An Equal Chance for Education (Harold Baron, 1962)

Synopsis by Chelsea Birchmier

“An Equal Chance for Education” is a policy report for the Chicago Urban League (CUL) prepared by Harold Baron in March of 1962. The report was written as a guide for individuals and organizations concerned with children’s educational quality and equality. Baron aimed to provide a basis for understanding school segregation that would inform action, writing, “comprehension is a prerequisite to effective action.” He argued that the schools were obligated to use every possible resource to provide equal educational opportunity for children, and that when segregation, both in schools and in housing, prevented such equal opportunity, schools had the responsibility to compensate for those conditions.

Baron traces the segregation in U.S. schools to slavery, when slave states forbade Black education, followed by a Jim Crow pattern of segregation until the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case, after which legal, or de jure, segregation began to decrease. However, extralegal, or de facto, school segregation continued in Northern cities via residential segregation and other policies supported by boards of education and school administrators, resulting in little difference between Northern and Southern states regarding the actual experience of segregation. This pattern of de facto segregation was evident in Chicago as of 1960, where only 10 percent of Black elementary school students attended integrated schools. Two major cases challenged the legality of segregation: the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case, which established that de jureschool segregation was unconstitutional, overturning the “separate but equal” standard established by the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case and the 1961 Taylor v. New Rochelle Board of Education case, which established that de facto school segregation via gerrymandering and intentionally drawing school boundaries so as to contain Black residents was unconstitutional. The New Rochelle case, however, did not establish a positive policy of integration that would require school boards to actively promote integration. Despite the New Rochelle case and Illinois laws that had forbidden student assignment to schools by race since 1874, de facto segregation continued in Chicago schools. According to Baron, the distinction between de jure and de facto segregation made little difference when it came to its effects on children.

Baron details some of the psychological and educational effects of segregation. He points to research showing the feelings of inferiority and motivation for education that Black children experienced due to segregation, which reinforced their acceptance of second-class status. Segregation also had harmful impacts on white children, teaching them values that conflicted with moral, religious, and democratic principles, as they absorbed ideas of superiority. Black children were often “doubly handicapped” by socioeconomic status. The handicaps faced by Black and low-income families were compounded by educational practices, which provided them materials and tests based on white middle class experiences and values and denied them out-of-school experiences and high quality educational resources. This mandated that equal educational opportunity could only be achieved if “the schools compensate for the inequities perpetrated by our society.” The educational system then served to reproduce race and class differences and to contribute to an intergenerational cycle in which Black job seekers moved from a discriminatory educational system into a discriminatory labor market, to then raise children who would enter a segregated school.

Baron then examines the history of segregation and integration in Chicago schools from the 1860s onward, revealing a pattern of segregation followed by community protests challenging segregation. In 1863, an Illinois ordinance required that Black and white children attend separate schools. A sit-in campaign was organized in which Black parents continued sending their children to the nearest school despite the ordinance, and Black residents occupied the Board of Education’s and the mayor’s offices; in 1865, the ordinance was repealed. At this time, the South Side community was just beginning to form. It wasn’t until the Great Migration during World War I that the South Side community expanded, as Chicago’s Black population doubled from 1920 to 1930. During this time, the Black Ghetto was formed by practices of the Chicago Real Estate Board and restrictive covenants, agreements between property owners to not sell or rent homes to Black residents. By 1940, primarily Black schools became overcrowded and increasingly operated as double-shift schools, in which one group of children came to school during a morning shift and another during an afternoon shift, reducing the amount of time Black children spent in school, while white schools began to accrue underutilized space. The Chicago Board of Education maintained these conditions by implementing a neighborhood school policy and freezing school boundaries at the Ghetto, allowing white but not Black children to transfer to underused white schools, districting Black elementary school graduates into Black high schools, decreeing neutral areas, and spending less on Black schools. In response, the Black community again organized protests, alongside The Citizens Schools Committee, The Better Schools Committee and the Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. Their protests ultimately helped to oust the corrupt regime of Board of Education President James McCahey and Superintendent of Schools William Johnson, who were investigated by the National Educational Association and accused of collaborating with the Chicago Real Estate Board in creating poor conditions for Black students. There was some improvement when Herold Hunt replaced Johnson as Superintendent in 1947. With the help of a committee led by Professor Louis Wirth at the University of Chicago, elementary school boundaries were shifted to help with overcrowding and many neutral areas were removed. However, this plan operated on a colorblind principle and altered boundaries without taking into account race. According to Baron, programs had to become “positively ‘color-conscious’” instead of colorblind to bring about significant change. Hunt was succeeded Benjamin C. Willis in 1953, who did not continue with the plans of the committee to address unequal high school usage.

After detailing this history, Baron locates the continued existence of residential segregation and Ghettoes as a major social factor affecting de facto school segregation in Chicago. Residential segregation remained consistent despite the increase of Chicago’s Black population from 492,000 to 813,000 from 1950 to 1960. Ghettoes helped to maintain segregated, overcrowded Black schools via neighborhood school policies in the South and West sides of Chicago. In turn, school segregation also served to maintain housing segregation, such that white families began to move out as soon as Black children entered a school in the area. After 1953, segregation increased as the Black school population grew, such that, by 1961, 90% of Black elementary school students attended all-Black schools. The Board of Education’s school building program placed new schools according to the neighborhood school policy, building more segregated schools and only shifting boundaries within the Ghetto. The educational facilities continued to be unequal, with Black schools overcrowding and students on double-shift, facing a lack of lunch rooms or even library rooms and textbooks in contrast to white schools with underutilized rooms, and unequal assignment of teaching personnel and expenditure per pupil. While less pronounced in high school, segregation along with diluted curricula in mostly Black schools continued, particularly in vocational and trade schools. These conditions negatively impacted the academic performance, dropout rates, and test scores of Black elementary and high school students.

Baron suggests that the effects of separate and unequal education were cumulative and intergenerational and points to the inadequacy of the policies of the Chicago Board of Education in addressing the conditions producing such effects. Neither their school building program nor Superintendent Willis’ plan relieved overcrowding or double shifts in Black schools. Schools instead attempted to reduce overcrowding while maintaining neighborhood boundaries by creating mobile classrooms outside schools in the Ghetto, placing children in classrooms without teachers, and using floating classrooms that roamed the hallways looking for an open room. From 1957, public protests and pressure from Black residents, PTAs, the Urban League, NAACP, and the Citizen Schools Committee challenged these conditions. In 1960, parents at Gregory School picketed the Board of Education and organized a campaign called “Operation Transfer” with the NAACP, attempted to enroll students in overcrowded schools into white schools, and filed a lawsuit in the Federal Courts. With public hearings of the Board of Education in 1961, protests increased. Parents of children at Burnside School and Parker Elementary adopted sit-in tactics from the Civil Rights Movement, and parents in the South Side went on strike in response to an attempt to make an old dangerous building a mobile classroom. Baron writes that schools had become a “focal point” in the struggle for equality in Chicago, and that if the Board continued its inaction, Chicago might become known as “a Little Rock on Lake Michigan.”

