Search

The Zamani Reader

A History Blog from a History Student

Category

The US (20th Century)

To Hold Both Sides Together: Miami Historiography and the Question of the ‘New Immigrant City’

“Mid-flight between Miami and Havana, in either direction, I believe I can hold both sides together. Increasingly, there is the possibility for a coherent perspective, for an imagined future that transcends the rupture without denying the pain, without compromising the ethics and principles that in the long run make a difference in history.”

– María de Los Angeles Torres, In the Land of Mirrors (200)

In the summer of 2005, the historian and scholar of human migration, Melanie Shell-Weiss, published an essay in a special, transnational issue of the regional journal Florida Historical Quarterly. The article was called “Coming North to the South: Migration, Labor and City-Building in Twentieth-Century Miami,” and it described the experiences of early-twentieth-century Bahamian migrants to South Florida in order to argue that “Miami has always been a transnational city, even if it only recently has become a global city.” In the commentaries section of this same issue, Alex Lichtenstein, an historian of race and labor in the American South, set out to respond to Shell-Weiss’ thesis that Miami was “not a new immigrant city.” He cited sociological distinctions between “internal” and “foreign-born” migrants, and he questioned the historical impact of the latter group in “the first half of the twentieth century” when compared with the second half. He dug into the city’s census records, listing out percentages of foreign and native-born migrants for each decade of Miami’s history. He then weighed the early statistics for human migration against other urban areas with substantial portions of foreign-born migrants. Afterward, he concluded that “by no stretch of the imagination could Miami be described as a city significantly shaped by foreign immigration prior to 1960.” Later, he stated bluntly that “the visible imprint of the Bahamian contribution was limited,” leaving only a “faint” impression on the urban landscape. This impression was minimal when compared to that of the Latin American and Caribbean migrants who completely “remade the face of the city” in the decades following the Cuban Revolution of 1959.[1]

These FHQ exchanges between Shell-Weiss and Lichtenstein epitomized the character of Miami historiography in the early-twenty-first century. Everything from a mutual desire to “distinguish sharply between the pre- and post-1960s eras,” an interrogation of a “foreign” Bahamian influence in reference to that of later “foreign” migrants from the Spanish and French-speaking countries of the Caribbean and Latin America, and what some have called an often-excessive “quibble over numbers” was characteristic of where the urban history of Miami stood in the early 2000s, as well as where it had come from. All things considered, the debate over whether Miami was or was not a “new immigrant city” was essentially a trial about the city’s past. Indeed, if Miami was a “new immigrant city,” as Lichtenstein argued, then where did its pre-1960 history belong? On the contrary, if Miami had “always been” a transnational city as Shell-Weiss claimed, then how should the unique effects of its post-1960 transformation be fully appreciated?[2]

The following essay will provide background to this special historiographical moment. It will offer a cursory overview of Miami historiography from about the founding of the city in 1896 up to these 2005 exchanges. The defining factor of the essay is that its analysis is confined entirely to the provincial, urban historiography of one single city. In other words, this paper does not draw upon theoretical models applied in different urban environments, American or otherwise; it is not comparative in scope; and it does not cite broader historical contexts. Of course, there are moments when Miami’s historiographical turns are probably more indicative of larger trends—like the rise of cliometrics, new social sciences, or postcolonial narratives—than they are of any self-contained idea about the city or a single generation of writers. Nonetheless, the present author hopes only that this historiography of Miami, however insulated and self-serving in its content, will provide a detailed case study for those authors who are bold enough to make larger connections. Continue reading “To Hold Both Sides Together: Miami Historiography and the Question of the ‘New Immigrant City’”

From Chicanismo to Chuy: The Long History of the Chicano Movement in Chicago’s Lower West Side, 1965-2015

Note:  For a PDF version of this graduate research prospectus, which includes all of its appendices, please see the following link: From Chicanismo to Chuy — Recovering the Long History of the Chicano Movement in Chicago’s Lower West Side, 1965-2015

INTRODUCTION:

