The Wartime Boom help shaped the history and growth in Oakland and the American history for that matter. This economic boom brought World War II the much-needed relief from the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Wartime Boom had a great impact the city of Oakland in particular: Oakland’s productive port, the largest seaport in Northern California, and its strategic location at the terminal of major rail lines, made the city an important center of goods production.
The wartime industrial growth led to a surge in the population: there were almost 100,000 new Oakland residents between 1940-1945, and the 1945 special census revealed the population of Oakland at an all-time high of 405,301 residents. Most of the new residents came from out of state, like rural areas, a lot of residents was black and white from the southwestern states. The government created prime and subcontracts that were made just for shipbuilding that exceeded $7. 8 million in Oakland. That led to thousands of civilians to obtain employment on the different military bases in the city.
Because of the employment boom, the unemployment rate decreases to about 2% in 1944. Another changed that occurred because of the wartime boom was women employment. Women employment increased to 35% in Oakland from 27% during this time, they gained employment in the fields of manufacturing was a great increase, while over 7,000 was employed in shipyards alone in 1943. Another great impact because of the boom was housing issues. Many migrated to Oakland for these jobs were “one-way” residence; they were making this move permanently and coming with families as well.
The Oakland area didn’t have enough housing to house this new migrating flow of residents. Wartime growth not only increased the size of the population, it increased Oakland’s diversity as well. Before the War, 3% of Oakland residents were black. But with a massive migration of both black and white shipyard workers from the Deep South, Oakland’s African-American population grew to 12% of the city’s total. Bureaucratic response to this population boom would shape the racial geography of Oakland for the years to come.
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) intervened in Oakland to provide housing for the influx of migrant war-industry workers. This was no small-scale intervention: during this time the federal government created over 30,000 public housing units in the East Bay, housing 90,000 war workers and their family members. Important precedents were made in housing stock patterns and in racial segregation of housing units. The FHA promoted construction of all-white suburban developments and were not afraid to use racial covenants to carefully control the racial composition in the new developments.
This left the numerous new black families of Oakland with few options. Overcrowding in West Oakland, the traditional black hub of the city, became a problem: an instance of overcrowding doubled in West Oakland between 1940 and 1950. Racial homogeneity increased in West Oakland as well. The Black Power Movement not lead to fundamental change in segregated housing and labor markets, or challenges the discrimination of white civil society. Frustrations such as this provided some of the fuel for the Black Power movement.
Oakland was at the vanguard of this trend: The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, both students at Oakland City College, and the first BPP office was opened January 1st of the next year. The Panthers quickly gained thousands of party members nationwide with their forceful rejection of segregated civil society. The Panthers were also heavily invested in combating police brutality, of which there was no shortage in Oakland. Of 661 Oakland police officers in 1966, only 16 were black.
Armed with that definition [that the Black Panther Party was a group of communist outlaws bent on overthrowing the U. S. government] and all the machinery of the federal government, J. Edgar Hoover directed the FBI to wage a campaign to eliminate the Black Panther Party altogether, commanding the assistance of local police departments to do so. Indeed, as Hoover stated in 1968 that the Party represented “the greatest threat to the internal security of the U. S. ,” he pledged that 1969 would be the last year of the Party’s existence.
Indeed, in January of 1969, two Party leaders of the Southern California Chapter, John Huggins and Al prentice “Bunchy” Carter, were murdered at UCLA by FBI paid assassins, with the cooperation of black nationalist Ron Karenga and his US Organization. By the end of that year, nearly every office and other facility of the Black Panther Party had been violently assaulted by police and/or the FBI, culminating in December, in an FBI-orchestrated five-hour police assault on the office in Los Angeles and FBI directed Illinois state police assassination of Chicago Party leader Fred Hampton and member, Mark Clark.
The original vision of the Black Panther Party was to serve the needs of the oppressed people in our communities and defend them against their oppressors. When the Party was initiated we knew that these goals would raise the consciousness of the people and motivate them to move more firmly for their total liberation. We also recognized that we live in a country led by what has become one of the most repressive governments in the world; repressive in communities all over the world.
We did not expect such a repressive government to stand idly by while the Black Panther Party went forward to the goal of serving the people. 4. In Charlotte, there was a federal government policy, urban renewal. The government intended for urban renewal to replace the slum housing and neighborhoods with good housing and neighborhoods. What it actually did was destroy and replace Charlotte’s largest Black neighborhood that was called Brooklyn (Second Ward). The government policy was to help cities like Charlotte slumming housing in the undesirable neighborhood at the time better housing.
