Wilkinson, Defiant Figure of Red Scare, Dies at 91Breaking News
Mr. Wilkinson, whose experiences inspired a half-century campaign against government spying, had been ill for several months and was recovering from surgery and a fall, said Donna Wilkinson, his wife of 40 years. "It was just the complications of old age, " Mrs. Wilkinson said.
In 1952, when Mr. Wilkinson was head of the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, he spearheaded a project to replace the sprawling Mexican-American neighborhood of Chavez Ravine, home to 300 families and roamed by goats and other livestock, with thousands of public-housing units.
Real estate interests that viewed public housing as a form of socialism accused Mr. Wilkinson of being a Communist. When asked about this, under oath, he declined to answer, causing a furor.
After a City Council hearing, in which Mayor Fletcher Bowron punched a man in the audience who had called him a "servant of Stalin," Mr. Wilkinson was questioned by the California Anti-Subversive Committee. Mr. Wilkinson was fired along with four other housing officials and five schools employees, including his first wife, Jean.
The housing project was scuttled and much of the land eventually turned over to the city, after which it became the site of Dodger Stadium, new home to the former Brooklyn Dodgers.
The entire episode has inspired books, documentaries, a play and even a recently released album by Ry Cooder called "Chavez Ravine." "Every church has its prophets and its elders," one song goes. "God will love you if you just play ball."
Mr. Wilkinson consistently refused to testify about his political beliefs. He had, in fact, joined the Communist Party in 1942, according to "First Amendment Felon," a 2005 biography by Robert Sherrill. He left the party in 1975.
comments powered by Disqus
- Rubio Surges Into Second In New Hampshire
- Branstad Says Cruz Ran ‘Unethical’ Campaign
- Christie Highlights Santorum’s Endorsement of Rubio
- Portman Comes Out Against Trade Deal
- Megyn Kelly Gets a Book Deal
- A Big List of the Bad Things Clinton Has Done
- An Unambiguous Sign Sanders Won Last Night’s Debate
- Still Friends at the End
- Quote of the Day
- Trump Still Leads as Clinton Slips
- Clinton Can’t Shake Image as Wall Street’s Friend
- Maddow Doesn’t See Sanders Winning
- Why Does the Media Still Shield Chelsea Clinton?
- Bush Jokes His Mother May Have Abused Him
- Rubio Closes the Gap in New Hampshire
- Newly released interactive map shows images of destroyed monuments of Mosul
- How the Rise of the Post Office Explains American Innovation
- These Americans are reliving history and don’t mind repeating it
- Britain largest home is saved for the nation
- Shelter and the slums: capturing bleak Britain 50 years ago
- WSJ features an article by a conservative calling for the abolition of Black History Month
- Mary Beard, herself a bestselling author, wonders why more women historians aren't
- Princeton U. historian Imani Perry claims mistreatment in parking ticket arrest
- Retired historian George Dennison remains on the payroll at the U. of Montana while faculty are cut
- The Atlantic profiles exciting ways to teach history