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Racism

Mobility is the physical manifestation of liberty. To pursue happiness requires equal access to mobility.

 

Martin Luther King, Jr
"When you go beyond the relatively simple though serious problems such as police racism, however, you begin to get into all the complexities of the modern American economy. Urban transit systems in most American cities, for example, have become a genuine civil rights issue—and a valid one—because the layout of rapid-transit systems determines the accessibility of jobs to the Black community. If transportation systems in American cities could be laid out so as to provide an opportunity for poor people to get to meaningful employment, then they could begin to move into the mainstream of American life. A good example of this problem is my home city of Atlanta, where the rapid-transit system has been laid out for the convenience of the white upper-middle-class suburbanites who commute to their jobs downtown. The system has virtually no consideration for connecting the poor people with their jobs. There is only one possible explanation for this situation, and that is the racist blindness of city planners."

Robert Bullard, How Race Shaped America's Roadways And Cities

"Transportation has always been embedded in civil rights and racism,"

REF:  Top infrastructure official explains how America used highways to destroy black neighborhoods

It’s time for America to reckon with the role that highway projects too often play in ripping apart underprivileged communities around the country, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Wednesday at the Center for American Progress.

In the first 20 years of the federal interstate system alone, Foxx said, highway construction displaced 475,000 families and over a million Americans. Most of them were low-income people of color in urban cores.

Highway to Inequity: The Disparate Impact of the Interstate Highway System on Poor and Minority Communities in American Cities

Setting aside considerations of intent, there is little doubt among scholars who have studied American transportation history and policy that the Interstate Highway System took a particularly cruel toll on minority communities in urban spaces. As Raymond Mohl (2004) writes, “Trapped in inner-city ghettos, African Americans especially felt targeted by highways that destroyed their homes, split their communities, and forced their removal to emerging second ghettos” (p. 700). 

Indeed, black communities found themselves in the path of seemingly relentless bulldozers at an inordinate rate, a trend that became more difficult to combat given the scant political leverage among minority communities in many cities (Biles, 2014; Mohl, 2004). In Miami, for instance, highway construction captured 40 square blocks of city space, demolishing some 10,000 homes and a predominantly black business community (Mohl, 2008). The impact in Detroit was similar, as the route of the highway tore through minority communities and left behind large swatches of cleared neighborhoods (Biles, 2014). 

 

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