Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

August 31, 1963

On August 31, 1963, the Philadelphia Tribune's front page carried two sad news stories. First, the Tribune mourned the death of W.E.B. Dubois at the age of 93 (click to view article PDF). “It is ironic that much of what is happening to the Negro now—in the courts and in the streets—was urged by Dr. DuBois half a century ago,” the article read. “It is equally ironic that Negro leaders of today snubbed him and his counsel just as they did 50 years ago.”

The Tribune’s front page also featured articles and photographs about a black family who were harassed and threatened by a white mob after trying to move into a house in Folcroft, Pennsylvania, an all-white suburban area ten miles southwest of Center City Philadelphia. The Fair Housing Council of Delaware Valley and the interracial Friends Suburban Housing real estate agency helped Horace and Sarah Baker find a home in Folcroft. When the Bakers and their children tried to move in to the home at 2002 Heather Road, however, they were met by a several hundred white adults and children who shouted racial epithets, broke windows in the home, threatened physical violence, and hung a large sign outside the property reading “Nigger House.” “As a Tribune reporter for the past eight years,” Art Peters wrote, “I have seen hate-crazed, blood-thirsty mobs in Little Rock and in Birmingham. But, these cities are in the Deep South. Yesterday, I saw the same fierce hatred reflected in the faces of a white mob surrounding a Negro home less than 20 miles from Philadelphia—in the tiny, all-white community of Delmar Village.” George Crump, a black police officer in neighboring Darby Township, told the Tribune that Folcroft police allowed “a crazed mob to run amuck” and that the mob “went on a rampage beating up every Negro who came into the area and stoning autos driven by Negro motorists.” This violent attempt to block a black family from moving into Folcroft came two days after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington.

The Bakers lived in Folcroft for several months, but the nonstop harassment eventually forced them to move. They found a home in West Mt. Airy, an intentionally integrated community northwest of Philadelphia.

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