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African American Urban History since World War II

Historians have devoted surprisingly little attention to African American urban history ofthe postwar period, especially compared with earlier decades. Correcting this imbalance, African American Urban History since World War II features an exciting mix of seasoned scholars and fresh new voices whose combined efforts provide the first comprehensive assessment of this important subject.

The first of this volume’s five groundbreaking sections focuses on black migration and Latino immigration, examining tensions and alliances that emerged between African Americans and other groups. Exploring the challenges of residential segregation and deindustrialization, later sections tackle such topics as the real estate industry’s discriminatory practices, the movement of middle-class blacks to the suburbs, and the influence of black urban activists on national employment and social welfare policies. Another group of contributors examines these themes through the lens of gender, chronicling deindustrialization’s disproportionate impact on women and women’s leading roles in movements for social change. Concluding with a set of essays on black culture and consumption, this volume fully realizes its goal of linking local transformations with the national and global processes that affect urban class and race relations.


“A truly wonderful book, this collection brings together an impressive number of essays, all of which are simply topnotch. The range of these timely and original essays provides a completeness that no monograph could, and yet the book as a whole, as well as the individual authors, do a fantastic job of situating their local stories within broader national trends. The result is an unparalleled portrait of post–World War II African American urban life.”

Leslie M. Harris, Emory University

Table of Contents




Kenneth L. Kusmer and Joe W. Trotter

Part 1: The Second Great Migration and the New Immigration

Chapter 1: The Second Great Migration: A Historical Overview

James N. Gregory

Chapter 2: Blacks, Latinos, and the New Racial Frontier in American Cities of Color: California’s Emerging Minority-Majority Cities

Albert M. Camarillo

Chapter 3: The Young Lords and the Postwar City: Notes on the Geographical and Structural Reconfigurations of Contemporary Urban Life

Johanna Fernández

Chapter 4: Great Expectations: African American and Latino Relations in Phoenix since World War II

Matthew C. Whitaker

Chapter 5: Citizens and Workers: African Americans and Puerto Ricans in Philadelphia’s Regional Economy since World War II

Carmen Teresa Whalen

Part 2: The Second Ghetto and the Suburb

Chapter 6: Realtors and Racism in Working-Class Philadelphia, 1945–1970

David McAllister


Chapter 7: Deadly Inequalities: Race, Illness, and Poverty in Washington, D.C., since 1945

Brett Williams

Chapter 8: “The House I Live In”: Race, Class, and African American Suburban Dreams in the Postwar United States

Andrew Wiese

Part 3: Class, Race, and Politics

Chapter 9: All Across the Nation: Urban Black Activism, North and South, 1965–1975

Heather Ann Thompson

Chapter 10: Harvesting the Crisis: The Newark Uprising, the Kerner Commission, and Writings on Riots

Kevin Mumford

Chapter 11: Affirmative Action from Below: Civil Rights, the Building Trades, and the Politics of Racial Equality in the Urban North, 1945–1969

Thomas J. Sugrue

Chapter 12: “Trouble Won’t Last”: Black Church Activism in Postwar Philadelphia

Karl Ellis Johnson

Chapter 13: The Black Professional Middle Class and the Black Community: Racialized Class Formation in Oakland and the East Bay

Eric S. Brown

Part 4: Gender, Class, and Social-Welfare Policy

Chapter 14: Shifting Paradigms of Black Women’s Work in the Urban North and West: World War II to the Present

Jacqueline Jones

Chapter 15: “Something’s Wrong Down Here”: Poor Black Women and Urban Struggles for Democracy

Rhonda Y. Williams

Chapter 16: Gendering Postwar Urban History: African American Women, Welfare, and Poverty in Philadelphia

Lisa Levenstein

Part 5: Culture, Consumption, and the Black Community

Chapter 17: African American Consumers since World War II

Robert E. Weems, Jr.

Chapter 18: Black Dollar Power: Assessing African American Consumerism since 1945

Susannah Walker


Chapter 19: Race, Place, and Memory: African American Tourism in the Postindustrial City

Elizabeth Grant


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