Baron then provides examples of integration programs that Chicago should aspire to, such as New York City. After a study of the status of public education for Black and Puerto Rican children in New York City found patterns of separate and unequal education, school boundaries were rezoned to create integrated schools. Open Enrollment policies allowed children from overcrowded schools to attend schools with underused facilities out of district, and the Board covered transportation costs. A strong human relations program and training ensured buy-in from stakeholders so that the program was implemented smoothly. Special programs such as the Demonstration Guidance Project were designed to compensate for children who were behind in studies and provided remedial reading, extra counseling, as well as out-of-classroom experiences, resulting in major increases in reading level, academic performance, and school attendance. He mentions several other programs in various cities that attempted to address separate and unequal education, such as the St. Louis Banneker Project, which combined motivational counseling with students and parents and remedial summer reading, resulting in increases in reading and math performance.

Baron concludes by considering what Chicago could do. First, he makes it clear that nothing would change without participation and pressure from the community. Next, he argues that the Board of Education had to adopt and implement a strong policy and program of integration and for quality and equality of education, The first step for the Board in developing such a policy would be a survey of public schools, advised by a citizen’s advisory community representing major groups in Chicago. Additionally, boundaries had to be redrawn to promote integration, transportation had to be provided for children from overcrowded schools to attend underutilized schools, personnel had to be integrated, educational quality and standards had to improve with no watering down of curricula, and psychological and social work services had to be offered. Extra facilities and programs also had to be provided to children who had been disadvantaged by the educational system. A strong human relations program would be necessary to ensure the implementation of the policy. For Baron, the realization of such a program was only a first step toward democratic education; once those reforms were adopted, Baron writes, “the efforts of many others can be called upon to support a real educational crusade for democracy.”

Negro Unemployment: A Case Study (Hal Baron, 1963)

Synopsis by Chelsea Birchmier

Baron introduces this essay with a cartoon from a newspaper editorial in which one Black character says to the other, “Sure I’d be glad to integrate that lunch counter, if I had a dime for a cup of coffee.” This cartoon provides a segue into one of the central claims of the chapter: “Negro revolt” in the North in the 1960s would have to go beyond the Civil Rights strategy of the South to transform the conditions of Black unemploymentIn the North, de jure equality—equality before the law—did not preclude de facto inequality in the form of ghetto-based school and housing discrimination and dual job markets. In this paper, Baron examines the economic conditions of the North with a particular focus on Chicago in order to understand the future of Black struggle.  

He begins with national economic analysis, comparing Black and white employment conditions from 1947 to 1962. Compared to the relative stability of 1947 to 1957, job growth, particularly in the private sector, stagnated after 1957In particular, Black unemployment grew, with a racial gap in employment that almost tripled from 1948 to 1962 despite a decreasing educational gap. Black workers made up 20% of the unemployed, 26% of the long-term unemployed (15 weeks to 6 months), and 27% of the very long-term unemployed (6 or more months). Rising unemployment was related to the technological displacement of labor through automation and decreasing growth in the Gross National Product (GNP), the majority of which was been due to increasing productivity rather than an expanding labor force. Additionally, more than half of the rise in employment during this time period was due to part-time jobs, and 2/3 was due to women joining the labor force. These trends forewarned of “disaster” for the labor market in the coming decade, with 26 million youth entering the job market and a sluggish rate of job growth.  

He then narrows his focus to the local context of Chicago, providing population and labor force statistics for both the city of Chicago and the Chicago metropolitan statistical area. He reveals a large racial gap in unemployment for both the city and the metropolitan area in 1960, with Black unemployment around 11% and white unemployment less than 4%. He then points out that a government or labor market concept of unemployment only includes active job seekers, excluding “discouraged workers,” who have abandoned the job search due to the near impossibility of getting a jobUsing a “social concept of unemployment” that includes discouraged workers, he arrives at a Black male unemployment rate of 16% for the city of Chicago and 17% for the metropolitan area. Next, he discusses the issue of marginal employment, including workers who are part-time (for economic reasons rather than by choice) or earning below a living wage. In the Chicago metropolitan area, 31% of Black men were marginally employed compared to 12% of white men; 60% of the unemployed also fell into this category. He shows how Black unemployment was concentrated in low-income housing areas—public housing projects in particular—meaning that the Black unemployed generally could not rely on their neighboring community for financial support. Unemployment was accompanied by increasing dependence on welfare assistance such as Aid to Dependent Children (ADC). Like the national unemployment situation, he suggests that disaster was immanent in Chicago without extensive social and economic change 

Finally, Baron returns to the question of Negro revolt. He argues that the civil rights strategy of equal employment opportunity could not address the problems of the shrinking labor market in the 1960s economic downturn, nor could it address widespread Black unemployment in times of overall prosperity; to this latter point, he cites economists Joan Robinson and John Dunlop who describe the geographic and social isolation unemployment and “the balkanization of the unemployed,” respectively. While high rates of unemployment impacted other groups, including Hispanic people and coal mining regions, Baron suggests that the momentum and groundwork established by the Civil Rights Movement positioned Black unemployed people as the primary actors able to bring the economic question to national attention and to draw out other unemployed groups “from behind the color curtain.” He writes that unemployed Black workers were learning from the lessons of Black struggle in the South and adapting mass Civil Rights tactics to the Northern context. “Tomorrow, he writes, “the chances are that, taking a clue from the civil rights movement, the unemployed will speak for themselves.”

Ballots and Race: Chicago Voting Participation (Harold M. Baron, 1964)

Synopsis by Donald Planey

Ballots and Race explores the areal differentiation in Black voter participation between Chicago neighborhoods, Chicago and other northern industrial cities, and northern cities versus Southern cities. According to the Chicago Urban League, Chicago could boast of higher voter participation rates than Southern states, but still suffered from disproportionate Black voter discouragement. While Black voter participation varied by ward according to the income and education characteristics of different subsections of Chicago’s internal Black metropolis, voter discouragement was visible in lower overall Black voting rates compared to white Chicagoans, especially in wards that were locked-down by the Black submachine of the Chicago political machine.

Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Federal Controversy in Chicago, A Memorandum (Harold M. Baron, 1965)

Synopsis by Madeleine McQuilling

Sixteen months after the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, Hal Baron watched administrators riddle it with loopholes. Without immediate and decisive action, he argued, the U.S. would consign the new act to the same ineffective fate as that of Reconstruction legislation. In this 1965 memo to Chicago Urban League director Bill Berry, Baron voices his fears by detailing two Title VI complaints filed in Chicago––one alleging discrimination in public education and the other, discrimination in public housing. The choice of complaints specifically from Chicago was strategic. As Baron explains: “Since the Chicago complaints were among the first to deal with major types of urban segregation that receive Federal aid, and […] the Office of Public Education’s delay in granting funds to the Chicago public schools became a national issue, we feel that the disposition of the Chicago complaints might unfortunately become national precedent.” Baron continues to outline these complaints and explain the various ways in which their dispositions were unfortunate.

