in this field

Because of his good education and natural ability for powerful public speaking, John Barber became a respected and influential member of his community. This influence took the form of political involvement; he became president of the NAACP in New Haven, and, later, speaker for a black militant group in Hartford called the Black Caucus. From early childhood, he had learned to resent the condescension he sensed from whites whom he felt were less capable than he, so now John Barber uses his intellectual talents to try to bring about change. His methods have been criticized by many, since he condones violence and riots, rather than the nonviolent methods of Martin Luther King, with whose movement Barber has formerly been associated. To many he is considered "disrespectful, hostile, and a troublemaker."

One issue on which he takes a particularly strong stand is housing. Along with many of his supporters, John Barber believes that despite recent legislation to ease discrimination, blacks still face opposition when trying to move into white neighborhoods. They can't even get decent housing in the North End. "Whitey can do that. Buildings like Phoenix Mutual rise to the sky. But they can't spend money for decent housing for people less than a mile away." So with the help of the Black Caucus, he recently organized a demonstration march from the North End of Hartford to the South End to protest inequality in housing. Actually this demonstration was sparked by the shooting of a Black boy by a white policeman. "We asked for the cop's suspension pending an investigation," he remembers. "We tried to see the chief and the mayor and they wouldn't see us. Then we started marching." The demonstration developed into an ugly situation, when police blocked it from reaching its destination, and this led to three nights of riots and police retaliation with tear gas in the North End.

The aftermath of the riots confirmed Barber's belief that the "civil rights movement failed. King tried to subpoena that conscience of the whites," he has written. "I agreed with Eisenhower - you can't legislate conduct. It's gotta start with the heart. Law and order - those are things white people believe in - after riots.

"I shake my own thing. I think Martin Luther Kings' experiment was one of the greatest experiments ever. If white power had acceded we never would have had a Stokely Carmichael or Rap Brown. Martin was defeated after ten years. He turned his cheek and you knocked the hell out of the other cheek. What did he achieve? We got some more paper rights."

It was only after the riots that Blacks in Hartford began to see any success, he claims. "Then we communicated....The power structure only reacts to riots and violence. This is the Black man's only power. The power of the flame or the threat of the flame or the threat of violence....The people downtown think all I do is use four-letter words. My people here think all I use are 14-letter words. I do both, deliberately. I'll interlard a speech downtown with a deliberate curse word - to get their attention. It works. Does it cost me their esteem? I don't want their esteem. Uncle Toms have esteem. I don't want to be palatable. Palatable - that means stay in your place."

It was after the rioting that the Community Renewal Team, a group composed of North End Citizens and City Hall politicians, agreed to allow the Black Caucus to have a role in the use of funds for anti-poverty programs, instead of having whites always "taking care of" Blacks. "We must end colonialism in antipoverty," Barber explained to reporters at the time. The C.R.T. "are even pitiful in terms of begging money from Washington....What we propose for the poor is that the poor run their own programs....Our proposed Operation Breakthrough is for those winos, pot smokers and alcoholics who have been battered by the white world - by the C.R.T." The American welfare system has never done more than make people ashamed of themselves. "The New Haven Negro has fared the best in terms of community organizations that are helping them. The antipoverty program is better in New Haven. Some indigenous neighborhood groups in New Haven are best in the state. Waterbury has a much better program than Hartford....Churches are very little good. They don't identify with those who most need them. The Negro who is in sin, who's out here. They've failed to identify with the lowly and the lost. Black preachers look more like Italian gangsters in shiny alligator shoes."

Asked if he is not somewhat of a racist himself in his own hatred for white supremacy, Barber responds, "I'm not a racist. I hate people who hate me. I think I can manipulate and control my anger. There's a lot of people I love, a lot of white people I love....We're proud to be black now. We wearing these bushy hairs. We're saying it's beautiful. And if it ain't beautiful, it's us....The Negro needs power to determine his own destiny; with power you can control your job, affect elected officials.

"I hope we can begin to communicate in ways that don't call out the National Guard. White man says he's not going to be threatened. But man they are doing a lot of things now.

"You can call me black bastard if you want to; as I make my strides toward what I want to be you better stay out of my way."


George B. Kinsella

Mayor of Hartford

George B. Kinsella is the current mayor of Hartford, and he lives in the South End, in an Italian middle-class neighborhood completely devoid of Blacks or Puerto Ricans. He was brought up in a somewhat poor environment, but despite this, he began his political career when he was barely twenty. As mayor during a summer full of race riots, Kinsella spends quite a bit of his time with advisors trying to address the main issues of the current unrest: equal housing, police behavior, and equal education. Technically, there are laws to protect blacks from discrimination, such as the state's open-housing law, and the Fair Employment Practices Act. However, Kinsella has difficulty in enforcing these laws, because of attitudes among his white constituents, as well as for personal reasons. Although he sympathizes with Blacks for their difficulties in finding decent housing and getting a good education in good schools, he cannot bring himself take a bold stand to enforce the legislation that would alienate his own people and put a quick end to his political career.

Besides, he is outraged by the behavior of young Blacks these past two summers (1967 and 1968). "It's unbelievable," he says. "The kids are running through the streets yelling for blood." In fact, people on the State Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities tell him that that they get no more than a dozen complaints each year about housing discrimination in the South End. If people don't avail themselves of the law, - if they're going to flaunt the law openly, - then how can they expect equal protection of the law? In defending his police force's use of tear gas against North End citizens in September, 1967, he makes note that his officers had sustained several injuries from bricks and bottles, and property damage had already been done before any riot control was put into effect. He admits that a small incident, such as the shooting of a Black youth by a Hartford policeman, can take on bloated significance in the present atmosphere, but feels that all he can do is stick with the legal process, have the incidents investigated by the proper authorities, and keep the peace in the meantime. What else can anyone expect? In the incident of the shooting of the youth, there were so many contradictory accounts that it was impossible to determine whether or not that officer had performed his duty properly or not. If he does not stick by his police force, there will be chaos, and so no charges were brought, much to the displeasure to people in the North End.

Kinsella is involved with the Community Renewal Team, a group of citizens and political leaders whose aim is to ease the plight of poverty-stricken citizens of Hartford. Its efforts have not gone without criticism, much of it coming from the thirty members of the Black Caucus in the North End of Hartford. This group has caused other problems for Kinsella, since it helped to instigate the protest march of 150 blacks and whites for equal housing. In an effort to bring an end to the bitterness Kinsella joined with the other C.R.T. members to support the funding of a $165,000 anti-poverty program proposed by the Black Caucus. In this plan poor Blacks would run the program themselves with the C.R.T. being only a conduit for funds that would be used for anti-drug education and other programs designed to combat the causes of poverty. Kinsella is skeptical that the Black Caucus has the administrative ability to succeed with such a program, but is willing to support this first effort. At this point, new approaches are desperately needed.

In the area of police hiring practices, his administration has also had to endure harsh criticism. His police chief tells him that it would be crazy to step up hiring of Blacks for positions on the force. For one thing, there just aren't that many qualified young Black men in the right age bracket, and the force would be hiring inferior candidates. For another, there is not a long tradition of Black officers on the force, and it would be extremely difficult for them to be accepted by either Blacks or whites on or off the force. Kinsella, nevertheless, has promised to try to make changes - as he says, new approaches are needed.


Edward Powers

Member of Hartford Board of Education


Born in 1914 in Harlem, the Black ghetto of New York City, Edward Powers overcame tremendous obstacles to arrive finally at his present position as program director for the Connecticut Tuberculosis Association, elder and deacon of the nearly all-white First Presbyterian Church, and member of Hartford's Board of Education. Coming from a family of five children, whose father had deserted them when he was an infant, and whose mother remarried and moved south before he had finished high school (his brothers and sisters all dropped out), Edward's prospects did not look great on the eve of the Great Depression. Nevertheless, he persevered, convinced that education was his only route out of the ghetto.

As a boy he worked for a Jewish druggist in New York, and eventually passed state examinations for apprentice pharmacists. Unable to pay for pharmacy college, let alone his own high school graduation suit (his employer, whose plans to send him to college were foiled by the Depression, bought him the suit), he continued working as an unlicensed pharmacist in the day while he attended City College of New York at night. After a year of this grueling pace he managed to get himself into a depression program to help young students at Virginia Union University, from which he graduated in 1939 with premedical training.

He married in 1941, and worked as a laborer loading boxcars (the only kind of work open to Blacks at the time) at the huge Richmond Quartermaster depot, until his advice to authorities on how to avoid a race riot won him the position of personnel manager for the Black work force. His administration was so efficient and innovative, he was awarded a Congressional Civilian Meritorious Service Award, one of three received by Virginians during the War. Unable to move up in position at the base after the war, due to objections of white secretaries in the administration office, Edward began looking for other jobs. This led him to the Virginia Tuberculosis Association, as an administrator organizing preventive health care for the Black communities in the state.

In 1954, when Virginia attempted to avoid the integration order from the Supreme Court's Brown vs. Board of Education decision, Edward and Evelyn Powers refused to cooperate by signing cards giving the state "placement" powers. Their children Jeannine, in junior high, and Edward Jr., in grade school were expelled. Determined never to pay any more taxes to Virginia he applied for and received an appointment at Connecticut's Tuberculosis Association.

Finding a good job was no challenge at all, however, compared to finding a house. Real estate agents were evasive, and often would suddenly discover houses were no longer available when they found out he was Black. Finally, after being shown half-built houses in the dark, and being told to find another "colored" family to move next door to him, he bought a house in North Hartford on the edge of the Black ghetto.

In 1968 Jeannine has graduated from the University of Connecticut, and Edward Jr. is in his second year of college, having graduated from Weaver High School. Both have learned to live in the white world, while coming from Black neighborhoods, but both are anxious to see significant changes in white attitudes in the near future. Edward agrees, for the most part, although is not as impatient as his children. Housing is a big issue, to be sure, but education is the bigger issue, which is why he is serving on the school board. He does not believe in massive redistricting for integration overnight, but wants to make small but permanent strides toward "more inclusive schools" and to coordinate the Board's activities with the new Community Renewal Team, a group of citizens and political leaders established to attack poverty in Hartford head-on. He realizes there is no way to stop whites from fleeing the city, especially in light of recent violence. "They have a right to move," he says. "The important thing is that we set our policies thoughtfully, but firmly, and then stand by them." Realtors in the suburbs must be held accountable to anti-discrimination statutes where possible, but basically, the only way to make changes is slowly. Blacks must get a good education, and gradually whites must learn there is nothing to fear in having their children attend school with Black children who are there for the same reason.

Change in values can come about only slowly, and perhaps not in any one lifetime, he feels. He, as much as anyone, knows that plodding persistence will win out in the end, and he has a hard time communicating with younger protesters who are sick of "taking it on the other cheek" and want housing and education problems addressed immediately and fully. He can hardly condone the recent efforts to try to shut whites out of decision making for the North End population altogether, since that will only create greater racial animosity. He does feel, though, that Blacks should stand tall and not allow whites to "do for" them.

The Parker Memorial Community Center is a good example of how not to enact reforms. The Parker Center idea got started in 1950, the year after the North End Community Center was burned out of the Arsenal School. The concept was to build it on the fringe of the North End and create a racially integrated program, including offices for social workers, visiting nurses, and all the private welfare agencies in the area. The Citizen's Committee for the North End was set up to plan the project. However, in a few years, the planning was out of the hands of the CCNE and in the hands of city hall. A site was chosen that was in the heart of the North End, and the concept of the Center gradually changed into what Black citizens referred to as a glorified recreation hall, ill-equipped for all the community programs originally envisioned. City Hall had "done for" the Blacks of Hartford, without consulting them, and possibly motivated by political concerns that put integration and meaningful community services at the bottom of the priority list. Edward is looking toward a day when Blacks will be more readily accepted into Hartford's decision making process, and admits that that day had better come soon, or the impatient youth of his part of the city will be impossible to reach, even by their own elders.


Wilber Smith

President, Hartford Chapter

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People


Wilber Smith has watched Hartford deteriorate each summer, as more and more of his people have become more and more disgusted with the lack of progress in areas they consider essential to their welfare. In the North End people barely survive on inadequate welfare assistance, lack of jobs or job training, rat-infested apartments, and lives of frustration. He agrees with the more militant and younger protesters that change in the North End of Hartford (which houses 20,000 Blacks and about 2000 Puerto Ricans) is needed now. " We don't need any stopgap programs," he has been quoted in the papers. "We need long-range programs. If they can spend $53 million down town, they can spend 3 per cent of that out here."

While Smith is still hopeful that peaceful action can bring needed programs of child care, health care, public housing, improvement in school teaching and facilities, police protection, and sanitation to the North End, he recognizes that many of his contemporaries are just fed up, and are no longer interested in hearing about programs and long-range solutions. The violence during the summers of 1967 and 1968, when black youths hurled bricks and bottles at cars and store windows, burned and looted, and stormed about the streets at night threatening riot-geared police officers, showed that the day of nonviolent protest seemed to be over.

