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Racial relations and the ’64 riots

50 years later, many point to the riots of July 1964 as the start of a community-wide push for racial equality.

It led to organized fights against local governments and companies who were denying opportunities to people of color.

The riots were violent but from that physical struggle came constructive change.

Organizations like Action for a Better Community and the Urban League were formed as a direct result. Another organization born out of the riots was FIGHT which stood for freedom, independence, god, honor, today.

Minister Franklin Florence led the group for years as its president. He mobilized the community to speak up for their rights when it came to housing and jobs.

Minister Ray Scott, who later became president of FIGHT from 1971 to 1975, was in Buffalo at the time of Rochester Riots of 64. He remembers the mood of the time.

Everything was tense, the frustration had just built up to a boiling point, and people were sick of not having any jobs, not being treated equally, being brutalized by the police, nobody listening, so when this thing jumped off on Nassau Street, that was like the straw that broke the camels back, says Scott. There were riots every year after 1964. When I came to Rochester in 1966 there was a riot, 67 there were riots, in 68 there were riots, in 69 there were riots, and every year that I was president, probably until my third or fourth year there were riots.

The lack of decent housing was a big problem in Rochester and activists rallied against living conditions at Hanover Houses, a seven-building public housing complex.

Scott says the fight continues today.

 
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