Integration ended my neighborhood’s block party.

Shoshana2Shoshana Hoose
Portland, OR

I grew up in an all-white neighborhood in Newington, Ct. My mother’s best friend, a Quaker, and her husband sold their home to an African-American family in 1966 as part of an organized effort to integrate the Hartford suburbs. My Dad, a lawyer and state legislator, handled the legal work. When neighbors learned what had happened, all hell broke loose. Word spread that the block party would be a welcome to the new family. People who I had known all my life sat on their porches as we walked up the street to the party, refusing to participate. At age 12, I was aware of the civil rights movement in the South, but that was my first vivid experience with racial prejudice up close and personal. My father’s involvement in the integration of the neighborhood became an issue in his reelection campaign that fall and he lost. I have since learned about the integration campaign- how white straw buyers would visit houses that would not be shown to African-Americans- and I have tremendous respect for all of those involved, white and black.

 

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