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tv   African Americans and Urban History  CSPAN  August 7, 2016 8:00am-9:49am EDT

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>> next on american history tv, a panel of historians and scholars discuss the history of african-americans in urban areas. topics include black migration to cities, the rise to public housing and barriers to black home ownership. this was part of a three-day conference called "the future of the african-american past." it was cohosted by the museum of african american history and culture. >> good afternoon. i am from new york university. i will be introducing what i think will be a very stimulating we have toughh acts to follow from this morning. what a great start to the conference. lonnie, jeff and
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the historical association for putting together this remarkable conference. and for inviting me to facilitate this panel. this conference, like its at aerpart in 1983, stands historical crossroads. themeslarly around the of this panel -- race, power and urban space. the projects we will hear about ,ver the next hour and a half the questions at stake in this panel touch of the heart of modern african-american history. on questions of the structure in agency. on questions of freedom and unfreedom. on questions of continuity and discontinuity. the questions of slavery and what has changed and in what ways, and why. it touches on issues of
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segregation and integration -- terms that are misunderstood in contemporary political discourse but are at the heart of how we conceptualize the history of urban space. 19 83, the field of the african-american urban history was very much in the shadow of the urban uprisings of the lake 1960's. or as they were called then -- urban riots, perceived as a product of pathology. inan historians emphasize they are coming to grips of the consequences of the urban uprisings, they emphasize continuity and the structure of oppression. perhaps best summarized in the title of august meier's synthesis, "from plantation to ghetto."
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bonding together african americans at different points in the american past. the urban scholarship in that time focused on the process of , at was called ghettoization term that had originally derived from a description of jewish communities in venice and applying it to african-americans and other ethnic groups in the united states. those scholars explored ghettoization and were concerned primarily with large racially african-american communities largely in the north and south, focusing on places like harlem, chicago, detroit, cleveland, east st. louis and others. the 1980's, there was a new generation of historians, many of them graduate students in 1983 and finishing dissertations. they were inspired by the social movements of the 1960's.
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weather on plantations or in the city. the process off urbanization and transformation usually issued the term "ghetto" which they found offensive, and acused on the ways in which process of african-american urbanization could be seen as a process of transplantation or community formation. these were rigorous and brilliantly researched books and articles, drawing from untouched archives, exploring the then mostly forgotten histories of african american fraternal and so marginal organizations. churches, social clubs, dance and labor unions. and reinterpreted african migration northward as liberatory, it even as the best of them certainly knowledge to way in which the land of hope
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full oface that was unmet hopes and opportunities. this builds on one of the keywords in politics and social movements and social scientific and humanistic scholarship -- the term "community." development,nomic or the blank community. the black community. the woman's community. the way community creates affective ties that pulls people together and looked at the ways in which urban institutions in everyday life fostered a community that offered resources to challenge these into many of the political economy or a racist regime or systematic discrimination. a buttress against a ,ehumanizing political economy
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against vicious racism, against violence. optimisticomething or romantic about these notions of community formation. we heard critiques of that this morning. implicitly and explicitly, in the discussion about unity. but at the core of both of these andects, ghettoization community formation was an emphasis on power. whether it be power mobilized to the grassroots to transform a political -- transform a brutal and racist system or from up above. one of the most recent terms has been to mix up these discussions of power. to look at the ways in which those at the bottom unwittingly reinforce a misallocation of resources across metropolitan space and how those from the top-down may have played a
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greater role than those who argued for community formation suggested. see a statears, we of extraordinary community studies. seti's of the different groups that constituted what once was perceived as a broad or unified community. chicago's south side. community politics in 1920's harlem. gamblers, the respectable and transgressive. ,e have working merging now clear spaces in cities, looking known asys in cities interest zones. on the borders of african-american neighborhoods how they became interesting places. we have works on topics that were unimaginable in the 1960's or 1980's, on the history of
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african-american landlords whose pursuit of profits reinforce jim crow as they embrace the rhetoric of civil rights. in the aftermath of ferguson, baltimore, chicago -- african-american metropolitan history, the history and the ways in which race is constructed, deconstructed, undermined in metropolitan space has moved to the center. something of a partn to the emphasis of of the scholarship on ghettoization in the 1960's-19 80's. whether that be the police or the car shall state or predatory lenders or real estate brokers or housingpremacists officials imposing a racial map on metropolitan landscapes. this, we could call it racial
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pessimism and it is something we see embodied through the work of the most influential historian over the last five or six years, not anybody on this panel but the brilliant tom hussey coat who delved into urban history and made this story of the transformation of metropolitan space by race and the political economics and racial power structures the center of his demand for rations in an atlantic article that was more widely read that our most important interesting books and articles. [laughter] >> as we think about that moment in 1983 and our historiographical moment today, there are a number of questions i want to put on the table for our panelists. one of them is, have we come full circle? what is the relationship of past processes of exploitation and
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segregation with what we see playing out in the places of streets like baltimore and ferguson? what about continuity and discontinuity? what about the freedom dreams and the emancipatory project and the liberatory project that we see at the core of african-american history from the civil war and reconstruction through the struggles of the century, through the african-american freedom struggle in the south and in the ?orth and west how does that relate to a larger story? and how do we think about the projects of scholars in a national and international context? dubois at ways of w.e.b. saw a race as the problem of the 20th century, but not as a problem of the 20th century, but a problem that spanned the globe. our panelists will address
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different facets of this question. we will do this in order. , much important work on slavery and african-americans in the antebellum north. the author of a new book on jim crow and african-americans in miami and the caribbean world. joh trotter, a key figure who really invigorated scholarship with his breaking work on milwaukee, concerning labor and african-american history and , --, who has worked on the question of segregation in a global context. with no further it do, i turned the floor over to them. thank you. it is a thrill to be here this afternoon.
