A view of the civil rights movement in the crucible of the North
A City within a City
The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Todd E. Robinson
paper EAN: 978-1-43990-922-5 (ISBN: 1-4399-0922-9)
"A City within a City is a vitally important and invaluable contribution to public history and public policy. It gives a much-neglected black community and its city’s history a farther-reaching self-perspective. Robinson’s emphasis on the ‘black freedom struggle’ and ‘black freedom fights’ in an American secondary city is a very useful analytical tool. What Robinson does so provocatively well is strongly support that the historical narratives of secondary cities are of equal importance in understanding both black communities and the racialized urban landscape of the United States. This book is certainly destined to be a much-talked-about volume, and the author is to be commended."
Randal Maurice Jelks, Associate Professor of American Studies with a joint appointment in African and African American Studies at the University of Kansas and author of African Americans in the Furniture City: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Grand Rapids
A City within a City examines the civil rights movement in the North by concentrating on the struggles for equality in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Historian Todd Robinson studies the issues surrounding school integration and bureaucratic reforms as well as the role of black youth activism to detail the diversity of black resistance. He focuses on respectability within the African American community as a way of understanding how the movement was formed and held together. And he elucidates the oppositional role of northern conservatives regarding racial progress.
A City within a City cogently argues that the post-war political reform championed by local Republicans transformed the city's racial geography, creating a racialized "city within a city," featuring a system of "managerial racism" designed to keep blacks in declining inner-city areas. As Robinson indicates, this bold, provocative framework for understanding race relations in Grand Rapids has broader implications for illuminating the twentieth-century African American urban experience in secondary cities.
Excerpt available at www.temple.edu/tempress
"A City within a City is well-written and coherent, and its focus on Grand Rapids fits well within the larger recent historiographical interest in the civil rights and black power era beyond the South. This engaging and insightful book will be of considerable interest to scholars focused on movement history, the African American experience in the Midwest, and the history of Michigan, as well as anyone interested in race relations and the struggle for racial justice."
Patrick Jones, Associate Professor of History and Ethnic Studies and Undergraduate Chair at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and author of The Selma of the North: Civil Rights Insurgency in Milwaukee
1. “Rowing, Not Drifting”: Black Organizational Reform before World War II
2. Citizens' Action: Managerial Racism and Reform Politics
3. The Suburban Oasis: The Origins of Segregated Space
4. The Mustache Saga: The Rise of Black Youth Protest
5. A Black Child's Burden: Busing to Achieve Racial Balance
6. Where Do We Go from Here? Setting the Course for Racial Reconciliation
Conclusion: Secondary Cities and the Black Experience
Todd E. Robinson is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
African American Studies
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