Baron first addresses the complaint on the Chicago public schools, filed July 4, 1965 by the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO). This complaint alleged that the Chicago Board of Education was in violation of Title VI as they are “segregated and unequal because of racial discrimination.” While members of the CCCO acknowledge the probable short term harm that a withdrawal of funding would cause the Chicago public school system, they assert that their complaint will, in the long run, more than compensate for the temporary embarrassment. “We are confident,” the complaint concludes, “that Federal intervention in this matter, through the withholding of funds, will help underline the high fiscal cost, as well as the immeasurable social cost, of segregation to Chicago and to the rest of the nation.” The complaint is addressed to Commissioner Francis Keppel, who put a tremendous amount of effort into investigating the issue and holding the School Board accountable for their actions. Unfortunately, he was thwarted at every turn from people in various governmental positions––all the way up to, and including, president Lyndon B. Johnson. Men such as Superintendent Willis, Mayor Daley, and Congressman Pucinski insisted on maintaining federal funds without desegregating Chicago schools; when the Johnson Administration joins the fray, Baron accuses them of striving to “end the controversy rather than ensuring broad enforcement of Title VI.” Referencing Washington correspondent Joseph Kraft, Baron asserts that Mayor Daley was intentionally inflaming race relations in Chicago as a re-election strategy. “If Commissioner Keppel expected voluntary and informal conciliation,” Baron remarks, “he made a serious error in judgement.” Baron concludes this section by underscoring a presidential responsibility: “Unless there is positive encouragement from the White House itself, it is doubtful that we will see the use of the sanctions of Title VI except in the most flagrant and egregious cases.”

Baron next addresses the complaint on Public Housing Sites filed by the Westside Federation. This complaint alleged that the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), was in violation of Title VI by continuing to build massive public housing projects “in the heart of the Negro ghetto.” “With a high degree of assurance,” Baron paraphrases, “it could be assumed that projects at [these] new sites would become all-Negro.” The Public Housing Administration argued that the CHA was not in violation of Title VI by interpreting it “in the narrowest possible manner.” In essence, if the entity receiving federal funds, such as the CHA, is under the complete power of an entity not receiving federal funds, such as the City Council, then the first entity cannot be held accountable to Title VI if they do not have authorization from their superiors to comply with its provisions; the second entity is exempt from Title VI because they are not a direct recipient of the funds. While the Public Housing Administration felt “that CHA did very well within the bounds placed upon it by the City Council,” Baron considered such an interpretation detrimental to the efficacy of Title VI, and its potential as a force for desegregation. For Baron, this would amount to “a national disaster.”

Throughout this memo, Baron calls for “sweeping and imaginative interpretation of the Title’s provisions” that would allow it to effect positive change, particularly in urban centers. As unlikely as it sounds, Baron managed to set just such a precedent by turning this Westside Federation housing complaint into the celebrated case, Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority.


The Negro Worker in the Chicago Labor Market: A Case Study of De Facto Segregation (Harold M. Baron and Bennett Hymer, 1965)

Synopsis by: Chelsea Birchmier

Part I

The four years leading up to 1965 were marked by prosperity, according to the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. Yet, as Baron and Hymer point out, this prosperity did not extend to Black workers, who, quoting Martin Luther King Jr., constituted “an island of poverty in a sea of affluence.” They demonstrate this paradox of prosperity spatially by contrasting employment and housing conditions in the Northwestern suburbs, where most of the jobs were located, and the unemployment and public housing projects, which Baron and Hymer refer to as “apartheid [that was] almost complete” and “the largest single concrete reservation for a dispossessed urban peasantry” in Chicago’s South and West Sides. The condition of Black workers in Chicago, write Baron and Hymer, was reflective of the experience of Black workers in the urban North. In part I of this paper, Baron and Hymer demonstrate the “second-class status of the Negro worker” by examining racial differences between Black and white workers in four areas: labor market participation, unemployment, income, and occupation. Generally, the gaps in these areas were more marked for men than for women, which they explain as a result of all women experiencing job discrimination and Black women obtaining jobs more easily than Black men.

Unemployment estimates did not include those who were not actively seeking employment. For this reason, in his 1963 paper “Negro Unemployment: A Case Study,” Baron developed a “social concept of unemployment” that incorporated the “discouraged workers” who had given up on the job search. Nationally, while the Civil Rights Movement helped maintain labor market participation rates for Black men ages 20 to 34 years old, they declined for Black men over 34 and teenagers; rates decreased by one-sixth for Black male teenagers from 1960 to 1965 and only one-sixteenth for white male teenagers. While Black female teenagers had lower participation rates than white female teenagers, Black female participation for 25-to-44-year-olds was greater than white female participation, likely due to white women leaving the market to raise families.

Baron and Hymer point to systematic differences in employment between white and Black workers. Nationally, from 1950 to 1965, unemployment rates rose for all races, with nonwhite unemployment consistently greater and longer in duration than white employment. In Chicago, the nonwhite to white unemployment ratio was higher than the national ratio, with Black unemployment three times white unemployment for all three measures of unemployment from 1959 to 1961. Even in the tight Chicago labor market of 1965 with white unemployment at only 2 percent, nonwhite unemployment had only decreased to 6 to 7 percent, but this decrease was a result of more Black workers leaving the labor force as discouraged workers. Baron and Hymer cite Lester Thurow’s 1965 study to demonstrate that nonwhite employment went through greater fluctuations than white employment, with nonwhite workers being absorbed into and cast out of the labor market in economic upturn and downturn, respectively, at greater rates than white workers. Ultimately, Baron and Hymer viewed disparities in employment as primarily structural rather than skill-based or educational, as evidenced by Denis F. Johnston’s 1965 paper showing that a nonwhite worker with a high school education was no more likely to be employed than a white worker who had not completed eighth grade.

They then discuss income, which increased for all races between 1940 and 1965. Yet, the relative gap between Black and white incomes never closed, despite temporary improvements in relative Black wages in wartime tight labor markets. According to Baron and Hymer, the fact that Black male income was 41 percent of white male income in 1939 was reflective of regional differences between a rural Southern labor force and an urban Northern labor force. The relative income of Black men increased to 54 percent of that of white men in 1947 with the redistribution of Black labor to the urban North, but the gap had not narrowed by 1962, largely reflecting racial differences within cities as opposed to the former regional differences. Next, they compared personal income data by race in Chicago in 1949 and 1959 broken down by upper, middle, and lower income quartiles. The largest gap in 1949 was in the upper quartile, with Black men earning 68.3% of white men’s income. By 1959, in a reversal of the earlier trend, the relative income of Black men decreased substantially for the lower income quartile to only 60.8% of white men’s income. The quartile data pointed to emergent Black class stratification, with the income of the bottom quartile decreasing relative to the top quartile from 1949 to 1959 and the lower income earners constituting “an urban peasantry, living at a subsistence income, and clearly out of the main stream of the economy.” Baron and Hymer also show how the racial gap increased for Black men with age, suggesting greater opportunities for promotions and job security. Black female income did improve relative to white female income from 1949 to 1959 in the lower and median quartiles and remained constant in the upper quartile, but this might have been due to the growing number of white women working part-time jobs, and thus, earning smaller incomes. However, their analysis suggests that the gap in income between Black and white female heads of household was similar to the gap between Black and white men. As with employment, racial differences in income were systematic and could not be explained by differences in education; in fact, Black male college graduates earned less than white dropouts.

