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American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland / Edition 1

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Overview

As the birthplace of the Black Panthers and a nationwide tax revolt, California embodied a crucial motif of the postwar United States: the rise of suburbs and the decline of cities, a process in which black and white histories inextricably joined. American Babylon tells this story through Oakland and its nearby suburbs, tracing both the history of civil rights and black power politics as well as the history of suburbanization and home-owner politics. Robert Self shows that racial inequities in both New Deal and Great Society liberalism precipitated local struggles over land, jobs, taxes, and race within postwar metropolitan development. Black power and the tax revolt evolved together, in tension.

American Babylon demonstrates that the history of civil rights and black liberation politics in California did not follow a southern model, but represented a long-term struggle for economic rights that began during the World War II years and continued through the rise of the Black Panthers in the late 1960s. This struggle yielded a wide-ranging and profound critique of postwar metropolitan development and its foundation of class and racial segregation. Self traces the roots of the 1978 tax revolt to the 1940s, when home owners, real estate brokers, and the federal government used racial segregation and industrial property taxes to forge a middle-class lifestyle centered on property ownership.

Using the East Bay as a starting point, Robert Self gives us a richly detailed, engaging narrative that uniquely integrates the most important racial liberation struggles and class politics of postwar America.

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Editorial Reviews

Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

[M]eticulously researched. . . . [A] compelling, complex, and original account of black and, to a lesser extent, white community politics in metropolitan Oakland California from 1945 to 1978.
— Cynthia Horan
Annals of the American Academy of Political & Social Sciences
[M]eticulously researched. . . . [A] compelling, complex, and original account of black and, to a lesser extent, white community politics in metropolitan Oakland California from 1945 to 1978.
— Cynthia Horan
Journal of American History - Albert S. Broussard
By placing the history of Oakland and its African American community in a new theoretical framework that emphasizes suburban growth, tax revolts, and battles over land, jobs, and political power, Self has challenged historians to reconsider the way that they study postwar black urban communities.
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences - Cynthia Horan
[M]eticulously researched. . . . [A] compelling, complex, and original account of black and, to a lesser extent, white community politics in metropolitan Oakland California from 1945 to 1978.
American Historical Review - Kenneth Durr
If you are concerned with the postwar city, race, economics, and politics, get this book and read it.
From the Publisher

Winner of the 2005 James A. Rawley Prize, Organization of American Historians

Winner of the 2005 Best Book in Urban Affairs, Urban Affairs Association

Winner of the 2004 Ralph J. Bunche Award, American Political Science Association

Winner of the 2004 Best Book in North American Urban History, Urban History Association

"[A]n original and complex explanation for the urban crisis that transformed Oakland, California, from 1945 to 1978. . . . By placing the history of Oakland and its African American community in a new theoretical framework that emphasizes suburban growth, tax revolts, and battles over land, jobs, and political power, Self has challenged historians to reconsider the way that they study postwar black urban communities."--Albert S. Broussard, Journal of American History

"[M]eticulously researched. . . . [A] compelling, complex, and original account of black and, to a lesser extent, white community politics in metropolitan Oakland California from 1945 to 1978."--Cynthia Horan, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

"By placing the history of Oakland and its African American community in a new theoretical framework that emphasizes suburban growth, tax revolts, and battles over land, jobs, and political power, Self has challenged historians to reconsider the way that they study postwar black urban communities."--Albert S. Broussard, Journal of American History

"If you are concerned with the postwar city, race, economics, and politics, get this book and read it."--Kenneth Durr, American Historical Review

Journal of American History
By placing the history of Oakland and its African American community in a new theoretical framework that emphasizes suburban growth, tax revolts, and battles over land, jobs, and political power, Self has challenged historians to reconsider the way that they study postwar black urban communities.
— Albert S. Broussard
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences
[M]eticulously researched. . . . [A] compelling, complex, and original account of black and, to a lesser extent, white community politics in metropolitan Oakland California from 1945 to 1978.
— Cynthia Horan
American Historical Review
If you are concerned with the postwar city, race, economics, and politics, get this book and read it.
— Kenneth Durr
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Robert O. Self is Assistant Professor of History at Brown University.

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Table of Contents


Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments xi
Abbreviations xv
Introduction 1
PART I: URBAN AND SUBURBAN POLITICS AND THE CALIFORNIA DREAM, 1945-1964 21
1. Industrial Garden 23
2. Working Class 61
3. Tax Dollar 96
PART II: RACE, URBAN TRANSFORMATION, AND THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SEGREGATION, 1954-1966 133
4. Redistribution 135
5. Opportunity Politics 177
PART III: BLACK LIBERATION AND SUBURBAN REVOLT, 1964-1978 215
6. Black Power 217
7. White Noose 256
8. Babylon 291
Conclusion 328
Appendix: Population, Housing, and Taxes 335
Notes 339
Index 379
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