A Racist Attack on Children Was Taped in 1975. We Found Them.Breaking News
tags: racism, 1970s, New York, housing integration
The video rolls on a sunny suburban street, and a group of black children bike toward what looks to them like a parade — there’s a small crowd, and an American flag. Suddenly, they’re swarmed by a group of white children, who hurl racial epithets and rocks. Adults gathered nearby do nothing.
The black children had bicycled straight into a white supremacist rally.
The scene captured in 1975 by “Bill Moyers Journal,” a PBS documentary series, has echoes of the racist clashes more than a decade earlier in places like Selma, Ala., Birmingham, Ala., and Little Rock, Ark. But it unfolded in New York City, in the bedroom community of Rosedale in Queens, nearly a dozen years after the Civil Rights Act was made law.
Forty-five years later, that virulent two-minute, 20-second snippet of the documentary, “Rosedale: The Way It Is,” resurfaced online, shared last year by a graduate student, and boomeranged across the internet. Its quietly forgotten subject, a rash of firebombings of black families’ homes in Queens, upended for a new generation the city’s narrative as a bastion of tolerance and exposed its core falsehood: that racism is a scourge of elsewhere.
As it ricocheted around the internet, racking up millions of views, provoking anguished discussion about the city’s past, one line of questioning coalesced:
Who were those children? How did it shape them? Where are they now?
“I’m still here,” Samantha Brown-Carter said. She was the girl in pigtails; now she is 55 years old. She sat for an interview in the home she grew up in, a neighborhood just north of where the episode unfolded nearly half a century ago.
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