Note (7/27/17): Good for the Boy Scouts for apologizing for the President’s behavior.
Yesterday, President Trump used his speech to a global Boy Scouts gathering to extol Bill Levitt, a housing developer. Well, of course he did.
Bill Levitt typified, if not personified, racial discrimination in housing. Under the protection of the National Housing Act of 1934, Levitt sold his 16,000 affordable, quality homes only to white buyers.
I grew up in Levittown, Pennsylvania, born weeks before the first African-American family moved in in August 1957. My parents were civil rights activists and my father, at the time, was the City Editor of the local paper.
A local group of white people bought a house to sell it to Daisy and William Myers, an African American couple who moved in with their infant child. Almost immediately, they faced hostile neighbors, violent threats, rocks through windows, and persistent harassment. They did not relent, many residents formed support chains and groups for the Myers family, and a human relations council emerged to discuss integration.
The crisis diminished only when state officials intervened and protected the Myers’ right to stay. Racial discrimination, injustice, and tension did not go away, and about a decade later riots in one of the local high schools fueled by racial hatred put the community back in the national spotlight.
The President mentioned yesterday that Levitt lost everything and went broke. Still, Trump the businessman-President chose Levitt the failed businessman as a model for the kids he spoke to.
Sad in every way.