Smith would like to see the state and the city both set aside huge amounts of money for programs, which would be administered by Blacks themselves, that would attack directly the problems that have been identified for so long. The state should make clear what its laws are on discrimination in employment and housing, and enforce them vigorously, calling in the U. S. Justice Department to investigate if necessary. New initiatives in education need to be considered, possibly setting up new neighborhood schools that provide education suitable for Black youngsters (instead of the biased and white-dominated texts they currently have), and vocational training as well. New health clinics need to be established to provide adequate care for the citizens of the North End. The Board of Education needs to redraw district lines in order to integrate the schools (so that the leaders in City Hall will feel compelled to upgrade Hartford's dilapidated schools that have all along been "reserved" for Blacks). This may involve even integrating Hartford students into schools of the neighboring suburbs, since the minority population of Hartford now is actually the majority of the school-age population. Job counseling and training sites in the neighborhoods need to be identified, and local employers need to be hounded to consider Black applicants equally. All of this takes dedication of leaders and funding - the problems will not go away if we ignore them.

Smith knows that in calling for these programs he is asking the white community to spend money on the Black community, and, in addition, to accept Black leadership of the programs that will be funded. He also realizes that, in the current atmosphere, where Blacks are making radical demands, rather than the nonviolent arguments of past years, whites will be less inclined to put forth the money. He himself had, until now, been reticent to use language and make statements that would alienate white supporters. Nevertheless, he will explain to white leaders that an exploding city is good for neither Blacks nor whites, that there is virtually no choice in the matter, and that money spent on these programs is far preferable to money spent on troops and riot gear. He does not put this forward as a threat, simply a fact of the times that all citizens of Connecticut must face.


Richard C. Lee

Mayor of New Haven


Dick Lee is a small man with a big man's gait. He will bound into an auditorium with a smile on his face, effusing optimism and confidence, betraying very little of the anguish he feels underneath. Yet, in private moments he will occasionally sink into despair, as though the life has been beaten out of him in the past two summers of racial violence. He has led his city for well over a decade, instituting some of the most innovative antipoverty programs in the nation, but now even New Haven has succumbed to racial violence. National news magazines Time and Newsweek commented on his predicament in two of their September issues. Excerpts follow:

No Haven

In the past decade, New Haven has pioneered nearly ever program in the Great Society's lexicon. Months and years before the Federal Government showed any interest in the cities, it had its own poverty and manpower-training projects, a rent-supplement demonstration, and a promising Head Start program. Washington has rewarded the city's imaginative urban-renewal administration with a greatly disproportionate share of federal renewal money-$852 per capita (given or pledged), or six times as much as Philadelphia, in terms of population , 17 times as much as Chicago, 20 times as much as New York. Indeed Robert Weaver, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, once observed that New Haven (pop. 142,000) came closest to "our dream of a slumless city." Yet last week the same virus of ghetto discontent that has plagued scores of other U.S. cities this summer.

Global Promises. Compared with Detroit or Newark, New Haven's four troubled nights constituted only a mini-riot. Not a shot was fired, no one was seriously injured, and damage was probably not more than $1,000,000. But the psychological damage was immense. "I seriously thought," said a shaken Mayor Richard Lee, "that something like this wouldn't happen here." Yet happen it did, and officials across the country, shuddering at the prospects for their own cities, could only wonder why. The reasons were not all that absurd. Much had been done but much more remained to be done.

The unemployment rate of the city's 36,000 Negroes and Puerto Ricans is still nearly three times (8%) that of whites. The schools are still heavily segregated, and the white majority, largely of Irish and Italian background, is reluctant to integrate them. The Irish dominated police department still shows hostility toward the newer migrants, and badly needs reorganization-as urged in a recent report to the mayor.

New Haven's very success, together with the glare of national publicity, may have contributed to the sense of frustration. People who lived in dilapidated housing in the largely Negro Hill and Dixwell areas say simply they have grown tired of hearing that their city was doing more than any other to house its poor. To many, the gap between Weaver's dream and everyday reality became intolerable. "We've been telling the Negro that there's a new day," notes Mitchell Sviridoff, who left New Haven's poverty program last year to become head of New York City's Human Resources Administration. "But there is no new day. He gets big, global promises, but nothing happens."

The Long & the Short. "New Haven is only relatively the best city." adds Edward Logue, another famous alumnus of Lee's administration, who resigned as Boston's renewal administrator last July to campaign for the mayoralty. For all New Haven's success in tapping the federal treasury, Logue, Sviridoff, and the men who run the city's programs fault the Government for being too stingy. "The cities," says Logue, "just aren't a priority item any place but at city hall. The Government is long in eloquence and short on funding " Dick Lee, a short (5 ft. 7 in.) scrappy fighter who has wrapped his life as tightly around his city as any mayor in America, would agree, "For everything we've done," he says, "there are five things we've failed at. If New Haven is a model city, then God help Urban America."

There are, says Mike Sviridoff, four key factors in keeping the city cool. The first is the mayor and his ability to communicate. The second is the police department and its skill in dealing with minorities. The third is the quality of antipoverty programs . The fourth , quite simply, is luck. "New Haven," he says ruefully, "ran out of that one "

-Time, September 1, 1967


The catalytic incident [for the New Haven riots] was typical: a white snack-shop operator shot and superficially wounded a Puerto Rican who pulled a knife on him. Within hours, "The Hill"-a black enclave a bare half a mile from Yale-was aswarm with milling shouting blacks and Puerto Ricans tossing rocks, looting stores, taunting cops, firing buildings. Lee himself - just back from a day's outing with 2,000 ghetto kids - rode out the first night in stunned dismay. Next day, as the looting raged on, he clamped down an 8 p.m. curfew (which delayed, among other things, the city Democratic convention that was to have nominated him for an eighth term) and called in 200 state troopers to help his outmanned 400 man police force make it stick. And still, through one agonizing night, he paced the floor in his map-lined basement command post, tears brimming in his eyes asking, "Why? Why? Why?"

'Tricknology': The question was well put. New Haven had, after all, banked $180 million in private capital to level slums, rebuild downtown and coax a disappearing middle class back into the city. Small, scattered public-housing units sprang up in ghettos that weren't classic Harlem-style slums at all: even The Hill, New Haven's scruffiest Negro section, is a neighborhood of frame homes, small apartment houses and elm-shaded streets. Yet, in the view from The Hill, there were pages conspicuously missing from the library of loose-leaf program books Lee's planners are fond of showing off to visiting urbanists and newsmen. Black unemployment remained double the white man's; Lee's public housing projects barely dented the demand for low-cost housing: the impact of his urban-renewal campaign was most splashily visible not in the ghetto but in the downtown business district and the proliferating middle-income apartment developments. "Lee's tricknology is very good," Freddie Harris, an elfin ex-drug addict who heads the militant Hill Parents Association, said sourly, "He'll beautify downtown but he won't do anything for the black community."

The charge was unjust - yet Lee himself was painfully aware of the disparity between promise and performance. After five nights of unrest, his eyes were pouchy, his face drawn, his colitis acting up, his weight down 7 pounds, his doctor was threatening to put him in the hospital. And some of the very business allies who had helped him put over his civic redevelopment campaign were muttering among themselves that Lee had done too much for the Negroes already. But Dick Lee was of quite another mind. "We're a city that's trying hard, trying desperately," he says over a steak sandwich and a Heinekin's at his regular table down at Mory's, "But you cannot wipe out a century of indifference and ignorance in only a decade." And that, he told the party convention when it finally came off that night, was the main plank in his reelection platform: there was nothing New Haven or any other American city could do but try harder, and more desperately still.

-Newsweek, September 4, 1967

Dick Lee has known all along that his aims were not the sort of goals that could be reached overnight. "In a decade we have been trying to solve things which have been wrong with urban America for a century or more," he says. He has worked with private contractors, public programs, and even tried to enlist the help of Fred Harris and the Hill Parents Association. His efforts at integrating the poor into various neighborhoods around New Haven have won him praise for his political skill, as well as his humanitarian ideals. But he knows there is more to be done. On the subject of school busing as a quick fix for desegregation of schools, he says, "My attitude is, why don't we get down to brass tacks? What are we talking about? We're talking about homes that are filled with poverty and misery and despair, where there's no incentive, no inspiration, no challenge. How are you going to solve that by putting children on a bus? Just give me more money, more bucks, to spend on school programs in the ghetto. I'll provide education for these doggone kids. Give me the money so I can reduce the number of pupils per teacher from 25 to 15 and have two teachers per room, field trips and after-hour learning programs and have counselors go into homes. Give me more visiting nurses like those we have in seven of our schools instead of having school nurses just take a kid's temperature and see if his chicken pox is gone. A visiting nurse not only takes care of a school kid but looks around to see what else is wrong around the kid's house. That's what we're doing now, but the trouble is it's still microscopic. Some of these critics don't know what's going on in this town, and even if they did, they'd say it was wrong simply because they didn't start it. So next year Congress is giving us a cut so they can pay for Vietnam. Not only in renewal, but probably $800,000 out of antipoverty for New Haven alone. I make a little speech like today's [at the Democratic Convention], full of optimism, but I want to tell you, that isn't always the way I feel inside." For Dick Lee there is much work to be done.


Bernice Johnson

Waterbury Resident


Bernice has been living in North Square, the principal residential area for Waterbury's 12,000 Black citizens, for 22 years, raising her twin boys and trying to deal with the problems around her. She says, "...for twenty-two years I have been begging for good housing....people would tell us that they just didn't want to have anything to do with colored people or Puerto Ricans either. So we would ask what is their reason and they would just say, 'Well, we have our personal reasons that we don't talk about.' So this has been going on for 22 years....Some of the people would say, 'Well, what kind of people are you?' I said, 'Very kind people.' So she couldn't understand me. I understood her very well." Frequently when she telephoned for rentals people would ask her the color of her skin. She also knows that, even though she must accept the dilapidated two- and three-story housing of faded wood and brick in North Square, she must also accept higher rent charges than white people who get better apartments.

"I think that you realize that by this time we're a little - I am anyway - a little frustrated because of our lives," she told one Civil Rights group. "We have been sitting around talking about injustice that is being done. I wish I didn't have to do it. It is not really a pleasant thing. It makes you sick on the inside....I have been to every board in Waterbury for some help or some aid or to be recognized just as a human being. And it is the same thing as talking to the four walls. I think we have been to every organization that makes up Waterbury. You get the same thing. Everybody feels sorry for you. You are a human being, but then you stay over there, you don't belong. If there is something wrong there, that's all right, you stay there. This is the way it is. People are beginning to feel it's really too much of an irritation.

"I have a child now that believes he's got his day coming....It's time that somebody do something. That's why we ask that you do something before the whole nation will be wrecked....I'm going out of this life but these youngsters are coming in. Understand, it's not only mine, all of these youngsters. It's all of these youngsters. There should be everybody the same, that people can get good housing. This is a basic thing in this....So that is why I am saying these things for you to really try to picture the misery of the people who are living in the ghetto and out of the ghetto. Anywhere you go, you have pressure on you. This is the thing we are trying to eliminate because the present youngsters mean more than do the older people..."

She is further distressed by the situation in the schools. Her children have attended schools, as do most Black children in Waterbury, that were declared unfit for use two decades ago. She has also heard that reading books for children in the nearly all white schools include "Little Black Sambo," which she considers highly offensive, and the sort of thing that will keep her and her people in the ghetto for generations to come. White children will grow up thinking that Blacks are lazy, stupid, and good for nothing but to say "Yazzuh" to whites.

She hears the young people cursing the police, talking about how the police use the Rat Pack Motorcycle Club to intimidate Blacks into submissiveness. These white men operate out of an old diner on the edge of town, have guns, and ride around on their Harley Davidsons beating up Blacks, brandishing their weapons, and threatening law-abiding citizens who simply wish to present their grievances. The police turn their backs, or actually ride around with them on off hours. And when they are on duty, they have used Mace on a pregnant woman and on grammar school girls, administered beatings in back alleys, and beaten and jailed a group of fathers who went to police headquarters to complain about police brutality against their sons. There are only 8 Black policemen on the force of 250 - how can anyone say that the police department gives equal protection to the citizens of North Square?

Bernice is sick of the violence that has spread through the city over the past two summers, but she understands it, and does not see any way it can be avoided unless all leaders join together to change things immediately.


Andrew Davidson

Member, Greater Hartford Board of Realtors


Andrew Davidson was born and raised in Connecticut, his family living in Windsor when he was young, and then moving, after World War II to a large and comfortable home in West Hartford. Andrew went to high school there, and then on to Trinity for college, from which he graduated in 1954. He worked for an insurance agency for a few years, and then gradually entered real estate work until, but 1960, he had his own agency with four part-time salesmen and a full time accountant and secretary. He was admitted as a member to the Greater Hartford Board of Realtors in 1962.

