Recounting segregation on LI at MLK event
The election of a black president may have marked a milestone in race relations for the nation, but "we still have a long way to go" to achieve many of Dr. Martin Luther King's goals, Suffolk County Legis. DuWayne Gregory said Saturday.
In an interview after he addressed a breakfast meeting in King's honor at Holy Trinity Baptist Church in Amityville, Majority Leader Gregory (D-Amityville) said, "There are still struggles for equality, for health care, in the workplace. There's still much to be gained."
The breakfast, attended by dozens of people, was among a number of events on Long Island this weekend in advance of Sunday's national King holiday.
Henry Turner Jr., 77, a church deacon and retired bus driver from North Amityville, recalled rigid racial segregation on Long Island in the 1950s and '60s but said he was surprised to learn from Gregory's talk that Long Island had thousands of Ku Klux Klan members in the 1920s.
Florence Calloway, 73, a Wyandanch resident and member of the congregation who moved to Long Island in 1951, said that for decades after she arrived here, the community was effectively segregated: first, almost all white, later almost all black.
"Wheatley Heights, North Hills -- at one time it was all Wyandanch, but it split up because of racial problems," she said. "The separation was a disappointment. People came out on Long Island and decided to divide themselves."
But recently, she said, the patchwork has evolved: "Italian, Jewish, Dominican, Haitian -- here's a mix of nationalities. Looking back, I didn't know this would happen . . . There's been a lot of changes and there's going to be more."