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"The essence of power is the ability to exclude and include."

Dr. John Henrik Clarke
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http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/39/

Booker T. Washington Delivers the 1895 Atlanta Compromise Speech

On September 18, 1895, African-American spokesman and leader Booker T. Washington spoke before a predominantly white audience at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta. His “Atlanta Compromise” address, as it came to be called, was one of the most important and influential speeches in American history. Although the organizers of the exposition worried that “public sentiment was not prepared for such an advanced step,” they decided that inviting a black speaker would impress Northern visitors with the evidence of racial progress in the South. Washington soothed his listeners’ concerns about “uppity” blacks by claiming that his race would content itself with living “by the productions of our hands.”


Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Board of Directors and Citizens:

One-third of the population of the South is of the Negro race. No enterprise seeking the material, civil, or moral welfare of this section can disregard this element of our population and reach the highest success. I but convey to you, Mr. President and Directors, the sentiment of the masses of my race when I say that in no way have the value and manhood of the American Negro been more fittingly and generously recognized than by the managers of this magnificent Exposition at every stage of its progress. It is a recognition that will do more to cement the friendship of the two races than any occurrence since the dawn of our freedom.

Not only this, but the opportunity here afforded will awaken among us a new era of industrial progress. Ignorant and inexperienced, it is not strange that in the first years of our new life we began at the top instead of at the bottom; that a seat in Congress or the state legislature was more sought than real estate or industrial skill; that the political convention or stump speaking had more attractions than starting a dairy farm or truck garden.

A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal,“Water, water; we die of thirst!” The answer from the friendly vessel at once came back, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” A second time the signal, “Water, water; send us water!” ran up from the distressed vessel, and was answered, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” And a third and fourth signal for water was answered, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” The captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket, and it came up full of fresh, sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon River. To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is their next-door neighbor, I would say: “Cast down your bucket where you are”— cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded.

Cast it down in agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, in domestic service, and in the professions. And in this connection it is well to bear in mind that whatever other sins the South may be called to bear, when it comes to business, pure and simple, it is in the South that the Negro is given a man’s chance in the commercial world, and in nothing is this Exposition more eloquent than in emphasizing this chance. Our greatest danger is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labour, and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life; shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and the useful. No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.

To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted I would repeat what I say to my own race,“Cast down your bucket where you are.” Cast it down among the eight millions of Negroes whose habits you know, whose fidelity and love you have tested in days when to have proved treacherous meant the ruin of your firesides. Cast down your bucket among these people who have, without strikes and labour wars, tilled your fields, cleared your forests, builded your railroads and cities, and brought forth treasures from the bowels of the earth, and helped make possible this magnificent representation of the progress of the South. Casting down your bucket among my people, helping and encouraging them as you are doing on these grounds, and to education of head, hand, and heart, you will find that they will buy your surplus land, make blossom the waste places in your fields, and run your factories. While doing this, you can be sure in the future, as in the past, that you and your families will be surrounded by the most patient, faithful, law-abiding, and unresentful people that the world has seen. As we have proved our loyalty to you in the past, in nursing your children, watching by the sick-bed of your mothers and fathers, and often following them with tear-dimmed eyes to their graves, so in the future, in our humble way, we shall stand by you with a devotion that no foreigner can approach, ready to lay down our lives, if need be, in defense of yours, interlacing our industrial, commercial, civil, and religious life with yours in a way that shall make the interests of both races one. In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.

There is no defense or security for any of us except in the highest intelligence and development of all. If anywhere there are efforts tending to curtail the fullest growth of the Negro, let these efforts be turned into stimulating, encouraging, and making him the most useful and intelligent citizen. Effort or means so invested will pay a thousand per cent interest. These efforts will be twice blessed—blessing him that gives and him that takes. There is no escape through law of man or God from the inevitable:

The laws of changeless justice bind Oppressor with oppressed;

And close as sin and suffering joined We march to fate abreast...