Andrew has not felt at ease as a member of the Board, for his sympathies tend to be with Black people who are struggling in this area to find suitable housing that they can afford and that is available to them. There seem to be a number of people on the Board, and quite a few people in the real estate business across the state, whose sympathies on that issue are quite different. In fact, he has seen a Black man, whose credentials as a realtor were impeccable, turned down twice for membership on the Board. This man was born in Hartford, was a high school graduate and a graduate from the Hartford Institute of Accounting, and served as an associate of the National Society of Real Estate Appraisers. He had been a coordinator of Brotherhood Homes in Hartford, the first interracial, interdenominational elderly housing project of its kind in the country, and then had coordinated a limited profit housing project on Barbour St., another first in the nation. And yet, this man was not deemed "worthy" to be called a "realtor" in Hartford.

Andrew regularly hears of the plight of Blacks who try to move out of the North End of Hartford, only to find that their incomes will not cover the cost of mortgages, that mortgages will not be granted to them anyway, or that there are only certain neighborhoods, such as the Wilson section of Windsor, to which realtors will show them in their search for houses. He finds ludicrous the fears of whites that a more open housing situation would result in Blacks flocking out of the cities into white neighborhoods. There are only 1500-2000 Black families in Greater Hartford who could afford a single family house, and most of those already own homes. As for the rest, many can make rent payments of $80 per month charged for substandard flats in the North End (not worth any rent in his view), but few will want to pay $200 per month for an apartment in a two-family house in the Deerfield section of Windsor? And yet, his fellow white realtors continue to ask, as one of their initial questions of prospective clients who telephone them, "Are you colored?" and continue to show Black families to North End apartments, are houses in a few neighborhoods that are fast becoming "Negro neighborhoods" of the suburbs 

He is unconvinced by the rationalizations that "They would feel more comfortable among their own kind," or "They wouldn't have any friends," or "Once one Negro family moves in whites begin to fear their property values will decline and sell out quickly." His experience with Black home-buyers has been that they are as responsible, as eager to keep their house up, and as interested in good schools and safe neighborhoods as are whites. And yet, the prophecy is self-fulfilling, for when whites fear their home-values will decline, they sell for less, and, indeed, the values decline cyclically.

Andrew had a house on the market in Bloomfield, and sold it to a Black family for $15,000, about average for houses in that neighborhood. That was in 1961 when there were no other Black families within a mile of that neighborhood. Within five years he saw the average value of single family houses in that particular development drop to around $11,000, and six more Black families move in. There are now five more houses for sale in the area at around $12,000 each, but the owners will probably come down before long. For the life of him, he can't see any difference in the seven homes that the new residents occupy - if anything they are in better shape now than they were (although one of them is for sale).

While Andrew feels relatively powerless to change people's values, he tries the best he can to encourage integration in housing. He would even sell a house next door to his own to a Black family, if any of his neighbors wanted him to sell their house (they generally go to another realtor, however, and Andrew has his suspicions why). He was attracted to the work of Martin Luther King as a young man, and, while he has never participated in any Civil Rights marches or protests, believes that the national government was correct in clamping down on discrimination in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He would like to see the state make tougher laws of its own regarding open housing and school desegregation, and has voted for candidates who have expressed these ideas, although there are not many available to him on the local level.

As an insider in the real estate field, Andrew is eager to testify to what he knows about how area realtors operate and work with any group that will try to find a way out of a problem that seems to feed upon itself. He doesn't have too many answers yet, but he knows that realtors need to learn to be colorblind when doing their business. If they could all agree to do this together, they need not fear losing any business. If they don't - well, the recent riots tell us what will happen to private property value then.



Rev. Richard A. Battles, Jr.

Minister, Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Hartford


Rev. Richard Battles came to Hartford in 1960 from the Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Beacon, New York. Since then membership in his Mr. Olive Baptist Church has nearly doubled, from around 700 not-so-active members, to almost 1400. His church sponsors a Sunday school, two Boy Scout troops, a Cub pack, a Girl Scout troop and Brownie pack, 18 women's auxiliaries, five choirs with three part-time musical directors, and various other church-centered programs. Rev. Battles is also head of Hartford's Congress on Racial Equality chapter, which has supported Dr. Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference by joining in marches in the south in the early 1960's.

Rev. Battles attributes the success of his church and other activities to his ability to "express the interest of the entire community." As people see that the church is speaking for them, understanding their feelings, reaching to their hearts, they will see the church as the center of their lives and draw strength from it. He is proud that his organizations are providing the citizens of Hartford with an outlet for their feelings and a foundation from which to build their lives and community spirit. Not in the least daunted by the great challenges before him, nor by the current anger being expressed on the streets at night, Battles is eager to stand by his people and help them find their place in the world.

Rev. Battles was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, the youngest of five children in a very poor family. Nevertheless, he and two of his siblings were able to go to college in Little Rock. Still, after graduating in 1950, he had no money and no job. He traveled to New York where he worked as a part-time chauffeur and then a car salesman, and finally worked his way through Union Theological Seminary. A great success in Beacon, New York, he came to Hartford to accept an even greater challenge - and so it lies before him.

As a civil rights leader his efforts have been unflagging, from joining King's marchers (as Regional Director of the SCLC) to protesting job discrimination right here in Connecticut. He has gained a statewide reputation as an able negotiator who has engineered some exciting agreements with area employers. He realizes that there are a great many people out there whom he is not reaching, but takes satisfaction in the growing numbers of his congregation, as well as the growing numbers of churches in Hartford.

As a preacher he is dynamic, animated and a strong advocate of the spirited singing of southern churches. He feels people have a great need to let their spirit soar. As to the recent militancy, he understands it and has predicted it for some time. "All of us Negroes have a little bit of the Black Muslim down here," he says pointing to his heart. He doesn't condone violence, but when he speaks, it is clear that he is among those who are impatient with the pace of change, eager for Blacks to take pride in themselves, and ready to support radical actions to see an end to the poverty of North End citizens. The churches should be the center of this movement and their leaders in the forefront, he feels, since it is clear that a great many people draw their strength and inspiration from the churches. In that respect he is ready to continue leading and inspiring, and to advocate increased roles for Black religious leaders in community programs. Without Black leadership, Black people will not learn how to control their lives and futures.

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The Great Migration Begins


The following is taken from Emmett J. Scott, Negro Migration During the War, a book published in 1923 detailing the movement of Blacks from the South to northern cities in the early part of the 20th century. Parts of the book refer to developments in Connecticut.


Before the war the immigration of foreigners from Europe was proceeding at the enormous rate of over a million a year. This influx was so completely checked by the war that the margin of arrivals over departures for the first three years following the beginning of hostilities was the smallest in fifty years. The following is...taken from reports of the Bureau of Foreign Immigration.














The decrease of over 900,000 immigrants, on whom the industries of the North depended, caused a grave situation......Of these, Mr. Frederick C. Howe, Commissioner of Immigration, said that "only enough have come to balance those who have left." He adds further that "As a result, there has been a great shortage of labor in many of our industrial sections that may last as long as the war."

With the establishment of new industries to meet the needs of the war, the erection of munitions plants for the manufacture of war materials and the enlargement of already existing industries to meet the abnormally large demand for materials here and in Europe, there came a shifting in the existing labor supply in the North. There was a rush to the higher paid positions in the munitions plants. This, together with the advancement of the white men to higher positions nearly depleted the ranks of common labor. The companies employing foreign labor for railroad construction work, and in the steel mills of Pennsylvania, the tobacco fields of Connecticut, the packing houses, foundries and automobile plants of the Northwest, found it imperative to seek for labor in home fields. The Department of Labor, in the effort to relieve this shortage, through its employment service, at first assisted the migration northward. It later withdrew its assistance when its attention was called to the growing magnitude of the movement and its possible effect on the South.

Deserted by the Department of Labor, certain northern employers undertook to translate their desire into action in 1915, when the anxieties of the New England tobacco planters were felt in the New York labor market. These planters at first rushed to New York and promiscuously gathered up 200 girls of the worst type, who straightway proceeded to demoralize Hartford. The blunder was speedily detected and the employers came back to New York, seeking some agency which might assist them in the solution of their problem. Importuned for help, the National League on Urban Conditions among Negroes supplied these planters with respectable southern blacks who met this unusual demand for labor in Connecticut. Later, moreover, it appeared that on the threshold of an unusually promising year the Poles, Lithuanians and Czechs, formerly employed in the fields, were dwindling in number and there was not at hand the usual supply from which their workers were recruited. A large number of these foreigners had been called back to their fatherland to engage in the World War.

In January of 1916, therefore, the tobacco growers of Connecticut met in conference to give this question serious consideration. Mr. Floyd, the Manager of the Continental Tobacco Corporation, offered a solution for this difficult problem through the further importation of negro labor. The response to this suggestion was not immediate, because New England had never had large experience with the negro labor. An intense interest in the experiment, however, was aroused through a number of men with connections in the South. It was decided that the National League on Urban Conditions among Negroes, with headquarters in New York City, should further assist in securing laborers. Because of the seasonal character of the work, an effort was made to get students from the southern schools by advancing transportation. The "New York News," a negro weekly, says of this conference:

...Thus was born, right in the heart of Yankee Land, the first significant move to supplant foreign labor with native labor, a step which has resulted in one of the biggest upheavals in the North incident to the European war, which has already been a boon to the colored American, improving his economic status and putting thousands of dollars into his pockets.

.....The North may well be divided according to the two main lines followed by the migrants in leaving the South. The South and middle Atlantic States sent the majority of their migrants directly up the Atlantic coast while the south central States fed the Northwest. There is of course, no hard line of separation for these two streams. Laborers were sought in fields most accessible to the centers of industry, but individual choice as displayed in the extent of voluntary migration carried them everywhere.

The New England States, which were probably the first to attract this labor, were Connecticut and Massachusetts. The tobacco fields of Connecticut with Hartford as a center received the first negro laborers as mentioned above. Before a year had passed there were over 3,000 southern Negroes in the city of Hartford.

...The eastern cities which made efforts through various means to augment their labor supply were Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Newark, New York City and Hartford. It is manifestly impossible to get reliable figures on the volume of increase in the negro population of any of these cities. All that is available is in the form of estimates which can not be too confidently relied upon. Estimates based on the average number of arrivals from the South per day, the increase in the school population and the opinions of social agencies which have engaged themselves in adjusting to their new homes appear to agree in the main.

...Hartford was one of the industrial centers to which large numbers of the migrating Negroes went. The housing problem became acute and the chief efforts of those endeavoring to better the conditions of migrants was along this line. Religious, civic and commercial bodies gave attention to the amelioration of this problem. The problem of housing Negroes who were coming in greater numbers each year to Hartford was taken up briefly by speakers at the 128th annual meeting of the Hartford Baptist Association at the Shiloh Baptist Church. It was decided to bring the housing problem before the attention of the Chamber of Commerce, which, it was said, some time before had appointed a committee to investigate it. Negroes complained that they were obliged to pay higher rent than white folks and that they were obliged by landlords to live together in cramped quarters that were, by reason of the crowding, unsanitary. They said also that the living of several families almost as one family leads to a breaking down of the moral and religious ideals. Conditions in Hartford resulting from the bringing of more than 2,500 Negroes from the South were discussed at the fall meeting of the Confidential Exchange with a view to preparing for these new arrivals.

At the June, 1917, meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, a committee was appointed from that body to investigate housing conditions and to cooperate with other agencies in improving them. The committee met frequently through the summer with the housing committee of the Civic Club, in an endeavor to ascertain the facts bearing upon the present situation. It had before it leading colored citizens, ministers, business men and industrial workers, some of whom have lived here for years and others who have recently arrived from the South. It was discovered that there was, at that time, plenty of work and at good wages, but the universal complaint was the lack of homes suitable for proper living and the extortionate prices asked for rents. Negroes in Hartford were suffering from the cupidity of landlords. They were obliged to live in poor tenements and under unhealthful conditions because accommodations of another class were withheld from them. For such inferior accommodations they were charged outrageous rents, because selfish property owners knowing that Negroes must live charged all the traffic would bear. Partial relief was obtained from the immediate need by the purchase of buildings already erected, and homes for them were later built. It appeared that for the first time in many years Hartford had a race problem on its hands.

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The Negro Population of Waterbury, Connecticut



by the


By Charles S. Johnson, Director


[Excerpted from Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life (Oct. and Nov., 1923)]



Just as in Hartford, the capital, the numerous interests and manufacturers of fine tools have developed and attracted a specialized type of worker, so in Waterbury, the brass and copper industries, with their enormous prestige and universal usefulness, have created a distinct and self-conscious group of skilled workers. The manufacture of brass ware on a large scale originated here&emdash; a transition in button making from iron ones covered with silver to cheaper ones made of brass. The city's preeminence in this line has remained unrivaled for over one hundred and twenty-five years.

...The city has been a favorite location for Irish immigrants. In 1900 their number was more than twice as large as any other foreign group. The Italians, who first began arriving in the Connecticut valley about 1870, have gradually increased their numbers until now their population exceeds even that of the Irish.

...In 1920 the composition of the population was as follows:


% of Population

Native white, native parentage



Native white, foreign parentage



Native white, mixed parentage



Foreign born whites









...The war prompted the expansion of industries and drew a large number of workers from surrounding towns. Both the industrial expansion and the business growth gradually consumed the available home sites, in some quarters threatening and causing congestion, relieved only by the retreat of workers to the hills for home sites within the range of their resources, the lack of adequate water supply, sewerage disposal, and transportation in these new sites, however, has occasioned serious difficulties to proper living.


