Desegregating the Jim Crow North: Racial Discrimination in the Postwar Bronx and the Fight to Integrate the Castle Hill Beach Club (1953-1973).

Desegregating the Jim Crow North: Racial Discrimination in the Postwar Bronx and the Fight to Integrate the Castle Hill Beach Club (1953-1973). Summary

On a brisk, bright afternoon in late March 1953, Anita Brown, a thirty-one year old housewife, left her apartment in the Bronx River Houses, boarded a city bus and traveled three miles southeast to the Castle Hill Beach Club (CHBC). She went to apply for a seasonal membership pass, which would have given her access to the club's pools, locker areas, picnic spaces, eateries and athletic fields. If the CHBC approved Mrs. Brown's application, she would have been the first black person admitted since the club opened its doors to the public in 1928. (2) Anita Brown had acted boldly that morning. An African American attempting to integrate a predominantly white social club in the New York City in 1953 was not commonplace. Twentieth century New York is not often thought of as a city defined by its racial tensions or patterns of racial segregation. (3) Still, New York's social development throughout the first half of the twentieth century is emblematic of the forms of racial animosities in America's northern cities that created segregated housing patterns, influenced discriminatory hiring practices and blanketed many everyday interracial interactions with discomfort and sometimes downright hostility, as occurred during Harlem's riots in 1935 and 1943. (4)



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