Challenging Jim Crow in New York City

By AAIHS Editors

CBFS: Given your recent publications of new works on the Jim Crow North, can you tell us about what you’ve written and how you came to study this?

Clarence Taylor: My interest in the New York City civil rights struggle has to do with my growing up in the 1960s and experiencing gross civil rights violations by police, teachers and school administrators, store owners and their employees, and many others in authority. I also witnessed these same forces violate the civil rights of other Black people. I was aware at an early age that racism was not confined to the South. As a graduate student focusing on the civil rights movement I decided to research and examine the Jim Crow North and how Black people attempted to eradicate racial barriers and structures that relegated them to the lowest social and economic positions in the city. I am one of a handful of scholars whose work focuses on the civil rights struggle in New York City. My second book, Knocking at Our Own Door: Milton A. Galamison and the Struggle to Integrate New York City Schools, is the most extensive work on Milton Galamison, leader of the New York City School integration struggle in the 1950s and 1960s. This work challenges the southern paradigm on civil rights historiography by exploring the efforts of civil rights activists and organizations in New York to end city-wide segregation of New York City public schools.

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