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i want to thank everyone who has made this possible. a few weeks ago at howard university's commencement, president obama argued that america is a better place today and it was when he graduated college in the early 1980's. as part of his litany of progress aimed directly at donald trump's repetitive braying to take our country back, he focused on the transformation of some of america's cities have undergone. new york city had enjoyed a decade marked by crime and deterioration and near bankruptcy. according to obama, crime rates are down and american cities have undergone a renaissance. embedded in both visions of american cities are assumptions about what makes cities successful and how they figure in the nation success. but few of these definitions by urbanians, politicians or
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dwellers themselves attend to african-americans in cities. in fact, the reverse is true. the african-american presence has been tied to a cities failures. and cities with large african-american populations are not seen as a romantic of the united states. regardless with the checkered ,ays the public has viewed this african-american populations in cities have grown, even through the 1970's-19 80's. on northerncused cities as the main beneficiaries of the great migration, southern cities experienced this expansion. the generalf how public has viewed cities, african-americans have seen urban areas as a site of opportunity and potential. what do we mean by successful cities? the centralityis of the city to the state, region
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. a city like detroit near flint, michigan indicate when cities are -- a narrowing of economic and opportunity that becomes a condition.rcing the inability to maintain in extremeure and cases, catastrophic disasters and states or regions feel little opportunity or responsibility. i don't have to release audio of what happened in flint or detroit in the face of infrastructure decline. context of judging urban successes and failures, the history of african-americans are paradoxical and full of surprises. there is no moment in african-american urban history that was easy and yet some sought out urban spaces with pathways to greater freedom,
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autonomy and economic and political success in the 19th and 20th centuries. regardless of african-american self perception of the urban people, others often viewed them to the safety of the cities. my larger paper examines moments in african-american history. i will briefly rehearse those moments here. african-americans were foundational to north american cities. cost labor maintained basic infrastructure and was vital to the military defense of colonies including defense against native americans. most of these cities were routed economically. either as points of selling slaves for as provisions for other slave economies. as he moved to the end of slavery in the north, we have
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our first paradox in terms of african-american experiences in cities. committee was not in the north but in the south. what are we to make of the fact that new orleans, the largest et in the country, 653 blacks held -- in real estate. philadelphia was a distant second with 77 black people holding real estate. in new orleans, 60% of skills black men held jobs. centers, feweran than 10% of black males held jobs. less than 1% of blacks were property owners. these upside down figures are a result of the paradoxes of black freedom. space forowed more blacks in the economy under slavery and freedom.
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the pre-civil war era says it all. in other words, if whites did not own blacks, they refused to employ them as free people. over the course of two emancipation eras in the north and south, whites prohibited blacks from full participation in the economy. it was whites who are damaged by slavery, reference the previous panel. that the impact of white supremacy came into southern cities following the ends of slavery following the civil war. tote slaves used violence control flex cities. one area that is a story we could examine more closely is the violence that occurred in smaller urban areas that reflects the widespread white supremacist anger against black economic subsidence and activism.
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nation,er cities in the black-white populations led by provided, blacks services among themselves and also to whites and could truly influence politics. the 1898 race riot is and will magic of this moment. the commission report states, prior to the riot, african-americans were employed in all segments of the workforce. that, as skilled artisans, jobs declined. numbers working in lower status jobs increased. drive used violence to african-americans out of neighborhoods is a expression of jim crow. it shows the degrees by which black populations are under white control. removed.mpletely by the time of the post-world war ii civil rights movement and
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the resulting desegregation, almost a century of ideology meant that integration with african-americans as part of what would make a successful city was unthinkable to most whites. three decades after brown, marked with struggles the housing, politics and occupations across the nation. in the early 1970's, cities experienced absolute declines in the number of whites and a rise in percentages of lax as part of the populations. there were black successes to be found in these times. numerical, the majority gave them access to political power that they had not experienced since the reconstruction era. publicrporate and service jobs were widely available and the growth of a black middle class followed more quickly than anyone would have predicted. lacks successes remained uneven and cities in america from the 1970's-19 90's were
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economically weak. that was as a result of industrial wealth and a difficult u.s. economy and a general sense that cities were not the center of the nation's well-being. in addition to the structural issues, the fault of urban failure often enough was black in discussions of crime, political corruption and levels far lower than the unequal policies of the segregation era, joblessness. to oakland, if there was a problem in the city, the black presence was part of it. should not surprise us today, many cities, renaissance maze a displacement of blacks through all classes who held on through the political the investments of the post-civil rights era. conversations about economic verbalization decreased that were completely.
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one young person moving to detroit following graduation from college described his excitement -- i moved to detroit because the city is full of empty spaces waiting for me and us to fill them up. unfortunately, this well-meaning remark is full of assumptions. those who built those empty spaces. lived inns that they thus,ore they arrived -- america's renaissance is complicated but the same dog chasing its tail through the population with which blacks and areas,circle urban driving each other in and out of cities rather than sharing space. the possibility for urban integration has only existed at limited times and in spaces. when the racial hierarchy was clear. we have yet to live into a moment of freedom and equity.
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two words that should always be linked together. thank you. [applause] >> good afternoon, family. >> good afternoon. in july 1920rribly what couldn't say he wasn't warned. they told him. miami's colored board of trade "the best and respectable colored people" should consider immigrating to miami. a collection of black american landlords took out ads across afro america, maintaining they would assist the authorities and making it unpleasant for the low elements of all races.
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harvard brooks was low and criminal. a man born in the bahamas, he had been accused of sexually assaulting his female employer, white. daytonajust outside beach, his brains bashed. before his death, he had been shackled and seated between white law enforcement officers, traveling on a train to jacksonville, or he was to stand trial. but according to accounts, and he jumped through the train window to his death. again, being shackled and seated. many black people who suspected foul play did not blame the white officers. ofy blamed the colored board trade. frankly, so do i. understand that the death of brooks represents a complex relationship between blackness and property.
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as property.this i described his death in my book as a way to explore political intrigue. jumpingis serves as a off point for thinking through one possible future for the african-american past. a desegregated accounting of black racism. that advancing the public debate and meaning of african-american history, we need to take a full or, structural look at white supremacy into our next generation of scholarship. understanding the entangled history of civil rights and property rights. that requires facing archives, artifacts and accounts where violence was deemed effective in the agenda of lives. when the agency threatens the lives, or does claim the lives
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people. lack to make this more concrete. i returned to the opener. which wasd to a group an organization that argued miami was not part of america. apparently a majority of black people in the 1920's were reddish subjects from the caribbean. the overseas club grin schools on the british curriculum and history.d they asserted that jim crow laws did not apply to them. the colored board of trade had other ideas. for theimed to speak progressive negroes who are "citizens" of miami. the advocated the expansion of of law enforcement but also military involvement in the pacific, latin america and caribbean sea. they also helped to corral the low and criminal. lethalced with
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accusations by his alleged white victim, brooks searched for refuge. he was retrieved by an armed posse of american blacks, led by the colored board of trade. it was these black americans who handed him over to white officials. what were the negroes thinking? sense of what any personal motivations were involved, it was one year since the red summer of 1919 which saw white terrorism sweep across three dozen american cities. his fate in that context seems foreseeable. overseas club members found a to attack black american businesses. they organize boycotts of black american storefronts and assaulted black americans on the street. and they organize marches to assert their control of color town streets.