The Chicago Tribune printed historic news on Tuesday night, February 24, 2015. The Mexican-American politician, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, succeeded in forcing a runoff against his opponent in the previous day’s mayoral election. The runoff, scheduled for Tuesday, April 7, became the first runoff in the history of Chicago mayoral elections. Though García lost that race by 11.4%, he had come closer to obtaining the highest office in the third largest city of the United States than any Latino/a politician before him. The closest comparison had been Gery Chico, who became the first Mexican-American to run for the office of mayor in 2011. Nonetheless, García topped Chico’s vote by 9.6% in the 2015 General Election. He captured majorities in every one of the fourteen wards dominated by “Hispanic” residents except for one: the 13th. More specifically, the 22nd, 12th, and 25th wards roughly corresponded to the Latino/a barrios of Chicago’s Lower West Side. García won these wards by ratios of 80%, 75% and 61% respectively. In part, his strong showing drew upon the fact that Chicago Latinos/as were more influential than they had ever been, at 33% of the city’s population, 19% of its voting-age citizens, and a handful of its elected officials. Yet, in order to fully understand these successes, we must go all the way back to the 1960s and 70s.[1]

García had a long and storied career that culminated in the 2015 runoff. More importantly, that career mirrored larger trends in postwar, Mexican-American activism for Civil Rights. He was born in Mexico in 1956, but he moved to Chicago at the age of nine because his father was a farm laborer in the WWII-era bracero program. When the family settled in the growing Latino/a barrios of the Lower West Side, these areas of the city were quickly filling up with both new migrants and displaced, Spanish-speaking wartime immigrants. García found himself in a rare climate of vigorous Latino/a activism known as the Chicano Movement. Many Latino/a residents in the Lower West Side were uniting under the banner of a new, cultural-nationalist ideology called chicanismo. They were agitating against issues like racism, gang violence, community neglect, immigrant and union rights, poverty, under-education, police brutality, joblessness, and urban renewal. [2]

García witnessed chicanismo activism firsthand. When he was thirteen, for example, over one-hundred Latino/a residents gathered in the street to attend a public meeting of ALAS. During this meeting, those present endorsed a local Mexican-American activist named Arthur Vásquez as the next executive director of Howell House, Pilsen’s settlement house, which had historically been home to the white, Presbyterian Czech immigrants. Vásquez became the house’s first Mexican-American director, and the center was re-christened Casa Aztlán. This name was a symbol of chicanismo that memorialized the ward’s demographic tipping point. One year later, in 1970, the city’s decennial census recorded the Lower West Side’s first ever Latino/a majority. The barrios Little Village/South Lawndale and Pilsen/Heart of Chicago have retained that majority to this day.[3]

Continue reading “From Chicanismo to Chuy: The Long History of the Chicano Movement in Chicago’s Lower West Side, 1965-2015”

Like Two Waves of the Same Flood: Comparing John Trudell’s Lines from a Mined Mind and Sherwin Bitsui’s Flood Song

SHERWIN BITSUI. Flood Song. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2009. Pp. 73 $15.00. ISBN: 978-1-55659-308-6.

JOHN TRUDELL. Lines from a Mined Mind. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 2008. Pp. vii, 270. $18.00. ISBN: 9781555916787.

Introduction:

“Bitter fruit emerges where bitter seed is sown,” sings the native artist John Trudell in one of his 1999 song-poems called “Blue Indians.” “Economic chains all dressed out as reward/Gender race age edged in love and rage/Oppressorman builder keeper of the cage.” In acerbic pieces like this one, listeners can feel the full force of Trudell’s searing and unabashed voice. A radical child of the 1960s and 1970s, and a leading activist of the nation’s Alcatraz-Red Power Movement, he flings his words like sharpened daggers at what he views to be an oppressive and shallow American society—a society that pollutes the minds of its people with the “toxic waste” of consumerism and the “poison” of “fears doubts and insecurity.” In this poem and others, we experience Trudell’s characteristic critique of First World deceit and decadence. His language is biting and direct. There is not much room for ambiguity in lines like “Industrial reservation tyranny stakes its claim” and “Blue Indians emotional siege in a civilized stain.” In fact, many song-poems in his oeuvre, as they appear in his 2008 compilation Lines from a Mined Mind, are unambiguous and impassioned. They feature “political pimps,” “citizen whores,” and “material junkies.” Readers are informed that they are living in a “broken” and “industrially insane” world of “tech no logic slavery.” We are weathering the “oppressor’s brutality” and “surviving genocide because we have to.”[1]

