By Alexander Polikoff
On his thirty-ninth birthday in 1966, Alexander Polikoff, a volunteer ACLU lawyer and companion in a Chicago legislations company, met a few associates to debate a professional bono case. Over lunch, the 4 observed the Chicago Housing Authority building application. the entire new public housing, it appeared, was once going into black neighborhoods. If discrimination was once prohibited in public colleges, wasn't it additionally prohibited in public housing?And so begun Gautreaux v. CHA and HUD, a case that from its rocky beginnings might roll on yr after 12 months, decade after decade, wearing Polikoff and his colleagues to the nation's ultimate court docket (to face then-solicitor basic Robert Bork); setting up precedents for matches opposed to the discriminatory guidelines of neighborhood housing professionals, frequently abetted via HUD; and atmosphere the level for a national test geared toward finishing the concentration--and racialization--of poverty via public housing. occasionally Kafkaesque, occasionally easily inspiring, and not below soaking up, the tale of Gautreaux, instructed through its critical legal professional, strikes very easily via neighborhood and nationwide civil rights heritage, criminal info, political issues, and the non-public costs--and rewards--of a dedication to equity, equality, and justice. either the memoir of a devoted legal professional, and the narrative of a tenacious pursuit of equality, this story--itself a serious, still-unfolding bankruptcy in contemporary American history--urges us to take a vital step in finishing the racial inequality that Alexis de Toqueville prophetically named America's "most ambitious evil."
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Additional resources for Waiting for Gautreaux: A Story of Segregation, Housing, and the Black Ghetto
The next day the entire building was gutted by a ﬁrebomb. 1953 In Los Angeles, a black homeowner came home from work one night to ﬁnd his house ﬂooded by a garden hose pushed through the mail slot. 1962 In Boston, the public housing authority rented an apartment in a white neighborhood to a lone, elderly black woman. Her apartment was stoned on two successive nights, even before she had ﬁnished moving in. In addition to threats, beatings, and shootings directed at individuals, Rubinowitz and Perry summarized the small acts against property from the experience of Boston in the early 1960s: “damaged cars, ignited papers thrust under apartment doors, fecal material at [blacks’] doorways, racial epithets on their doors, .
Instead, he put black students on double shifts, eight to noon and noon to four, frequently plunking “Willis Wagons”—trailers converted to temporary classrooms— on their playgrounds. Yet after several years of struggle, Raby’s group, the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO), could point to no tangible 36 | WAITING FOR GAUTREAUX success. Three school boycotts had produced impressive totals of stay-athome students. But the numbers for the third, in June 1965, were fewer than half those for the ﬁrst, twenty months earlier.
Barbara permitted the children—Deborah, 11, Daniel, 9, and Joanie, 5—to skip school, and they made the drive to Waukegan each day to form a silent cheering section in the courtroom. Deborah and Daniel passed notes back and forth to record their acerbic comments on the mental capacity of the school board witnesses. Our experts, Professors George Foster of the University of Wisconsin and Robert Crain of the University of Chicago, had stayed in our house for two days before the trial, so our family had gotten to know them pretty well.