The policy would buy up all the slum housing, which would essentially buy up those neighborhoods as well, then go head and resell them at lower prices to private developers that would ultimately build better and affordable housing as the replacement. Other consequences that became of the residents of the slums were health problems due to the poor housing conditions. Poor ventilation, lack of heat, the sanitation facilities and the close proximity to the other neighborhoods in the community exacerbated the problems.
There was teen delinquency, vandalism, violence and other crime running rampant in the community. And educational opportunities were restricted because of the overcrowding conditions and the environment wasn’t conducive for learning. The best option for dealing with the urban renewal plan was to completely destroy and clean the slums to make way for redevelopment of the neighborhood, by using eminent domain. The Federal Renewal Administration provided the funding for Charlotte ‘s urban development projects, to destroy the slums and allow Charlotte to sell the lands to developers for redevelopment projects.
The downfall to all of this was that the city and the developers didn’t quite replace the with housing, that uses the opportunity by building public buildings and facilities to benefit the city government. The planners and developers saw this opportunity to replace the neighborhood for the city gain because of the proximity to the center of the Charlotte as a prime location. The redevelopment took approximately five years (1960-1967), to replace over 1,000 families and which none were housing units.
It was nothing but government plaza buildings, private offices and business venues, a city park, and better roads connecting the downtown to the eastside. The city government didn’t do much initially to provide new low-income housing or relocation assistance for the displaced poor residences, so they had to move to slums in other parts of Charlotte. The greatest impact because of the urban renewal was that approximately 5,000 families were displaced because the urban renewal projects. Finally, federal funding was available for public housing projects to help place those displaced families from the urban renewal developments.
By 1966, the Public Housing Administration added more funding to assure more needed housing to meet the relocation needs of the poor families in Charlotte. One the admission criteria for the housing give priority to the displace residents of the urban renewal projects that happened in Charlotte. Residential segregation imposes many negative consequences on blacks, particularly relating to education. Although Charlotte “voluntarily” desegregated its schools in 1957, only 42 of 18,000 black students in the CharlotteMecklenburg school system attended majority-white schools.
By the end of the 1968-1969 school year, two-thirds of black students still attended schools, which were more than 99% black. These predominantly black schools, in most cases, received lower levels of funding and had less qualified teachers. Consequently, the quality of education for blacks was less than that for whites, helping to perpetuate a racial gap in academic and economic achievement. Challenging the way in which students were assigned to Charlotte public schools, Darius Swann’s case led by attorney Julius Chambers, reached the U. S. Supreme Court in 1971.
Focusing on the role government policies played in promoting residential segregation, which was then reflected in schools, the Supreme Court ruled that busing was both acceptable and needed to effectively desegregate schools. The decision supported District Judge James McMillan’s statement that “residential segregation, of course, involved many ad hoc decisions by individuals and by the city, county, state, and federal governments… the clear fact, however, is that the displacement occurred with heavy federal financing and with active participation by local governments”.
Busing was thus sed in Charlotte from 1974 until 1992 and “almost all students were bused to schools outside their neighborhoods for at least some portion of their educational careers”. Blacks, however, rode buses for more years and over greater distances than white students. Despite the implementation of busing, firstgeneration segregation, which refers to the racial composition of schools within a district, was never eliminated. The CharlotteMecklenburg school system came very close to meeting court requirements in the early 1980’s as less than 5% of black students attended schools exceeded the black enrollment ceiling.
In the mid-1990s, this figure exceeded 27%. A 1997 study examining the impact of segregation on education in Mecklenburg County found that “attending a racially isolated Black elementary school has direct negative effects on achievement and track placement”. Even after adjusting for race, gender, and background, the negative effect of attending segregated elementary schools on students’ test scores almost as large as the effects of being black. These findings supported earlier studies that found academic outcomes were better for blacks attending a desegregated school.
The greatest and negative impacts do not stop with education. As the segregated learning environment leads to lower academic achievement for blacks, it also contributes to disparities in employee opportunities. With less education and training, it is not only harder to find employment, but wages are also typically lower and what type of neighborhoods you will live in, is determines by these outcomes. This leads to further economic disparities between the races. This cycle of inequality and limited opportunities continues to affect other aspects of daily life and future generations.