Knocking at Our Own Door: Milton A. Galamison and the Struggle to Integrate New York City Schools


The struggle for school integration in New York City, home to the nation's largest public school system, was one of the most wrenching episodes in the story of America's civil rights movement. Following a disastrous struggle in 1964 between a new community school board in Brooklyn and the largely white teachers' union, close to half a million children boycotted school to protest the lack of a firm policy on integration. What caused one of America's most promising civil-rights coalitions to implode on the eve of change?

Clarence Taylor confronts this troubled history, focusing on the city's preeminent integrationist figure, the Presbyterian pastor Milton Galamison. In Knocking at Our Own Door, Taylor presents a detailed account of this controversial but little-studied figure, whose militant approach to the struggle deeply divided the city, winning support in some circles and bitter criticism from others -- not only from anti-civil rights forces, but also from some of the more moderate factions of his own movement. Taylor shows how Galamison became a prominent activist through his Parents' Workshop for Equality, seeking to eliminate the barriers that burdened minority children in New York.

The book explores Galamison's early years and the political and social context of his radical thinking on desegregation and community control of schools. Taylor chronicles Galamison's emergence as a radical pastor, and the grassroots coalition of parents, teachers, ministers, civil rights activists, and community organizations he helped build. Disentangling the complex issues of race and class, local power and centralized politics, and the collapse of Jewish-Black relations sparked by allegations ofBlack anti-Semitism, Knocking at Our Own Door is a searching exploration of why New York's integrationist campaign disintegrated.

One of the few in-depth studies of the politics of urban integration, Knocking at Our Own D

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