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The FixersDevolution, Development, and Civil Society in Newark, 1960-1990$
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Julia Rabig

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226388311

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226388458.001.0001

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Fighting for Jobs in the “Laboratory of Democracy”

Fighting for Jobs in the “Laboratory of Democracy”

(p.23) One Fighting for Jobs in the “Laboratory of Democracy”
The Fixers

Julia Rabig

University of Chicago Press

This chapter analyzes the protests against employment discrimination that galvanized Newark’s civil rights movement and clarified the limits of liberal reforms against which subsequent activists would organize. In 1963, hearings led by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission exposed persistent job discrimination. The city’s black freedom movement seized upon already established, but now publicly affirmed examples, to contrast officials’ promises with the reality of racial discrimination. A newly formed civil rights group, the Newark Coordinating Committee, picketed the construction of a new school to highlight the lack of black workers in the building trades. These protests upended the hierarchy of Newark’s civil rights organizations. They also sparked internal debate about strategies among black activists and their allies that enlarged the movement’s scope, while the impasses they reached prompted greater movement involvement in private sector hiring. In the short-term, their efforts yielded few victories. But the gaps between antidiscrimination law and its enforcement compelled activists to look beyond confrontation at the job site to the other actors protecting the status quo. In the long run, early protests established a foundation for some of the most hard-won affirmative action plans of the 1970s.

Keywords:   liberalism, Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, Congress of Racial Equality, US Civil Rights Commission, Newark Coordinating Committee, employment discrimination, building trades, labor unions, apprenticeship, CORE

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