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The Walter White Project

Randy Stakeman, Jackson Stakeman, Authors

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NAACP and Housing

Many African Americans were attracted to leave the South for jobs up North as industries in the north faced job shortages during World War I.  The war cut off the supply of immigrants from Europe and American whites who joined the military. These new African American workers settled in northern cities in what was called the "Great Migration" although larger migrations loomed ahead. These new migrants filled the ghettos and old urban communities.  They fueled both the growth of a black middle class which served this community and that middle class's search for housing in previously white communities as their income increased. This culminated in housing pressures exemplified by the case of Ossian Sweet in Detroit.  In the summer of 1925 in two separate incidents African American bought and tried to move into previously all white neighborhoods in Detroit.  In both cases white mobs had attacked the houses when the African Americans had tried to move in.  In both cases the African Americans had been scared off. In September of that year a lack physician named Ossian Sweet bought and tried to occupy a house in a white area knowing that mobs of whites had attacked previous attempts to desegregate white areas. He and his wife confronted a mob as they moved in on September 8 but moved to occupy their house anyway.  The next day the mob attacked throwing rocks and breaking windows while the police did nothing.  Sweet fired into the mob killing one.  The police finally acted arresting Sweet and charging him with murder. The Detroit branch of the NAACP requested help from the main office and they sent Walter White.
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