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what appears to be a moment of unity mustack this be appreciated as steps taken by colored people towards competing visions of racial solidarity. competing notions of property. if anything, property. the pursuit of property drove black people's freedom dreams. from the hope of emancipation to the promise of reconstruction, lack people traveled far and to buy property on which to settle down. of ownership was owning oneself, taking a full or hold outside of bondage. property, like so much post-emancipation, existed as a result of contract. under a constitution that guarantees neither simple nor african descendent people turned to property rights and gun rights as the principal
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guarantors of citizenship. self possession did not "liberate the former slaves from his or her bonds but sought to replace the whip with a compulsory contract." as part of the economy of conscience and property, black people mistreated their respectability and expanded their political means by buying land, leveraging their payment of property taxes with negotiations through white officials. many new subsidies needed black investment and readily allowed black business people to own and pay taxes on land but segregation statutes kept the owners from actually living on the land. tenantandlord, white became a widespread and widely overlooked paradox of jim crow america. within the original contract, there was a third hand of property. a lesser-known feature,
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political front which is and the reach of white supremacy -- one proved citizenship through the acquisition of property and the willingness to commit and allow violence against black and brown people. we know much about the neutrality of tenant farming and jamaican apprentices. and we know how these forms of violence set the terms for what counter as acceptable state formation in the americas. strain asted another discipline, that shaped the relationship between white supremacy and capitalism. what not of a talked about it ran through black capitalist who, when trying to work their way into the administered state .f jim crow america it seems that gaining property was one thing that being able to hold the property was another.
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in order to have and hold rights, black people had to devote their powers in one direction -- towards other black people. securing progress meant using legal forms of violence to defend one's social and group standing. once racial position. as vigorously as they protected once house or land. lynching in the 1910s, police in 2010.40's, drones in forgive me, i am jumping ahead. [laughter] >> thanks to theorists, since the 1990's, we have considered the whiteness as power. -- as property. the distribution of entitlements, you could hand that down in hereditary fashion.
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was ag, for whites, branch of property ownership. i'm not talking about black people acquiring things or being turned into things. rather, blackness was something that white and colored people for repeated possessiveness. creating a world outside of nestedse in a time of within the very discourses of white domination. asystem we often flatten as foras a system african-americans as aspiring capitalist made it a site of contestation and critical practice. of jimored only signs crow america came to us in large measure through a set of negotiations of black property owners and white power workers.
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truly we can say segregation was the most humane response to otherwise blanketed exclusion. property owners brought their tax receipts and deeds and papers to get black people a train station waiting room. a water room and a fountain where otherwise, there was none. ideas about citizenship and resistance showed that black people build their freedom and self possession through well managed relationships with white people and proprietary treatment of blackness as property. activistear-old black -- colored only meant something. it was yours. but making america yours again meant abetting white supremacist violence. property claims were forfeit outside the claims of white power. when the colored board of trade did what they did, they were working within a confined set of
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what was acceptable. the members of the st. james ame church assisting a lynching. it it55 -- the material, could not have happened without a measure of black assistance. and whether people were coerced politicallysures is irrelevant. they are worthy of our attention. tulsa, oklahoma in 1921, burns down a thousand residences and so forth. black business people in tulsa who had the records of white debt saw their ledgers destroyed as part of the broad erasure of black wealth. "en black minister described the colored people have all their holdings in oil and their homes in property as well as
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their books, receipts and the like were destroyed in the flames." what you see there is a mass property transfer from black to white. jim crow's paradox, solved. blacks most amazing about people's ability to navigate violence was forcing the state to modernize antiblack violence. and the power of black property owners in particular to appropriate pieces of the white state monopoly on administrative violence. at what happens with the modernization of lynching and the claims by members at the institute to get a formal condemnation of lynching as part of their effort to change the legal or illegal order. negrohe creation of officer for negroes across the south, you see clear guidelines that allow black folk to arrest other black folk and encouraging police brutality on the same color line.
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urban removal was a massive uplift -- oftentimes, this was at the local level to unmake jim crow's ghetto. a slightly more progressive genius of the activism was that through herculean shows of black self-discipline, activists were able to tap into definitions about white paternalism. renouncing the vote white bavarians committing force let me be clear. this is my argument. a fundamental feature of supremacy means protecting the black property class when you can. and when you have to put them in harms way in order to achieve a
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more noble vision. ofen the interwoven politics white expectations, the liberalism of the jim crow era and civil rights liberalism were designed to do the same thing but through different instruments to protect property contracts, above all and in force protection to expand property rights as needed to lices.lly broader spi when it comes to overcoming capital, it was hardly the point. because of the foundational and people's imagination, social movements tend to be less democratic than they are redistributive. of the for a bit more states right to kill. in defense of property. atbe an activist and tug white supremacy, it makes it
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difficult at times. our past is our future. the realities of nonwhite police brutality, the drone war and deportation practices, each of echo reform of liberal politics and property politics --which people secured against nonwhite populations. see this violence and enable it again and again until we do something about it. when it happens, we might not be able to believe it, and we will not be able to say we were not warned. [applause] echorst of all, i want to
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my chair in thinking the sponsors for this event. grossman -- we really are appreciative to be here. when i got on the shuttle yesterday, i said, is this a conference or homecoming? many people,o friends and colleagues, that i have not seen for a long time so it is a special moment. i want to thank colleagues in the field -- the paper i wrote is indebted to a lot of scholars who have been working for decades on these issues. segregation is a major theme in research on african-american urban and labor history. includes detailed case studies of black life across the urban north, south and west. 20thuntil the late 1
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century, case studies at the minutes will level dominated scholarship on this subject. but today, scholars are also giving increasing attention to the development of segregation at the neighborhood level, the metropolitan level and now, increasingly, at the transnational level. nightingale'sy work, transnational and global studies of segregation are gaining increasing ground. indeed, we should applaud and encourage this work going forward. time, much work remains to be done at the local level. certain themes and issues require closer and more systematic analysis from city to
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city, and over time. three items stand out. one, african-american housing pioneers. and the armed defense of their homes. conditions as catalysts for the grassroots movements for social change. governmentrole of housing policy in the creation evence, class and intraclass division cities. let us turn first to the housing pioneers. during the jim crow era across urban america, certain streets became known as white supremacy streets. when black housing pioneers crossed these borders, they encountered white resistance.