The Negro Population

...Since 1920 there has been a small but perceptible influx of Negroes born in the South, some coming direct, others from nearby sections of the state. This migration has been very largely of unattached men, some single, some with families in the South. The fact that they had established no definite home connection in Waterbury made them extremely difficult to reach and only an estimate of the number is possible. Such an estimate would scarcely exceed 150 for the entire period since the 1920 census.

...As in practically every other city, the Negroes in Waterbury live in rather close contact. There are not exclusively Negro sections, but what amounts practically to the same,-there are sections in close proximity in which over 90 percent of the Negro population live.

...Their actual residence area is confined to a few rather thickly populated streets.

...The Negro population is showing within recent years a tendency to draw even closer together. In 1890, 54 per cent of the Negro population lived in the First and Second Wards. In 1920 the concentration had reached 78 per cent. Other racial groups show a striking displacement. Over the brief period of ten years-1910 and 1920- there is a notable decrease in the number and proportion of native whites and Irish in these wards and a corresponding increase in the number and proportion of Italians and Russians. This suggests the movement to more desirable neighborhoods of the native whites and of the earlier immigrants who prosper.

The nature of Waterbury industries has been prohibitive of a large Negro population....Their principal occupations have been domestic service with here and there a lone exceptional case of a Negro in a good paying industrial position.

...The close blood relationship of Negro families now among the oldest residents suggests further this method of population increase. These Negroes usually were closely associated with prominent white families as servants and domestic assistants. Several outstanding instances of successful workers are remembered by the residents. One Negro girl was educated by a prominent white family, given special business training and a clerical position in a bank, which she held with credit. Another Negro was a drug clerk and soda dispenser in a popular drug store until it was purchased by a drug store syndicate. He maintained a reputation for being the best in his line in the city. Still another Negro rose to a position of clerk in the office of one of the industrial plants. He was subsequently accused of dishonesty and discharged, leaving behind a blanket barrier against the employment of Negroes in any capacity. Another rose to a similar position in a different plant and accumulated sufficient money to establish himself in the trucking business, which he conducted successfully for many years. A brick mason, after a long competition with the union of his craft which refused to admit him, finally abandoned the fight and moved to New York. At various times there have been five highly skilled Negro workers, four casters of metal, and one metallurgist. There is at present a Negro foreman in the slitting department of the wire mills of one large plant, who has maintained his position with distinction for a number of years. His relations with the white workers have been agreeable. Still another Negro, a graduate pharmacist, while not able to secure work in the line of his special training, has been placed in charge of the dispensary of one of the plants.


The Intensive Survey

...The unnatural composition of the Negro group is evident both in the unusually large percentages in the age groups 25 to 34, 35 to 44, and in the unusually small percentage of adults as a strong factor in population increase.

...There is a strong current of migration, both old and new, from North Carolina and Virginia.


Economic Status

...In 1921 the Chamber of Commerce made a survey of living costs. This study revealed that rents had increased generally about 6.3 per cent. The average rental for the entire city, including all types of homes, rose from $22.90 a month in 1920 to $24.40 in 1921. In 1916, at the request of the citizens, the Governor of Connecticut appointed a committee to investigate the charges of rent gouging in Waterbury. This he did on the belief that such exploitation by landlords was obstructing the work in ammunitions for the war. This committee reported that the usual average rent increases discovered by them sustained the charges made. The average pre-war rental per room in Waterbury was $2.64 per month or $13.20 for a five room dwelling. The committee found an increase of about 84 per cent in average rentals. This rental during the war crisis averaged $27.76.

The hilly conformity of the city, which prevents the extension of water and sewerage to the suburbs, the fact that there are practically no suburbs, that fewer workers than in the other cities find it convenient to live outside the city and come in to work render Waterbury easily susceptible to housing difficulties. The Negro population is even more strictly limited. For, aside from being unable to move to the outskirts of the city, the antagonistic sentiment of whites prevents them from moving outside of the narrow limits of a recognized "Negro area." The result has been a much greater degree of congestion and higher rentals.

The largest number of Negro families pays $25.00 per month for five rooms. This is larger than the average for the city....Ten times as many Negroes as whites are forced to pay $25.00 to $35.00 a month rent, although the incomes of both are about equal and frequently less in the case of Negroes who are more often excluded from skilled occupations.

...The most prevalent type of dwelling occupied by Negroes is the three family house. The instances of gross overcrowding are rare. If anything, it seems that there is more pressing need of smaller houses with less rental to accommodate the naturally small families. The houses in Wards 1&2, where most of the Negroes live, are old and extremely difficult to keep in repair.

...The Negro tenants complain of the difficulty of keeping their premises clean. The garbage and refuse in several streets of the neighborhood was not collected during the entire winter, although collectors were observed attending their jobs on nearby streets occupied by white residents. The hilly unkempt sections of Negro residence at best are unattractive. Several neat and well-kept houses, occupied and in some instances owned by Negroes located here, are obscured by overwhelming scragginess of the section. The tenement house law of the city gives little relief, for it only applies to houses built since its passage.



...For wholesome and agreeable diversion, there are practically no facilities. This does not mean that the city has no activities. There are, for example, seven parks in the city, but none are so located as to be conveniently reached from the Negro neighborhoods. The children play in the streets. For the boys there is a Scout troop which meets in the Methodist Church on Pearl Street. The girls have no such organization. A complaint from younger persons between fifteen and twenty, frequent and earnest, was that "There was no place to go and nothing to do."

...The present use of the time was limited to church, home, street, and occasionally the moving picture theater. The average church attendance for all churches combined totals less than 200 on Sunday and 75 for ordinary weekday services. Church affairs of a social nature attract a larger number. But at the best estimate, less than one-fourth of the population is reached.


The Negro Working Population

...The most interesting feature of the new positions of Negroes is their employment on jobs requiring some degree of skill. This is in part due to the nature of industries hard pressed for labor of any sort. Ordinarily Negroes are employed on unskilled work. The division in the Waterbury industries is as follows:


Per Cent










Chauffeurs and waiters







Opinion of Employers

...Twelve employers expressed a definite opinion regarding the quality of work done by Negroes. Of these, nine thought their labor entirely satisfactory. Altho none was positively dissatisfied, there were in several cases qualified remarks. A metal manufacturing concern said:

"It has been our experience that for the most part,Negroes are not naturally adapted to the rigorous duties demanded in heavy mill work, altho occasionally some of them made remarkably good workmen in this line. The few Negroes that we employ represent the best that we have been able to pick out of about forty."

Another company regarded them merely as "fair; probably somewhat below the average white men of their age." Another concern found it hard to get "a good, steady worker." Negroes, it was thought, "were inclined to be lazy."

Other plants of a similar nature report a different experience. The Oakville Company, for example, said: "We have found them industrious and faithful workers."

...This item of appreciation, even more frequently than here noted, figures in the use of Negroes who, because of the very general disposition of union organization to exclude them from memberships, prefer to cast their fortunes and their immediate loyalties on the side of the employers.


Wages For Men

The average weekly wage for 90 heads of families was $28.27, or about $4.38 a day. This corresponds in general with the wages as given by the various plants, which averaged during the recent acute labor demand about 40 cents an hour for unskilled work.


Wages For Women

The wages of women are on the whole, much smaller than those of men. Out of a total of thirty-five interviewed, twenty were receiving $3.00 a day for general housework. This work could rarely be secured for more than four days, however.


Industrial Outlook

...After the war, when the temporary uncertainties of the reconstruction period had been passed, attention was directed to old and long deferred demands. This business is now flourishing. More persons are employed than in 1914, and the plants are obviously and admittedly under-manned. One of these threatened to import southern Negro labor to relieve its emergency and estimated a need of about 400. Two other plants expressed a desire for Negroes, one in preference to Polish workers; another in preference to an inferior type of white workers who now are the only ones available for unskilled employment.

Nowhere is there actual hostility to Negro workers. More often objection is based either upon unfamiliarity or doubt as to their technical ability to perform the required work.


School Attendance

For the age period between 7-13 years, 98% of the Negro children are in school as compared with 93.1% for native whites of native parentage and 90.8% for foreign born whites; for the ages 14-15 years, the per cent of Negro children is 93 as compared with 84.8 % for native whites and 77.1% for foreign born whites; for the ages 16-17 years, the per cent of Negro children drops below that of native white children, being 41.1% and 43.6%, respectively, while that of foreign born whites is 25.2%.

...Although as yet the Negro population of Waterbury is not sufficiently large to be regarded as a serious problem, there are indications that with the growing demand for workers in lieu of the usual supply of immigrants from abroad, and the steady though not precipitous growth of industries, that this population will show quite perceptible increases in the near future. Already the sustained movement of the Negroes from the South is being felt in the city in small increments and since the completion of the field work on this survey a considerable number have moved in, planning, if conditions warrant, to send for their families.


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Excerpts from 

Report of the Connecticut Inter-Racial Commission






The General Assembly of 1943 laid upon the Commission the responsibility "to investigate the possibilities of affording equal opportunity of profitable employment to all persons, with particular reference to job training and placement; to compile facts concerning discrimination in employment, violations of civil liberties and other related report to the Governor biennially the results of its investigations with recommendations to remove such injustices as it may find to exist."

The Commission feels that through education, intelligent recognition of all factors involved, and conferences between groups, progress may be made. In order to carry out this program, the following objectives were adopted by the Commission: 

1. Compilation of an index of organizations and officials in Connecticut concerned with developing inter-racial understanding and cooperation. 

2. A survey of job training in trade and business schools, industrial plants, etc. 

3. A survey of qualifications for employment in major industries. 

4. Calling of conferences in major areas of Connecticut of groups concerned with developing inter-racial understanding and cooperation. 

5. Issuance at intervals to all interested groups of helpful information with particular reference to effective programs in the State working for better relationships between various groups.

6. A program of education for better relations between groups through various means which may be open. 

7. Investigations of any complaints made to the Commission with suggestions as to the avenues of relief. 




A. Race Tensions in Industrial Employment

The principal areas of tension in industrial employment in Connecticut are found in hiring practices, upgrading of workers, union membership, wages, and working conditions. Race tensions in many small towns of Connecticut have increased because of in-migrant groups whose population size in the community has recently become significant. The racial situation is less tense in some parts of the State than in others. Charles S. Johnson in his book To Stem This Tide makes the following statements:

"In New Haven, for example, a considerable number of Negroes are being used in skilled occupations and racial tension does not seem as acute as in other cities of the state. Some observers attribute this to two factors. First, they point that New Haven only recently began to draw upon the South for white labor; and secondly, the Negro labor force has been recruited from among high school and college graduates and consequently, is in a superior competing position as compared with Negro laborers in other cities."

"In Hartford, it is reported that there is much more tension surrounding the employment situation than in other parts of the State. Although many Negroes are being used in plants of Hartford, not as many are being used on skilled jobs as in New Haven. Local observers state that the policy of using Negroes only in unskilled jobs, if at all, was established years ago by the Hartford insurance companies." 

Some public utilities have increased race tension because of the policy of employing Negroes only in menial positions.

Minority -group tensions are found in the employment of many nationality groups. Sometimes a foreign name is in itself a handicap in applying for jobs, particularly in the secretarial and clerical field. 

1. Hiring Practices 

A significant development in Connecticut industry has been the change in some hiring practices. Before the war the most prevalent pattern was to hire minority groups for specific departments and occupations only. In most Connecticut industries now different racial groups are working side by side. Frequently, this represents a change of attitude on the part of officials, unions and workers. 

2. Fight for Promotion 

The employment picture at present, as far as minority groups are concerned, is generally good. Members of minority groups find no difficulty in obtaining employment. The principal problem is that of securing equal opportunities for advancement. Among Negroes there is a widespread feeling that promotion or upgrading is difficult for them to obtain. 

The Commission files contain many contradictory statements. Opinions expressed by employers vary. A large group praise the dependability of the Negro; yet many criticisms are recorded by the Commission. In the employment of Negroes especially, an unfavorable impression of individuals sometimes settles into prejudice against the use of all Negroes.


4. "Last Hired; First Fired"

The Negro feels that when industry begins to reduce the number of people employed, racial prejudices will enter the situation. Tension is high among Negroes who fear that they will be the "first fired." The Negro remembers his experiences after the First World War.


5. Negro Women 

Negro women face severe difficulty in obtaining employment other than domestic. Despite qualifications, Negro girls can rarely obtain positions as clerical workers, stenographers, telephone operators, or saleswomen in stores; but barriers in the employment of qualified Negro girls are gradually disappearing in many places.


C. Race Tensions Resulting From Inadequacy of Housing

Dr. Charles S. Johnson of Fisk University in an address recently to the Quarterly Assembly of the Inter-racial Federation of Milwaukee stated that "tensions of the day are principally the results of inadequate housing. The slums in all northern cities are the only areas that have not set up resistance against Negroes."

