Box 7, Folder 18, Document 5

Dublin Core

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Rm, 501, 41 Exchange Pl,, S. E., Atlanta, Georgia 30303

In the major cities of the United States,
tenements swarm with children, schools
are overcrowded and understaffed, and
people are out of work. Apathy over-
comes many. For others, frustration
erupts into violence.

The heart of the city’s problems is
the isolation of the people of its slums
from the benefits of the rest of the
metropolitan area. Discrimination in
employment, zoning restrictions, dis-
criminatory real estate practices, local
tax structures, political boundaries —
all protect the affluent from the claims
of the impoverished.

The slum’s problems are perpetu-
ated by powerlessness. Negro leaders
recognize that freedom cannot exist
without equality and that political and
economic power are essential parts of
equality. They are appealing to their
people to take pride in blackness and
unite in effective action. The challenge
to Negroes to overcome fear and paral-
ysis is accompanied by a challenge to
the white community to overcome its
fear and intransigence. These chal-
lenges must be met.

The American Friends Service Com-
mittee struggles against exclusion of
any minority from the mainstream of
American society. Its programs in the
cities concentrate on getting people to
recognize their own problems and take
initiative in dealing with them. The
programs search for new ways both to
break down barriers and to build self-
reliance — ways that can be copied and
adapted by other groups in other cities.


In Boston, concerned with the problems
of welfare tenants, the Service Commit-
tee is bringing together tenants, small
landlords, and the welfare department
to find solutions to the problems of
apartments without heat, garbage that
stands uncollected, falling plaster, rats,
and roaches.

In Chicago the Service Committee’s
staff has been working with the Chicago
Freedom Movement headed by Martin
Luther King. Block clubs organized by
the Service Committee have been con-
verted to locals of the Union To End
Slums. Contracts are negotiated be-
tween landlords and tenants, specifying
the responsibilities of each. If negoti-
ation fails, the tenants may resort to
a rent strike in which rent is held in es-
crow by the bargaining agent.

Working in a depressed community
in Pasadena, California, the Service
Committee has helped organize a busi-
nessmen’s council, which is working on
upgrading businesses and supplying new

jobs. The staff has started youth pro-
grams for drop-outs and has helped
form a young adult group to work on
recreational programs and activities
for young people. It has started an
interfamily visiting program with
churches in the area to give families a
chance to know people and places out-
side their own neighborhoods.

A new program in West Oakland is
trying to establish communication
among groups in the community, and
between them and groups outside the
area. Distrust of the surrounding world
is so high that any meaningful communi-
cation is difficult. Seminars are being
planned to bring West Oakland residents
and outsiders together in a neutral at-
mosphere where they can explore mutu-
al problems. The final emphasis of the
program will be to stimulate the inter-
est and efforts of the wider community
in the problems of the people of West

In a densely populated area of San
Francisco, the Service Committee got
together parents who had complaints
about the elementary school, and this
group became known as the School
Committee. They decided the logical
place to work for changes was the PTA,
but the principal had repeatedly re-
fused to allow PTA meetings at night
when working parents could attend.
School officials continued to discourage
them. They petitioned the superintend-
ent, with copies to the press. Now, for
the first time in the history of the
school, there are PTA meetings at
night, and a parent has even been
elected treasurer.


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