My first memories were of West Hartford, Connecticut before we moved out to an outer suburb and built a house there. What I did not realize at the time was that there were neither Jews or African Americans living outside of Hartford and anywhere near us with one exception each — an African American couple worked as servants near us and a Jewish grocery/liquor store owner had set up his business in a poor community (Oakland Gardens) between West Hartford and Farmington where we lived.

We did not see African Americans except the occasional woman riding a bus to a job as a household servant. Jews and others never mixed — were excluded from non-Jewish organizations.

WW II and rumors of the Holocaust weakened anti-Semitism somewhat, but it was still in force when I went to Yale, learned of Yale’s anti Eastern Jew admissions practices, and condemned them in an editorial in our student newspaper. Buckley had been notoriously anti-Semitic as an undergraduate at Yale.

I only discovered our Hartford African American ghetto on an occasion when I was helping deliver collected newspapers for the war effort to a location in Hartford where about six blocks of African Americans were clustered together.

The only active efforts to end segregation that I encountered was in 1957 when I happened to take a summer job with Suisman & Blumenthal, the major scrap metal company in New England, where African Americans constituted most of the workers and the Suismans sent able ones among their workers to college. To my knowledge this was the only employer of African American men in or near Hartford. That same summer I worked for the Pratt and Whitney Aircraft plant in East Hartford with 35,000 employees — including one African American.

Needless to say it is still much easier today for African American women to get jobs than men. The same is true for a college education.

Yale was the first of the Ivies to begin to break down these prejudices. They were still operative at Vassar when I began teaching there in 1963 — 3 African American women among its students.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent [blind copies]

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