The following advertisements are taken from Newspapers of our State and express resistance against minority groups: 

ROSE STREET, 8. 3 1/2 rooms; all white tenants.

EVETTE, 300. Five rooms heated, hot water, first floor. American tenants.

BILL ST., 243. Five room tenement, 1st floor furnace, all clean, available now. White tenants.


The following are examples of tension from inadequate housing in certain residential areas in selected cities in Connecticut:


"Where the relationship between the races has been described as 'congenial before so many outsiders came in', it is reported that a Negro can no longer rent or buy a house in practically any part of the city in which to live. When a Negro executive recently attempted to purchase a house he was told that for a Negro to rent or buy a house in white section would 'deteriorate property'. Despite the fact that this argument is so old that it has become hackneyed in other sections of the country, it is new in New Haven. A Negro attorney states that it is the first time he has known of a Negro's being unable to rent, or buy property in any section of the city."&emdash;TO STEM THIS TIDE, p. 4 


In Hartford opposition to Negro neighbors who purchased homes has created tensions in three neighborhoods. In a certain section, a committee of citizens organized in protest against a Negro clergyman who attempted to purchase a home on a street in that neighborhood. The committee was successful in arousing public opinion of the local neighborhood to such an extent that that representatives of the Intelligence Service of the United States Army came to Hartford to investigate the situation. The owner refused to sell the house to the clergyman.


A Negro dentist in the community attempted to the buy the building in which he occupied rented space for his office. The owner took the position that the doctor would rent to other Negro tenants causing deterioration of the neighborhood, and refused to sell. Much racial tension developed.


The Inter-racial Commission received the following complaint: "A Mrs. X was referred to a federal housing project for housing accommodations. She was the major wage earner of her family and worked in a defense plant in that area. The Assistant Director of the Housing Authority stated that the quota of Negroes allowed in the Homes was fifty. This was filled at the time the woman applied."

Through the efforts of the Commission, the Boston Regional Office issued the following statement: "The practice of setting a quota along racial lines is unauthorized and conflicts with Federal War Housing Authorities' non-discriminatory policies." Negro families are now admitted to this project.


D. Race Friction in the Use of Public Facilities

1. Public Carriers 

The Commission has received various reports involving racial tensions in the use of public carriers. "To understand this problem these war factors must be noted: (a) the sudden and large increase in population in the urban centers, particularly where war industries are located, overtaxing carrier facilities; (b) the withdrawal for the army of more experienced bus drivers, conductors, and other attendants, and the substitution of less trained and experienced workers from other fields and frequently from rural areas, who have little mental or emotional equipment for dealing with racial situations in public transportation; and (c) the accentuation of Negro resentment against the 'Jim Crow' regulations."


2. Recreational Facilities

Tensions in some Connecticut communities are due largely to the inadequacy of the recreational facilities or to leadership which is exclusive. Often plans have been made for minority groups, rather than with minority groups. Tensions in this area can be relieved by having recreation committees and groups include representation from the minority groups on all committees and boards.




While the Commission through its members and staff will continue to work systematically in dealing with the problems confronting our State in inter-racial matters, we desire to make the following general recommendations:

1. Education

Our primary recommendation is that all our citizens seek to inform themselves on the seriousness of the problem of racial tensions and "take it to heart" as something about which action is needed on the part of all people. To this end, we would suggest that our schools, colleges, universities, churches, labor unions, manufacturing and trade associations, social work institutions, and all other groups, a continuing program of inter-racial education be maintained, with clear emphasis upon the contributions each racial group is making to the welfare of our community, and stressing the necessity of respecting the rights of each other in accordance with the ideals of our American nation.

2. Community Action

To further this, in communities in which there is no council of inter-racial organizations, we suggest the formation of such a common meeting ground for interested groups.

3. Housing

Inadequate housing for minority groups is a fundamental cause of racial tension, as well as of juvenile delinquency and crime. The denial of opportunity, particularly to Negroes, to rent or purchase satisfactory property is a continuing source of friction. In view of the improved economic situation of many Negroes, it would seem that the development of unrestricted districts of medium-priced new houses and apartments should offer a profitable post-war field for builders and investors.

4. Employment

While an increasing number of areas of employment are being opened, there are still definite limitations based upon race, color, or creed. It would seem fundamental that in this country economic opportunity should not be limited to any of these factors.

5. Promotion in Employment

Frequent complaint has been made to the Commission, particularly with regard to Negroes, that many employers refuse to provide adequate opportunity for advancement with consequent limitations upon the individual's chance for improvement and suppression of his natural desire to improve his economic status. The unfairness of such a procedure is self-evident, and we hope that employers will endeavor to give all their workers an equal chance for advancement.

6. Rumors

Each citizen should feel a responsibility in this matter, and it has been found helpful for organizations and individuals to trace such rumors to their source.

7. Prevention of Racial Disorders

We recommend to the public officials of each community the establishment of groups for the prevention of racial disorders and the handling of it should it occur.

8. Legislation

Connecticut is fortunate in having on its statute books much helpful legislation, and these laws, along with federal ones, provide fairly effective legal guarantees of the rights of our citizens.

9. Responsibilities

Our final recommendation is that members of each group examine themselves to see what they are contributing to the causes of the present racial tension. Neither the majority nor the minority groups should demand rights without accepting responsibilities. There are many ills, the correction of which can come only from within the group. Minority leaders must become more sensitive to their responsibilities and more resourceful in helping the groups develop positive activities within the group.

Members of the majority group should seek to provide much of the leadership towards the betterment of race relations. The very fact of their numerical responsibility, as well as, generally speaking, their more favorable economic situation, places upon them the responsibility for exercising good citizenship in the field of race relations, as in others.




Groups inviting cooperation of the Commission ..........................................40

Pieces of Inter-racial literature distributed (approximately)..........................15,000

Complaints received ...................................................................................................51

Complaints adjusted ...................................................................................................40

Complaints in process of adjustment........................................................11

Conferences with employers and employees .............................................301

Conferences with State Agencies ................................................. ...........30

Conferences with Federal Agencies ..........................................................16

Conferences with Union Officials ............................................................10

Conferences with School Officials ............................................................22

Conferences with Housing Officials ..........................................................10

Conferences with Civic and Religious Leaders ............................................105

Community Conferences promoted by the Commission ....................................1

Cooperation with programs of other conference groups .....................................2

Social Service Conferences attended ...........................................................6

Surveys conducted ...............................................................................5

Firms who solicited aid in industrial relations ...............................................15

Pamphlets compiled and published ............................................................3

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A Review of the Social and Economic Condition

of the Negro Population of Hartford, Connecticut


Conducted for

The Council of Social Agencies of Greater Hartford


The Hartford Negro Citizens' Council



The National Urban League

Department of Research and Community Projects


September-October, 1944



A small and fairly static Negro population has made it possible for leadership to feel, prior to the present emergency, that no "race problem" existed. The Negro community has steadily increased for a number of years as a result of the migration of agricultural workers who have settled in Hartford at the close of the farming season. In recent years the rate of increase has risen sharply because of the migration of Negroes with other war workers to fill the labor needs of Hartford's industrial plants. The present Negro population is estimated at approximately 10,000. In the Greater Hartford area, Negroes compose 3 per cent or slightly less of the total population. Within city limits, Negroes compose between 4 and 5 per cent, the largest proportion in the city's history. As can be seen, the great majority of the Negro population in the Hartford area resides within the city limits.

The difficulty of finding a decent place in which to live has contributed much to breaking down morale in the Negro community. A virtual slum already exists. This and an aggravated problem in race relations will continue to grow worse if present conditions are allowed to continue. In addition to the grave housing problems faced by Negro workers, other factors contributing to this undesirable trend are: an abnormally high death rate recorded for Negro neighborhoods, the ineffectiveness of the public school influence upon Negro pupils, the lessening of church influence, the upswing of crime and juvenile delinquency, and the absence of any over-all community plan for correction of these conditions.

This absence of plan is not the result of deliberate neglect; rather does it arise from an unwillingness on the part of official and civic leadership to recognize the existence and urgency of the problems facing the community. Personal, social and business relationships are involved, to say nothing of the political implications involved in any action program. The pressure of public opinion demanding a change has not yet reached the point of effecting a natural desire to keep these personal social, and business relationships smooth and uninterrupted. Even community leaders with the strongest convictions about democratic practices in race relations have frequently been unwilling to express those convictions to the discomfort of their civic associates. Thus conditions among the colored population of Hartford, and notably in the North End, have steadily grow worse.

Although Negroes live in every section of Hartford as well as in surrounding towns, their major area of occupancy is in the North End, census tract 9 having the largest concentration. Compared with the general population, the Negro group is of a younger age level, there being fewer older people and more younger people in it. It is more largely a native population than is the white.


Occupational Pattern

The occupational pattern of the Negro in the Greater Hartford area and that of his general social condition can be seen from analyzing his status in the City of Hartford. For instance, Negroes are excluded from many occupational categories in which large numbers of whites are to be found, making their living, in the main, as domestic and personal service and unskilled workers. There has been a lag in the movement of Negroes into industrial jobs even during the present emergency. The few jobs which Negroes did and still hold on the public payroll are insignificant. Their greatest gains in private industry have been made in the larger plants holding war contracts. In those plants their range of occupational opportunity has greatly broadened. It is in these same plants that CIO unions have sought to become bargaining agents for the workers. In their attitude toward union membership Negroes have been conditioned by their earlier experience with hostile union leadership. They have frequently been slow to become union members, maintaining toward the competing divisions of organized labor a position of benevolent neutrality.

The present general trend in the total demand for workers in the Hartford area is downward. In spite of this, there is still a labor shortage because of the exodus of workers from the area. But even in this shortage, Negroes are moving very slowly into jobs other than those which they have traditionally held.


Negro Business

Business enterprises among Negroes are young and frequently badly organized. Negro business establishments, located in their own residential areas, are small ones dispensing food stuffs, food and drink, and personal services.



One of the gravest problems of the Negro worker has been to find a decent place in which to live. Negro housing is generally substandard and overcrowded. Though Hartford has developed a considerable public housing program, little relief has been offered thereby to the great mass of Negro tenant families. The practice of the Housing Authority in connection with the housing of war workers only aggravated the situation for Negro workers, whose applications were processed with difficulty. Even now in the war housing units Negro families find themselves "set off in the corner" and given differential treatment. While many Negro families are still without adequate housing, over 1,000 units of war housing, built from public funds, stand vacant. Some of these were never occupied. Demolition has already been ordered for a number of the units. This example of war housing tells the story of housing in general for Negroes in the City Hartford.



Both the birth rate and the death rate for the Negro group are higher than those for the rest of the population. The high infant mortality rate has greatly reduced the potential increase in the Negro population. The general mortality rate is aggravated by diseases which could be almost eliminated if healthful conditions and good health habits prevailed. Health conditions are, doubtless, closely related to the fact that there are fewer older people in the Negro group than would be ordinarily expected. Hospital and health agencies which serve the general public provide service for the Negroes without restriction, but those same agencies have refused Negro medical and health professionals an opportunity either to obtain training or to keep themselves up to date through clinical and similar experiences.



In the public schools many of the Negro young people reflect in the classroom the economic and cultural handicaps which have been part of their previous experiences. In addition to the fact that many Negro homes do not provide sufficient comfort and cultural atmosphere, there is little example for the child to emulate because educational levels and aspirations of Negro parents are frequently so low. The schoolroom is unable to do its best job for the child because of these factors and because of the behavior patterns brought from the home. Thus, the academic standards of the elementary and junior high schools in which Negroes compose a large part of the student body are not as high as they should be. Recently, intercultural programs have been adopted in these schools to acquaint students with the contributions made by outstanding Negroes as an incentive to schools. More recently, a parent-teachers association has been organized in the elementary school attended by the largest number of Negroes.

The small number of Negro young people, male or female, who are to be found in the community with specialised training such as would result from effective counseling would appear to be a justifiable indictment on the counseling programs.


The Negro Church and the Community

The Negro community has been described as "over-churched" from the standpoint of numbers of churches compared with the size of the Negro population. However, from the standpoint of social problems and anti-social influences to which the Negro community is exposed, that community is "under-churched." It must be remembered that the church organization plays, or should play, a more important role in the life of the Negro community than is true of its counterpart in the white community. The limited cultural and social contacts open to the Negro community throw this racial group back upon its religious organization for compensating activities and contacts. Unfortunately, too few Negro churches in Hartford have met this social need by carrying on cultural, recreational, and spiritual activities throughout the week. There has been serious neglect of youth needs. Recreational programs for boys and girls are almost non-existent - this, in spite of the fact that the older, established church community is as financially stable as in any city of this size.


Crime and Delinquency

Crime and juvenile delinquency rates, as reported by Negro areas, are out of proportion to their ratio in the total population. Among adult offenses are petty ones to be expected in the kinds of neighborhoods and leisure-time facilities typical of the Negro area. Arrests of Negro youth are generally for the same types of offenses committed by white young people. A greater proportion of Negro juvenile delinquents, however, come from broken homes and homes with working parents. At the same time, more of the Negro youths arrested had church contacts than was true of white youths. This fact relates directly to the statement previously made regarding the way in which the Negro church has discharged its responsibility to young people. In addition, recreational units are seriously inadequate in the area where the great majority of Negroes live. The public schools, for instance, are practically without play yards.