Then there is the poetic work of the native artist Sherwin Bitsui. His groundbreaking book-poem Flood Song was published in 2009, exactly one year after Trudell’s retrospective anthology. Yet the work is strikingly different. The language is much more subtle, nuanced, quiet, intimate, and deeply visual. Scattered across wide savannas of blank, white space are small pools and rivulets of deep imagery. They spread like oases or trickles in a vast desert. Each one draws the reader’s imagination forward, carrying it upon the back of a meandering and powerful current of contemplative visions. There is a “waning lick of moonlight on the dashboard.” Then, we see “A shower of sparks skate across the morning sky;” and, in continuing, we “inhale earth, wind, water/ through the gasoline nozzle/at trail’s end/a flint spear driven into the key switch.” These images are punctuated and fleeting; yet, somehow they form part of a bigger picture. They are like specific, tactile pieces from the fragmented mosaic that is our memory. They are pieces of evidence for an endangered, lived experience. There is a reality embedded in a thought of “a flashing yellow sign,/blinks between charcoal sheets of monsoon rain.” With each deliberate verb, Bitsui somehow manages to conjure an entire world of feeling within his readers. “It is here,” he writes, “that they scoop the granite stones from your chest/snap each rib shut over the highway leading south.”[2]

Continue reading “Like Two Waves of the Same Flood: Comparing John Trudell’s Lines from a Mined Mind and Sherwin Bitsui’s Flood Song”

Overview of Brown in the Windy City by Lilia Fernández

Lilia Fernández. Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. Pp. xii, 392. $30.00. Paperback. ISBN: 9780226244280.*

About the Author:

Lilia Fernández is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Ohio State University. She obtained her PhD in Ethnic Studies from the University of California at San Diego in 2005. Brown in the Windy City (henceforth, BWC) is her revised dissertation and first book; the project was originally called “Latina/o Migration and Community Formation in Postwar Chicago: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Gender, and Politics, 1945-1975;” and her committee chairs were Ramón A. Gutiérrez and Vicki L. Ruiz. Lastly, Fernández is a native Chicagoan who grew up at least partly in one of the areas that is the subject of her study, the Lower West Side neighborhood of Pilsen.

Overview:

BWC is the first intertwined history of Puerto Rican and Mexican-American immigrant communities in postwar Chicago, from roughly 1942 to 1975. The work contextualizes the migration, community formation, racialization, and social activism of these groups during a tumultuous period of Chicago’s history. Overall, Fernández offers an intimate look into how two Spanish-speaking ethnic groups built their identities in a shared climate of racism, housing discrimination, deindustrialization, urban blight, gentrification, dislocation, urban renewal, and activism in a major, postwar American city.

Continue reading “Overview of Brown in the Windy City by Lilia Fernández”

Becoming Traditional in the Contemporary New: A Relational Analysis of Two Native Authors

JOY HARJO. How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems, 1975 – 2002. New York: W.W. Norton, 2002. Pp. xxviii, 242. $17.95. Hardback. ISBN: 978-0-393-32534-8.

LEANNE HOWE. Evidence of Red: Poems and Prose. Cambridge: Salt Publishing, 2005. Pp. 101. £9.99. Hardback. ISBN: 9781844710621.

In her poem “Song For The Deer and Myself to Return On,” of the compilation How We Became Human, Joy Harjo (Muscogee Creek) narrates the story of a Native American person who is living “in a house near downtown Denver.” This character invokes a traditional, Native American hunting song in order to call deer into the house. When these animals arrive, as surely they do, they “wondered at finding themselves” crammed together in this strange and very modern setting. After their initial bewilderment subsided, the deer and the narrator came together and tried to “figure out a song…to get all of us back.” Because, although both parties had gathered together in this urban environment, neither of them actually wanted to remain there. Both the deer and the narrator desired to return to a more “traditional” space, perhaps the space of their ancestral hunting grounds, where they had once lived alongside one another, long before the city of Denver had ever existed. Similarly, in the piece “The Unknown Woman,” from LeAnne Howe’s (Choctaw) book of poems, Evidence of Red, a narrator who is identified only as “The Spirit” regrets that “Copper masks made by my children appear in the Field Museum’s case. They rest in the future—from the past.”[1]

Continue reading “Becoming Traditional in the Contemporary New: A Relational Analysis of Two Native Authors”

Misunderstanding and Unity in LeAnne Howe’s “The Red Wars”

LEANNE HOWE. Evidence of Red: Poems and Prose. Cambridge: Salt Publishing, 2005. Pp. 101. £9.99. Hardback. ISBN: 9781844710621.