Finally, Baron and Hymer describe the occupational second-class status of the Black worker, who was concentrated in the occupations that were at highest risk of automation. As with income, while both Black and white workers had moved into more skilled and higher paying occupations in absolute terms, Black workers had not improved occupationally relative to white workers. In the city of Chicago, Black workers were concentrated in the unskilled and semi-skilled occupations while excluded from the professional, technical, and managerial jobs. Baron and Hymer constructed an occupational index to demonstrate the relation of Black workers to white workers within the occupational structure of Chicago. The closer the index value to 100, the greater the proportion of Black workers in higher paying, more skilled jobs relative to white workers. They found that between 1910 and 1950, the index ranged from 82 to 85 for both Black men and women, except for a drop in Black women’s occupational index in 1940 during the Great Depression. In the Chicago Metropolitan Area, Black men’s occupational index value dropped from 83 in 1950 to 77 in 1960, partly resulting from a greater proportion of white men entering professional and managerial occupations. Black women’s index increased from 83 to 87, likely due to an increasing proportion of Black women entering clerical jobs. The occupational index did not measure divisions within occupations; even within the higher paying occupations in Chicago, Black workers were earning substantially less than white workers, particularly in sales, managerial, or proprietor jobs. The smaller gap in occupations including operative, service workers, and laborers was potentially a result of minimum wage laws and union coverage, with a larger gap among craftsmen jobs, where trade unions often excluded Black workers.

Part II

After offering evidence for the second-class status of Black workers, Baron and Hymer go on to analyze its dynamics in Part II of this chapter. The racial disparities in labor force participation, employment, income, occupation, they write, were “permanent features of the Chicago labor market since World War I.” In contrast to white immigrants, for whom disparities dissipated after a generation or two, Black workers in Chicago, an increasing proportion of whom were born and raised in Chicago, were permanently concentrated into certain sectors of the labor market like they were into segregated schools and ghettos. Baron and Hymer first describe the racist ideologies that explained this second-class status and how they emerged as justification for existing conditions. Southern myths involved the biological and genetic inferiority of Blacks as justification for slavery and later peonage, as evidenced by writings from John C. Calhoun and James De Bow. With the mass migration of Black workers to the North after the 1920s, new ideologies developed to justify Northern racial institutions that attributed the conditions of Black people to individual and psychological deficits and racism to prejudices and preferences. Then, they furnish their own analysis in contrast to these myths and offer three generalizations to understand how the Chicago labor market drove the disparities discussed in Part I: a dual labor market with separate Black and white sectors, a surplus labor pool that included an unemployed and marginally employed labor force used to supply labor during shortages, and a complex Northern system of de facto segregation where racial barriers in one institutional area supported those in other areas. Finally, they describe how ideologies of racism and a lack of political power upheld these dynamics.

Baron and Hymer examine the dynamics of the racially dual labor market, where a primary labor market in which white workers are recruited and seek jobs exists alongside a smaller sector in which Black workers are recruited and seek jobs, each sector operating on separate supply and demand forces, with jobs transferred to the Black sector with the growth of the economy and the Black labor force. They then begin to explain the mechanisms through which jobs were distributed to white and Black workers. Black workers were segregated by industry as well as smaller units within an industry. In Chicago industries, Black workers were employed in government and primary metal industry jobs in much higher proportions than white workers, while the reverse was true in the banking and finance and non-electrical machinery industries. This trend intensified when looking at firms within an industry. Baron and Hymer present data from the Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry that showed the proportion of firms that were segregated in 1964, meaning they did not hire nonwhite workers. Seven of ten small firms, one of five medium-sized firms, and one of thirteen large firms were segregated. Within firms, further segregation occurred by occupational classification; most professional, managerial, sales, and skilled craftsmen classifications excluded nonwhite workers. When these occupational classifications were not segregated, the departments within them often were, with Black workers often in “hot, dirty departments” like foundries. Generally, they write, the lower positions in the occupational hierarchy were more likely to be integrated. An exception was found in the increased employment of Black women as clerical workers. While less marked, racial divisions also existed within government jobs, where many skilled Black workers found employment due to decreased hiring barriers. While 19 percent of US Government employees in Chicago’s Civil Service Region were Black, 27 percent at the lower level and only 1.7 percent at the higher level were Black. In another example, the Chicago Board of Education, the largest employer of Black professionals, the majority of Black employees taught and served as administrators for primarily Black schools. Segregated hiring patterns led to separate job-seeking patterns, with Black workers looking for jobs in the Black labor market and white workers in the White labor market. The recruiting practices of firms, the referral practices of employment agencies, and the guidance of schools and counselors reinforced racial dualism in the labor market.

Baron and Hymer then argue that the Black labor force consisted of three components: a Black service sector, which primarily supplied services to the Black community, a standard sector, which supplied services and goods across communities, and a surplus pool of labor that was either unemployed, out of the labor force, or marginally employed. They estimated that about 50 percent of the Black labor force was employed in the standard sector, 10 percent in the Black service sector, and 40 percent in the surplus labor pool. The workers who were marginally employed in the surplus labor pool worked in low-paying, dirty, and unsafe jobs that were often temporary with few possibilities for advancement, including jobs that were given to Black workers as white workers climbed the occupational ladder and those that had become “traditional Negro jobs” like bootblacks, busboys, and servants. The level of subsistence income for workers in the surplus sector was primarily determined by welfare payments, and in Chicago, one-fourth of Blacks received public assistance. Additionally, the size of the pool depended on the level of unemployment in the economy at large and the level of white immigration. They suggest that movement out of the surplus labor pool occurred during period of economic expansion, which had facilitated Black workers moving out of the surplus sector from 1940 to 1965; however, the ongoing expansion of the Black labor force, particularly though teenagers entering the labor market as well as migration from the South, meant that the tight labor market was not enough to reduce the surplus labor pool. They make a comparison to studies of underdeveloped countries in which there a technologically advanced and industrialized sector existed along with a subsistence peasant sector with high marginal and unemployment. Similarly, they write, the labor market in the U.S. was divided into a skilled technologically advanced sector made up of white workers and an “urban peasantry” in unskilled and marginal jobs. During labor shortages, Black workers were brought into the general economy without raising wages, they suggest, because they were previously earning subsistence incomes. Baron and Hymer offer racial dualism and the surplus labor pool as explanations for why unemployment rates in the U.S. were greater than workers in Western Europe would accept; the increased rate of Black unemployment helped keep white unemployment down. However, they suggest, the Civil Rights Movement had the potential to make a high Black unemployment rate unacceptable.

According to Baron and Hymer, the disparities in the labor market were reinforced by racial institutions in other areas including the de facto barriers of housing, schooling, and employment discrimination that were not mandated by law but operated as though they were. These institutions formed a self-perpetuating network that was more than the sum of its parts such that barriers were mutually reinforcing, and reducing barriers in a single area had little effect without transformation in others. Employment discrimination occurred in various forms, including screening based on criteria that was direct (e.g., race) or indirect (e.g., residence near the job), cultural biases, lack of advertisements and recruiting in Black media, and exclusion from trade unions (while the industrial unions were often less discriminatory). Housing segregation was evident in Chicago, as was demonstrated by Chicago Urban League maps from 1950, 1960, and 1964, showing an expansion of Black ghettos on the South and West sides of Chicago, following historical block-by-block segregation patterns. Housing segregation confined Black workers geographically so that they were unable to access jobs, which were rapidly moving away from the Black ghettos of Chicago and into the Northwest from 1957 to 1963. School segregation had impacts on the skills and training of Black workers, with Black students concentrated in schools of inferior quality and faced with low expectations. Baron and Hymer quote social psychologist Kenneth Clark, who said, “Personnel managers need no longer exercise prejudicial decisions in job placement; the educational system in Chicago screens Negroes for them.” These barriers were supported by racist ideology and a lack of political power. White decision-makers from the suburbs were making decisions about Black employment, education, and housing. Black workers controlled few major institutions, owned few companies and held no wealth. They reference James Q. Wilson, who writes that the Black democratic organization, while it was able to mobilize voters, was secondary in power to the Cook County Democratic Party and did not hold power proportionate to these votes. The Civil Rights Movement was filling that vacuum of political power by using mass participation to influence decision-makers. It was yet to be seen whether the Civil Rights Movement would be able to transform the network of de facto barriers, but Baron and Hymer noted that they were working to redistribute employment and improve education and housing.

