Racist By Design

In America, the highways and public spaces that shape our cities were often intentionally built at the expense of minority citizens. When the “structural” racist, urban planner Robert Moses began building projects in New York during the 1920s, he bulldozed Black and Latino homes to make way for parks and built highways through the middle of minority neighborhoods.

Cross Bronx Expressway., under construction at 176th St. & Southern Blvd

Completed in 1972, the 6.5-mile Cross Bronx Expressway bisects the borough east to west, carrying 300 diesel trucks every hour, on average. The resulting air and noise pollution contribute to a bevy of health problems, from asthma to COVID-19, for the 220,000 people who live near the highway, most of whom are Black and Brown.

An unapologetic racist and segregationist, Moses even ordered his engineers to build the bridges low over the Southern State Parkway connecting New York City to Jones Beach in Long Island. This kept city buses (which would likely be carrying poor Black & Brown people) from passing underneath. This and many more of Moses’ programs and designs influenced a generation of engineers, architects, and urban planners nationwide.

In Robert A. Caro’s 1974 biography of Robert Moses, “The Power Broker,” he describes Moses as, “the most racist human being I had ever encountered.” An example of the effect Moses’ projects have had on the residents of NYC: The Cross Bronx Expressway is just one major source of air pollution linked to high rates of asthma in nearby communities of color.

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Day in the History of Racial Injustice

March 15, 2022 ~ Kevin Johnson was fatally shot 9 times in the back by three San Antonio cops. A crowd that gathered after the shooting clashed with police, who at one point used pepper spray on the group.

March 15, 1713 – Tuscarora Nation warriors withstood colonizers’ siege of Fort Neoheroka in North Carolina Territory for three weeks before most were burned to death in fire that destroyed the fort; survivors joined the Iroquois Nation.

Day in the History of Racial Injustice

In this image made from video provided by Delane Gordon, a police officer in Collegedale, Tenn., is seen before he fires a stun gun at Gordon on Thursday, March 10, 2022. Gordon, a food delivery driver, began recording his traffic stop for speeding and asked to see the officer’s supervisor. Gordon’s attorney, Ryan Wheeler, says Gordon is facing additional charges of resisting arrest and obstruction of justice. Police have so far not identified the officer. (Delane Gordon via AP)

March 10, 2022 ~ A Collegedale, Tennessee police officer fired his stun gun at a Black food delivery man, Delane Gordon, who had begun recording his traffic stop for speeding and asked to see the officer’s supervisor, video footage shows. Gordon has no prior criminal record, never posed a threat to the officer and was respectful throughout the exchange.

March 10, 1865 – During the Civil War, Confederate forces in South Carolina hung a teenage enslaved Black woman named Amy Spain for aiding the Union Army. Spain was captured and charged with “treason and conduct unbecoming a slave” by a Confederate military tribunal.