LeAnne Howe’s poem “The Red Wars” is a first-person narration of an anonymous indigenous woman’s encounters with three other Native Americans. Perhaps the piece is autobiographical, and so the narrator is also Howe. This conclusion is possible because both the narrator and Howe are identified as Choctaw Indians and the piece is written in a first-person perspective. The work is also a personal reflection, with the narrator looking back on three specific moments in her youth when she encountered other Native American peoples. It describes the narrator’s attempts to read the bodies and behaviors of these other Natives and come to an understanding of who they are and how they are all related. The structure of the poem is broken up into three parts, and each part represents an individual encounter marked by a different, unique personality. The first encounter occurs in Oklahoma with a Sioux Native named Thunderhawk. The second occurs in Texas with California Red Wing, a native man who is part Dakota and part Navajo. The third encounter also occurs in Texas with a Cherokee man named Jim or Jack.[1]

Continue reading “Misunderstanding and Unity in LeAnne Howe’s “The Red Wars””

Review of N.D.B. Connolly’s A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida

Race and the Built Environment

N.D.B. CONNOLLY. A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2014. Pp. 376. $27.00. Paperback. ISBN: 9780226378428.

The reading for this week discusses the connection between race and the built environment. The work is A World More Concrete, the first book by Professor of History at John Hopkins University, N.D.B. Connolly. The book tells the story of the foundation, construction, and renovation of a “Jim Crow system” (called “American Apartheid” to encourage comparisons with South Africa; the author sees both as variations on colonialism) in the Greater Miami area from the founding of the city in the late 1890s to the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1960s. Concrete is a complex story about how a diverse and unlikely group of actors found a consensus around black inferiority and white popular sovereignty. Together, although often unwittingly and with few realistic alternatives, these people built a political structure for white supremacy around ideas of real estate, land use, and property rights. That structure survived the end of de jure segregation and has remained in place today, long after the Civil Rights Movement defeated Jim Crow.[1]

Continue reading “Review of N.D.B. Connolly’s A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida”

From Diversity to Definition: A Review of New Works in the Field of “Black Power Studies”

 

 

In December of 2009, Peniel E. Joseph, a Professor of History at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, published an article in the Journal of American History that described “a new sub-field” called “Black Power Studies.” In this article, “The Black Power Movement: A State of the Field,” Joseph traced “the evolution of black power historiography” from the late 1960s to the present day. He began with a 1967 book called Black Power, written jointly by the activist Stokely Carmichael and the political scientist Charles Hamilton, and he ended with the historian Thomas J. Sugrue’s 2008 “history of the northern black freedom struggle,” entitled Sweet Land of Liberty.

In the years between 1967 and 2008, Joseph surveyed about two dozen works that addressed a wide range of topics in the subfield “Black Power Studies,” from particularistic expressions of Black Power in individual American cities like New Orleans, Durham, Newark, Baltimore, New Haven, and Philadelphia, to the gender dynamics, violent strategies, and community activism of the Oakland-based Black Panther Party for Self Defense, to the uniquely southern roots of postwar, Black Power militancy. Above all else, to skim through Joseph’s historiography is to recognize that “Black Power Studies” is a dense and dynamic historical subfield, attracting a very broad swath of scholars with a diversity of particular interests. In many ways, this dynamism reflects the elusive and often contradictory history of Black Power itself, a multifaceted activist movement that was both cultural and political, insurgent and mainstream, radical and pragmatic, and local, national, and global in breadth.[1]

Continue reading “From Diversity to Definition: A Review of New Works in the Field of “Black Power Studies””

Précis on Readings in Environmental History (Week Seven)

The Hidden Relationship between Electrical Energy and Settler Colonialism

ANDREW NEEDHAM. Power Lines: Phoenix and the Making of a Modern Southwest. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015. Pp. ix, 336. $21.00. Paperback. ISBN: 9780691139067.

The reading for this week addresses the relationship between settler colonialism and energy production in the twentieth century. The work under review is Power Lines, the revised dissertation and first book of Todd Andrew Needham, Associate Professor of History at New York University. Needham tells the story of rapid, postwar growth in the region of the American Southwest through an investigation of electrical energy. More specifically, Needham sees himself as expanding upon a standard, provincial metropolitan narrative—the story of urban centers sprawling outward, Frederick Jackson Turner-style, across a crabgrass frontier—to include a much wider region with many more actors. As such, Power Lines is primarily about the relationship between suburban development in Phoenix, Arizona, and corresponding energy production in the far-removed, Four Corners region of the United States in the three decades after WWII. Needham’s objective is to reveal “the intimate and unequal connections [that] power lines forged between electrical consumers in Phoenix and the people and landscape of the Navajo Nation.”[1]

Continue reading “Précis on Readings in Environmental History (Week Seven)”

Précis on Readings in Environmental History (Week Four)

Narratives of Progress and Declension in Environmental History

TRACI BRYNNE VOYLES. Wastelanding: Legacies of Uranium Mining in Navajo Country. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 2015. Pp. 304. $25.00. Paperback. ISBN: 978-0-8166-9267-5.

