By Christopher Bonastia
Knocking at the Door is the 1st book-length paintings to investigate federal involvement in residential segregation from Reconstruction to the current. supplying a very specified research of the interval 1968 to 1973, the publication examines how the U.S. division of Housing and concrete improvement (HUD) tried to forge easy adjustments in segregated residential styles via commencing up the suburbs to teams traditionally excluded for racial or fiscal purposes. The door didn't close thoroughly in this danger till President Richard Nixon took the drastic step of freezing all federal housing cash in January 1973. Knocking at the Door assesses this near-miss in political historical past, exploring how HUD got here unusually just about enforcing rigorous antidiscrimination regulations, and why the agency's efforts have been derailed by means of Nixon. Christopher Bonastia exhibits how the Nixon years have been ripe for federal motion to foster residential desegregation. The interval was once marked by way of new legislative protections opposed to housing discrimination, unparalleled federal involvement in housing development, and common judicial backing for the activities of civil rights businesses. via evaluating housing desegregation rules to civil rights enforcement in employment and schooling, Bonastia deals an unmatched account of why civil rights rules diverge so sharply of their ambition and effectiveness.
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Extra info for Knocking on the Door: The Federal Government's Attempt to Desegregate the Suburbs
The PCGC began to view integration as the “affirmative duty to make specific commitments. ”11 Despite the bold new rhetoric, the panel still had minimal leverage in its negotiations with employers. In addition, the PCGC’s efforts were complicated by the fact that states with fair employment practices laws made racial data collection illegal. John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency as civil rights protests were beginning to spread throughout the South. 12 Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kennedy’s support for civil rights became more muted after his inauguration.
An advantaged institutional home also decreases the chances of presidential sanctions. This has to do with presidential concerns about legitimacy. 41 Of course, a president may want a highly publicized dispute with agency heads to dramatize his position. In most cases—and certainly with Nixon—the president interested in civil rights retrenchment will attempt to portray himself as committed to civil rights goals, while opposing bureaucratic overreaching. 42 Policy feedback approaches do not capture this diffusion of delegitimation, which may pose a danger equal to or greater than the constraining effects of prior policies.
To one extent or another, HUD tried several approaches to encourage residential desegregation. These included the following: (1) site selection of public or subsidized housing in predominantly white or racially mixed neighborhoods; (2) requiring housing builders receiving government funds to foster integration in their advertising strategies and tenant selection; (3) requiring real-estate brokers to inform clients of all residential options, rather than showing families homes in different neighborhoods according to their race (as was customary); and (4) withholding government funds from localities or other entities whose actions (or inaction) promoted segregation.
Knocking on the Door: The Federal Government's Attempt to Desegregate the Suburbs by Christopher Bonastia