The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

Book Reviews

As Long As They Don't Move Next Door: Segregatzon and Raczal Conflict zn American
Neighborhoods. By Stephen Grant Meyer. (Lanham, Mass.: Rowman and Little-
field, 2000. Pp. x+343. Preface, acknowledgments, appendix, notes, bibliogra-
phy, index. ISBN 0-8476-9700-2. $39-95, cloth.)
Traditional topics such as school desegregation, Brown v. Board of Education,
and voting restrictions have long dominated the historiography of the civil rights
movement. At the same time, most writers have accepted similar periodization of
the era, conforming to the 1954 to 1968 chronology. Recently, however, breaks
from the Brown-to-Memphis timeline have deepened appreciation of events ear-
ly in the twentieth century and their formative role in the civil rights struggle.
In As Long As They Don't Move Next Door, first-time-author Stephen Grant Mey-
er examines American race relations through the lens of housing discrimina-
tion. He broadens the period by tracing the conflict over residential space from
the 189os to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, better known as the
Fair Housing Act. Initially focusing on neighborhoods outside the South, Meyer
demonstrates how the Great Migration altered the distribution of the races.
Rather than the Promised Land, blacks encountered systematic segregation that
forced them into overcrowded enclaves and decaying ghettos. The Great De-
pression further devastated African American communities, while New Deal
programs such as slum clearance only exacerbated discriminatory housing poli-
cies. With the outbreak of World War II and another mass exodus north, the
need for additional housing led to increased violence, race riots, and white
flight.
Prior to 1945 most southern cities exhibited a lesser degree of residential con-
flict. The Jim Crow system, white supremacy, and black poverty effectively limit-
ed most challenges to racial separation. But with the demise of the white
primary, the presence of black servicemen in the South, and the Brown decision,
the legal status of blacks changed. Consequently, white southerners, like their
northern counterparts, engaged in similar methods to thwart integration-
bombing, intimidation, and zoning restrictions.
During the 1950s and 196os, residential segregation remained the central civ-
il rights issue outside the South. Open-housing activists demanded that the fed-
eral government enact nondiscriminatory legislation. Incrementally, the
campaign won legal protection, beginning with Kennedy's Order 11063, John-
son's Civil Rights Act of 1968, and the U.S. Supreme Court's Jones v. Mayer deci-
sion.
Yet segregation endures. The most significant hindrance to further improve-
ment in race relations, Meyer contends, is "the tendency of the races to live sepa-
rate lives in separate neighborhoods" (p. vii). While whites have accepted
African American progress in education and the workplace, these advances oc-
curred only "as long as they don't move next door."
This provocative, well-researched volume makes a valuable contribution to the
growing civil rights literature. If it has one weakness, it is the author's under-

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed December 27, 2014.