Finally, Baron and Hymer conclude that the dual labor market was a structural phenomenon that necessitated a transformation of social and economic institutions. The implications of this were that transformation had to occur on both the demand side, by removing hiring discrimination, and the supply side, by addressing school and housing segregation, that programming had to be built under the assumption of racial dualism in the labor market, and that the disparities would continue if the market was expected to check them and the network of racial institutions continued to support them. Long-term changes had to be made at all levels, including employers, unions, agencies, and the government to deconstruct the dual structure. The Civil Rights Movement had primarily impacted discriminatory hiring barriers, rather than housing and school segregation, and led to new laws and Federal Executive orders to this end. Firms contracted by the U.S. government became subject to the President’s Equal Employment Opportunity Program, and some Black workers were employed in professional and managerial jobs. These changes were mostly symbolic, however, and no major structural transformations had occurred. These minimal changes were summarized in a comment from an observer that “in the past personnel men used to discriminate against 9 out of 10 Negro applicants; today they only discriminate against 8 out of 10.”

Northern Segregation as a System: The Chicago Schools (Harold Baron, 1965)

Synopsis by Chelsea Birchmier

“Northern Segregation as a System: The Chicago Schools” first appeared in the journal Equity & Excellence in Education, formerly Integrated Education, in 1965. In this piece, Baron argues that racial subjugation in the northern U.S. was tied to peculiar northern racial institutions rather than being inherited entirely from the South. Additionally, he emphasizes an institutional framework of northern race relations in contrast to a framework dominated by individual white prejudices and Black adjustment difficulties. While the origins of U.S. race relations lay in the southern plantation economy, the northern metropolis had developed and perpetuated its own racial institutions. In contrast to southern segregation, which was upheld by law and its enforcement by state police, Chicago had achieved a high level of segregation in schools in the absence of legal segregation. This, he suggests, was maintained via a “complex of interacting and mutually supportive institutions whose combined effect is greater than the sum of the effects of each institution considered singly,” a framework he further develops in “The Negro Worker in the Chicago Labor Market” (1965) and “The Web of Urban Racism” (1968). Racial segregation in schools, then, was supported and reinforced by the dual labor market, job discrimination, housing segregation, the lack of Black power, and an ideology of racism.

Baron then details how this system of northern segregation operated rather overtly in the Chicago Public Schools via dual Black and white sub-systems that were spatially and socially distant. In Chicago, only 18% of elementary schools were integrated; while high schools were more integrated, they were internally segregated via track systems. Similarly, faculty and administrators were segregated such that Black teachers and principals were concentrated in Black-segregated schools. One feature of northern segregation systems was the presence of exceptions to patterns of separation, in contrast to the absolute separation characteristic of legal segregation, exemplified by the presence of a few integrated schools in Chicago. Yet, even these schools were often transitionally integrating from white-segregated to Black-segregated schools. A second feature of such systems was the inferiority of the Black subsector. In Chicago, Black schools were inferior in inputs—more pupils per class, less money spent per pupil, less concern for needs of the community, lower expectations—resulting in inferior outputs—lower grades, higher dropout rates, lower self-esteem. The Civil Rights Movement, however, led to some improvements in inputs, which helped the disparities in outputs from increasing. Third, the system operated as one of racial subjugation. While Black people were able to improve their absolute conditions via education, their position relative to white people remained stagnant or worsened.

Baron lays out the other barriers that reinforced and were reinforced by the school system in Chicago. First, residential segregation maintained school segregation via a neighborhood school policy, while school segregation maintained residential segregation by the movement of whites out of integrated neighborhoods to avoid inferior schools for their children. Second, the dual labor market upheld school segregation through impoverishment and family instability while the schools produced inferior outputs in skills that upheld Black workers’ degraded relative income and occupational status as part of the dual labor market. Third, the ideology of racism legitimized school segregation while school segregation indoctrinated children with racist ideology. Fourth, the lack of Black political power made it so that the strong and continuous organization of Black Chicagoans against school segregation had not achieved necessary change, while the school system perpetuated and established this lack of power as a norm. Finally, racial discrimination, while not the fundamental basis of racial segregation, served to uphold institutionalization by punishing people who did not conform to defined role expectations.

That racial segregation in the Chicago school system continued after reducing blatantly racist policies and implementing colorblind boundary drawing policies was evidence for Baron’s argument that the Chicago Public School system was institutionalized, subjugated Black youth to second-class status, and was reinforced by a constellation of other racial institutions. Given these features, Baron investigates the potential of state and federal legal means to fight school segregation. At the state level, the Armstrong Law of 1963, which forbade racial separation in drawing school boundaries, did not contain enforcement provisions and had little to no effect on Chicago schools, in contrast to the Massachusetts law of 1965, which provided for the withholding of funds for schools that did not make progress toward reducing segregation. He then describes two federal laws relevant to school segregation. The first, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, responding to public pressure from the Civil Rights Movement, offered compensatory education funds for children from low-income families, which helped to redistribute funds but did not address segregation directly. The second, Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, included provisions for withholding federal funds from discriminatory institutions. The success of this act in a northern system relied on a broad interpretation of discrimination that included institutions and not just individual discrimination and clear public policy, which was rare from a federal government with a history of accommodating segregation. When the Office of Education attempted to follow through on Title VI sanctions against Chicago schools, they were attacked by Illinois congresspersons, Superintendent Benjamin C. Willis, and Mayor Richard J. Daley, who asked the President to restore the funds, resulting in a settlement favoring the Chicago Public School system.

Baron concludes that the ability of the Civil Rights Act to make change in the Chicago School System had been hindered by these limitations, and that public policy and national leadership would have to do more to create serious change in northern segregation systems. In turn, changes in public policy required “an increase in the effective power of the Negro and civil rights forces.”

Public Housing, Chicago Builds a Ghetto (Hal Baron, 1967)

Synopsis by: Briana Gipson

In 1967, Hal Baron delivered “Public Housing, Chicago Builds a Ghetto” as a fiery, anti-colonial speech on the state of Chicago’s public housing system. This speech was delivered to an audience containing Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) leaders and staff at a symposium at the University of Chicago on March 10, 1967. He would use his speech to critique the City of Chicago’s and the CHA’s practices and reveal the negative outcomes they created and forced on Chicago’s Black community. He argued that City transformed its public housing system into a tool that implements and solidifies racism. It essentially became a system that segregated Blacks, decreased their mobility, and altered their community networks and solidarity by social, economic, and political force. He devoted his speech to discussing the federal government’s, Chicago’s and CHA’s role in creating ghettos, or areas with high concentrations of low-income Blacks, through public housing. He organized his discussion into four separate sections.

