For most Rochesterians, life was indeed good. The economy was solid and robust. Workers were secure and highly skilled. Future growth and prosperity were taken for granted.
Most Rochsterians also paid little attention to the steady influx of blacks who settled in the city's Seventh Ward, not far from the railroad yards where they arrived in search of jobs and better living conditions. During the 1950's the city's black population tripled from 7,845 to 23,586, and then doubled to nearly 50,000 by 1970.
One prominent reason for the dramatic black emigration was the city's reputation for jobs. The unemployment rate in Rochester was a paltry 1.8 percent in the early 1960's - the lowest among thirty-nine major industrial areas in the United State. More than 10,000 jobs were unfilled.
Still, by 1964, unemployment among blacks in Rochester's central city was between ten and twenty-five percent. At least 4,000 blacks were unemployed, and several thousand more looked for work intermittently.
As the number of blacks increased in the inner city, White Rochesterians - like Whites in other northern cities - began moving to the suburbs. Business tended to follow its more affluent customers, and the urban core began to deteriorate.So, Rochester was 98 percent white in 1950; by 1960, the black population went from 2 percent to 7 percent; by 1970, Rochester's declining population of 296,233 was 16 percent black.
For the city's newly arrived blacks, life in Rochester was better than life in the South in only one major way: her, at least, welfare benefits were more liberal and more available.
What caused the 11 percent drop in the overall population of Rochester from 1950 - 1970? Well, the arrival of black people for one that upset the fragile balance of community in the city. The other?
The Rochester black riot of 1964, which required - after three days of black looting and mayhem - the National Guard to put down. The cause? Police arresting an intoxicated black male, in the Seventh War of Rochester where most of the recent black migrants to the city resided. Unsubstantiated rumors spread that a pregnant black woman was attacked by a police dog, a mob of black people rose to attack the Frankenstein monster of white racism and Rochester burned (a documentary on the black uprising in Rochester, July '64, can be viewed here)
Just as the smoke clearing in the Detroit black uprising of 1967 convinced white citizens of the city to flee, those white people who had built and sustained Rochester now realized that to live peacefully meant to abandon their city to the recent black arrivals.
Enter Saul Alinsky. From his infamous Rules for Radicals, we learn on p. 170-173, that in the ashes of the black riot grew a radical black organization called FIGHT -- Freedom, Integration, God, Honor, Today -- that demanded Eastman Kodak alleviate the black unemployment problem in Rochester. Alinsky was brought in to organize the rabble:
The proxy tactic was born in Rochester, New York, in the conflict between Eastman Kodak and the black ghetto organization called FIGHT our foundation helped to organize. The issues* of the conflict are not relevant to the present subject except that a VP of Kodak assigned to negotiate with FIGHT reached an agreement with FIGHT, and that seemed to close the matter. Enter the first accident, for Kodak then repudiated its own VP and the agreement he had made. This re-opened the battle. If Kodak had not reneged, the issue would have ended there.
Now necessity moved in. As the lines were drawn for battle it became clear that the usual strategy of demonstrations and confrontations would be unavailing. While Kodak’s buildings and administration were in Rochester, its real life was throughout its American and overseas markets. Demonstrations might be embarrassing and inconvenient, but they would not be the tactic to force an agreement. It wasn’t Rochester that Eastman Kodak was concerned about. Their image in that community could always be sustained by sheer financial power. Their vulnerability was throughout the nation and overseas.
*Those involved in the Kodak-FIGHT battle knew that there was on issue- “Would Kodak or any other corporation recognize FIGHT as the bargaining agent for the black ghetto of Rochester, New York?” Once Kodak recognized FIGHT as represent the black ghetto, we could come to the table to negotiate on all other issues, including the employment of more blacks. Kodak’s recognition of FIGHT would result in other corporations following suit and this would lead to other programs and other issues. Kodak’s subsequent recognition of FIGHT caused Xerox to do the same and resulted in the launching of a black-manned factory by FIGHT called FIGHTON in collaboration with the Xerox Corporation.