Nearly sixteen millions of hands will aid you in pulling the load upward, or they will pull against you the load downward. We shall constitute one-third and more of the ignorance and crime of the South, or one-third [of] its intelligence and progress; we shall contribute one-third to the business and industrial prosperity of the South, or we shall prove a veritable body of death, stagnating, depressing, retarding every effort to advance the body politic.

Gentlemen of the Exposition, as we present to you our humble effort at an exhibition of our progress, you must not expect overmuch. Starting thirty years ago with ownership here and there in a few quilts and pumpkins and chickens (gathered from miscellaneous sources), remember the path that has led from these to the inventions and production of agricultural implements, buggies, steam-engines, newspapers, books, statuary, carving, paintings, the management of drug stores and banks, has not been trodden without contact with thorns and thistles. While we take pride in what we exhibit as a result of our independent efforts, we do not for a moment forget that our part in this exhibition would fall far short of your expectations but for the constant help that has come to our educational life, not only from the Southern states, but especially from Northern philanthropists, who have made their gifts a constant stream of blessing and encouragement.

The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing. No race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized. It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of these privileges. The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera-house.

In conclusion, may I repeat that nothing in thirty years has given us more hope and encouragement, and drawn us so near to you of the white race, as this opportunity offered by the Exposition; and here bending, as it were, over the altar that represents the results of the struggles of your race and mine, both starting practically empty-handed three decades ago, I pledge that in your effort to work out the great and intricate problem which God has laid at the doors of the South, you shall have at all times the patient, sympathetic help of my race; only let this he constantly in mind, that, while from representations in these buildings of the product of field, of forest, of mine, of factory, letters, and art, much good will come, yet far above and beyond material benefits will be that higher good, that, let us pray God, will come, in a blotting out of sectional differences and racial animosities and suspicions, in a determination to administer absolute justice, in a willing obedience among all classes to the mandates of law. This, coupled with our material prosperity, will bring into our beloved South a new heaven and a new earth.

Source: Louis R. Harlan, ed., The Booker T. Washington Papers, Vol. 3, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1974), 583–587.


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http://usslave.blogspot.com/2011/04/red-summer-of-1919.html

The Red Summer of 1919

Chicago Race Riot, 1919

The Red Summer refers to the summer and fall of 1919, in which race riots exploded in a number of cities in both the North and South. The three most violent episodes occurred in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Elaine, Arkansas. On the afternoon of July 27, 1919, a stone-throwing melee between blacks and whites began after a black youth mistakenly swam into territory claimed by whites off the 29th Street beach in Chicago. Amidst the mayhem, Eugene Williams, a black youth, drowned. When a white police officer refused to arrest the white men involved in the death, and instead arrested a black man, racial tensions escalated. Fighting broke out between gangs and mobs of both races. Violence escalated with each incident, and for 13 days Chicago was in a state of turmoil. By the time the riot ended, 23 blacks and 15 whites were dead, 537 injured, and 1,000 black families were left homeless.

Elaine, Arkansas Riot 1919

The Chicago riot was part of a national racial frenzy of clashes, massacres, and lynchings throughout the North and the South. All of the incidents were initiated by whites. In Washington, D.C., from July 19 to 23, four whites and two blacks were killed; whites were astonished that blacks dared to fight back. The NEW YORK TIMES lamented the new black militancy: "There had been no trouble with the Negro before the war when most admitted the superiority of the white race." A "Southern black woman," as she identified herself, wrote a letter to THE CRISIS, praising blacks for fighting back. "The Washington riot gave me a thrill that comes once in a life time ... at last our men had stood up like men. ... I stood up alone in my room ... and exclaimed aloud, 'Oh I thank God, thank God.' The pent up horror, grief and humiliation of a life time -- half a century -- was being stripped from me."

Omaha, Nebraska lynching and burning of William Brown, 1919

From October 1-3, a race war exploded in Phillips County, Arkansas. On the night of September 30, a small group of black men and women were gathering a rural church to organize a sharecroppers' and tenant farmers' union -- the Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America. When two white law-enforcement officers arrived at the church, one later claiming they were looking for a bootlegger, shots were exchanged. One white officer was killed and the other wounded. As word of the shootings spread throughout the county, the local sheriff sent out a call for men "to hunt Mr. Brotha Man in his lair."