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mob attacks on pioneer black homeowners is widely known. pioneersote that some took up arms and defended their homes against mob violence. the case of the detroit dentist and his family is well documented. during the 1920's, when a mob attacked his home, members of the household open fire and killed a member of the mob. the naacp launched a massive freeign, and helped to them from murder charges. but african americans defense of their home is an underexplored -- racial apartheid. they were not exceptional. , in the summer of 1925, another pioneering
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black family opened fire on a mob on the city's northwest side, injuring a white youth. hadsands of white residents blocked streets around the home, up to seven blocks away. the mob had shattered every window in the house with bricks and other objects thrown at the home. after the shooting, the police then rushed in and arrested all the black occupants of the home. cases, the use of armed forces involved communitywide collaboration and support. 1919,ladelphia in april, a black family awakened at 1:00 a.m. to the sound of windows shattering in the front room. a crowd of 30 white men with shoot toand shouting
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kill words as they approached the house. as the crowd advanced on the house, the homeowner held the mob at bay with gunshots. meantime, is word of the fight spread, a contingent of working-class black and poor man arrived on the scene. engagedmed black men andmob in a street battle as they engaged the mob in a street battle, the police, who had been standing close by moved in and arrested all the blacks and a token number of whites. but evidence of armed conflict was not limited to the urban north.
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in louisville, kentucky in 1925, whites -- two black families when they moved into a previously all-white area. an explosion damage the home of a second time and one of the families caught it opened fire on the perpetrators. the mayor of the city and intervened and ordered police to black homes.on at least those two black homes. we need more systematic research on this important issue across a variety of cities and over time. additional research on this issue will help us understand better the staying power of the housing pioneers. we also need more scholarship on deadly housing conditions as factors in the development of grassroots african-american
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movements for social change. improved housing and living conditions represent a the civil and human rights agenda of the african-american community. reflections on the long , wek civil rights movement know much more about the role of economic discrimination and racial inequality and employment than we do on the impact of fatal living conditions. witness the march on washington for jobs and freedom during 1963, along and in with campaigns. not, of course, draw the line to sharply between the struggles for jobs, housing and other aspects of the black freedom movement. there was a great deal of overlap along all lines of the freedom struggle. but recent scholarship, and in
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the wake of katrina, this scholarship suggests that we need to give greater and more systematic attention to the hazardous conditions under which african-americans live. hazardous conditions as a spur to grassroots mobilization. in december 1930 six, philadelphia became the scene of a tragic housing accident. the collapse of an old tenement house killed nearly a dozen working-class black women and their children. following this tragedy, there was a tremendous outpouring of grassroots sentiment calling this event a very serious situation. a terrible thing. and even "criminal." residents charge city officials with responsibility for the deaths and injuries. behind this tragedy,
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philadelphians formed a new tenants league. they launched a vigorous againstts movement hazardous housing among the city's poor and working-class families. they staged marches through the streets of the city. rent strikes, neighborhood meetings. helping to generate broad-based support for protests against bad housing. results in concrete the establishment of the philadelphia housing authority later, the building of two andincome housing projects the richard allen homes. another area that issa just we work in has to do with the and the impact of public housing policy on intra-cross relations.
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we know a great deal about the role of government policy in creating racially fragmented urban housing markets. we also have a growing body of pelletship on how these -- how these policies created divide. on the way more work housing policies split the black poor and working-class. in atlanta, the city displaced large numbers of poor and working-class families to make way for the university homes housing project. but none of the displaced family found homes in the new facility. the tenant selection process favored higher income groups. 1930's, atlanta's
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eastside had become associated with what some analysts described as "disreputable masses left behind." on the other hand, the westside housed single-family dwellings class and the striving working class. craftsmen,ded household workers and general laborers. criteria is an important factor in the way those policies impacted internally the structure of the black working-class. citydianapolis, the established the first public -- following world war ii, the city rejected federal support for public housing.
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instead, the city funded a low income african-american self-help project. nonetheless, similar to atlanta's federal project, this not only program reinforced class division within the black community, but also division among black working families themselves. the project bookkeeper later recalled the election -- the selection process which drove a wedge between different segments of the working class. he said, "we were thoroughly checked. we were checked out. they wanted stable families. husbands, wives, kids. they checked our credit. our time on the job. our work record. they talked to our ministers. they checked police records.
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" so i would suggest that this criteria helped to drive a wedge between poor segments of the black working-class. thiseason i'm raising question is because i think we do know something about this in the scholarship. but i would suggest that we need to probe a little bit more. how did thisok at fragmentation impact the institution culture and politics of the black community. in conclusion, as suggested at the outset of this paper, transnational scholarship -- which you will hear about in a moment -- remains a top priority in future research on the class and racially divided african-american community. papersaled by many other
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that you will hear this weekend, african-american history on a -- it opened on a global scale and remained connected to global processes over time. of studies a variety that will illuminate how african-american history remains connected to these transnational developments from the colonial era to the present. argue,same time, i would as suggested by the history of destructivers, housing conditions and the role of policy in creating plans for black communities, we must also deepen our understanding of development at the local level. african-americans lived in particular places and times. let us remain attentive to these lived experiences, even as we expand our understanding of
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these transnational and global connections. [applause] >> good afternoon, everyone. thanks formy organizing this conference. enormous honor for me to be addressing you. my paper title -- to give you "ads up -- it is called, perspectives on urban color lines." scholars who study the african-american experience in cities have made a practice of important concepts to frame the analysis.
