A Reader Compares The New York Blackouts Of 1965 And 1977
Print Friendly and PDF
Re: A Reader Compares Woodstock (1969) With DC’s “Human Kindness” Day (1975)

A California Reader [Email Him]

A recent letter writer compared the happenings mostly white Woodstock (peace and love) with the Washington DC black concert that had “were about 500 robberies, and 600 injuries. 150 people had to be treated at hospitals.”

You can make a similar comparison with the NY City blackouts of 1965 and 1977.

The blackout of 1965

“could have been the time of panic so long predicted . . . . Thus, what happened during the next 12 hours was an event of political magnitude fully as important as the implications of the technological breakdown: New Yorkers behaved superbly. Eight million people became friends, neighbors, citizens. ” highlights / great northeast blackout of 1965, GMU Blackout Project.
An example of the music of that time:

The blackout of 1977

“revealed New Yorkers' divergent feelings about the city in which they lived. In some places, neighbors helped neighbors, and strangers helped strangers. Yet, at the same time, neighborhoods throughout New York exploded into violence. Stores were ransacked, looted and destroyed. Buildings were set ablaze…. Areas of Harlem, Brooklyn, and the South Bronx experienced the most damage, where thousands of people took to the streets and smashed store windows looking for TVs, furniture, or clothing. In one report, 50 cars were stolen from a car dealership in the Bronx. The police made 3,776 arrests, although from all accounts, many thousands escaped before being caught. 1,037 fires burned throughout the City, six times the average rate, while the fire department also responded to 1,700 false alarms.” events / 1977 (New York Blackout) GMU Blackout Project.
This is more than a racial difference in behavior. In the 12 years separating the blackouts, the attitudes and feelings of many New Yorkers, especially in Harlem, Brooklyn, and the South Bronx, changed dramatically, for the worse, as evidenced by the drastically different responses to the two blackouts.

I doubt the feelings expressed in the musical example above existed in either the rioters and looters, or their sympathizers and apologists.

James Fulford writes: The difference between the two occasions is partly in the attitudes of blacks, a product of the Civil Rights Movement, but also caused by what white liberals, especially John V. Lindsay, did to law enforcement in New York.

Print Friendly and PDF