Prisoners in Elaine, Arkansas 1919

The call went out to Mississippi to come to the aid of white men in Phillips County. Hundreds of armed men jumped into trains, trucks, and cars and, crossing into Arkansas, fired out of windows at every black they saw. Some said that if it was black and moving, it was target practice. Frank Moore, one of the farmers at the church, saw the massacre as it unfolded: "The whites sent word that they was comin down here and kill every Brotha Man they found. There were 300 or 400 more white men with guns, shooting and killing women and children."

White Press muckraking, yellow journalistic lies (like Fox News--oh yes, I went there what's the difference between this pack of bullspit lies and what Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin...I just don't see the difference, Rupert Murdock knows what he's doing. There is a long tradition of race baiting for political gains in this country.)

Soldiers from the United States Army eventually restored order, although some claimed the military participated in the killings. By the time the shooting ended, 25 blacks and five whites were listed as officially dead. Many blacks believed that perhaps as many as 200 were killed, their bodies dumped in the Mississippi River or left to rot in the canebrake. The white establishment charged that blacks had formed a secret conspiracy to rise up and overthrow the white planters, take their land and rape their women. No evidence was ever produced to substantiate the charge. (source:" The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow," by Richard Wormser, PBS)


1908: Springfield, Illinois
1917: East St. Louis, Illinois
1917: Chester, Pennsylvania
1917: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1917: Houston, Texas
1919: Washington, D.C.
1919: Chicago, Illinois
1919: Omaha, Nebraska
1919: Charleston, South Carolina
1919: Longview, Texas
1919: Knoxville, Tennessee
1919: Elaine, Arkansas
1921: Tulsa, Oklahoma
1923: Rosewood, Flordia

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Cheika Anta Diop

*Clarke starts at 27:10
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Edward Wilmont Blyden

Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832-1912) was a Liberian educator and statesman. More than any other figure, he laid the foundation of West African nationalism and of pan-Africanism.

Edward Blyden was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, on Aug. 3, 1832, of free, literate parents. A precocious youth, he early decided to become a clergyman. He went to the United States in May 1850 and sought to enter a theological college but was turned down because of his race. In January 1851 he emigrated to Liberia, an African American colony which had become independent as a republic in 1847.

He continued his formal education at Alexander High School, Monrovia, whose principal he was appointed in 1858. In 1862 he was appointed professor of classics at the newly opened Liberia College, a position he held until 1871. Although Blyden was self-taught beyond high school, he became an able and versatile linguist, classicist, theologian, historian, and sociologist. From 1864 to 1866, in addition to his professorial duties, Blyden acted as secretary of state of Liberia.

From 1871 to 1873 Blyden lived in Freetown, Sierra Leone. There he edited Negro, the first explicitly pan-African journal in West Africa. He also led two important expeditions to Fouta Djallon in the interior. Between 1874 and 1885 Blyden was again based in Liberia, holding various high academic and governmental offices. In 1885 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Liberian presidency.

After 1885 Blyden divided his time between Liberia and the British colonies of Sierra Leone and Lagos. He served Liberia again in the capacities of ambassador to Britain and France and as a professor and later president of Liberia College. In 1891 and 1894 he spent several months in Lagos and worked there in 1896-1897 as government agent for native affairs.