WILLIAM CRONON, “A Place for Stories: Nature, History, and Narrative, Journal of American History 78, 4 (March, 1992): 1347-1376.

RICHARD WHITE, “Trashing the Trails,” 26-39, in Trails: Toward a New Western History, ed. by Patricia Nelson Limerick, Clyde A. Milner II, and Charles E. Rankin. Lawrence: The University of Kansas Press, 1991. Pp. 295. $19.95. Paperback. ISBN: 0-7006-0500-2.

The readings for this week address the topic of contested narratives about the environment, and how these narratives affect both the writing and unfolding of western history. Short, theoretical  pieces by historians William Cronon and Richard White explore how different narrative structures have guided the construction of environmental history in general, and western history in particular, throughout the twentieth century. Despite their different vocabularies, these authors both recognize a distinction between how most narratives about the American West used to be told, and how they are more often told in the present. By contrast, the revised dissertation of Ethnic Studies scholar Traci Brynne Voyles offers an in-depth case study for how contested narratives shaped the history and legacy of a very particular region in the American west.

Continue reading “Précis on Readings in Environmental History (Week Four)”

Précis on Readings in Environmental History (Week One)

IAN TYRELL. Crisis of a Wasteful Nation: Empire and Conservation in Theodore Roosevelt’s America. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015. Pp. 386. $40.00. Hardback. ISBN: 9780226197760.

LOUIS WARREN. The Hunter’s Game: Poachers and Conservationists in Twentieth-Century America, 1-70. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999. Pp. 250. $26.00. Paperback. ISBN: 9780300080865.

The monographs chosen for this week address topics related to the history of the Progressive Era conservation movement, from roughly the 1880s to the 1920s. Excerpts from Louis Warren’s refurbished dissertation, The Hunter’s Game, use the theme of wildlife to explore the transmogrification of areas known as “local commons” on the US frontier into “public commons” that are managed by state and national authorities. In doing so, he follows the lead of his dissertation supervisor, William Cronon, by foregrounding the myriad cultural conflicts that infused contestations over land use in specific case studies. By contrast, Ian Tyrrell’s latest book, Crisis of a Wasteful Nation, offers a revisionist interpretation of the administration of Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Era’s most prominent political advocate in the US. Tyrrell explores the global dimensions of Roosevelt’s domestic conservation policies by linking them to projects in other nation-states as well as American imperial expansion. In doing so, he attempts to rescue the American “state” from its poor reputation as an “impersonal, bureaucratic, and oppressive entity,” (249).

Continue reading “Précis on Readings in Environmental History (Week One)”

Steering the Course: Essay on Continuity and Change in the New Deal Era, 1933-1940

The Democratic nominee Franklin Delano Roosevelt entered the White House on March 4, 1933. The former New York governor had won the 1932 election by a landslide to become the thirty-second president of the United States. Once in office, he immediately began enacting a series of wide-ranging domestic measures known as the New Deal. These reforms were designed to address the Great Depression, which reached a tipping point after the Stock Market Crash of 1929. From approximately 1933 to 1940, the New Deal fundamentally altered the texture of American history. Political parties realigned, the federal government’s role in society mushroomed, labor and consumers received support against capital, Progressive legislation redefined welfare, and the landscape was redrawn with new infrastructure. As Jason Scott Smith states, the New Deal was nothing short of a revolution in “state-sponsored economic development.” Eric Rauchway adds that, while “The New Deal did not end the Great Depression,” it was instrumental in healing its wounds. Both unemployment and the economy were steadily improving throughout the 1930s.[1]

Continue reading “Steering the Course: Essay on Continuity and Change in the New Deal Era, 1933-1940”

Review of One Nation Under God by Kevin M. Kruse

KEVIN M. KRUSE. One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America. New York: Basic Books, 2015. Pp. 384. $29.99. Paperback. ISBN: 0465049494.

