Racial Violence in the United States

By Allen D. Grimshaw | Go to book overview

8
MASSIVE ASSAULT UPON THE ACCOMMODATIVE STRUCTURE AND THE VIOLENCE OF THE SIXTIES 1955-1969

As Negro disillusionment with the outcome of the Supreme Court school desegregation decision grew in the latter half of the Fifties, black people began to turn to more direct confrontations with the accommodative structure. Sit-ins, boycotts, and marches began to emerge as modes of direct protest action. Some changes resulted, most notably in access to public facilities, but also in some extension of the franchise. This protest activity, much of which took place in the South, was accompanied by violence of varying degrees -- civil rights workers were slain, sit-in demonstrators were hosed down or attacked by police dogs. Some of this violence is described in the first selection in this chapter which deals with "routine" violence in the South.

During the current decade there have been a number of changes; the most important of these has been the occurrence of very large-scale riotous disorders. These were preceded by a shift of earlier direct confrontation tactics to Northern cities, particularly in attempts by blacks to gain some control over schools and over policing in black neighborhoods. No one yet knows whether the pattern of urban rioting that began in 1964 resulted from heightened frustration over the too modest successes with direct confrontation techniques or whether there were indeed tactical decisions made by black leaders; if the latter was the case, there clearly was dissension among these leaders themselves. Some of this discussion of causation is included in later chapters. In this chapter I have included the sections from the report of the National Advisory Commission that treat descriptively the Newark and Detroit disturbances. The final two selections, which anticipate some later theoretical issues, were written by Tomlinson and by Murphy and Watson as parts of a large, integrated research investigation into the events, causes, and consequences of the Watts riots.

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