While in Lagos he wrote regularly for the Lagos Weekly Record, one of the earliest propagators of Nigerian and West African nationalism. In Freetown, Blyden helped to edit the Sierra Leone News, which he had assisted in founding in 1884 “to serve the interest of West Africa … and the race generally.” He also had helped found and edit the Freetown West African Reporter (1874-1882), whose declared aim was to forge a bond of unity among English-speaking West Africans. Between 1901 and 1906 Blyden was director of Moslem education; he taught English and “Western subjects” to Moslem youths with the object of building a bridge of communication between the Moslem and Christian communities. He died in Freetown on Feb. 7, 1912.
Writings, Ideas, and Hopes
Although Blyden held many important positions, it is more as a man of ideas than as a man of action that he is historically significant. He saw himself as a champion and defender of his race and in this role produced more than two dozen pamphlets and books, the most important of which are A Voice from Bleeding Africa (1856); Liberia’s Offering (1862); The Negro in Ancient History (1869); The West African University (1872); From West Africa to Palestine (1873); Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race (1887), his major work; The Jewish Question (1898); West Africa before Europe (1905); and Africa Life and Customs (1908). His writings displayed conversancy with the main current of ideas as well as originality, and he was often controversial.

Blyden sought to prove that Africa and Africans have a worthy history and culture. He rejected the prevailing notion of the inferiority of the black man but accepted the view that each major race has a special contribution to make to world civilization. He argued that Christianity has had a demoralizing effect on blacks, while Islam has had a unifying and elevating influence.

Blyden’s political goals were the establishment of a major modern West African state which would protect and promote the interests of peoples of African descent everywhere. He initially saw Liberia as the nucleus of such a state and sought to extend its influence and jurisdiction by encouraging selective “repatriation” from the Americas. He hoped, also in vain, that Liberia and adjacent Sierra Leone would unite as one nation. He was ambivalent about the establishment of European colonial rule; he thought that it would eventually result in modern independent nations in tropical Africa but was concerned about its damaging psychological impact. As a cultural nationalist, he pointed out that modernization was not incompatible with respect for African customs and institutions. He favored African names and dress and championed the establishment of educational and cultural institutions specifically designed to meet African needs and circumstances.
Sources
A full-length biography of Blyden is Hollis R. Lynch, Edward Wilmot Blyden: Pan-Negro Patriot, 1832-1912 (1967). Edith Holden, Blyden of Liberia: An Account of the Life and Labors of Edward Wilmot Blyden (1966), is an important source containing biographical details and excerpts from Blyden’s letters and published writings. See also Hollis R. Lynch, ed., Black Spokesman: Selected Published Writings of Edward Wilmot Blyden (1971), the only representative anthology of his writings.

From Siahyonkron Nyanseor’s Archive

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The Aims and Methods of a Liberal Education for Africans
Inaugural Address Delivered by Edward Wilmot Blyden LL.D., President President of Liberia College
1881
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The Life and Legacy of Chiekh Anta Diop



cadiop

Cheikh Anta Diop (Born 29 December 1923 – Died 7 February 1986)

Cheikh Anta Diop, the brilliant Black anthropologist, historian, and physicist was one of the most prominent and proficient Black scholars in the history of African civilization. His discoveries and deductions have shown the world the true accomplishments of African history, effectively put an end to the debate over who the original people of Egypt were, and pioneered techniques of scientific research – such as carbon dating as a means of dating artifacts and remains.

To those who would believe that people of African descent have accomplished nothing, and to those who would believe that Blacks are incapable of higher thought and science, Cheikh Anta Diop stands as a shining example.

Early Education

diop2

Cheikh Anta Diop was educated early in life. As part of an aristocratic Muslim family, Cheikh was privileged to have studied at a traditional Islamic school before graduating and achieving a Bachelors degree at age 23. The year was 1946. Following his Undergraduate achievement, he moved to Paris where he would stay for 15 years to study Physics (translating Einstein’s Theory of Relativity into the Senegalese language of Wolof), history, and Egyptology. It was here that Cheikh Anta Diop would become a Pan-Africanist. In 1948, his studies led him to explore the accomplishments of African cultures. He would write, “Quand pourra-t-on parler d’une renaissance africaine” (When we will be able to speak of an African Renaissance). For the next three years, he immersed himself in the study of anthropology, sociology, and Pan-Africanist thought and philosophy with an eye towards identifying the contributions that Africans made to the world as we know it. His studies led him to three primary revelations:

  • That Ancient Egypt was founded, populated, and ruled by Black Africans
  • That the Egyptian language and culture still exists in modern African languages – including his own Wolof language – and
  • That Black Egypt was responsible for the rise of civilization throughout Africa and the Mediterranean (including Greece and Rome)

These findings were published in what could be considered Cheikh Anta Diop’s first book – Negro Nations and Culture. Immediately, he became one of the most controversial scientists in the world during a time when civil rights and African independence were focal points on the world stage. It was assumed that Blacks had never produced anything of cultural value, and were incapable of constructing such majestic works of engineering as the Great Pyramids. Diop’s work effectively and irrefutably destroyed the assumptions of Black cultural inferiority. Negro Nations and Cultures – despite the controversy it caused – earned Dr. Diop a Ph. D. At the University of Paris in 1960.

From Scholar to Activist

Dr. Chiekh Anta Diop leads a political rally

Dr. Chiekh Anta Diop leading a political rally

Dr. Diop’s studies solidified his political philosophy as well as his academic credentials: he was a full-blown Pan-Africanist. In 1950, shortly before publishing Negro Nations and Culture, Cheikh Anta Diop was elected as the Secretary-General of the African student nationalist organization Rassemblement Democratique Africaine (RDA). The organization made its first priority the restoration of Black consciousness, which had been (and still is) warped by slavery and colonialism. Immediately after his election as Secretary-General, he organized and successfully hosted the first Pan-African student conference for the purpose of promoting African national independence from colonial rule. At this conference, Diop would reveal his plan for the restoration of Black Consciousness through a focus on Ancient Egypt. By acknowledging the civilizing role of Ancient Egypt and adopting its political structure (in the form of a federated state), Africa would be best positioned to deal with the challenges that it faced at the time. These early ideas would lead to his second major work in 1962: Black Africa: The Economic and Cultural Basis for a Federated State. In it , he wrote “ the formation of a federated and unified Africa, culturally and otherwise,is the only way for Africa to become the power in the world that she should rightfully be.”

Black Africa: The Economic and Cultural Basis for a Federated State served as a manifesto for his political party – the Mass Senegalese Bloc (BMS). Armed with a faith in Pan-African principles, and Dr. Diop’s manifesto, the BMS won the hearts and minds of so many Senegalese that they became a clear threat to then President Leopold Senghor. Diop was arrested and tortured to the point of death, and his political party was banned in Senegal. All his work was nearly lost, and would have been forgotten had it not been for other loyal BMS fighters. Diop supporters unleashed a barrage of anti-Senghor campaign messages, threats, and stand-ins. Ultimately, President Senghor folded, and offered to not only release Diop, but to offer him a position in a new government. Diop refused when Senghor refused to release all other political prisoners, and disappeared from politics until 1975.

Rather than remaining idle, Dr. Diop continued his research. He became a pioneer of the scientific method of radiocarbon dating, and established the Institut Fondamental de L’Afrique Noir, which was renamed Cheikh Anta Diop University in his honor after his death on February 7, 1986. His techniques provided scientific means of identifying the racial identity of mummies (providing proof of the race of the Ancient Egyptians), as well as dating artifacts and remains.

It is thanks to The African Origins of Civilization, Diop’s first English translated book, that we in America and other English speakers the world over have become aware of Chiekh Anta Diop’s contributions to Afrocentric thought and science. The 1974 book openly challenged European archaeologists who then continued to understate the extent and possibility of Black civilizations, and gave further proof of the African influence over so-called western civilization.

The Legacy of Chiekh Anta Diop

Bibliothéque_université_cheikh_anta_diop_de_dakar_2

Chiekh Anta Diop University, Dakar Senegal

In 1975 Chiekh Anta Diop died in his sleep of natural causes, and passed into eternity. His works continue to be studied, debated, and built upon, both at the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal, and in Black circles around the world. He is a pharaoh of Black scholarship, and his name should be enshrined with the likes of Imhotep, Ahmed Baba , and George Washington Carver. Activists including Malcolm X, Kwame Nkrumah, Huey P. Newton, and Louis Farrakhan have all directly attributed their evolution as Pan-Africanists to the works of Cheikh Anta Diop.