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ghetto was the first and most important. brought upologist world into the american academy in the 1940's, they were imitating 1940 civil rights activist. and like the activists, they equate color lines with coercive, segregationist practices that went back to the 16th century practices in venice. more importantly, they were drying connections to the nazi , playing anclosures horrible role in the mass executions that followed. inspired60's, scholars by black power activists got into this verbal import business. dnsisting that the wor -- they believe that
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this word better framed the toxic combination of class explication that characterized the african-american urban experience. beginning, they were to give us the concept of racial capitalism that we heard about earlier. in the 1990's, frustrated by the lack of global attention to lack segregation and the racially unequal effects on poverty, d the specteraise of apartheid. collegeated heavy on campuses. that, they implicitly reminded us that while american activists have been helping to make progress against
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legislative practices and ocean away, at the time, they had thrown up their hands at the extraread and damaging governmental and illegal practices in the united states, such as redlining and many other things that go into american coalescence. to give you a preview of coming attractions -- last year, and going into this coming year, we are running a project which is -- scholarsmerican, , to ask whether it makes sense to import the concept of settler , which was first theorized by an australian anthropologist. and is now rampant in american study circles. denote and is mostly
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focused on african-american studies so far but whether that can help with african-american cities which could have important applications with black communities in the united states -- the actual settlement and conquest of the united states. playing an important role on the slavery in the black experience. so i think we need to think hard about that. so my question is this. future ofe african-american urban history -- should we stick to the tradition of important concepts? the conceptual cosmopolitan? i am complicit in this. i have the obvious answer. yes. [laughter] >> but in reality, i am in three minds. maybe even four. politically, i am all for it.
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words like colony and settler theapartheid bring to mind urban experience of black americans and they honor the intellectual traditions and strategic genius that undermine the struggle for african-americans have overturned. and they are accusations against the political forces that created these injustices, these words can't be beat when you couple that with another italian import -- race, racial or racist. we should not give up the shock value and the indictment that these words carry. mistake,d be a major especially in a moment when the movement against these injustices is showing strong signs of renaissance. just a quick parenthesis, because i know the twitter universe is out there, mercilessly thinking about these things as we speak -- the idea "ghetto" wee word
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should claim it as a political word, it is a complicated thing. where along the way, it went from an attack on white supremacy to an attack on black people. and that is very unfortunate. we have to think about the complexities that came about because of that. i hope it does come up. there is another part of this that makes me a little nervous about this importation business. and then you launder the political fight out of them. starch them with heavy doses of positivism and resell them as ideal types. that is a real problem for me. what is a ghetto? what is a colony? what is apartheid? what is racism?
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we have to define these. so, when i'm in that brain, i'm a radical abolitionist. i believe we should not do things like that. we should keep anything that sounds like an a-historical concept out of the discipline entirely. varied, andy too they have changed too dramatically to be considered outside of history. they deserve histories -- no definitions. that brings up the third attitude. um, the is the, the, idea of using these concepts in terms of transnational histories or diascala histories. in this mode, i'm hopeful but i'm a little bit cranky, because i've gotten a little impatient
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about some aspects of this whole business of transnational is. ism. these concepts, we import them from abroad. they describe various practices from enormous times and places across the world. they contain the intellectual the we need to continue process of rekindling the transnational imagination within the african-american urban experience. to we really, really need insist finally and once and for all that they should inspire a mutually enhancing group marriage between perspectives that are usually labeled separately. for example, as either local or trans-local or compar itive or transnational or global. let me underline that in making i decided to something that ordinarily historians do not do very often and that is i'm going to invent a piece of jargon.
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that piece of jargon is the word "diascaler." the idea is to underline the fact that i think we need to think of these approaches in combination that they each offer each other a lot. separately, they do not float, ok? they don't float enough for us to move forward. they need tond be thought of as mutually enhancing. how does ghetto, colony, apartheid and racism give us kindling for this racism? the main idea here is that, wit diascaler -- we are thinking about transcending at particular geographical scope, to a larger scale. and that's fine because we had to do that.
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but, uh, the problem is that nations still matter. so do almost every other kind of, of, size jurisdiction source of power and so on. things happen on all sizes of, of, uh, geographic scales. and they bump up against each other in all kinds of ways, as, as history moves along. the main thing for me is to see them in interaction. that is why the word "dia" from dialogue. an intersection. that's really important to keep that "dia" prefix in our mind. let me try to describe this a little bit. so, ghettoes, colonies, apartheid, settlement, racim sm. they are all first of all created by exertions of international -- of
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institutional power over long a short distances. they all involve movements of people again across many geographic dimensions. multi-sc involve aler flows of money. they all involve ideas such as race that have to be adopted for many -- political purposes. my kneehe rubber of alleges him's -- neologisms hits the road. inchanging and diversifying all different sorts of geographic scopes, they all quite elated in two different kinds of practices. practice is a key thing for when we do these things. we need to watch for the
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practices. i --gregate in a city, as said in a long sentence and page 12 of my book on segregation, you have a vast range of practices. some of these things we know very well. mobs, covenants, first time homebuyer financing, you know all of these things. housing. forced removals. you can go on and on. in fact, the interesting thing is not only are there so many of them, but there are different combinations of these practices that can come and go over time and that makes the more complicated. andwith all those things, each of these, some of them are more appropriate, more or less any number ofr
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reasons between various places around the world and no matter how deeply connected those places were. so, if you read the evidence with all of this in any number f reasons mind, it is impossible for an historian to show these practices were traded worldwide and that they traveled as they traveled and a segregationist persimmon to practice, -- and put into couldce, they also become rapidly diversifying combination of practices. diascaler needs to be a lumper, see things altogether and a splitter and a measurer or time and the size of things and use that all to explain things. process bynd the which various actors brought together the combination of local, state, regional and
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national practices to create -- black ghettos and compare and contrast those with changing combination of practices across the colonial world or across a subset of the currenolonial world -- and to explain the similarities and differences, all these questions are deeply messy m atters. perhaps we are the historians who like the messy best of all. i would atters. say, as a transnational historians, we have to embrace that as well. i don't have time to go into, uh, a detailed explanation of some of the things i wanted to talk about with u.s. and south africa. throughout the world