The first section of Baron’s speech is titled “From Crusade to Containment”. He began this section by discussing the three major periods of public housing from the lens of the Chicago Urban League. His main point is public housing was originally organized as a campaign to rid problems associated with urban life such as overcrowding and poverty by the federal government. Then it became a system to support World War II war workers before finally becoming “a virtually Negro institution” Baron says. In other words, Baron claimed that it became a system designed to reinforce the racial biases of those in power. He used CHA statistics to show that their biases resulted in Chicago’s public housing system being 90% Black, in 90% of CHA’s properties. Baron explained how Jim Crow and anti-black legislation in the League’s three public housing periods led to Chicago’s segregated and predominantly Black public housing system in the 1960s.

The next section of Baron’s speech focuses on the influence of federal policies and urban renewal on Chicago’s segregated and Black public housing system. The name of this section is “The Safety Valve for Urban Renewal”. It fundamentally argued that Chicago’s public housing system became segregated and Black because it used its system as a “safety-net” for urban renewal. Baron unpacks this argument by revealing how the federal government’s housing and transportation policies began altering housing supply based on race beginning in the late 1930s. It offered Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veteran Affairs loans to Whites, which contributed to mass suburbanization processes and ultimately increased Whites’ housing supply. Baron indicated that suburbanization expanded at the expense of Black neighborhoods as the federal government subsidized expressways to support migrating Whites. These expressways along with urban renewal would displace thousands of Blacks and decrease their already limited housing supply. Baron asserted that this led to Chicago’s public housing properties becoming relocation settlements or “catch-basins” for Blacks who were uprooted from their homes and livelihoods. He provided evidence showing that CHA transitioned from serving mostly low-income, White neighborhoods prior to 1949 to proposing over 95% of its properties in Black neighborhoods from 1950 to 1955. Baron further supported his main argument that Chicago built a segregated and concentrated low-income Black community by ending this section discussing how the CHA came under fire for proposing a housing project development in a White neighborhood. His example showed how firm the City of Chicago was in creating and maintaining segregation through the CHA.

Baron’s third section describes how CHA began to engage in disparate treatment once its public housing system became predominantly Black. He particularly focused on the CHA’s building designs. He explained that CHA’s building designs followed the Garden City movement when it was created for Whites and war-workers. They were often constructed as single family apartments with green space. However, once CHA began building public housing developments for displaced Blacks, Baron witnessed CHA build dense, high-rise buildings that had larger building coverage ratios. He contended that this building design exacerbated Chicago’s spatial segregation. He supported his claim by explaining that this increased residential segregation within central Chicago strengthened school segregation and furthered separated Blacks from jobs. Jobs were often moving to the periphery of cities as a result of expressway and highway construction, which increased employment segregation. Baron ended this section explaining the negative impact of CHA’s high-rise developments on community networks. He mentioned that it does not allow for Blacks to rebuild the institutions they lost in urban renewal to full capacity. It also weakened community connections and leadership opportunities. Baron’s last sentences showcased that Chicago’s public housing system did not even provide the stability needed for Blacks to rebuild and connect. Blacks lost their public housing vouchers once they made it to a certain income, and Baron foreshadows that this only perpetuates the very racism that led Blacks to Chicago’s public housing system in the first place.

Baron’s last section, “The Powerlessness of Black Tenants”, uncovered how he believed CHA acted as Black colonizers. He began this section describing two differences between the private and public housing market. The differences were that Blacks lacked the alternatives the private market offered and the power to make political decisions. Baron credited these differences to the CHA’s failure to treat Blacks as their clients and accommodate their needs like the FHA did for its mostly White clients. Additionally, Blacks could not significantly influence the ways the CHA operated because it was a public entity that did not often act in Blacks’ interests. They instead provided top-down orders Baron implied. He proclaimed that this made organizations like the CHA paternalistic colonizers that managed the public housing system like wards instead of providing opportunity. Baron ended this section and his raw speech summarizing the main idea he wanted the audience to grasp: CHA’s public housing system segregates and disrespects Blacks. His final words share that Blacks felt “hopeless, helpless, and totally manipulated” by CHA’s disparate and disrespectful public housing system.

The Web of Urban Racism (Harold M. Baron, 1968)

Synopsis by Madeleine McQuilling

In this chapter, Hal Baron spends a few pages on each of his main themes (history, housing, labor, education, politics) and explains how they all represent different aspects of what he terms the “web of urban racism.” The web of urban racism, a phrase Baron uses in his writings from the late 1960s onwards, denotes the network of institutional racism intrinsic to American society (1). Baron explains: 

 The impersonal institutions of the great cities have been woven together into a web of urban racism that entraps Negroes much as the spider’s net holds flies – they can wiggle but they cannot move very far. There is a carefully articulated interrelation of the barriers created by each institution. Whereas the single institutional strand standing alone might not be so strong, together the many strands form a powerful web. But here the analogy breaks down. In contrast to the spider’s prey, the victim of urban racism has fed on stronger stuff and is on the threshold of tearing the web. 

 Written in 1968, Baron’s sympathies for the black power movement surge beneath his calm prose. The “Long, hot summer of 1967” shone a spotlight on the problematic racrelations in America; by its light, the web of urban racism becomes more visible, and thus, more vulnerable. Baron is confident that its victims have “fed on stronger stuff,” and are now capable of “tearing the web.” In order for readers to fully appreciate this anticipated moment of liberation, Baron details how the web of urban racism came about, and how it continues to impact every sphere of daily life.   

 Baron starts his history of urban racism in America with the Civil War, declaring that the “abolition of slavery did not mean the abolition of racism.” To the contrary, the racism decreased only in its visibility, taking “on a new institutional form in which it was still effective in subjugating blacks and politically disarming poor whites.” In other words, the racism starts shifting from de jure to de facto. Baron sees de jure segregation, or legalized segregation, as a largely southern system; in contrast, he considers de facto, or automatic segregation a predominantly northern one But, Baron observes, “as the southern population becomes more demographically similar to the northern population, the nature of racism is beginning to assume greater similarities, especially in metropolitan centers.” The difference between de jure and de facto segregation is the difference between a school that forbids the enrollment of black students, and a school built in such a way that no black students live within its district. The great migration of the early 20th century made it painfully clear that racism survived the Civil War; it was alive and well––northern as well as southern.  

For Baron, the demographic shift represented a “push-pull phenomenon.” “The push,” he argues, “was the displacement of Negroes from southern agriculture, occasioned first by soil exhaustion, then by boll-weevil destruction and crop diversification.” The labor opportunities in the agricultural south were further diminished by the rise of tractors, herbicides, and agricultural machines. The pull of the city,” Baron continues, “has primarily been exerted through wartime labor shortages,” and the demand for unskilled labor that they occasion. The northern cities further appealed to black people because their system of de facto racism was “less obvious than the South’s Jim Crow.” Baron emphasizes that the demographic shift from rural to urban spaces is just as important as the one from south to north. This urbanization is important to Baron, because: “The great racial conflict now so manifest in the city is both generated and restrained by its major institutions.”  “Indeed,” as Baron declares in no uncertain language, “the white suburban noose around the city is drawing tighter.” 

