James Baldwin's Harlem Riots Essay

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Collecting the Harlem Riots

?It would have been better to have left the plate glass as it had been and the goods lying in the stores. It would have been better, but it would have also have been intolerable, for Harlem needed something to smash?

This quote by James Baldwin pertains to his relevant thoughts on the Harlem Riots of 1943. A copy of Newsweek from August 9,1943 described the riot in great detail, ?Within a half hour Harlem?s hoodlums were on the march. Windows of pawnshops and liquor and grocery stores were smashed and looted. The Negroes began wielding knives and the police their guns? Thousands of police reserves, many of them Negroes, were rushed to the district?All traffic was re routed around Harlem?It
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curfew delivered by Mayor LaGuardia. The Mayor also halted vehicle traffic except for service vehicles until everything had calmed down about two days after the riots. Stores closed either due to damage or due to fear of repetition of damage, and they did not reopen until about two days after as well. The Mayor also enacted prohibition throughout Harlem during and immediately following the riots (NY Times 8). La Guardia also brought emergency food supplies to relieve burned out shops and houses, which gained him popularity among the black population. The amount of damage the riots entailed not only affected the people and city of Harlem, but the race relations all over the country.

The Harlem Riots had a definitive start, but the build up to rioting varied among the sources used. According to an article in the NY Times on August 5, 1943, ?The City Council who charged on Tuesday that Harlem had been starved of park and playground facilities?The City Council denied the charge that inadequate policing was responsible for the disorder.? This article stated that Harlem lacked the parks and recreation needs of its people and therefore caused the riot, along with the fact that police did not handle the situation correctly. Another article in the NY Times quoted Rev. Dr. Samuel Henry about the rioting in Harlem, ?Heightened suggestibility due to mass living
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