Political foundation of yonkers by Nusrat M. Jahan
Segregation by law, or de jure segregation, of African Americans was developed by state legislatures and local lawmakers first in southern states shortly after the Civil War. In December of 1980, the Justice Department and the Yonkers branch of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Yonkers, New York, the Yonkers School Board, and the Yonkers Community Development Agency, claiming that the city had engaged in systematic segregation for the last 30 years violating both the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution. The plaintiffs alleged that the city government had disproportionately restricted new subsidized housing projects to certain areas of the city already heavily populated by minorities. They also claimed that schools changed attendance boundaries, assigned teachers and built schools along lines that aggravated racial separation. The case filed by Jimmy Carter’s administration was the first time the Justice Department had ever filed a suit alleging both school and housing discrimination in the same case. The Yonkers case raised the question of whether there was a political will to confront such segregation. The case was handed down to Judge Leonard B. Sand, who had to figure out why Yonkers, consisting of twenty-one square miles and 188,000 people, had all its minority citizens living within one square mile. This lawsuit opened an ugly chapter in the city’s history, tearing apart neighborhoods and destroying political careers, while unleashing a heated court battle that nearly drove Yonkers to bankruptcy.
Public School Segregation
It was a federal response to the urgings of the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas that enabled the federal government to confront Yonkers. In Brown, the Supreme Court required lower courts to work to ensure the maintenance of constitutional principles of equity and equal protection under the law while fostering, as the Brown decision noted, “a practical flexibility in shaping remedies and a facility for adjusting and reconciling public and private needs”. Although racial isolation in schools declined sharply in the South between 1964 and 1972 and has decreased gradually in the border, mid-western, and western regions between 1964 and 1989, segregation in public schools has since increased in the South and has consistently risen in the Northeast. In fact, the Northeast is now the region of the United States where black and Latino students are the most racially segregated, with 70% of urban black students in schools that enroll between 90 to 100% blacks and Latinos.
While the State of New York was helping local districts achieve racial balance, Yonkers was becoming more segregated. Experts on the political failure of desegregation point to the policy's most controversial aspects. First, desegregation imposes a transfer of resources from a majority of people to a minority of people. Second, the political conflict generated by downward redistribution is often exacerbated by whites' racially based opposition to desegregation. However, political controversy alone cannot account for the failure of desegregation in New York State. Case studies demonstrate that the State's and local school boards' shared responsibility for public education also affected the political viability of a policy proposal. According to Hochschild, the combination of majority opposition to desegregation and shared institutional responsibility made desegregation politically impossible. Whereas similar opposition however, absent of shared institutional responsibility allowed other controversial policies to enjoy political success. In New York, local school boards were dominated by white parents and business elites saw themselves as bearing all of the social and economic costs of desegregating, while state actors disagreed with one another about the political payoffs which desegregation might bring along. Localities thus had stronger reasons to resist implementation than the State had to enforce it. Yonkers, however, was in the midst of a city-wide financial crisis, and could not pay for desegregation by itself. By the time the SED informed Yonkers that it could provide no additional money, then Mayor Martinelli had replaced the most active and liberal school board members with conservatives who refused to support programs that would destroy "the tradition of neighborhood schools.”
Sands discovered a forty year pattern in Yonkers housing sites:
He discovered that Yonkers built 97.7 percent of its public housing in one corner of the city in an effort to keep its neighborhoods and schools segregated. Sands would go on to oversee the case for 27 of his 28 years on the federal bench. Council members ordered a search for other sites; the housing was eventually placed on the mostly minority, southwest side. In 1985, the district court found that Yonkers had intentionally segregated its public housing on the basis of race. Sands proclaimed that politicians acted on behalf of their east side voters who did not want minorities in their neighborhoods. He stated, “There is no basis for doubt that City officials were aware that the course they were pursuing was one of segregation.” White homeowners’ resistance to accepting the poor and nonwhites in their Yonkers communities contributed to threats of ghettoization. Community solidarity through politics became essential for protecting the material interests of black residents. These members turned to politics, some for the first time, and invaded City Hall to be heard.
Fernanda Santos. "Healing 27-Year Rift, Yonkers Settles a Fight Over Housing Segregation." New York Times, April 20, 2007: 1
Joseph Pastore."In Yonkers We Trust." New York Times, May 20, 2007 : 2
 Jennifer Hochschild, "Only One Oar in the Water: The Political Failure of School Desegregation in Yonkers, New York," Harvard Law Journal, 7, no. 3 (2009): 1
 Jennifer Hochschild, 4.
 Jennifer Hochschild, 5.
 Lisa Belkin, 13.
 Joseph Pastore."In Yonkers We Trust."
 Lisa Belkin, 13.
Bruce Haynes, 131.