Social Welfare Agencies

With but few exceptions, Hartford's social welfare agencies are willing and eager to render a more effective service to the Negro population. In the main, these agencies welcome suggestions which indicate how they can do a better job of integrating Negroes in the whole community life. Several agencies have added Negro professional workers in an attempt to make their staffs more representative and efficient from the racial standpoint. Other agencies have stated that they intend to take this step. Still other agencies need to have this point pressed firmly home to the attention of administrators and board members. The social agencies which have been of most interest and concern to the people of the North End area have been the largest ones active in that area. Officials of the Council of Social Agencies have admitted that these organizations have developed their own standards of service without much criticism or advice from the outside. The danger of such a "let alone" policy is now evident, for these agency practices have reached the point where it is difficult to apply a yardstick of evaluation to them. In spite of many difficulties, however, such evaluation should and must be made, and agency staffs and programs serving the North End area must be brought up to an acceptable standard - one which meets the sound test of social work criticism in other parts of the city. It is precisely this dual standard in race relations which has placed so heavily upon the lap of the community a problem which has now reached serious proportions - proportions which are all the more striking since they exist in the North End community.


Taking into consideration the factual data presented herein, the following recommendations are presented to the attention of Hartford leadership.

I. The North End Community Center should be given all possible assistance in getting its program under way at an early date since this program is designed to attack directly several of the pressing problems pointed out in this report.

II. Since the confidence of the Negro community is essential to the success of any program planned in its interest, the North End Community Center group should carefully review the composition of its board of directors so that present representation from industry, religion, and civic and social welfare groups might be strengthened by representation more closely in touch with the neighborhood and the people served by the Center.

III. In planning its programs, the North End Community Center should not concentrate too narrowly on a recreational program, but should work to provide for over-all social needs of this area.

IV. Since earning a living is a fundamental requisite for sound family life and since occupational opportunity that accords with personal training and ability is essential to the morale as well as the economic stability of the individual, careful attention should be given to the improvement of occupational opportunities for Negroes. Community leadership at large should concern itself with the operation of policies and practices in the guidance, training, and referral of Negro workers. In the North End Community Center there should be instituted a guidance and placement service which could serve as the central core of such community-wide interest.

V. The interest of real estate owners and agents in the field of private housing should be directed to the obligation of private ownership for providing decent and unrestricted housing opportunities to Negro families. Financial institution and mortgage lenders should be acquainted with the actual facts of Negro tenancy and property purchase - facts established by real estate groups all over the country which prove that the Negro family is a sound financial risk in both property tenancy and property ownership.

VI. Efforts should be immediately instituted to open additional public housing units to Negro families in the Hartford area.

VII. The practice of restricting, segregating, and otherwise discriminating against Negro families in the various housing units under the administration of municipal housing authorities should be condemned by responsible leadership, spirit and wording of the 1941 Supplement to the General Statutes, Laws of the State of Connecticut, Section 860f.

VIII. Churches should be encouraged to use their building facilities more frequently and more regularly for supervised leisure-time activities of young people, and a drive should be instituted by the churches to intensify their efforts to give guidance which will directly and indirectly condition the formation of youth habits.

IX. The various group work agencies in Hartford, especially the city-wide agencies which rely upon field workers to establish functional neighborhood units, should devote greater attention to the North End area where the need for such service is lamentably apparent. This recommendation applies not only to professional social welfare agencies but, also, to the police department and its newly organized work with the Legion of Honor.

X. An active campaign should be instituted throughout the city to encourage Negro youth to aspire for higher performance levels in both academic and vocational pursuits. This campaign should be carried on not only in the home, schools, and social agencies, but among the guidance and supervisory personnel in the public school system. It has been remarked that one handicap of effective guidance among Negro youth is the lack of authentic information possessed by counselors themselves regarding the problems and abilities of Negro youth, the careers opportunities open to them in their home city and the country as a whole, and the way in which exceptional courage and preparation may well break down barriers commonly supposed to be insurmountable.

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Two Government Studies in the Civil Rights Era


Racial Integration Private Residential

Neighborhoods in Connecticut


by Henry G. Stetler

Supervisor, Research Division, Connecticut Commission on Civil Rights


Hartford, Connecticut

Commission on Civil Rights 1957




This study has brought together evidence bearing on one of the major problems confronting the Negro citizens of Connecticut- their efforts to secure better, adequate housing in private, non-segregated neighborhoods. The supporting data were secured from a representative sample of the persons directly involved in the problem, through schedules administered in their homes by trained interviewers. The Negro sample consists of typical families who succeeded in establishing residence in private, non-segregated neighborhoods; selected on a basis proportionate to the size of the Negro population in the various cities and towns in the state. The white sample consists of typical neighbors of these Negro families, and is representative of the behavior of such neighbors confronted with the fact of private residential desegregation.

Adequate understanding of the problem involves two principal, but related lines of inquiry. The first involves the experiences of Negro families in breaking the racial barrier in the acquisition of private housing; the second involves the interracial actions and attitudes that emerge in the process.

Many Negro families had anything but happy experiences in their attempts to purchase private housing in non-segregated neighborhoods. Many white property owners and real estate agents resorted to a variety of devices and arguments, all designed to deflect the prospective Negro purchaser from neighborhoods and areas not considered "suitable" for Negro occupancy. However, by a combination of circumstances involving delays, and at times resorting to the use of white intermediaries, purchases were eventually consummated by the Negro families we interviewed. Only in rare instances were they able to purchase housing in new residential developments. Negroes attempting to rent in mostly white neighborhoods were less successful than purchasers. By and large, Negroes were unable to find rents outside predominantly Negro areas, unless they shared a home with one of the few Negro homeowners in these neighborhoods.

The brunt of acquiring non-segregated, private housing has had to be borne by the members of the Negro community. However, in recent years, some help toward a solution of the problem has come from several sources. One of these has been legislative. Through an amendment to the Public Accommodations Act, private housing, which receives any assistance from public funds, cannot be rented or sold on a discriminatory basis. In addition, the State Commission on Civil Rights has interpreted the general provisions of the Public Accommodations Act to include the activities of licensed real estate agents, which means the latter cannot discriminate against prospective purchasers on the basis of race, religion, or national origin. However, both the amendment, and the Commission's interpretation of the general provisions of the Act, would have only limited effect on direct sales or rentals by property owners.

Another source of help to the Negro community has been the emergence of local and statewide organizations committed to realizing the goal of non-discrimination in housing. These private groups have performed valuable services toward alleviating the problem by gathering facts, bringing the problem to the attention of the public, and seeking to bring about legislative changes.

The greatest deficiency in the way of help from the white community has been the virtual absence of any initiative on the part of responsible developers and builders in making new residential housing available to Negro families on a non-segregated or "open occupancy" basis. Historically, the extension of racial equality of opportunity in various spheres of Connecticut living has been preceded by the assumption of vigorous leadership on the part of certain individuals. One of the most recent examples of this occurred in the field of employment. During the years preceding the passage of the Fair Employment Practices Act, a few leading employers in various cities of the state assumed the initiative in extending equal opportunity in employment to Negroes. However, to date there has been no comparable, effective manifestation from developers or builders in the area of private housing.

Although some Negro families have been able, largely by their own efforts to move into previously all-white neighborhoods, thereby creating a non-segregated type of neighborhood, the establishment of such a bridgehead in the white community is in fact only the initial step in the process of racial integration. Families, regardless of race must have normal contact with their neighbors, and must have the opportunity to participate in community activities before the process of integration can be said to be underway. While this process involves freedom to accept as well as freedom to reject one's neighbors according to individual likes and dislikes, it can hardly be said to exist if persons are prejudged on the basis of a group characteristic, and in particular a characteristic such as skin color over which the individual has no control.

Evidence indicates that integration proceeds fairly rapidly in the area of childhood play activities. Younger children are less conscious of the social implications of color difference, and their parents, on the whole, view interracial play activities with favor. Parents seem to be aware of their own prejudicial upbringing when many of them told us that they thought interracial play activities would be good for their children's future understanding of interracial problems. This racial interaction continues in the schools, as evidenced by the high degree of integration achieved in Connecticut both in curricular and extra-curricular activities. Interaction on these age levels undoubtedly holds the greatest promise for the future.

Integration among adults varies in intensity according to the type of contact. On the exclusively conversational level both Negro and white testimony indicated relatively frequent contact, especially among very close neighbors. The rate of interaction dropped considerably when activities became more specifically defined. The decline is quite noticeable in activities oriented within the home, and more noticeable when such activities extend beyond the home into the community. The spontaneity of purely conversational contacts seems to give way to the real or imagined pressures of conformity to the group. In spite of some influence of propinquity in increasing the rates of such interaction, the surprising fact remains that large majorities of white neighbors said that they engaged in no interracial activities with their Negro neighbors either within the home or outside in the community. Also, these rates did not vary appreciably according to the educational or occupational characteristics of the respondents, or the length of time that Negroes had resided in the neighborhood.

Interracial attitudes of the white respondents were in some respects consistent with their interracial practices, and in others, inconsistent. Let us look for a moment at their attitudes toward social contact at various age levels. Large proportions of the respondents felt that contacts in the pre-school and grammar school years were desirable. These attitudes were consistent with the high proportion of their children who engaged in such activities. Smaller proportions of the respondents felt that social contacts in the teen-age and adult years were desirable. Similarly these attitudes were consistent with the tapering off of interracial activities between white and Negro adults. An apparent inconsistency was evidenced by the fact that while these attitudes toward contact seemed to be quite favorably influenced by higher educational and occupational status of the respondents, these latter factors seemed to have relatively little influence on the rates of actual interaction with Negro neighbors. Thus, purely verbal reactions seemed to differ from actual practices at a given moment. However, the favorable verbal reactions may be regarded as an encouraging development, suggesting the possibility of a time lag in putting them into practice.

White attitudes on the "annoyance" question showed definite, favorable improvement after the respondents had had the opportunity to live in the neighborhood with Negroes. This indicated that actual contact had resulted in changing many of the previously unfavorable attitudes. On the other hand, when white respondents were asked whether they would be "annoyed" if another Negro family moved into the neighborhood, a greater proportion tended to revert to their former attitude of being "annoyed." Two possible interpretations may be placed on this development: (1) that favorable attitudes built up on the basis of personal contact with Negro families do not carry over to Negro families as a group, or (2) that white families are opposed to more than one or two Negro families living in the neighborhood.

Although a substantial proportion of white neighbors felt that property values had decreased with the arrival of a Negro family in the neighborhood, there was evidence to indicate that this belief diminished in intensity according to the length of time that Negro families lived in the neighborhood. Furthermore, there was very little, if any, evidence that white neighbors felt that their Negro neighbors allowed their property to run down. It would seem that the Negro neighbors in these non-segregated residential areas had, by example convinced their white neighbors that property would not deteriorate simply because a Negro family, rather than white, occupied the premises.

The fact that one-half of the white respondents had moved into the neighborhoods after Negro families were already in residence indicates that interracial stability can be achieved in private residential neighborhoods. The favorable attitudes implicit in their willingness to select non-segregated neighborhoods became more explicit in their interracial attitudes revealed during the course of interviewing. On the other hand, the extent to which interracial stability of neighborhoods can be maintained if more Negro families move in remains an open question. Two-thirds of the non-segregated neighborhoods included within our study had only one, or two, or at the most three Negro families.

Generalized attitudes of all white respondents on having Negroes as close neighbors were about equally divided among those who showed outright approval, those who disapproved, and those who approved with some condition or qualification attached. This may be regarded as an encouraging development when we consider that only about a third of the white neighbors voiced what may be regarded as outright approval of living in interracial neighborhoods. As far as those who merely expressed conditional approval are concerned, time may be a factor on the side of integration, because corroborative evidence points toward continued opportunity for contact as exerting a favorable influence. The fact that the sample of white respondents in this study showed relatively little deviation from the white tenant sample in public housing with respect to generalized attitudes toward living in interracial neighborhoods, may indicate that different segments of the population move at approximately the same rate of speed in the direction of racial integration.

Negro attitudes, in general, showed marked approval of all aspects of interracial living. They overwhelmingly believed that children should play together, and were definitely in favor of social contact at all age levels, although a little less so in the teen-age and adult years.

On the whole, non-segregation in private residential neighborhoods has been achieved by only a small segment of the Negro population in a state with a comparatively small total Negro population. Such non-segregation as exists has resulted chiefly from the efforts of the Negroes themselves, and then at considerable expense when measured in terms of the prejudicial attitudes and discriminatory actions with which they have had to contend. Integration in the neighborhoods is in the process of being achieved; fairly rapidly on the younger age levels, but more slowly on the adult level. While the direction of this movement seems to be toward greater integration, its rate of acceleration appears to be retarded by the persistence of fears and racial stereotypes.


