Chapter Seven
THE POLITICS OF RACE

The plight of the American city became a test of its political spirit in the autumn of 1969. Mayoralty elections in New York City and in Cleveland, Ohio, two polyglot symbols of the old American dream and two urgent examples of the new urban crisis, engaged most of our ideals of democracy at the polls. The tale of these two cities hovered between the spring of hope and the winter of despair. Would the outcome validate fears that it was, indeed, the worst of times? Or was there hope, if not for the best, for better times?

The issue, simply put, involved the relative balance between voters who would use their franchise to express an emotional response to the problems of race and poverty and the countervailing ability of the disadvantaged poor to advance their interests within the electoral system -- backlash vs. frontlash. White vs. Black; voters prepared by education and middle-class values to organize an impact on the election returns against the uneducated, disorganized, even apathetic poor.

The social and economic parallels between the situations in New York City and Cleveland were the common denominators of urban social change a postwar influx of Black and Puerto Rican minorities to a central city blighted by the shift of jobs and White population to the suburbs. Both cities struggled with

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