In 1949, President Harry Truman Signed The Housing Act, Which Gave Federal, State, And Local Governments Unprecedented Power To Shape Residential Life ~ The Tragedy of Urban Renewal

In 1949, President Harry Truman signed the Housing Act, which gave federal, state, and local governments unprecedented power to shape residential life. One of the Housing Act’s main initiatives – ”urban renewal” –  destroyed about 2,000 communities in the 1950s and ’60s and forced more than 300,000 families from their homes. Overall, about half of urban renewal’s victims were black, a reality that led to James Baldwin’s famous quip that “urban renewal means Negro removal.”

New York City’s Manhattantown (1951) was one of the first projects authorized under urban renewal and it set the model not only for hundreds of urban renewal projects but for the next 60 years of eminent domain abuse at places such as Poletown, New London, and Atlantic Yards. The Manhattantown project destroyed six blocks on New York City’s Upper West Side, including an African-American community that dated to the turn of the century. The city sold the land for a token sum to a group of well-connected Democratic pols to build a middle-class housing development. Then came the often repeated bulldoze-and-abandon phenomenon: With little financial skin in the game, the developers let the demolished land sit vacant for years.

The community destroyed at Manhattantown was a model for the tight-knit, interconnected neighborhoods later celebrated by Jane Jacobs and other critics of top-down redevelopment. In the early 20th century, Manhattantown was briefly the center of New York’s black music scene. A startling roster of musicians, writers, and artists resided there: the composer Will Marion Cook, vaudeville star Bert Williams, opera singer Abbie Mitchell, James Weldon Johnson and his brother Rosemond, muralist Charles Alston, writer and historian Arturo Schomburg, Billie Holiday (whose mother also owned a restaurant on 99th Street), Butterfly McQueen of “Gone with the Wind” fame, and the actor Robert Earl Jones.


Larry Elder talks to Ali Akbar about inviting Morgan Freeman to a Tea Party


My name is Ali Akbar. I’m a 26 year-old African-American small business owner and a tea party activist. I’m not writing to rake you over the coals in the way that many conservatives have done in the last 48 hours. Heck, I wrote a passionate open-letter refuting many of your claims already, but this is not that. This is an honest and standing invitation. I do believe that you are wrong in what you said about the tea party, but I would rather prove it to you than castigate you for your comments.


Over half a century since we started voting for Democrat policies, blacks in America are worse off than before. Black Americans are more likely to get involved with drugs, go to prison, and die younger than our white counterparts. Over 70% of our children are born out of wedlock. Our abortion rate has never been higher. There are two explanations for these results. 1) Blacks are an inferior race and can’t take care of themselves. 2) Despite the best of intentions, the government has created and implemented “social justice” policies that promote perpetual dependence. I choose to believe the latter. Therefore, I have become a Republican.

Mr. Freeman, I’m not asking you to adopt my political views. You’re in your seventies, and a political shift is not in your future. I’m reaching out to you because I want you to think better of your fellow countrymen. Barack Obama is in the White House, and Herman Cain just won the Florida straw poll. America is the land of opportunity for black Americans like never before.

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