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map you can look at for a while it is a global thing and zoom in to various different countries and from there zoom into cities and regions. i have a tool i will put out in public soon, an atlas of world segregation, of urban segregation that will allow this kind of, visualize some of these diascaler phenomenon. but, uh, just to kind of highlight a little bit on the issue of the settler colonial urban history i mentioned -- it came out of what i know about the connections between the u.s. and south africa, both of societies imported huge numbers of practices from britain and elsewhere in the colonies to create their systems of segregation, the most complicated systems of segregation of to that point. they also did it very differently because of various different national
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contingencies, various local contingencies. and so, but, but, i notice there are a lot of similarities as well. and there are similarities with other settler-colonial societies. so, to do that, i'm hoping that this kind of diascaler approach will help. as my colleagues and i trace similarities, differences and connections -- first, actually even in settler ireland and australasia, the north america pacific, south africa, the americas, palestine and israel and even along the fringes of elsewhere in africa and outside -- we're going to be thinking about these kinds of things. and some of the questions i think will animate us are to wha t extent do settler revolutions -- major transformations of societies -- to what extent do
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this comment -- these revolutions with their potent combination of migration, conquest and subsequently skewed system of land control leave their marks on the cities that are rebuilt with projects of permanent territorial transformation in mind? do efforts to create a rationalized -- racialized privilege -- the other thing, how do these affect the cities such as in the united states? then another factor that i think, shared in settler colonies are these radically contradictory ideologies of white racial superiority and racial vulnerabilities. they claim to be a victim is an important part of white supremacy. a source of great power if you
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can claim to be a victim. especially intense systems of demographic engineering. is there something we can call it -- that comes out of that or at least a settler-urban-political style? so, to conclude, there is no better way of looking for to the future than with the tools we have well honed well in the past. if we can harness the political fire that is contained in colony, like ghetto, settler and raise them, push pass any temptation to train ideal types and then rediscover the histories of similarities and differences in connection and disconnection that they contain, then use them
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of urbanp the flow injustices across many scales of geo-historical analysis, given the african-american urban history, we have given them one promising root upon which to enjoy an expansive if not don't viciously -- if not deliciously messy future. >> we have about 35 minutes for questions which is ample, but before you begin to take questions, i have to give a shout out to the two bloggers. one of the innovations of this conference is to have assigned bloggers, one from here and one from afar on the panel. and marianne elliott who is a staffer at the smithsonian is sitting three rows back and observing and blogging. robert -- is listening to us online from his house in
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providence, rhode island. he cannot come because he throughout his back. hello, robert. we look forward to your blog comments. thanks to both of you. now we can open up the floor for questions. again, if you can introduce yourself when you speak for the state-of-the-art means, that would be great. >> hi. -- for the sake of the audience, that would be great. >> i'm working on a project about african and north american, crossing the canadian border before the great migration. many of you may see, there are questions about the anglophone america, questions about the concentration of black capital in toronto and in victoria british colombia may have the wealthiest black community in 1860-something in the entire hemisphere. how do the canadian comparisons
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and things like the underground railroad, which i don't think has been mentioned at all yet, how does that fit into these questions of transnational networks? think that's mine. have not had the opportunity to think about canada. have thought about the underground railroad and urban spaces. it is different and important and -- he's just written a wonderful book about th underground railroad in new yorke. i did not know that about british columbia, but i did know about salt island off the coast, an island that was a settlement of free blacks, i read about. some research money to spend time over there, i will check it out. s --transnationalist - >> it would be a great study.
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something to get to know better for me. i mean, you pointed out some of the dimensions of it already. and aloso, the local peculiarities. eard about another wealthy black community in the aftermath of slavery in new orleans. let's see how new orleans stacks up with vancouver? i think it is a really important kind of thing. i think what you'll find is ok, so, there are some things that go across the national border. and there may be some similarities in terms of the kinds of practices that those folks met up with when they made it there. but there'll probably be some big differences as well. so, working on loving and splitting and then trying to figure out why would be a great opportunity to do that. >> do you have a sense of the background of these wealthy builders, of these places? >> two quick examples.
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the ones in toronto tended to be free blacks from virginia who were able to invest in real estate. had beenthe tory kicked out of san francisco after the dred scott decision -- those in toronto had been kicked out of san francisco. then they decide in the generation whether to go back to the northwest or to follow new mining frontiers. it's a question of how, how does the question of race or british- largertter in a kind of capitalist question and when does it not matter? am i next? oh, professor trotter, this is for you. i'm sorry. university -- i'm a professor at morgan state
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university in baltimore. and professor trotter and i go way back. but i was really excited when i heard you mention indianapolis. my mother's people are from indianapolis and two of her sisters and her family's lived in lockfield gardens, which wa s what i think you are talking about. was lockfield gardens one of the projects as they called them in indianapolis? >> which project are you talking about in this case? >> lockfield gardens in indianapolis. >> again? oh, yeah, i'm sorry. i do have this -- this particular flatnner house. >> i know flanner house. flanner house was like a
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settlement house. but you were talking about the projects where they interviewed all the people -- >> that was the flanner house project. let me explain. i'm osorry. up becausese was set the city rejected federal funds in the years after world war ii, but there was pressure to build low income housing for african-americans. so, the city allotted this money to flanner house. flanner house a social service a social service agency that got the money to really purchase land and to really sell that land to blacks at a low rate. and part of the process is that african-americans also had to sign up for labor on the project on a regular basis. full-time jobe a
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during the day and they would work in the evenings to build their own home to put equity into those. but the waiting list was really long, although the stringent criteria was there. and it sort of screened out people who really could not, really did not need a lot of those criteria. the work record, no criminal ofrge, and the kind strictures that were placed on them. so, that's why i said there was a way -- and also the first inhabitants of the flanner house happen to have been people who were white-collar. then gradually they brought in a craftsman and the household workers. >> what i'm wondering is if - - i know flanner house from going to indianapolis every summer. and this and that. house mightner
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have been the agency that -- got the city to develop this housing project called lockfield gardens. almost everybody in there, there were no single anybody. you had to be a family of mother and father and children. details,'t know the other than it was a pretty what i would call upper working-class, may be lower middle class, educated people. herause my mothers and siblings had all gone to college for a little bit. and their spouses were, too. so, it was a community of fairly educated, lower middle class, upper-middle-class families. i know flanner house, which to me is a settlement house. i look at it in terms of a settlement house.
