On this day in American History, September 18, 1923 — Pennsylvania Mayor Orders Black and Mexican American Residents to Leave

Late in August 1923, Mayor Joseph Cauffiel of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, issued an executive order demanding that African American and Mexican American residents who had lived there for fewer than seven years leave town “for their own safety.” As justification, he stated that “we have been sitting on a bomb in this city… I feared an outbreak against the negroes unless I acted quickly… many of the newcomers were bad people, including ex-convicts.”

Following an inquiry by the state governor in response to pressure from the NAACP and the Mexican Embassy, Mayor Cauffiel backtracked on his statements, claiming that he had meant to make a mere “suggestion.” By that time, however, over 2,000 families had left Johnstown. No attempt was made to facilitate their return or compensate them for their losses. Such backlash against African-Americans in the north became more prominent in the years following the great migration, during which demographic shifts brought latent tensions to the forefront.

“The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is proud to present A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar.  America’s history of racial inequality continues to undermine fair treatment, equal justice, and opportunity for many Americans.  The genocide of Native people, the legacy of slavery and racial terror, and the legally supported abuse of racial minorities are not well understood.  EJI believes that a deeper engagement with our nation’s history of racial injustice is important to addressing present-day questions of social justice and equality.

About ezwaters

Award-winning poet, playwright and writer. Author of three books of poetry, "Black Shadows and Through the White Looking Glass: Remembrance of Things Past and Present"; "Sometimes Blue Knights Wear Black Hats"; "The Black Feminine Mystique," and a novel, "Streets of Rage." All four books are available on Amazon.com.
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