 In this report, Baron advances the thesis that de facto segregation is actually worse than de jure segregation: “As the specific barriers become less distinctive and less absolute, their meshing together into an overriding network compensates so that the combined effect of the whole is greater than the sum of the individual institutions.” Baron clarifies: 

 For examples: the school system uses the neighborhood school policy which combined with residential segregation operates as a surrogate for direct segregation; suburbs in creating very restrictive zoning regulations, or urban renewal developments in setting universally high rents can eliminate all but a very few Negro families on the basis of income; given the racial differentials produced by the school system, an employer, by using his regular personnel tests and criteria, can screen out most Negroes from desirable jobs. 

 This is the web of urban racism. Although these racial controls represent a web from a structural standpoint, “from within the Negro community,” Baron explains, “it tends to appear that there is just a massive white sea that surrounds a black island.” This analogy brings to mind Du Bois’ cave allegory in Dusk of Dawn (or Myrdal’s reference to it in An American Dilemma), while echoing Martin Luther King’s “lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity” (2). As though to emphasize this socioeconomic aspect, Baron now moves from a broad discussion of the web of urban racism to its role in the dual labor market specifically.  

 While the education gap between black and white workers had nearly closed by the 1960s, the gap in salary, employment, leadership opportunities, and socioeconomic status has only grown. Baron notes that even “the United States Department of Labor has had to conclude that social and economic conditions are getting worse, not better’” for people trapped in slum sectors. For Baron, this inequality results from a dualism in the labor market that divides job openings along racial lines.  Contrary to other reports at the time, the Chicago Urban League’s “own studies indicate that the Negro job-seeker is quite the rational economic man, and thus the financial discrepancy exists because the black worker faces a very differently structured set of opportunities” than his white counterparts. Baron elaborates:  

In effect, certain jobs have become designated as “Negro” jobs. Negro workers are hired by certain industries, by particular firms within these industries, and in particular jobs within these firms. Within all industries, including government service, there is unmistakable evidence of occupational ceilings for Negroes. Within establishments that hire both Negro and white, the black workers are usually limited to specific job classifications and production units. An accurate rule of thumb is that the lower the pay or the more disagreeable and dirty the job, the greater the chance of finding a high proportion of Negroes. 

 This dual labor market works in tandem with the dual housing market to keep black people financially subordinate.  

 It goes without saying that ghettos are suboptimal places to live. As Baron clarifies: “The ghetto is bad not because it is inhabited by black people, but because it operates as a subjected enclave.” It exists specifically to trap black people, both physically and psychologically. As Baron proves for the Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority case, many black families have little to no choice in their housing arrangements. “Overwhelmingly,” he explains, “real estate brokers refuse to show Negroes properties outside the ghetto or transition neighborhoods. Lending institutions refuse to grant them mortgages for properties beyond these confines.” Furthermore, the CUL found that housing units in the Chicago ghettos cost 10% more than comparable housing in white sectors. This so-called “color tax” extends to retail prices, allowing “merchants operating in the ghetto [to] charge more for goods and credit or sell inferior quality merchandise at regular prices.” When the lower wages and higher cost of living cause black people to depend upon welfare, “the bureaucrat machinery” degrades and infantilizes them, treating them “like wards of the state, rather than responsible adults.” The web of urban racism intentionally erodes black peoples’ power and credibility; the housing market threads are perhaps the most insidious, as physical location dictates one’s political and educational opportunities.  

Neighborhood school districting and gerrymandering systems prevent conditions in the ghetto from improving. As Baron remarks, “educational institutions which provide markedly different [inferior] results for black and white children are key to the structure of urban racism.” Children of black workers are almost always districted to underfunded, overcrowded schools, whose students lag years behind their white peers, thus trapping them in the same unskilled labor market as their parents. “Educational systems have become a major pillar of racism,” Baron observes, “precisely because education has become so important in the total scheme of our society.” That said, Baron is far more concerned about the psychological impact these schools have on their students than he is with reduced academic achievements. For Baron, ghetto schools exist “as extremely efficient training institutions” designed to instill in black children the role of “a subordinate ‘Negro.’” These children grow up surrounded by middle class black teachers and principals who can only maintain their positions of relative power by inculcating their “lower status black charges with the idea that they are unteachable.” This environment “conditions the individual Negro youngster to expect a subordinate position for the rest of his life” and so he is not surprised to find the exact same pattern in the political sphere. Baron describes how black office holders can be elected (in predominantly black districts), but that any effort to improve the lives of their black constituencies represents career suicide. “Even where skillful politicians have risen to the top, as in Harlem with J. Raymond Jones and Adam Clayton Powell,” Baron explains, “they have been cut down or circumscribed basically because they were black.” From this, Baron concludes that people working within urban institutions are unable to dismantle the web of urban racism precisely because they themselves are trapped inside it.  

“The Web of Urban Racism” is one of the last reports Baron wrote for the Chicago Urban League, as he left later that year. This document––which is uncharacteristically radical for the CUL––shows Baron’s shift from the integration model of the civil rights movement to the more radical one of black nationalism. Indeed, Baron argues that the student led black power movements have the greatest chance of tearing through the web. Today, under the slogans of black pride and black consciousness’” Baron observes, we are witnessing a revolution in the role expectations of high school and college students. They are disrupting the whole racist system by categorically refusing both the role of unteachable student, and that of token official. Baron explains that, the development of these new role concepts will bring the black youth into conflict with the racist norms and methods of operation in our major institutions,” and in doing so, places them on the “the threshold of tearing the web.” Baron believes that the success of these youth led movements will “depend upon the social, economic and political strategies” implemented, which is perhaps why he supported Detroit’s League of Revolutionary Black Workers after a short stint as a research associate at Northwestern University.  

In the final section, Baron draws on W.E.B. Du Bois to detail a possible future in which black and white cultures exist symbiotically. He explicitly rejects “the assumption that the dominant white society, which exercises racism’s controls, is the healthy organism into which the sick ghetto should dissolve.” Baron concludes the article with this evocative, prophetic paragraph: 

 White men and black men are locked together in this nation so that they determine one another’s fate. Since the day has come when the darker brother will no longer suffer trustingly like Job, a new destiny awaits them both. Racism’s cancer, disturbed by the resistance, can feed upon itself and bring greater destruction in its wake. Or, the healthy elements in the two cultures can contend and react upon each other, creatively transforming themselves in the process. The one possibility denied to each culture is to operate in isolation as though the other were not there. 

 This message of hope, tempered as it is with Old Testament style warnings, rhetorically places both white and black cultures on equal footing. They are both valid, they are both locked, and both of their fates will be impacted by the other.  





1.Hal Baron uses the phrase “web of urban racism” in the following works––Public Housing: Chicago Builds a Ghetto (1967), Negroes in Policy-Making Positions in Chicago: A Study in Black Powerlessness in Chicago’” (1968), “Report on the Chicago Urban League, Annual Meeting 1968,” The Demand for Black Labor: Historical Notes on the Political Economy of Racism (1971), Building Babylon: A Case of Racial Controls in Public Housing (1971), “Institutional Racism in Modern Metropolis” (1973), Racism Transformed: The Implications of the 1969s (1982).

