HICKEY & ROBERTSON rent an apartment, and live together in a stable economic situation, families will not be formed. Or, young women will set up their own households, raise their children, and, often but not always, come to depend on welfare benefits. That this obvious explanation for black family problems has been ignored by white analysts and white politicians inside and outside Texas underscores the dominance of the narrowminded and intentionally mystifying neoconservative perspective on black Americans. Bullard begins Invisible Houston with a discussion of the early days of Houston’s black community. From its beginning Houston’s prosperity has been linked to the in-migration of workers; among the first were large numbers of African and AfroAmerican _slaves, who were of course involuntary migrants to the region. In the first decades Houston grew as a marketing center which supplied and supported slave plantation agriculture in east and southeast Texas. Slave labor created much of the initial wealth appropriated by Houston’s dominant white families. After the Civil War, a large number of freed slaves moved to the city, where they founded Freedmen’s Town in the Fourth Ward just east of downtown. Black Houstonians have family trees extending back before 1800, which factually put them in good stead for applying for membership in such lineage-oriented organizations as the Daughters of the Confederacy and the Daughters of the American Revolution. While Bullard’s coverage of the current housing problems is good, he misses the opportunity to set housing and other discrimination against the deep historical background. The extent of racial segregation in Houston, as in much of the South, actually increased between the late 19th century to the late 1920s. For example, just before World War I the local train station segregated its waiting rooms, and city hall segregated drinking fountains. In 1928 the Democratic National Convention in Houston, which nominated Catholic New Yorker Al Smith for President, segregated black spectators behind chicken wire. A 1920s plan presented by William C. Hogg called on the city government to expand the park system and even to adopt zoning ordinances. Yet segregation of the races in Houston was explicitly recognized by the Hogg report, with three areas of black concentration being noted. The earlier residential scattering of blacks and whites was officially recognized as a problem \(for the scattering be replaced by thoroughgoing housing segregation and that certain ghetto areas should be set aside for black Houstonians. In addition, it is noteworthy that Houston was the first Texas city to have an organized chapter of the Ku Klux Klan during this period of the 1920s. Residential segregation was enforced by Deluxe Theater In Houston’s Fifth Ward legal or official means from the 1920s to the 1960s. Until overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court, private deed restrictions were used to keep areas segregated. Houston’s civic clubs in white residential communities were not initially intended to exclude black residents, but the overturning of the deed restrictions and other segregation laws and the wave of suburbanization in the 1950s was accompanied by increasing white concern with racial integration. Then the residential civic clubs became a mechanism of exclusion. For example, the Greater Riverside Property Owners Association was organized on the east side to protect an older white area from black in-migration. In 1953 the first black family to move into the area was bombed. In contrast with William Wilson’s book, Bullard’s analysis is superior in the attention given to residential segregation and housing discrimination in the plight of black ghettos. Bullard provides convincing evidence of persisting housing discrimination, which remains at a high level in the 1980s. Houston’s weak fair housing ordinance does not provide the city’s Fair Housing Division with enforcement powers; in the mid-1980s this underfunded agency had only three employees and was sometimes difficult to contact by telephone. Between 1975 and 1983 the agency received more than 1,700 complaints of housing discrimination. While blatant housing discrimination has decreased significantly few signs now say “blacks need not apply” much informal and covert discrimination remains: “Black families that relocate outside minority areas often find insensitive and bigoted apartment managers who have ‘hidden’ rental policies for minority households more rigorous credit checks, unusually large security and rent deposits, or ‘ghettoization’ \(the steering of minority tenants to specific units within A major part of Bullard’s research on THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17
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