In a 1972 interview with Playboy, Alinsky let slip the one fundamental truth of what Rules for Radicals is all about, and what the battle of Rochester boiled down to; screwing over the civilization white people had built:
|After the Black Uprising in 1964, whites left, taking the "quality" with them|
ALINSKY: I kept my fingers in a number of pies throughout the Sixties, organizing community-action groups in the black slums of Kansas City and Buffalo, and sponsoring and funding the Community Service Organization of Mexican-Americans in California, which was led by our West Coast organizer at the time, Fred Ross. The staff we organized and trained then included Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. But my next major battle occurred in Rochester, New York, the home of Eastman Kodak -- or maybe I should say Eastman Kodak, the home of Rochester, New York. Rochester is a classic company town, owned lock, stock and barrel by Kodak; it's a Southern plantation transplanted to the North, and Kodak's self-righteous paternalism makes benevolent feudalism look like participatory democracy. I call it Smugtown, U.S.A. But in mid-1964 that smugness was jolted by a bloody race riot that resulted in widespread burnings, injuries and deaths. The city's black minority, casually exploited by Kodak, finally exploded in a way that almost destroyed the city, and the National Guard had to be called in to suppress the uprising.
In the aftermath of the riots, the Rochester Area Council of Churches, a predominantly white body of liberal clergymen, invited us in to organize the black community and agreed to pay all our expenses. We said they didn't speak for the blacks and we wouldn't come in unless we were invited in by the black community itself. At first, there seemed little interest in the ghetto, but once again the old reliable establishment came to the rescue and, by overreacting, cut its own throat. The minute the invitation was made public, the town's power structure exploded in paroxysms of rage. The mayor joined the city's two newspapers, both part of the conservative Gannett chain, in denouncing me as a subversive hatemonger; radio station WHAM delivered one-minute editorial tirades against me and told the ministers who'd invited me that from now on they'd have to pay for their previously free Sunday-morning air time. A settlement house that had pledged its support to us was promptly informed by the Community Chest that its funds would be cut off if it went ahead; the board retracted its support, with several members resigning. The establishment acted as if the Golden Horde of Genghis Khan was camped on its doorstep.
If you listened to the public comments, you'd have thought I spent my spare time feeding poisoned Milk-Bones to seeing-eye dogs. It was the nicest thing they could have done for me, of course. Overnight, the black community broke out of its apathy and started clamoring for us to come in; as one black told me later, "I just wanted to see somebody who could freak those mothers out like that." Black civil rights leaders, local block organizations and ministers plus 13,000 individuals signed petitions asking me to come in, and with that kind of support I knew we were rolling. I assigned my associate, Ed Chambers, as chief organizer in Rochester, and prepared to visit the city myself once his efforts were under way.
PLAYBOY: Was your reception as hostile as your advance publicity?
ALINSKY: Oh, yeah, I wasn't disappointed. I think they would have quarantined me at the airport if they could have. When I got off the plane, a bunch of local reporters were waiting for me, keeping the same distance as tourists in a leper colony. I remember one of them asking me what right I had to start "meddling" in the black community after everything Kodak had done for "them" and I replied: "Maybe I'm uninformed, but as far as I know the only thing Kodak has done on the race issue in America is to introduce color film." My relationship with Kodak was to remain on that plane.
PLAYBOY: How did you organize Rochester's black community?
ALINSKY: With the assistance of a dynamic local black leader, the Reverend Franklin Florence, who'd been close to Malcolm X, we formed a community organization called FIGHT -- an acronym for Freedom, Integration, God, Honor, Today. We also established the Friends of FIGHT, an associated group of some 400 dues-paying white liberals, which provided us with funds, moral support, legal advice and instructors for our community training projects. We had a wide range of demands, of which the key one was that Kodak recognize the representatives of the black community who were designated as such by the people and not insist on dealing through its own showcase "Negro" executive flunky with a Ph.D. Kodak naturally refused to discuss such outrageous demands with us, contending that FIGHT had no legitimacy as a community spokesman and that the company would never accept it as such.