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i sense there is a connection betweenl lockfield gardens and the homes they were purchasing. this was in the 1940's and 1950's, maybe? >> yes. the public housing project you're talking about was built in 1937. so, that was a lower income housing project. but also set the same kind of selection criteria. but what i was trying to highlight going into the post-world war ii period was the flanner house private development more or less, is that the processes were similar under both kinds of funding mechanisms and program developments. so, that was what i was trying to underscore. there are a lot of people who still stood outside of both flanner house and the federally funded projects. and so, the connection is that
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they were both designed to address the population that, you know, needed new housing, but they both also set criteria so that people who were somewhat below those income levels and the other kind of criteria, they were out. so, i think that is where i see the private housing, low income deterioratingery environment for one segment of the working-class. while another segment gets a slightly -- >> if i can step in -- i'll say one thing more macro the the discussion -- larger story that both of you are telling you other story of the way in which charitable
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organizations and unions in public housing organizations working collaboratively saw housing developers as a way to create better citizens. they saw it as part of the project of respectability. a way of managing urban populations, particularly the dis-ruly. if you situate the indianapolis broaderd abroa context, you can see a larger pattern in the history of african american housing. >> and respectability was key here. >> yes. >> good afternoon. i'm a professor of law at rutgers university. i had a question actually for all of you. i'm wondering if any of you have thoughts about the way that urban space renders surveillance easier. and how state surveillance sort
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of place a role in the stories you are - -plays a role in the stories you are telling. the migration of large populations of black people from rural to urban areas really begins, the mass surveillance of those people in ways that they have never experienced before. so, i'm wondering if the panelists have any thoughts on that, and also how surveillance, i think, affects black lives in the geographic areas you are setting. >> a great question. and speaking from the slavery era more strongly and i will leave the 20th century to my colleagues, but there's surveillance in rural areas, the slave patrols, overseers, plantations. a large number of slaves lived on large plantations where it might've been harder for whites wererveillance, but there
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smaller farms where whites and blacks were living intimately together. cities provide cover at the same time. there's definitely surveillance. there are laws, police forces developed during this early time. but it's mixed. and to go back to the underground railroad, the central place where you see both increase in attention to the black population but also blacks able to mount defenses against that kind of surveillance. i always like to think particular that early period but even now that that power is not impermeable. it's not fixed, so hegemonic that people can't escape notice or rail against it. >> the line of questioning that drove me to some of the conclusions i shared with you today have to do with thinking about the development of surveillance systems under jim crow segregation. some of these were about kind of taking past systems that were
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developed to monitor working people and making them racial -- in response to people who might be invading the u.s. like nazis, during world war ii by way of summary. next's a way in which the generation of scholarship will start to put on the table this question of exactly how people govern systems of white supremacy. for me, i'm finding examples of black attorneys or judges or dentists who are funneling secrets and information to white senators and congresspeople to tell them exactly what is going on at street level as they are making arguments about the benefits of segregation. how else do southern senators know what is going on if not by talking to either the local physician or the local judge or the domestic who is giving them
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information? i think it's also critical in thinking about continuity. many instances what you have are forms of surveillance that are migrating from rural america to urban america with this migration, a central question beenhas come puup has what has been the role of property management companies -- to make sure the profits that are generated maintain their high level and are set through hands-free transactions to white landlords who do not really know what their tenants are doing because they live in massachusetts or vermont. but the folks on the ground in places like atlanta or miami are being surveilled by white property managers or the black employees who are moving from rural forms of surveillance into urban forms to the 1930's and 1940's. there is a rich body of scholarship that still need to be done and often times it requires is extraordinarily granular research in things like
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basic city commission council meeting minutes where you see the surveillers showing up, and what kinds of information are actually being exchanged for infrastructure, for investment. that is a critical relationship. >> we have a question on the left? to northently go carolina amt state university. this is for dr. connolly. i am not sure how much you know -- going on to segregation in the past with african-americans. i was wonder if you could state your opinion on -- the transgender and the hb2 law in north carolina and how a particular state may be going backwards instead of forwards. >> oh. [sighs] [laughter] toso, the first thing is
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remember the importance of state level politics. i think that's a lesson we can take away from this debate. i can't remember now, i'm ashamed to say i am having a senior moment -- about which presenter was talking about kind of contract, it might have been of contract and marriage and what it means to be in a simple space of privacy and having yourself surveilled. that largelyieve white popular groups can have state powers of regulations and surveillance. who is going to monitor the bodies going in and out of these bathrooms? that is a dangerous way to empower the citizenry. the second thing is to think very hard about how we can have an activist cohort that is pushing first second and third at the state level and
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politicizing folks to run for state office, thinking about the ways that districts are running to state power. justve a bad habit of really talking about presidential politics and maybe the occasional midterm election, while at the local level so many forces of oppression are being meted out on ways we cannot ignore it. this example, the north carolina case, is one that that automatically raises a number of questions that were front and center when we thought about how to dismantle jim crow. >> a question over here? >> good afternoon. from unc chapel hill. wanted touestion, i raise about the overarching theme of this panel. and i'm wandering how adding popular culture to this discussion of race, power and
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some spaces might open up additional questions about the relationship between the local, the national, the transnational as well as the urban, the rural and the suburban. >> big question. >> take a shot at that. really great question. i'll just give one interesting example. so, in 19 --july 4, 1910, jack johnson defeated the so-called great white hopso, ine -- nevada.ries in reno, and immediately, as we know from a great book on this, immediately that fight was
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transmitted by telegraph all. across the world. and later on films were sent around the world showing it it in vivid detail. first of all, the day after that, the citizens of baltimore got together. the citizens of the so-called thered fan of baltimore, northwest corner of what was put -- got together to t appeal the first, firs to the city council for the baltimore segregation ordinance. at the same time, that is the spread very fight quickly to south africa, to india, to the philippines, to australia, to all variety of different places. and everywhere it went, it got caught up somehow or another in the dramas of segregationist
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politics. in one way or another. so, there's a good example of just -- a good example, and i n ofe ways it became a kind almost like an icon, a parable of black and white violence where blacks won and where, and -- gave on another occasion for what i call this victim and was allowed-- free reign and helped to push various different segregationist world.s across the yourwould take question in a different direction which is about african american communities and cities. one thing we have not talked
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about that was hinted at in the previous question was that the cities sits in rural surroundings. when i think about the popular culture forms even dating back, thee white's work in antebellum period. we would add suburban to that. that the creation of these forms travel and spread. they do open up a broader space of communication of political activism if we are lucky as well. so, i do think there is a real opportunity to explore those cultural forms and the way that they form an idea of being black that can move beyond the boundaries of the urban area. we see that today would rap music. there is new york, l.a., new things have those
