I don’t know about Harlem, but pre 1967 you felt very safe in Detroit. Believe it or not.
My Dad (RIP) went to an integrated high school in Cleveland, graduated in 1932. He always said race was not an issue.
Everybody was poor during the Depression.
We can go just 30 years ago to find better race relations. In 1983 I used to party with my Mexican roommate at Federal and 38th. He was a Mexican serving in our military to earn his citizenship. We used to go there on weekends and it was a great party place. Everyone was friendly, no gangs, violence was maybe a fistfight, and people partied all over the place. It was obviously safe for whites and I never felt threatened. Today, even the cops think twice before going there at night. I had to go there a few years ago in broad daylight on a Saturday and it wasnt fun. It is Mexican gang controlled and the majority of violence is from there.
That was a different world. I was a white Public Health Nurse in a totally black district of Baltimore city in 1969 and ‘70. My mentor and supervisor and co-workers were mostly black, and were very well qualified nurses. I was totally safe, and so was my beautiful LeMans convertible, as I made my home visits.
My clients were poor and lower middle class - men had jobs then. Johnson’s money to the cities broke up too many intact families and destroyed incentives to work and study. I could go on, but you just asked about safety. Heroin was the street drug, and addicts would rob their mother if they were desperate, but there was not the same racial animosity as has continued for too many “victims” today.
As a mid-sixties white teenager, things were very relaxed in my urban/suburban area. I can remember the first time I heard ‘nigger’ used about a black person. Man, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
Read the opening chapter in Thomas Sowell’s book Black Rednecks and White Liberals. He lays it all out very clearly. The black community and race relations all went to hell at the hands of the liberals and their programs that started in the 60s.
You could go into black areas in the day time; i.e. to the museum. Blacks had their own schools. Restrictive covenants were allowed which helped make neighborhoods safe.
In short, whites governed and it was generally peaceful. We never really thought much about blacks. My mother was horrified when I saw my first black.(I was about five.) I looked at the lady and said "Mommy that lady is dirty" Mom remembered that all her life. She had to apologize to the lady.
I’m pretty-sure Chicago wasn’t seeing a daily murder and several daily woundings.
It was a lot safer even in small southern towns. However, racism was common. And that was bad.
I recently watched The Pruitt-Igoe Myth on Netflix. I believe there is much to take away from watching it.
In about 1963, I witnessed the battle of the bicycle rack on Fayetteville street in down town Raleigh.
It was rumored that there were to be incidents down town at the movie theater. We ceased our evening studies grind and went to town.
In front of the theater there was a bicycle rack with ABOUT 5 0R 6 Raleigh good old boys sitting on it. They made a strategic error. They left a space for one more on the end. A black boy, likely a student, seated himself in the space. The white boy moved over and shoved the last white boy off the end. The black boy moved over into the new space, leaving a space on the end. A second black boy moved into the vacant space.
The process was completed until the blacks captured the entire bicycle rack.
Sometime later there was a major protest incident and many arrests. The entire jail was occupied. We would go to town almost every evening to mail letters to far off girlfriends. On this night we heard singing from the upper floors of the courthouse/jail. One song was “We shall OverCome”
The pigeons and starlings that roosted on the jail window ledge were flying all around in confusion, unwilling to fly into the darkness.
It was all strange and different.
The Students at NC State were not allowed their annual March On the Capitol, they were restrained within the blocks through the campus.
The black students however were allowed off their campus and marched on the governors mansion trampling thousands of Hyacinths in bloom.
The memories of those incidents nearly 50 years are are clear
I think the answer is pretty categorically, “No, you would NOT be safe walking down Lenox Avenue at night in 1967.” Race relations were not great, but they were improving. Remember in 1967 only 25% of black children were born out of wedlock. Today the number is well over 60%. (Notice the NBA never plays on Fathers Day?)
Today, there is no more Jim Crow, but we’ve had five decades of hectoring and whingeing and excuse making. The country has gotten worse in the past five decades, trust me. Some aspects of race relations are better. For instance, just about no one favors de jure segregation. I think racial hypocracy is off the charts these days. That a creature like Al Sharpton would be taken seriously is a disgrace.
MLK was a great man. He was not perfect, he had human faults, but he was had a generous and optimistic spirit. He was like Ghandi, in that he relied on the goodness of America, and Americans, especially white Americans.
I don’t like affirmative action, but it is a road bump compared to Jim Crow and systemic discrimination that preceded it.
I think LBJ was a cynic and vile individual and would have promoted Jim Crow if he thought it could get him more votes.
In the 50’s one of my white, celtic heritage family’s favorite TV shows was Amos n Andy.
Today the public isn’t allowed to see the reruns on TV. It is frowned upon to even view clips privately.
Race relations took a dramatic tuurn for the worst in the late 50’s when “liberals” stepped in to “correct” things.
Race relations were safe back then but not really good.
Blacks were far more segregated and, well, oppressed in a lot of ways.
They were far more family oriented and peaceful.
It’s horrible now in inner cities and places like Chicago, but I think we’re still in the throes of growing pains as the blacks became equal and the resentment of the past grew.
Today’s society expects everything to happen over night. It will take a couple more generations, I think.
But Obama has made it much worse. We must get rid of him.
I'm a native New Yorker, white, born in '48 and, no, it was not relatively safe back then. I remember reading about white people, usually tourists, getting lost on the subway, straying into Harlem and getting raped, robbed, severely beaten, killed. It happened all the time but it wasn't as bad as it's been in more recent years. Democrats have made it much worse with their race-card politics. But the racial hatreds have always been there.
I went to high school in the late ‘60s in Chicago. In that place and time, at least, blacks despised whites.
While signing the bill, didn’t Johnson make some kind of comment to the effect that “this will keep the n*gg*rs on the Democratic plantation forever”. Or am I just imagining he said that, because its happening.
I grew up in a town called Magnolia, NJ and graduated High School in 1962. When I turned 16 between my sophmore and junior year I began working as a caddy at Woodcrest Country Club in Cherry Hill, NJ which was 5 miles away. I either hitched a ride or had to walk along Evesham Ave to get back and forth since I couldn’t drive yet. Between the two points I had to pass through Lawnside, NJ. Let me tell you it was the mecca for all the Phila and NJ blacks to come for BBQ, drinking, dancing and party. Boy did it smell good with all the chicken and ribs. I walked through there and was never threatened in the least. Several times I was offered food or a soda. There were at least 2,000 people there at any time over the weekend and it was all good. It was very different back then.
LBJ changed all that. Lawnside has since shut down the picnic grounds and the bars, etc. It is pretty much poverty there now. Nothing is the same.