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Aj Congress Urges Poor Blacks and Poor Jews to Unite to Tackle Crisis of Cities

The American Jewish Congress announced today the establishment of a national Commission on Urban Affairs “to mobilize a new attack on the problem of the cities through the joint efforts of labor leaders, college professors and the working poor among Negroes, Jews and other racial and ethnic groups.” Richard Ravitch was named chairman of the Commission. In his statement on the purpose of the new Commission, Mr. Ravitch, president of the New York City Citizens’ Housing and Planning Council, declared that “confrontation must be replaced by joint action” if the legal victories in the “fight against discrimination are to be translated into bread-and-butter terms.” He emphasized that racial and religious conflict result from the “crisis of the cities.” and are not the cause of the crisis.

Mr. Ravitch said that now that the legal battle for equal opportunity has “largely been won,” the new emphasis on economic issues will be of concern for Jews as well as blacks and other urban groups. “The Jewish working poor,” he stated, “among them many civil servants, taxi drivers and owners of small businesses, are, like the working poor of the other ethnic groups that make up our center cities today, bewildered and bitter.” “Their income is too small to provide real comfort and security,” he continued. “They are fearful of their jobs and their future. They are frightened by the increase in crime and delinquency that surrounds them. Their schools are deteriorating. Their children’s opportunities to enter city colleges seem in jeopardy. And the prospect of an old age on the minimal social security that awaits them is unattractive and frightening.” Mr. Ravitch will be joined on the Commission by other leaders in labor, industry, education, law and urban affairs.

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