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traveled and have informed how black people see each other both across regions and how we communicate about similar problems. involved in a comparative project looking at the politics of segregation internationally in suburban paris. at the last conference i attended, there was a group of police brutality and racial profiling activists who were drawing implicitly from political connections with the united states but also cultural ctions including music critical of police brutality. there are many interesting diascaler questions on these issues. we have a question over here. >> thank you panel for an amazing -- continuity between the presentation. i'm a public policy advocate. and a write. r. i wanted to make two quick observations. wasprofessor trotter
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talking about public housing revitalization in philadelphia. i believe you ended up to 1976. later, few years the bombing occurs. free associated the possibility of that being the -- movege of what led to the occurrence. my panel wide observation or question has to do with -- professor nightingale's novelty of terms creating difficulties on the grassroots level, granted that i do respect -- things i did not hear, for things like the world social fourum. rise to the city reasoning. the fact that policy is being
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decided in terms of big data decisions which have -- implications for people of low wealth. water problems. worldwide. an increasing privatization. you can see where i am going with this. the burden of even a steaming the academy but at the same time how do these things can j and make their way on a grassroots level? -- do these things convey? thank you. >> i just mentioned the move situation and really drawing upon marcus hunter's book on city makers on philadelphia and writtener scholars have about this, but one of the things that i have done up to this day is to treat the move within the context of new black political regimes. like a black mayor who was in
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office when the decision was made to bomb. and some of the synthesis i'm writing, the story i tell, is that this was the kind of class limitation on the way that new black politics operated. that it did a great deal in bringing a lot more blacks, contracts and putting more professional people into municipal jobs and it seems that it operated to really increase the strength of the black middle some, but at the end with deficits. and that is the way i read the good as the story of compromise on, you know, bringing about this order within the city. their sort of heavy-handed approach to the poor. at the same time pulling certain
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elements of the community up. but i may be in a position of amp some of this because i understand from talking to one of the participants today that good has written his memoir. i haven't look at those. lyd evidently good is real taking a position that that wasn't exactly a move he wanted to take. that there may have been some other factors that were in play. so, i have to look at that closely. i do know across the cities in the late 20th century from what i've been able to synthesize is that there was in fact some mobility in terms of contracts and professional development, but at the other end, the way the cities, the way these black regimes in a way dealt with some of the lower end, and including
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garbage workers, sanitation workers, there was a real te nsion between that progress on the one hand and this sort of deficit in dealing with people who were poor and working-class. >> very, very quickly. one of the things i think that would be helpful, echoing carl's point. when i began reading in the african history literature things like racial integration -- it did not get in the way of doing a hard analysis of political economy. i i think when you think about the water crisis and having a manager.rgency their presence may not be integral to the execution of those acts but they are integral to the legitimation nation of those processes. andhave a much more -- allowing that b.s. to continue to get recycled. i'm going to end on that. [applause]
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>> we have time just for i think two more questions. let's begin over here. >> from rutgers university. i am surprised i have not heard any discussion of gender and all of this, particularly when we are looking at community many of our big cities most of the community organizing that's being done is being done by women. in public housing projects, you find single black women who are raising children on their own. when we look at the education battles that are occurring so many of our big cities, it's groups of mothers, some who are well-to-do and some who are not who are fighting together or against each other. and also, if you look at the feminization of poverty and you think about african-american women and the fact that they outnumber men in so many of the
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cities, i'd like to know where and how does race, gender, power and urban stasis, how that mixes together. >> before we jump to answer, i'll ask another question from over here. yes? >> from north carolina -- this one is for the whole panel. a question for the future in terms of examination. thee often looked at black migration but there was a white migration as well. one of my first teaching positions and you had -- those dominated by whites from mississippi. and they flew their confederate battle flag that it affects the culture of the midwest. we know that about detroit. is there in the future going to be an effort to look at the impact of white southern
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migration to the midwest or to northern midwestern and western cities and how that affects the african-american community? the second point was simply to look at, we talked about the deep south and the upper wsouth. we talk about the mississippi sovereignty committees that were running rampant during the civil rights movement. to keep blacks in check. it goes back to professor connelly's point. i'm looking at how blacks resisted in the north when they had violence with whites. in the south, how blacks are supporting segregation, but there are just differences between the upper south and the lower south. i'm throwing something else out there. >> maybe we can give everyone a chance to put in their last word or to pass if you want to. carl? say that itill think your point about white
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migration and settling in the sittings is an important factor to what we need to pay attention to but there -- some evidence that there are some efforts to bridge the movement of app alachian whites who moved to chicago and black people who were moving in terms of the modern black freedom struggle. i think we do need to pay more attention to that. i think one of the things we need is a lot more study of tho se people that sort of give us more to work with. >> i think on the gender question, there are a friday of terms in each chronological point where you can talk about the gender nation of violence, resistance and so forth. i think it is really critical to think through the ways different -- if you think about urban renewal
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and the urban space of the ghetto as being one that is basically a feminine space that has gotten out of control and you need the technocratic males to drive a highway to this committee to make it -- this community to make it anew. the first generation of female black politicians are comfortable speaking in tones about remaking black domesticity. their person is critical to many of their doomed efforts to getting off the ground in the first place. think about tennis courts that are used to punish renters being championed by black women reformers. their chief opponents are oftentimes black women tenants. athink you can absolutely do, question of gender more broadly, an important look at these various reform efforts. i think it is also critical and when we think about the blackness politically that it is always being funneled through a clear victorian notion of how racial comportment and behavior is supposed to look.
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>> i would just, on the question of southern cities, upper and lower south i think we are due for, a reconsideration of that distinction. a deeper consideration of political activism in those cities and the complex way in which formal segregation jim crow hands -- people in and come out the other side in the 1970's. the moment that opens up some ideas of possibilities for understanding what people were working through in previous decades and how they have been, when they had an opportunity to enact something, what they did that was different. some importantto scholars who worked on his issues. it is impossible to think about migration from the south without reading jim gregory's book " southern diaz fospora." and going to professor white's
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point, some of the most exciting scholarship and african-american history in the last 10 years has focused on the centrality of african-american women activists, leaiding what lisa levenstein calls the movement without marches, working on a small scale. shout out to rhonda williams -- and felicia kornblum. to be self-serving, my book "sweet land of liberty" -- i want to thank you all for your excellent questions and comme nts, thank our bloggers and our panelists. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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>> you're watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming every weekend on c-span 3. c-span us on twitter @ history for information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest history news. huronpan is visiting port to learn about the city's history. our next stop is fort gratiot where dennis delor will talk about the first lighthouse in michigan. dennis: in the state of michigan there is over 115 lighthouses, and this one's claim to fame is to be the first. we just came up from the


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