Excerpts from

Attitudes Toward Racial Integration In Connecticut


By Henry G. Stetler Supervisor, Research Division Connecticut Commission on Civil Rights 

Prepared for The Commission on Civil Rights of the State of Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut



Our nearly 1100 interviews with white and Negro citizens in Connecticut provide an inventory of the interracial attitudes and practices of a cross-section of persons living in the metropolitan areas where they are most immediately affected by racial interaction or the prospect of such interaction.

The attitudes of the 527 Negroes thus interviewed etched a crystal clear picture. There is no aspect of our Connecticut community life with regard to which as many as one Negro in ten was opposed to complete racial integration. For most areas of activity, the ratio of Negroes opposed to integration fell closer to one in one-hundred. Furthermore,nearly two-thirds wanted complete racial integration, defined as "Negroes and whites taking part together, without regard to race, in everything that goes on in the community, now."

In contrast, the attitudes of the 556 white persons interviewed presented a much more complex picture. They displayed, in general, a decidedly ambivalent attitude toward integration, apparently viewing the community scene as one made up of discrete situations, in some of which integration is quite acceptable, in others not at all.

On the basis of these findings, it would be impossible to view the interracial situation in Connecticut today as one characterized by complete harmony. On the other hand, it is obviously not one in which white and Negro groups form opposing camps. What the overwhelming majority of Negroes favor, the majority of whites do not actively oppose - although many are opposed and others are decidedly lukewarm toward racial integration in some of the situations in which Negroes almost unanimously desire it, especially in the field of housing.

The largest portion of the white group (45%) felt that interracial matters in Connecticut were "all right as they are now." In general, as a group, the white respondents appeared to be somewhat uninformed regarding such matters. For a quarter of the entire white group (and for half of those who had not graduated from high school), it was necessary to explain what racial integration meant before their attitudes toward it could be elicited.

Any attempt to evaluate the significance of these findings would lead to a gross distortion if they were separated from the context of the Connecticut scene. Certain types of racial integration, such as equality of voting rights, and public school integration have been achievements of long standing in Connecticut, and actually outside the realm of controversy. Negroes and whites are served equally in places of public accommodation, with only rare exceptions. Equality of opportunity in employment has moved ahead so rapidly in the past decade that lack of education or training may be considered a greater impediment than skin color in job opportunities for Negroes.

However, there is more cause for concern when we look at other areas of integration, where progress is real, but slower and where the less favorable attitudes of whites coincide with the actual situation. It is probably in these areas that the relative intransigence of whites precipitates the greater impatience among Negroes, and the Negro is constantly reminded of the cachet of alleged inferiority that relegates him to an inferior status in the community. In the area of private housing, for example, that achievement of integrated neighborhoods continues to meet with considerable opposition - a situation that reflects the attitudes found among our white respondents.

Even in the area of public housing, where integration in Connecticut moved rapidly forward in recent years, public housing authorities have found increasing difficulty in maintaining an integrated pattern without imposing a quota on the proportion of Negroes admitted to any project. Although the Commission on Civil Rights does not condone such quotas, some housing authorities have felt that integration patterns can not be maintained if the proportion of Negro families exceeds 30-40% of the total.

On the other hand, any aggravation of the problem because of increase in numbers could be at least partially offset by an increase in the general level of formal education in both racial groups. Our data show quite conclusively that attitudes toward general and specific areas of integration are more favorable and that more channels of communication between the races are maintained by the better educated white or Negro respondents. It would seem particularly important to prevent the emergence of any semblance of a voluntary pattern of segregation in the public schools, a danger that is inherent in Northern cities whenever a pattern of residential segregation is allowed to develop.

Although a majority of white and Negro respondents felt that the Southern school desegregation drive had some effect on race relations in Connecticut, and that the the effect had been more positive than negative, we must recognize that the respondents unconsciously might have had some difficulty separating that series of events, as a causative factor, from others that were taking shape during the period when we were conducting our interviews. We refer to the sit-in demonstration in the South and the accelerating movement for African independence abroad. All of these events contributed to increasing the Negro's sense of dignity and pride in his race, and certainly would stimulate his impatience with the traditional varieties of discrimination to which Negroes are subjected even though far removed from the more publicized centers of overt racial conflict.

Although incapable of proof, we feel that the overwhelming demand of our Negro respondents for complete integration in Connecticut is inseparably a part of the rising protest of the colored races everywhere against discrimination and exploitation. This is why our Negro respondents, in their replies, were not concerned exclusively with better opportunities in employment, education, public accommodations, and housing, areas in which non-discrimination is covered by a statute - but were also concerned with more opportunity for social interaction, and more inclusive integration in the social fabric of the community. They are, in effect, becoming increasingly impatient with the prospect of having to withdraw - after the day's job is done or school classes are concluded - within the social and psychological barriers of the invisible ghetto. This seems to be one of the paramount findings that emerges from our data, and it needs to be recognized as a basic ingredient for understanding the Negro's position on racial integration.

The attitudes and practices of our white respondents in substance reflect a desire to move more slowly, and perhaps more cautiously than Negroes toward the goal of integration. Although very few whites expressed outright opposition to integration in public schools or employment, the rate of opposition increased progressively in areas where racial interaction involved the acceptance of Negroes on a level of social equality. We have demonstrated that this tendency among white respondents to be selective, or in effect, to "pick-and-choose" the areas of permissible interracial activity is associated, in varying degrees, with certain characteristics or attributes of these respondents. Although there is a substantial reservoir of goodwill in favor of integration among all strata of the white population, it seems that the rate of integration could be accelerated by beaming an educational program toward those segments of the white population that at the moment seem least committed to the proposition of racial integration.

The large proportion of adults in the population who have severed their ties with any formal educational discipline need to be encouraged to examine, or re-examine, their attitudes and behavior toward Negroes. It seems that this could best be achieved through the existing institutions and organizations with which they are affiliated. Here the churches which are already committed in principle to non-discrimination could exert a major influence. Our white respondents, along with the Negro respondents, were largely in favor of integration in the churches, and any further achievements in this direction would provide opportunities for whites and Negroes to increase interracial contacts which are so essential to breaking down prejudice. In a similar way, other organizations such as service clubs, fraternal groups and even many organizations devoted almost exclusively to social activities should be stimulated to removal of color bars to membership. Because women on the average have fewer contacts with persons of other races, and also have less favorable attitudes toward integration, it would be desirable to encourage organizations limited to women members to do everything possible toward broadening their membership to include persons of other races. It also seems that the labor unions should be encouraged to step up their existent anti-discrimination programs because our data revealed a relatively high proportion of negative integration scores among persons engaged in the skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled occupations.

Important as legislation may be for the control of discriminatory acts against persons of other racial, religious, or ethnic origin, such laws are not sufficient by themselves to bring about changes in the climate of opinion with respect to intergroup problems. And it should always be borne in mind that acceptance of the principle of racial integration need not deprive any individual of the right to choose his friends or associates; rather it would seek to eliminate a prejudgment of the individual's worth or qualities on the basis of race or color.

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Annual Combined Family Incomes

Blacks and Whites in Hartford, 1959


Percent having annual income of



$1000 or less















$9000 and over



[Source: The Hartford Times, November 26, 1963.]

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From a Symposium on Equal Education in Connecticut

Held in 1965


Connecticut Statutes Are Flexible

Address By

Maurice J. Ross

Chief, Bureau of Research, Statistics and Finance,

Connecticut Department of Education


My assignment today is to discuss the various ways in which the provision of equal and equally good education for all children is helped or hindered by Connecticut law.

. . . . . .

To begin with, let me point out that the Connecticut statutes have recognized for the past century that public schools are concerned with quality education on an equal basis for all children. Section 10-15 of the general statutes states that "the public schools shall be open to all children over six years of age without discrimination on account of race or color." The age limitations have varied over the years, and public schools are open to children less than six years of age. The law goes on to say, in Section 10-222: "Boards of education shall maintain in their several towns good public elementary and secondary schools and such other educational activities as in their judgment will best serve the interests of the town; provided any board of education may secure such opportunities in another town in accordance with the provision of the general statutes and shall give all the children of the town as nearly equal advantages as may be practicable..."

Note that this statute gives wide latitude to boards of education in making provisions to provide quality educational opportunity, activities, and services for all. The statutes have a companion provision which ensures that children will be exposed to education and must go to school. Section 10-184 of the statutes places the responsibility for sending children to school on the parents: "All parents and those who have the care of children shall bring them up in some lawful and honest employment and instruct them or cause them to be instructed to reading, writing, spelling, etc." This statute applies to children over seven and under 16 years of age.

. . . . .

Now let me focus on some of the specific arrangements which have been provided for providing good education for those children who have been variously described as culturally disadvantaged, culturally estranged, culturally different, or educationally deprived.

1. Busing children to a school outside of the immediate neighborhood school is advocated by some as a means of providing quality education for the disadvantaged. This plan is also described as improving quality for the "advantaged" since it brings with it association with children who come from a different environment or background.

Connecticut statues permit the busing of elementary school children within a town. The state will provide one-half the cost of such transportation up to a maximum of $20 per child per year.

. . . . .

2. Head Start, pre-school or compensatory programs are frequently recommended as actions which can be taken now as an immediate attack of the situation as it exists. Connecticut statutes provide substantial financial encouragement for this type of program. For purposes of state aid, kindergarten and pre-kindergarten programs need be only two 1/2 hours in length for each child in membership to be counted for state aid.

. . . . .

 3. Free summer school programs which constitute either introductions to or continuations of the regular school school year can qualify for state aid if they meet the requirements of state law.

. . . . .

 4. Adult education programs can be of great significance in bringing quality education to a community. State aid is provided for these programs at the rate of 12 1/2 cents per clock hour.

. . . . .

 5. Open enrollment is a plan for permitting a child to enroll in any appropriate school in town if there is room for him. This arrangement is allowed if the local board of education specifies it.

. . . . .

 6. Pupil assignment or zoning to secure balanced enrollment and the shifting or redrawing of school attendance boundaries are also powers of the local board of education under the statute just referred to.

. .. . . .

 7. Reorganization of grade groups, the school pairing arrangement, or the Princeton plan, which puts all the children of a certain grade or group of grades of a town or a certain section of town usually along the borders of the ghetto, in one school, and all the children of another grade or group of grades in another school is also possible if the local board decides this is what it wants to do. If major alterations to school buildings are involved in this or any other plan, the state may provide one-third of the cost.

8. The educational park plan which puts all the children of the town into one or more schools on a single site is also possible under Connecticut statutes if the local board of education decides that this is what it wants.

9. Discrimination in employment has since 1947 been prohibited by state law.

10. The local board of education has the ultimate responsibility for textbook selection; it may reject textbooks which are biased (See 10-221).

11. Teacher assignments, within the certification regulations and within whatever local agreements may have been made, are made by the board of education. These assignments should be made in such a manner as to foster quality and equality in education.

. . . . .

Some of these activities a board can try without having to seek additional funds. Other activities, procedures or policies would have to be encouraged by other local governmental bodies and/or the citizens in general. These are the activities which call for additional funds: class-size reduction, tutorial activities, in-service training, and extra transportation are examples. These are local options. Limited state financial assistance may be available through Public Act 523 of the 1965 General Assembly, an "Act Concerning State Aid for the Disadvantaged," for activities such as these when they involve the disadvantaged. But the need to meet increasing costs of quality education as well as of compensatory education may call for the establishment of new tax districts, perhaps the unification of towns for tax purposes.

. . . . . .

I have tried to fulfill my assignment by stressing those activities which may be carried out by local boards of education and the extent to which Connecticut statutes encourage or hinder those activities. Local boards of education, alone, or on a joint basis, or on a regional basis, can undertake many activities to provide quality and equality in education. In some of these activities there is financial assistance from the state. The permissiveness of the statutes may raise problems and cause difficulties. The relationships between the local, state and federal governments become the subject of controversy. However, those governments are governments formed by people. And people, under laws of their own making, make decisions. The question is not really, "What can we do?" but, "What do we want to do to provide quality and equality in education?"

. . . . . .

'All Should Share America's Advantages'

Address by

William J. Sanders, Commissioner of Education,

State of Connecticut


It is the aim of education in this country to provide equality of opportunity for every American. But opportunity for what?

First, the opportunity to be effective politically-to have an effective voice in the process of self-government at all levels.

Secondly, the chance to be effective economically-to be able to sustain one's self and one's family by providing adequate food, clothing and shelter.

Third, an open door to effective social action-as a member of social groups in which, through participation one can develop a sense of social fidelity and a sense of self-esteem.

It is apparent that politically, economically and socially, the majority of Negroes in the North-particularly the recent arrivals-are at a disadvantage in their new setting. Many have not yet had time or opportunity to develop competent leaders to help them adjust to the strange urban setting in which they now find themselves. Many have not had an opportunity to develop the more sophisticated skills required for employment in urban centers. Many are identified with poverty and are crowded into the "warrens of the poor." As a result, poverty breeds delinquency, crime, and disorder in the family and communal life.

