Rochester Race Riot Papers
These papers, compiled by William J. Bubb, chronicle the July 24-26, 1964 racial disturbances in Rochester NY and their aftermath. The collection consists mainly of newspaper clippings, painstakingly collected and organized by William J. Bub, Jr. (1926-1980). Bub was a student at Syracuse University's Maxwell Graduate School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. This archive is the product of his research for a Masters thesis.
Violence and looting in Rochester spanned a period of approximately sixty hours, resulting in four deaths, at least 350 injuries, over 800 arrests, and property damage totalling more than a million dollars. The National Guard was called in to keep the peace. Dubbed"'smugtown" in the 1950s because of the comfort and complacency borne of the economic prosperity and amicable labor-management relations fostered by the Eastman Kodak Company and other large, successful, high-tech corporations, the riots represented a profound blow to Rochester's positive self-image. As the flames of discontent were replaced by the glare of the media spotlight, black and white Rochester residents were forced to reflect--from different perspectives and with different conclusions--on the causes and meanings of this devastating event.
The "riot" was precipitated by the arrest of an allegedly drunk and disorderly African- American man at a Joseph Avenue street dance. But even in its immediate aftermath, many looked to underlying social and environmental conditions to explain the events that followed. These conditions were analagous to those that existed in many Northern cities. They included a large and rapid influx of African-Americans from the South, the de-facto segregation of black arrivals in specific areas of the residential urban core, a failure to extend economic opportunities from white to black residents, the physical decay of black neighborhoods due to poverty and inadequate services, the routine exploitation of African-American tenants by white landlords, the neglect and persecution of blacks at the hands of an overwhelmingly white police force, inequities in educational instruction and facilities, and the inability of African-Americans to redress grievances through legitimate political channels. Rochester's was one of a trio of 'riots' in the summer of 1964. Together, they inaugurated the "long hot summers" of racial strife that marked the mid and late sixties. It is to the origins, effects, and implications of such events that the items in this collection ultimately speak.
The first box contains newspaper clippings arranged chronologically--starting on July 25, 1964, the day after the rioting began, and ending in the summer of 1966. These clippings are culled primarily from Rochester's two daily newspapers, the Democrat and Chronicle and Times-Union. There are also some pieces from the New York Times and a considerable number of clippings from the Los Angeles Times documenting events in Watts the following summer.
The second box is arranged by subject. The first 34 folders are organized according to the subject divisions that Bub himself used. They are arranged alphabetically. The remaining folders have since been compiled from miscellaneous items in Bub's collection. The subject headings reflect Bub's interest in social issues contributing to racial unrest. Apart from newspaper clippings, Bub also kept articles from national and local magazines and other publications. Two of Bub's own essays are also included.
The third box of the collection consists of 30 reel to reel tapes. They contain newcasts and media interviews as well as William Bub's interviews of various members of the Rochester community concerning the causes and effects of the 'riot.' This box also includes index cards with the names of over 800 people arrested during the turmoil.
The final item in the collection is an album of 48 black and white 8 x 10 photographs of the riots. The pictures are likely those of local newspaper photographers although no credit is given by Bub. Researchers interested in the effects of the riot, specifically the arrival of IAF leader Saul Alinsky and the beginnings of FIGHT and other civil rights initiatives should also consult the Franklin Florence Papers (D.167).