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Break-Through Accomplished

President John F. Kennedy performed a public service last week when he reminded his press conference audience that 150 Southern cities have started the integration process in their schools. This fact has been overlooked by many Americans who have been discouraged at the slow progress of the campaign for equality.

The Negro still is far from his goal. In fact, he is probably a decade away from full acceptance as a legal equal and perhaps 50 years from the point where he will not be conspicuous at private clubs, in political councils and in labor leadership circles.

Why try to deceive ourselves about the speed of integration? It was not until 1960 a Roman Catholic could be elected President of the United States. Many private clubs still are closed to Americans of the Hebrew faith. How many years passed before a Greenfield man of Polish ancestry could win appointment to a sergeancy in the local police department?

Segregation is not based on color alone. Massachusetts has communities where no "foreigner" from Southern or Eastern Europe is socially or politically acceptable. It has wards- and even cities- where a Yankee has as much chance of election as a snowball's survival in Hades. And the same is true of many other states north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Chicago is a patchwork of racial and nationality neighborhoods. So is New York City- and Detroit- and Los Angeles. They have their Chinatown, their Little Italys, their Yorkvilles, their Black Belts and their Hamtramcks All are based on colors, Old World languages, customs and a feeling for association and protection of traditions.

Changing times are breaking down the barriers, however. No longer can an Irish or French ward boss "deliver" an overwhelming majority vote. No longer can an Italian padrone bargain with construction firms for unskilled labor or with political leaders for support at the polls.The yeast of change has been working with increasing strength for the past 30 years: both cities and suburbs today reflect the striving for equality and betterment in the hearts of all men- whatever their skin pigmentation.

Racial integration has been the most pronounced form of this social, economic and political evil. Therefore, it is only realistic to expect its correction will take the longest time and be accompanied by the most violence. Like the others, the process of change includes pressure, argument, civil turmoil and compromise.

Progress is apparent- even though it is painfully slow and opposed with almost incredible fanaticism. This fact, stressed by President Kennedy last week, proves the effectiveness of united effort short of violence. Those who have followed the history of other minorities know the pace will quicken now the breakthrough has been established.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This editorial in the Greenfield Recorder is a good deal more optimistic than previous editorials about the progress of the movement for racial equality. The editors stress the large number of schools in the American south "that have started the integration process." They suggest that the struggle for racial equality is similar to the efforts of white immigrant groups to be accepted in American society. By this measure, progress is being made. The editors predict that full legal rights for blacks will take another decade and social equality much longer.

 

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"Break-Through Accomplished" editorial from Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Recorder-Gazette
date   Sep 16, 1963
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
width   4.75"
height   5.25"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L08.006


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See Also...

"-And White As Well" editorial from Greenfield Recorder newspaper

"King's Dream Speech In 1963 Urged Full Rights For Negroes" article from Greenfield Recorder newspaper

"Dropout" cartoon from Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper


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