These circumstances pose severe impediments to the attainment of success and to the nourishment of self-esteem. They are circumstances that should be removed.

Our Negro citizens suffer experiences similar to those once suffered by ethnic groups migrating here from European countries. Like their predecessors, the newcomers are feared by many already here-not only because they are different, but because they offer competition for jobs.

A major mission of the public schools in urban centers of the North has been to meet the needs of our migrants. One of these compelling needs is a real chance to escape from poverty-an escape from the corruptive influences of the environment imposed upon the urban poor-to have adequate space for decent living, and to enjoy reasonable comfort.

An equally compelling need is to find an avenue of escape from the feeling of futility which stems from not having a position where one can make a contribution to the economy, and where one can share in the goods produced by the economy. Attainment of such a position is essential to the development of self-esteem.

Immediately, children in these urban centers should spend more time in school. They should start earlier than kindergarten. The school day should be longer. Classes should be smaller and instruction more individualized.

. . . . . . .

Many children in urban centers attend school in old, overcrowded buildings. Such structures must be replaced immediately by the best designed and equipped buildings possible. And these should be so located that all the children enrolled are not at the same low level of poverty.

Some artificial mixing is desirable-where possible-to break down interracial fears and misunderstandings. Experimentation in this direction, also, is immediately necessary and should be provided through the leadership of local school boards, rather than by state or federal mandate.

Although rapid progress must be made in desegregation, it does not appear realistic to expect that the Negro will be completely integrated any more than any other ethnic group in American society. Indeed, to be politically effective, the Negro minority should depend upon alliance with other political blocks. As education improves and genuine leadership emerges, the interest of the group as a whole will be discerned and sought. Elimination of distinctiveness or separateness, would, if accomplished, serve to weaken the position of the Negro politically, rather than improve it.

It is true that many educated and trained Negroes have experienced difficulty in obtaining jobs for which they are prepared. That they be placed is not only the responsibility of industry, it is also a responsibility of the educational system. It is a duty of placement officers in colleges as well as in high schools, to work with employers and unions to get qualified Negro graduates into positions equal to their ability and training. It is unacceptable that trained and educated Negroes should simply-because of race-continue to work below their levels of ability and training.

With a concerted drive toward proper placement on the part of educators and toward greater receptiveness on the part of employers-particularly through the enunciation of employment policies favoring the employment of qualified Negroes-responsible Negro leaders will emerge in business, industry, and government.

. . . . . .

It is important to note that through the action of Governor Dempsey and the 1965 General Assembly, $10 million was made available for the projects to aid the disadvantaged in this state during the present biennium. In addition, over $7 million was made available by Congress under Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for development of projects in schools to help youngsters in areas of poverty to overcome the disadvantages from which they suffer. School authorities in Connecticut have been most vigorous in designing suitable projects. There will be somewhat more than another $7 million available from the Federal Government for the year 1966-67. And it is our firm belief that this also will be fully utilized.

It is up to all of us engaged in the education of children to use our wit, our energy, and good will to assure every child in the state-no matter what his ethnic group or economic condition-full opportunity to share the political and economic advantages of being a free American-and, above all, to enjoy the self-esteem that derives from this status.

I am sure all the educational authorities in this state share this concern and will work together toward this end.

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The following are excerpts from the Commission's report issued in 1969 after it had heard extensive testimony about conditions in Waterbury.

The Waterbury Hearings, part of a series of public hearings to be held in various communities throughout the state, have been concerned to date primarily with conditions relating to housing, education and police-community relations, with specific emphasis upon racial discrimination. The Commission has heard sworn testimony, beginning on June 10, 1968 and with the most recent session being held on October 22, 1968, from 108 witnesses and has received sixty exhibits, all in the course of nine sessions....An additional subject of inquiry, that of employment conditions, is to be the subject of further hearings by the Commission.

All those persons wishing to testify before the Commission have been encouraged to do so, but the vast majority of those testifying have been under subpoena. All testimony has been taken under oath and recorded. Testimony has ranged from complaints by impoverished ghetto residents as to substandard housing to extensive questioning of the highest public officials of the city of Waterbury, past and present.


FINDING: The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, having weighed the sworn testimony and exhibits concerning conditions in the Waterbury school system, has reason to believe that the schools of Waterbury have been segregated and that discriminatory practices are occurring due to the policies and actions of those charged with the public responsibility for administering the educational system in the city of Waterbury.

Such conditions have undermined the confidence of many citizens in the city of Waterbury in the State of Connecticut's dedication to the elimination of racial segregation in the public schools, in light of the continued availability of state funds within such a context. For example, approximately 50% of the cost of Waterbury's Regan School, projected to be, before its construction, 99.8% white, came from state funds. At the present time the Regan School is approximately 80% white.

This Commission was made uncomfortably aware by persons testifying at the Waterbury hearings that they doubt the sincerity of this state's commitment to equal educational opportunity for all in the face of such circumstances.

RECOMMENDATION: This Commission strongly urges that the Secretary of the State Board of Education immediately discontinue certifying funds to the State Comptroller under the General Statutes, or otherwise lending any financial assistance to the school system of Waterbury until after a thorough inquiry into the matters.

It is the view of this Commission that the State Board possesses the power under such statutory authority to direct the prompt desegregation of Waterbury's schools and this Commission urges the State Board to do so.

RECOMMENDATION: This Commission urges that the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, in concert with the United States Department of Justice, proceed with all due dispatch in its determination to correct such conditions as have been noted. 

RECOMMENDATION: It is recommended that the State Board of Education join with this Commission and others in pressing for general legislation to eliminate segregation in the public schools of Connecticut.

At a recent special meeting of the State Board of Education, its Secretary noted the common circumstance of local boards being paralyzed by political considerations in the context of opposition to desegregation. He further noted that it is a fairly common practice for local boards of education to contract for surveys by universities and other consultants in order to ease the pressure of responsibility. These observations lend credence to the claims of those testifying before this Commission in Waterbury that the Waterbury Board of Education contracted with the University of Connecticut survey team for the purpose of delaying decisions.

RECOMMENDATION: The Commission heard testimony indicating that a growing number of white persons are sending their children to parochial schools rather than to public schools which would, with their presence, be integrated. Similar conditions exist in other communities in the state and reflect a pattern which has taken place in various locales throughout the nation.

The Commission offers the above evidence to the church to assist the church in establishing dialogue to prevent parochial or private schools from becoming sanctuaries for those who have their children separated from other children on the basis of skin color. The Commission realizes that the dignity of each child is the legitimate concern of religion.

Further, insofar as there are in Waterbury white people who hate black people, black people who hate white people, persons who are fearful, persons who lack compassion, empathy, and basic human understanding, and insofar as there is within the city of Waterbury a tense climate with the potential for public eruption upon slight provocation, the Commission urges continued and maximum effort by the various religious faiths as one of the calming agents for civil peace and justice through spiritual motives in human behavior.

Recent and added emphasis by the church of today towards social action can be of substantial impact towards expanded human rights and increased opportunities in the city of Waterbury.


Police-Community Relations

The bulk of the testimony related to instance after instance of serious charges of extreme mistreatment by members of the police department against various citizens; unhealthy relationships between members of the Waterbury Police Department and violent private groups; and repeated and consistent charges of undisciplined, untrained, dangerous activity by various policemen.

Waterbury, furthermore, is a center of activity for at least two private groups concerning which an abundance of testimony was received. The first group is a motorcycle club, brutish in appearance, which is viewed by a substantial number of Black persons in Waterbury as intimidators of those publicly challenging conditions in the city, with public officialdom and, in particular, the police department, looking the other way. It is clear that, whatever relationship, official or unofficial, may exist between members of the Waterbury Police Department and the motorcycle club, known as the Rat Pack Motorcycle Club, the Rat Pack is likely frightening many people in the city without any appreciable attention by the Waterbury Police Department. It is further clear that such conditions have given rise to a lack of trust in the police department in a critical area, namely the protection of persons from physical harm.

The second group, the Defense and Survival Force, from evidence received at the Waterbury Hearings and from investigations conducted outside of the hearings, is more likely than not the Connecticut arm of the Minute Men, a national organization with a history of planned violence and regular use of firearms in connection with such activities. Based upon testimony elicited at the Waterbury Public Hearings, including some testimony from local Waterbury police personnel which was so unconvincing as to have been insulting to the intelligence of the Commission, it is clear that the Defense and Survival Force trains extensively as a private military group in and around Waterbury; that its leadership is largely based in Waterbury; and that no police official in Waterbury admits to having any knowledge of such activities or any opinion concerning them.

What is fundamentally lacking in the city of Waterbury is leadership. Faced with the weight of responsibilities that devolve on public officials in the modern context, some Waterbury officials seem tempted to throw up their hands in despair and let nature take its course. The leadership which is lacking is, in large part, a failure to adjust the machinery of government to the needs of the present.

Light is being shed today upon chronic conditions which have always been present in our society but which have been pushed to the back of the conscious collective mind of most of the community in its order of priorities. Such pervasive and historical realities as racial discrimination and segregation have so long been a fact of our culture that the majority of the population had accepted such conditions as inevitable or insoluble. In recent years, the society has recognized that these conditions are not inevitable. The correction of such conditions, however, continues to be impeded by the long-standing habits and attitudes which the society has indulged itself. As new insights compete with old habits, the average citizen can come to feel that he is living in a dreamlike cacophony in which Black people and white people, young people and old people, peace advocates and their opponents, all seem to be speaking to each other, as in the tower of Babel, in ways that are not understood.

The Commission finds that there is, in the area of Police-Community Relations, a virulent atmosphere in the city of Waterbury which is injurious, depressing and highly suspicious. Most suspicious is the claimed lack of knowledge and the obvious lack of action on the part of officials of the city of Waterbury in response to some very real dangers and fears.


1. This Commission recommends to the Mayor that there be a reassessment of safeguards to assure that police officers in the city of Waterbury will be stable, of good judgment, fair, impartial and free of bias against any persons or groups of persons.

2. The Waterbury Human Relations Commission should be constituted the official body within the city to hear complaints involving police misconduct.

It would be highly desirable for the composition of that body to be reconsidered in order that persons known to be trusted in all sectors of Waterbury might be considered for appointment to that body in order that all interests in the community be reflected in that body's membership.

3. The Waterbury Board of Police Commissioners should institute a meaningful program of human relations training, mandatory for all members of the police department regardless of length of service.

4. The Waterbury Police Department should undertake a serious program of recruitment of Black citizens and Puerto Rican citizens to the ranks of the police force.

Out of a total of approximately 235 policemen on the Waterbury force, approximately 8 officers are Black citizens. The total population of Waterbury was estimated by Superintendent Guilfoyle to be approximately 112,000. He further estimated that the total Black population of Waterbury was approximately 9,000.

5. It is highly recommended that a new unit of the Waterbury Police Department be organized, to be designated the Human Relations Unit. Emphasis should be placed upon attracting officers whose special interest and abilities lie in the area of human relations, and the focus should be the development of sensitivity in the area of race relations as an alternative to force and as a preliminary technique prior to arrest when dealing with persons confined in the ghettos of the city of Waterbury.



Official public action is also needed in this area. A key area in which real leadership by the city administration could conceivably affect housing conditions significantly in the city revolves around the reality of white landlords, home owners, and real estate agents in Waterbury who evade their moral and legal responsibilities by discriminating against Black and Puerto Rican citizens in the sale and rental of property. An allied issue, as noted above, is the withholding from the market of sound dwelling units in order to avoid rental to Black and Puerto Rican tenants. Also connected with these matters is the increase in family size restrictions placed on large apartments, making the task of finding new quarters all but impossible for large families.

If the city administration wishes to keep Waterbury from becoming two communities, one Black and one White, it should meet with landlords and real estate agents and use the good offices of the city to assure that they comply with Connecticut's anti-discrimination laws, release vacant apartments, and abandon overly restrictive prohibitions on large apartments.

Obviously there is need for action by the city to develop scattered sites for low and moderate income housing. The Development Coordinator testified that a principal deterrent to obtaining sites for such construction is racial prejudice against Black persons. If the Waterbury Board of Alderman truly understands that enlightened self interest on the part of the more fortunate citizens of Waterbury dictates that there be relief from the conditions of the ghetto for frustrated disadvantaged people living therein, those Alderman from the neighborhoods in which sites are available for low and moderate income housing should take the lead in educating their neighbors as to the total problem and as to the consequences which may come from a continuation of present attitudes.

Testimony was received at the Waterbury Public Hearings that it is a common occurrence for Waterbury families who complain of health code violations to be saddled with a rent increase or with a notice of eviction once a landlord has been compelled to make necessary repairs.

Testimony was received concerning unwarranted delays between the condemnation of buildings and their demolition. For however long the condemned buildings remain standing, the residents of a neighborhood are exposed to health hazards and blight.

The Commission strongly recommends that systematic health code inspection and enforcement by the city of Waterbury be assured for the Abbott Avenue area in order to eradicate such dangerous and unhealthy conditions as code enforcement can reach and that this be done immediately and intensely.

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