In this 1959 article, an Alabama writer did his level-headed best to explain the sluggish reasoning that made up the opinions of his friends and neighbors as to why racial integration of the nation's schools was a poor idea. He observed that even the proudest Southerner could freely recognize that African-Americans were ill-served by the existing school system and that they were due for some sort of an upgrade - they simply wished it wouldn't happen quite so quickly. The journalist spent a good deal of column space explaining that there existed among the Whites of Dixie a deep and abiding paranoia over interracial marriage.
As 1964 came to a close this venom-packed column was read by many in the white American middle-class and it must have seemed very clear to many among them that matters between the races would not be righted for decades to come. Written by the Harlem-born writer James Baldwin (1924 – 1987) on the occasion of the 1964 Harlem Race Riot, Baldwin did not simply denigrate the NYC Police Department but the culture, government and sacred documents of the entire nation.
With the great momentum of civil rights justice on the side of the Northern, Western and Mid-Western states, American magazine editors felt comfortable running articles like this one from 1964 that presented the statistical data indicating just how dramatically the African-Americans were suffering from poor health.
(Also included in the report is data concerning Harlem, N.Y. and other northern slums)
"To the men who count the living and the dead - the statisticians, discrimination against the Negroes carves a picture in their death charts as clear as an inscription on a new tombstone, as pathetic as a dead child's forgotten doll."
• In the early Sixties, the mortality rate for Black infants stood at 42 per 1000 live births; the white infant mortality rate was 22.
• During this same period, the cancer death rate for Black women was on the rise and the cancer death rate for white women was declining.
• In 1963, a Black man with pneumonia had half the chance of surviving as his white counter-part.
Inasmuch as racial integration was the social goal for a vast majority of Americans in 1960, this article made it clear that racial harmony in the U.S. Armed Forces was not simply the goal, it was the reality. Written by a journalist who visited as many as ten U.S. Military establishments throughout Europe and North Africa in order to see how President Truman's Executive Order 9981 had effected American military culture. He was surprised to find that although Truman had banished Jim Crow from the armed services in 1948, the Defense Department had not seen fit to integrate the on-base housing and schools until 1954. Perhaps this is a good example of the differences between the Department of Defense and the actual military: the DoD is run by civilians and the military is run by generals and admirals who are attuned to obeying the orders of their commander-in-chief, whoever that may be.
The article is filled with pleasing anecdotes about how easily racial integration was manifested and how quickly the bonds between men of all shades were quickly established.
Read about racism in the U.S. Army of W.W. I