PLAYBOY: In any case, you never held your fart-in. So what finally broke Kodak's resistance?
ALINSKY: Simple self-interest -- the knowledge that the price of continuing to fight us was greater than reaching a compromise. It was one of the longest and toughest battles I've been in, though. After endless months of frustration, we finally decided we'd try to embarrass Kodak outside its fortress of Rochester, and disrupt the annual stockholders' convention in Flemington, New Jersey. Though we didn't know it at the time -- all we had in mind was a little troublemaking -- this was the seed from which a vitally important tactic was to spring. I addressed the General Assembly of the Unitarian-Universalist Association and asked them for their proxies on whatever Kodak stock they held in order to gain entree to the stockholders' meeting. The Unitarians voted to use the proxies for their entire Kodak stock to support FIGHT -- 5620 shares valued at over $700,000.
The wire services carried the story and news of the incident rapidly spread across the country. Individuals began sending in their proxies, and other church groups indicated they were prepared to follow the Unitarians' lead. By the purest accident, we'd stumbled onto a tactical gold mine. Politicians who saw major church denominations assigning us their proxies could envision them assigning us their votes as well; the church groups have vast constituencies in their congregations. Suddenly senators and representatives who hadn't returned our phone calls were ringing up and lending a sympathetic ear to my request for a senatorial investigation of Kodak's hiring practices.
As the proxies rolled in, the pressure began to build on Kodak -- and on other corporations as well. Executives of the top companies began seeking me out and trying to learn my intentions. I'd never seen the establishment so uptight before, and this convinced me that we had happened onto the cord that might open the golden curtain shielding the private sector from its public responsibilities. It obviously also convinced Kodak, because they soon caved in and recognized FIGHT as the official representative of the Rochester black community. Kodak has since begun hiring more blacks and training unskilled black workers, as well as inducing the city administration to deliver major concessions on education, housing, municipal services and urban renewal. It was our proxy tactic that made all this possible. It scared Kodak, and it scared Wall Street. It's our job now to relieve their tensions by fulfilling their fears.
Rochester had a population that was less than 2 percent black in 1950. The white population had created an economy that was the envy of the nation, and black people flocked to the city hoping to live off a slice of the pie; instead, they were virtually unemployable, importing crime and driving property values down in a city with such a surplus of cash that the blacks were able to live comfortably on welfare.
Then, the black uprising of 1964, followed by a DWL-led shakedown of Eastman Kodak.
There's the truth about Alinsky or Alinskyism.
Connected Capitalism -- the same that was used to bring about black rule in Atlanta -- was forced to cave to the demands of an outsider, agitating for a group of people whose ranks had only grown through recent migration to the city.
Rochester, like Gary (Indiana), Newark, Atlanta, Memphis, Baltimore, Detroit, and Chicago, has fallen to the Black Undertow.
The white population in each of these cities, which had created and sustained the conditions that attracted black people to them in the first place - high standard of living, thriving economy, robust employment prospects, inexpensive housing, a climate of upward mobility, safe streets and quality schools - was overwhelmed when black racial solidarity demanded concessions and threatened (and many times engaged) riots were they not met.
The climate that follows all black migratory patterns - crime, dysfunction, offspring that perform at lower levels then white students in school, the closing of businesses, and an immediate drop in property value - means an immediate evacuation of areas near where black settle by whites.
In the ruins of blighted urban areas like Birmingham, Detroit, and Rochester bespeak racial truths that no crash course lesson in genetics and heredity from the late Jensen or Rushton could supplant.
And there is the truth of Alinsky that Conservatism Inc. refuses to acknowledge.
Black people destroyed... no, obliterated the idea of Rochester: A City of Quality.
But "progress" and "freedom" had to come to Rochester, as it did to Detroit.
Rochester died (just watch this documentary of the community white people created in Rochester), so Black-Run America (BRA) could be born.