"They Aren't Going to Listen to Anything but Violence": African Americans and the 1967 Buffalo Riot

By Alfonso, Rowena I. | Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, January 2014 | Go to article overview

"They Aren't Going to Listen to Anything but Violence": African Americans and the 1967 Buffalo Riot


Alfonso, Rowena I., Afro-Americans in New York Life and History


On Monday, 26 June 1967, a riot broke out in the city of Buffalo, New York, when two white police officers intervened in an altercation between two male African American teenagers. The riot erupted when a crowd of approximately two hundred African Americans, many of whom were residents of the Lakeview Projects, a public housing facility, responded to the perception that the police used excessive force in attempting to subdue the two youths. The rioting continued intermittently until Saturday, I July 1967. (2) On the first night of the riot, reports estimated that the crowd swelled from about 200 to 350 people. By the second night of the riot, approximately 1500 African Americans were involved, throwing stones and bricks at police officers who attempted to subdue the crowds with teargas. (3) The five-night riot resulted in about sixty injuries, over 180 arrests, and approximately $250,000 worth of property damage done to stores and homes. (4)

The Buffalo riot was part of a wave of riots that swept across urban areas of the North in the late 1960s. In spite of the gains made by the Civil Rights movement in the South, the quality of life for African Americans in Northern cities in the 1960s was deteriorating. The Second World War stimulated population growth among African Americans in the North. According to historian Henry Taylor, Buffalo's black population increased exponentially from 1950 to 1970 as African Americans migrated from the South to industrial jobs in the North. As Taylor explains, the growth of Buffalo's African American population then led to the phenomenon of white flight, which also occurred in other Northern cities at the time:

  As thousands of African Americans moved into Buffalo City, even
  greater numbers of whites fled to the emerging suburban hinterland.
  Driven by postwar prosperity, low-interest loan rates (through the
  Federal Housing Authority and the Veterans Housing Administration),
  and radical changes in the home mortgage system, home ownership rose
  and fueled suburban development. Between 1950 and 1970 the Buffalo
  population declined by 117,000 people, a loss of 20 percent. ...
  Most people fleeing the city were white. (5)

White flight resulted in de facto housing segregation, wherein the majority of those living in the East Side of Buffalo were African Americans. At the time of the riot, approximately 100,000 African Americans resided in Buffalo. (6) They constituted 21 per cent of the total population of the city. (7) Most of them lived either within the area affected by the riot or nearby. According to a newspaper article, "the area in which the rioting broke out is bounded [on] the north by Genessee Street, on the west by Jefferson Street, on the south by Broadway and on the east by Fillmore Street." (8) The riot-affected area was referred to by the press as "the Negro ghetto," (9) suggesting that residential segregation was a well-known fact in Buffalo.

In order to comprehend the riot, it is necessary to consider the social conditions that produced it. Historian Kenneth Kusmer asserts that the Northern riots of the 1960s resulted from a combination of racism and deindustrialization. He maintains that "the rapidly growing African American communities of northern cities had largely been excluded from the fruits of urban renewal, suburbanization, and 'growth politics' promoted by white political and business leaders after World War Il ... the riots of the 1960s were one result of this increasing, and unacknowledged, inequality--a trend that coincided with the crisis of the declining industrial city." (10) Deindustrialization led to unemployment, particularly among young African American men, who were the first to be laid off as companies closed down their factories. De facto segregation in housing kept African Americans trapped in the deplorable conditions of Rust Belt cities with dwindling resources, such as Buffalo. In his study of the decline of the city of Detroit, historian Thomas Sugrue argues:

  The combination of discrimination and deindustrialization weighed
  most heavily on the job opportunities of young African American men. … 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

"They Aren't Going to Listen to Anything but Violence": African Americans and the 1967 Buffalo Riot
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.