2.W.E.B Du Bois cave analogy:“It is difficult to let others see the full psychological meaning of caste segregation. It is as though one, looking out from a dark cave in a side of an impending mountain, sees the world passing and speaks to it; speaks courteously and persuasively, showing them how these entombed souls are hindered in their natural movement, expression, and development; and how their loosening from prison would be a matter not simply of courtesy, sympathy, and help to them, but aid to all the world. One talks on evenly and logically in this way, but notices that the passing throng does not even tum its head, or if it does, glances curiously and walks on. It gradually penetrates the minds of the prisoners that the people passing do not hear; that some thick sheet of invisible but horribly tangible plate glass is between them and the world. They get excited; they talk louder; they gesticulate. Some of the passing world stop in curiosity; these gesticulations seem so pointless; they laugh and pass on. They still either do not hear at all, or hear but dimly, and even what they hear, they do not understand. Then the people within may become hysterical. They may scream and hurl themselves against the barriers, hardly realizing in their bewilderment that they are screaming in a vacuum unheard and that their antics may actually seem funny to those outside looking in. They may even, here and there, break through in blood and disfigurement, and find themselves faced by a horrified, implacable, and quite overwhelming mob of people frightened for their own very existence.” W.E.B Du BoisDusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept. Edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 66.  

Planning in Black and White (Hal Baron, 1968)

Synopsis by: Briana Gipson

Hal Baron was a strong proponent for anti-racist planning and Blacks’ right to the city during his tenure as Research Director of the Chicago Urban League. In 1968, Hal Baron and the Chicago Urban League would further showcase their advocacy by identifying, evaluating, and challenging the gaps that existed in the City of Chicago’s 1966 Comprehensive Plan. This was the first plan created by City of Chicago planners and influential planning scholars such as Louis B. Wetmore that attempted to address Chicago’s long legacy of racism, anti-Blackness, and segregation. The Chicago Urban League would argue that the Plan failed to significantly challenge Chicago’s infamous racial and class divides in its 1968 critique of the Plan. This critique was titled The Racial Aspects of Urban Planning: An Urban League Critique of the Chicago Comprehensive Plan. Baron served as the critique’s editor and wrote “Planning in Black and White” as an introduction to the critique.

Baron’s introduction makes a strong case for planners and the planning field to support and enforce anti-racist public policies and designs. He begins his article by defining planning as an evolved form of racism. He supports his argument by discussing a significant challenge that still exists within the planning practice today: planners are often obligated to act in the interest of the public but there are different definitions of the public in practice. These definitions do not often include historically disadvantaged communities but instead property owners and predominantly White communities.

Baron discussed how planners were not acting in the interest of Blacks especially property-less Blacks in the 20th century. Blacks often lacked property due to legalized real estate and home-lending theft practices such as contract selling and redlining especially in Chicago. This led to planners being able to intentionally displace Black communities under the guise of urban renewal. Baron claims that urban renewal was the strongest microcosm of planning’s racist roots and practices. He incorporates a quote from prominent 20th century planner and architect Hans Blumfeld that provides an explanation of the latter. Planners engaged in urban renewal to address concentrated urban decay in Black communities. However, the quote explains that urban renewal and planners failed to address the root cause of blight—economic exploitation, racism, and anti-blackness. Instead, planners revitalized the area for those in power, White property owners, and increased costs and distress in Black communities. Baron’s article suggests that planners used planning tools such as urban renewal to maintain racism and subsequently plan segregated Black and White neighborhoods. This is a key theme of Baron’s introduction and the Chicago Urban League’s larger critique of Chicago’s 1966 Comprehensive Plan.

Baron would dedicate the rest of his article to explaining how planners and the field of planning can engage in anti-racist planning and eradicate segregation. He listed four ways planners could carry out this anti-racist work as government officials. He began explaining these four mechanisms by calling out social science researchers on their failure to educate planners on racism. He implied that they must address this issue by producing studies on racial and economic segregation and the racial implications of planning. He encouraged planners to incorporate these studies into their plans and policies. However, he recognized that planners in the 1960s existed within the confines of racist and segregated institutions and organizations. He urged planners to find ways to convince these institutions and organizations to support racially conscious studies. To further challenge the power dynamics of the time, he strongly advised planners to standardize their studies and use large and frequently updated datasets. He also demanded that planners create plans that uncover racism and segregation and clearly describe how planners will chip away at these systems and processes.

Baron made it clear he understood planners faced major limitations to completing this anti-racist work. They were up against power structures that would not adopt and enforce plans due to a lack of support, resources, or jurisdiction powers. Baron implied that these challenges should not stop planners from fighting against racism. He explains that planners have the potential to confront racism through advocacy planning. He describes advocacy planning as planning that is directed by and in the interest of marginalized communities and activist groups. The results of this planning had the opportunity to be presented to and incorporated by planning officials. Baron hoped that planning officials began to serve the interest of Black communities in the 1960s with or without advocacy planning. Black communities were becoming the predominant racial group in central cities due to discriminatory real estate speculation and white flight, and consequently should have been considered the public, in theory.

While history shows that planning officials did not often act in Blacks’ interests in practice as white flight skyrocketed in the 1950s and 1960s, Baron and the Chicago Urban League were adamant and rightfully so that racism cannot be eliminated without anti-racist urban planning practices. Baron ended his article describing that the Chicago Urban League’s 1968 critique was the League’s attempt to shed light on planning’s racial biases and implications. He explained that the critique was designed as debate between the Chicago Urban League and five planners, two of which were planning academics that contributed to Chicago’s 1966 Comprehensive Plan. The League provided a frank critique of the plan and the five planners Baron referenced responded to the critique. Baron and the Chicago Urban League hoped that this debate would fuel new anti-racist practices within the field of planning. The League’s critique provided at least five ways for Chicago and planners across the world to understand and engage in the anti-racism Baron demanded in “Planning in Black and White”.

Negroes in Policy-Making Positions in Chicago: “A Study in Black Powerlessness in Chicago” (Harold M. Baron, 1968)

(Synopsis by Donald Planey)

In this Chicago Urban League Study, Dr. Baron direct a CUL research team-headed by himself, and consisting of research assistants Harriet Stulman, Richard Rothstein, and Rennard Davis-in studying the attainment of decision-making positions within the Chicago Metropolitan Area’s major institutions. Examining corporations, law firms, unions, public school systems, local government, religious organizations, universities, and the Democratic Party, this empirical study draws from 1965 Census data, interviews by research assistants, and publicly-available information about various institutions’ rosters.

Here, Baron and his team examined a relatively straightforward empirical question: Which types of organizations in the Chicago metropolitan area tended to exclude Black people from decision-making posts, whether top-or mid-tier, and to what degree? The study finds that Black Chicagolanders are widely shut out of decision-making positions, but that there is a great deal of variegation in how different segments of the region’s institutions practice exclusion (or in rare cases, inclusion). The Democratic Party, CIO unions, and religious organizations are more likely to accept “above-token” Black leadership, while different segments of public, private, and civil society either entirely exclude Black people, or alternatively, accept “token” amounts of Black members into mid-tier leadership positions.

Towards the end of the article, Baron analyses the data, delineating the challenges of attaining “Black power” in the Chicago region. In turn, he implores the reader to consider the challenges of defining the purpose of attaining Black social, economic, and political power, especially within the confines of a class-stratified social order.