His university bears the motto “Lux Mea lex”, which is Latin for “Light is my law”. For more than 50 years the University has remained a premier institution of higher education and is currently one of the most successful in Africa. In December of 201, the institute will hold an international symposium titled “Population, Development and Climate Change”.

Cheikh Anta Diop will live forever!

http://cheikhantadiop.com/cheik-anta-diop-biography/cheikh-anta-diop-biography-2.html



Edited by tatee - Oct 12 2012 at 12:48pm
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_shrinkage

Planned shrinkage

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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In urban planning, planned shrinkage, sometimes called shrink to survive,[1] is a controversial public policy of the deliberate withdrawal of city services to blighted neighborhoods as a means of coping with dwindling tax revenues.[2] It involves decreasing city services such as police patrols, garbage removal, street repairs, and fire protection, from selected city neighborhoods suffering from urban decay, crime, and poverty. While it has been advocated as a way to concentrate city services for maximum effectiveness given serious budgetary constraints, it has been criticized as an attempt to "encourage the exodus of undesirable populations"[2] as well as to open up blighted neighborhoods for development by private interests. Planned shrinkage was mentioned as a development strategy for the South Bronx section of New York City in the 1970s, and more recently for other urban areas in the United States cities of New Orleans,[3][4] and several cities in Michigan such as Flint[5][6] and Benton Harbor.[7] The term was first used in New York City in 1976 by Housing Commissioner Roger Starr.[8][9] There are conflicting views about whether planned shrinkage is beneficial; one view is that it is the only way for some cities to cope with inevitable decline, but an opposing view is that such efforts have had disastrous consequences, particularly for the people who feel forced to relocate.[10]


Background

During the twentieth century, a boom in suburban growth caused in part by increased automobile use led to urban decline, particularly in the poorer sections of many large cities in the United States and elsewhere. A dwindling tax base depleted many municipal resources. A common view was that it was part of a "downward spiral" caused first by an absence of jobs, the creation of a permanent underclass, a declining tax base hurting many city services including schools, and it was this interplay of factors which made change difficult.[7] New York City was described as "so broke" by the 1970s with neighborhoods which had become "so desperate and depleted" that municipal authorities wondered how to cope.[11] Some authorities felt the process of decline was inevitable, and instead of trying to fight it, searched for alternatives. According to one view, authorities searched for ways to have the greatest population loss in the areas with the poorest non-white populations.[9][12]

The RAND report

Burned out building in the South Bronx.

In the early 1970s, a RAND study examining the relation between city services and large city populations concluded that when services such as police and fire protection were withdrawn, the numbers of people in the neglected areas would decrease.[12] There had been questions about many fires that had been happening in the South Bronx during the 1970s. One account (including the RAND report) suggested that neighborhood fires were predominantly caused by arson, while a contrasting report suggested that arson was not a major cause.[13] If arson had been a primary cause according to the RAND viewpoint, then it did not make sense financially for the city to try to invest further funds to improve fire protection, according to this view. The RAND report allegedly influenced then Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who used the report's findings to make recommendations for urban policy.[12] In Moynihan's view, arson was one of many social pathologies caused by large cities, and suggested that a policy of benign neglect would be appropriate as a response.[12]