One Nation Under God is the second book written by Kevin M. Kruse, Professor of History at Princeton University. The work historicizes the rise of religious conservatism in the United States of America from the 1930s to the mid-1950s, with an epilogue that continues the narrative through the early 2000s. Kruse is primarily concerned with tracing the rebranding of Christianity as a “public religion” by Depression-era industrialists. Wealthy business leaders bankrolled conservative ministers to concoct a new mixture of politics and religion that wedded Capitalism to Christianity. Kruse calls this admixture “Christian libertarianism,” and he argues that it subsequently became a central tactic of modern conservativism and the new Republican Party. Kruse is also concerned with the appearance of Christianity on the national stage more generally. He sees public Christianity as peaking during the Eisenhower administration and as still very much alive today, evidenced by the language of our everyday institutions and habits. Finally, by resituating the origins of public Christianity in the 1930s, Kruse is attempting to refute a “conventional historical narrative” that “the spiritual revival of the postwar era was” was a direct reaction to the anxiety-ridden context of the Cold War and the nuclear age.[1]

Continue reading “Review of One Nation Under God by Kevin M. Kruse”

Review of Right out of California by Kathryn S. Olmsted

KATHRYN S. OLMSTED. Right Out of California: The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism. New York: The New Press, 2015. Pp. 336. $27.95. Hardback. ISBN: 978-1-62097-096-6.

Right Out of California is the fourth book written by Kathryn S. Olmsted, Professor of History and Department Chair in History at the University of California, Davis. Following up on her 2011 journal article, “Quelling Dissent: The Sacramento Conspiracy Trial and the Birth of the New Right,” Olmsted presents her thesis that the ideological and political origins of modern conservatism are to be found in the concerted response of California agribusiness leaders to the progressive reforms of the New Deal. Olmsted’s work provides a substantial intervention to the existing literature of twentieth-century American conservatism. Traditionally, scholars have traced the origins of the modern conservative movement to different times: the late-1950s with the Taft Hartley Act, the early 1960s with the failed presidential election of Barry Goldwater, or even the 1970s with the Moral Majority. Some have traced the ‘New Right’ to grassroots organizing by suburban, Republican clubwomen in the Sunbelt; others have argued that modern conservatism was a cultural backlash to 1960s civil rights activism in the American South; and still others have situated its geographical roots on the east coast, with the formation of the Liberty League in 1934. Olmsted revises all of these narratives, arguing that “By the end of the Depression decade, the philosophy, tactics, and leaders of modern conservatism had emerged in California.”[1]

Continue reading “Review of Right out of California by Kathryn S. Olmsted”

Précis on A New Deal for Blacks by Harvard Sitkoff

HARVARD SITKOFF. A New Deal for Blacks: The Emergence of Civil Rights as a National Issue: The Depression Decade. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Pp. 352. $29.95. Paperback. ISBN: 9780195367539. Originally published by Oxford University Press in 1978.

A New Deal for Blacks was the first book published by Harvard Sitkoff, a Civil Rights scholar and Professor Emeritus of History at the University of New Hampshire. The book was a reworking of Sitkoff’s doctoral dissertation, “The Emergence of Civil Rights as a National Issue: The New Deal Era,” written at Columbia University in 1975 under the supervision of New Deal era and FDR historian, William Leutchtenburg. Conceived after Sitkoff’s short stint in the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s, the work became the first installment in a multi-volume series he planned on the emergence of Civil Rights as a national issue. It began as only an introductory chapter to his proposed work on the Civil Rights Movement during the context of the Second World War, but it became his entire dissertation.

Continue reading “Précis on A New Deal for Blacks by Harvard Sitkoff”

Précis on When Affirmative Action was White by Ira Katznelson

IRA KATZNELSON. When Affirmative Action was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006. Pp. 272. Pp. 368. $16.95. Paperback. ISBN: 978-0-393-32851-6.

When Affirmative Action was White is the eleventh book published by Ira Katznelson, an American political scientist and historian currently teaching in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University in New York. Written as a trade publication for a popular American audience, this short and straightforward book details the racialized history of the New Deal and Fair Deal eras of the 1930s and 1940s in order to provide an historical argument to the current policy debate about affirmative action in the United States. Katznelson argues the current debate about affirmative action has reached a rhetorical impasse, where both opponents and proponents of the debate have ignored historical arguments to the detriment of racial progress. As a result, he wants to inject the policy debate with a new historical component, claiming that addressing modern racial inequalities requires connecting “specific past harms to present remedies.” Katznelson believes a history of white privilege and racism during the New Deal and Fair Deal eras is necessary for shifting popular connotations of affirmative action from a superficial emphasis on “jobs” and “employment” to an emphasis on more-meaningful, restorative justice.[1]

Continue reading “Précis on When Affirmative Action was White by Ira Katznelson”

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: