"Building Ghettoes"

Chicago Defender

Saturday, September 25, 1937

Page 16

Recently Judge Michael Feinberg of the Circuit Court upheld a temporary injunction which forced Mr. Harry Pace and Mr. Carl Hansbury, who had bought property in the Woodlawn district, to move out of their homes and back into the so-called "black belt." Judge Feinberg ended his decision by stating that "Negroes" should not live where they are not wanted. "I," thundered the judge, "do not go where I am not wanted."

These words seem strange coming from the mouth of a Jew, esecially one who owes his position on the judicial bench to a preponderance of votes cast by black men. If Judge Feinberg does not go where he is not wanted, he certainly does not attempt to live in any of the better class suburbs and subdivisions of the city where Jews are definitely not wanted, and there are even restrictive covenants against Jewish people. Would he tell a Jew that he should not go where he was not wanted? would he advise the Jews of Germany and Poland to establish their homes elsewhere? They are not wanted in the reich republic, and the Polish government is negotiating with both Liberia and Santo Domingo with a view to establishing colonies there for the Polish Jews.

For centuries Jews in Germany, Russia and Poland have suffered all of the multitudes of ills which have attended the enforced ghettoes. Crime, disease, and filth resulted from the horrible conditions of those overcrowded and neglected areas. There was a time when Jews were locked into their ghettoes every night. If any people in the world know the horror of a ghetto, it is the Jews. It would seem, then, that a judge in a democratic country would be ever alert to guard the rights of all minority people against these injustices, and should be the last one to try to force the black man into a ghetto in America.

Judge Feinberg seems to have the moral, if not the active support of the University of Chicago. It is well known in Woodlawn that this university is the motive power behind the Restrictive Covenants. In fact, many of the real estate owners in that area refer to the Restrictive Covenants as "the University of Chicago Agreement to get rid of Negroes." It is obvious that these covenants are just another means by which the social and political rights of a minority people are being infringed upon. But more serious than that is the actual situation which they have caused. With the entire community surrounded by restriction covenants, blocking further expansion, habitable houses have become harder and harder to find. Families have been forced to double up; two, three, four and even five families to one small apartment. Rents have soared to the sky as the demand for homes in the restricted areas become greater than the supply. Doctor Bundesen reported a case of a mother who gave birth to a child in a coal bin. The death rate, the tuberculosis rate, the adult crime, have all been affected by this terrible overcrowding.

It is indeed a queer combination, a Jewish judge and a liberal university dedicating themselves to the purpose of maintaining a black ghetto. This judge should be reminded that he is perhaps only a generation away from a Russian or a Polish ghetto--that perhaps his father felt the lash of the knout when he venture from his home after dark. The University of Chicago should be brought to task and its role as humanitarian should be balanced against its vicious attack on the rights of American citizens. Its contribution to science, art and literature should be set against its contribution to the increase of crime, misery, and the demoralization of a people. Since the president of the university has not seen fit to clarify his position on the matter, we presume that he is a party to this damnable scheme.

This WWW page was created by Wendy Plotkin (wendy.plotkin@asu.edu) in 1998 and updated on 1 September 2003.