Shrinkage in particular cities

New York City

Partly in response to the RAND report, and in an effort to address New York's declining population, New York's housing commissioner, Roger Starr, proposed a policy which he termed planned shrinkage to reduce the impoverished population and better preserve the tax base.[14] According to the "politically toxic"[14] proposal, the city would stop investing in troubled neighborhoods and divert funds to communities "that could still be saved."[14] He suggested that the city should "accelerate the drainage" in what he called the worst parts of the South Bronx through a policy of "planned shrinkage" by closing subway stations, firehouses and schools. Starr felt these actions were the best way to save money.[15] Starr's arguments soon became predominant in urban planning thinking nationwide.[9] The people who lived in the communities where his policies were applied protested vigorously; without adequate fire service and police protection, the residents faced waves of crime and fires that left much of the South Bronx and Harlem devastated.[12] A report in 2011 in the New York Times suggested that the planned shrinkage approach was "short-lived".[16] Under the Planned shrinkage program, for example, an abandoned 100-unit development on one piece of land could be cleared by a real estate developer, and such an outcome would have been preferable to ten separate neighborhood-based efforts to produce 100 housing units each, according to advocates of planned shrinkage.[9] According to this view, a planned shrinkage approach would encourage so-called "monolithic development", resulting in new urban growth but at much lower population densities than the neighborhoods which had existed previously.[9] The remark by Starr caused a political firestorm: then mayor Abraham Beame disavowed the idea while City Council members called it "inhuman," "racist" and "genocidal."[8]

According to one report, the high inflation during the 1970s combined with the restrictive rent control policies in the city meant that buildings were worth more dead for the insurance money than alive as sources of rental income; as investments, they had limited ability to provide a solid stream of rental income. Accordingly, there was an economic incentive on the part of building owners, according to this view, to simply let the buildings burn. An alternative view was that the fires were a result of the city's municipal policies. While there are differing views about whether planned shrinkage caused fire outbreaks in the 1970s, or was a result of such fires, there is agreement that the fires in the South Bronx during these years were extensive.

In the South Bronx, the average number of people per [fire] engine is over 44,000. In Staten Island, it's 17,000. There is no standard for manning areas of multiple dwellings as opposed to one- and two- family residences.
—A New York City battalion chief from the New York City Fire Department interviewed in the BBC-TV special "The Bronx is Burning," in 1976.[12]
H.U.D. Secretary Patricia Harris, Jimmy Carter and New York Mayor Abraham Beame tour the South Bronx in 1977.

By the mid-1970s, The Bronx had 120,000 fires per year, for an average of 30 fires every 2 hours. 40 percent of the housing in the area was destroyed. The response time for fires also increased, as the firefighters did not have the resources to keep responding promptly to numerous service calls. A report in The New York Post suggested that the cause of the fires was not arson but resulted from decisions by bureaucrats to abandon sections of the city.[13] According to one report, of the 289 census tracts within the borough of the Bronx, seven census tracts lost more than 97% of their buildings, and 44 tracts lost more than 50% of their buildings, to fire and abandonment.[13]

There have been claims that planned shrinkage impacted public health negatively. According to one source, public shrinkage programs targeted to undermine populations of African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans in the South Bronx and Harlem had an effect on the geographic pattern of the AIDS outbreak. According to this view, municipal abandonment was interrelated with health issues and helped to cause a phenomenon termed "urban desertification".[17]

The Grand Concourse in the Bronx near 165th street in 2008.

The populations in the South Bronx, Lower East Side, and Harlem plummeted during the two decades after 1970. Only after two decades did the city begin to invest in these areas again. New developments were built; in 2011, these areas are again experiencing a rebirth.

New Orleans

New Orleans differed from other cities in that the cause of decline was not based on economic or political shifts but rather a destructive flood caused by a hurricane. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, planned shrinkage was proposed as a means to create a "more compact, more efficient and less flood-prone city".[4] According to one report, planners had been sticking "green pins" into a city map to target blighted areas which would be turned into parks or greenspace.[3] However, residents of New Orleans who examined what had happened in the South Bronx became more involved in a civic sense, and rejected a "top-down" approach of planned shrinkage of municipal planners, according to one view.[3]

Cities in Michigan

The city of Flint has lost many residents since the downturn in the automobile industry in the last decade.

The term has also been used in the 2010s in relation to the proposed reconfiguration of inner Detroit suburbs following its population decline and resulting urban decay.[5] One report suggested there were efforts to consider bulldozing swaths of the city of Flint and "razing entire districts and returning the land to nature" in an effort called "shrink to survive".[1] One estimate was that the city should contract by 40% to once again become viable financially.


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