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L.A. City Limits African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Present

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Mary Trimble stood on the porch of her Los Angeles home in 1950 and spoke openly with a local newspaper reporter about her decision to migrate to the city seven years earlier. Born in 1898 in Keithville, Louisiana—a heavily segregated rural town in the heart of America's infamous "black belt"—Trimble understood that her educational and occupational opportunities there had been hopelessly limited. Educated in separate and patently unequal schools, confined to the most menial and degrading jobs, and always fearful of wanton racial violence, African Americans in Keithville and other small towns throughout the American South had to wear what black poet Paul Laurence Dunbar once called "the mask": that veil of racial inferiority and servility mandated by Jim Crow society. Trimble may have worn the mask, but it never became part of her: "I knew my place and kept it. Of course I knew better but I never let on."1 Trimble's family later moved to Texas in search of better opportunities, but Mary, like virtually all black women across the country, still found that domestic service was the only field open to her.

Yet, during World War II, Trimble had a revelation that changed her life forever. "I remember the day in '43," she recounted, "when I decided to come here." Shortly after beginning her shift cleaning house for another "rich family," the woman of the house told me, "Now, you can draw Mr. Harry's bath. He'll be home right away." Suddenly it struck me. "Mr." Harry was 18. The family had lots of money, but they were afraid that he'd be drafted so they put him to work in a war plant. I just decided, sudden-like, I was through "Missing" and "Mistering"— that I'd go where I could get a job in a war plant myself.

With little hesitation, Trimble bade farewell to the South and migrated to Los Angeles, where she quickly found work at the booming California Shipbuilding Company (Calship) yard on Terminal Island, in the bustling port of Los Angeles at the southernmost tip of the city. No longer forced to clean house for a living, Trimble had joined the thousands of other black and white migrants entrusted with the awesome responsibility of building the "arsenal of democracy"—and, as she remembered, "I liked it."

This is a book about people like Mary Trimble and the cities that were transformed by their migration. Bitterly resentful of southern racial bigotry and brutality, enticed by well-advertised job opportunities in the nation's booming defense industries, and cautiously optimistic about the potential for racial equality in America's big cities, African Americans launched an exodus from the South that would continue uninterrupted for twenty-five years. During the 1950s and 1960s, the violent white backlash that accompanied the civil rights movement in the South stimulated further black out-migration. Ultimately, almost five million black people left the South between 1940 and 1970.2 Not until the 1970s, as opportunities dwindled in the urban North and West, and racial violence waned in the South, did the exodus finally abate.3

In their migrations, African Americans not only radically altered their own lives and opportunities but also permanently transformed urban America. From Charleston and Mobile in the South, to Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit in the North, to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles in the West, America's cities became increasingly black, a trend with far-reaching social, political, and economic implications.4 Between 1940 and 1970, the black population in Los Angeles grew faster than in any other large northern or western city, climbing from 63,744 to almost 763,000. Although this phenomenal growth has slowed considerably since the 1970s, Los Angeles now has the seventh largest black population in the country.5

World War II was a critical turning point for blacks in America.6 The deepening labor shortage, coupled with the vast new demand for industrial output, forced the nation's defense manufacturers to look beyond their traditionally white, male, and often skilled labor pool. Shipbuilding, aircraft, steel, and automobile plants retooled for war production; and a host of other large industrial manufacturers were reorganized to speed production by "deskilling" the production process.7 Lower skill requirements and greater labor demand opened the door of industrial employment to women and African Americans, who had long been denied both the training and the experience necessary for such work.

African Americans also benefited from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Executive Order 8802, issued in 1941, which forbade discrimination in wartime defense industries and created the Fair Employment Practice Committee (FEPC) to investigate charges of racial discrimination. Issued as a direct response to black labor leader A. Philip Randolph's call for a fifty-thousand-person march on Washington unless blacks were given wartime job opportunities, Executive Order 8802 was hailed as a clear victory for racial equality. Although the FEPC ultimately proved to be a highly contentious and sometimes ineffective tool for resolving discrimination issues, its symbolic importance for African Americans is difficult to overstate. Not since Congress passed the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments during Reconstruction had the federal government significantly intervened on behalf of African Americans. The U.S. Supreme Court, in fact, had consistently reaffirmed the constitutional foundations of racial discrimination in several landmark decisions. Thus, FDR's executive order, despite its shortcomings, was emboldening for African Americans throughout the nation because it demonstrated that the federal government, when compelled, could be a potent force for desegregation. This notion, combined with the actual opening of thousands of well-paid industrial jobs to blacks, proved to be a heady mix for those concerned about racial equality in the United States.

Throughout the country, black leaders, black workers, and both black and white scholars expressed guarded optimism about the future of black America. In his exhaustive An American Dilemma, published in 1944, Gunnar Myrdal predicted that "there is bound to be a redefinition of the Negro's status in America as a result of this war." St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton's famous study of black Chicago—which explored the myriad and truly crippling effects of racial discrimination in urban America—ended on an optimistic note: "Important changes are on their way and the present system may reform into something quite different which will give Negroes many—if not all—the opportunities now denied them."8 The potential for phenomenal change was even more pronounced in Los Angeles than it was in Chicago or other northern cities where blacks had long been an important part of the industrial labor force. In Los Angeles, employers' preference for Mexican labor in manual occupations had traditionally circumscribed job opportunities for blacks, relegating most African Americans to poorly paid and sometimes degrading positions in the city's robust service sector. It was little wonder, then, that Los Angeles Urban League director Floyd Covington referred to Executive Order 8802 as the "Second Emancipation for the American Negro" in his 1943 address to the National Urban League.9

The optimism with which blacks viewed the future was actually borne out in many concrete ways in the two decades after World War II. In absolute and relative terms, black employment increased in several sectors of the economy, particularly in manufacturing industries. Across the country, and particularly in Los Angeles, blacks purchased homes in rising numbers. And postwar executive, judicial, and legislative assaults on Jim Crow crippled the legal basis of segregation in schools, in neighborhoods, and at work. These postwar advances culminated in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which promised to finally stamp out workplace discrimination, the greatest remaining barrier to economic equality for African Americans. As historians have increasingly recognized, the World War II and postwar years represented a window of opportunity to end or, at the very least, dramatically reduce racial inequality in America.10 This certainly seemed the case in Los Angeles, ranked in a 1964 National Urban League survey as the most desirable city in America for black people.11

But the violent race riots that engulfed urban America in the 1960s shattered the notion that racial equality was imminent. And perhaps none was more shattering than the Watts riot of 1965, not only because it was the most destructive racial clash since the Detroit riot of 1943 but also because it happened in Los Angeles, a city long considered uniquely hospitable to blacks. It was also the first in a new wave of race riots that spread to Chicago, Tampa, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Newark, Detroit, and numerous smaller cities and communities in the late 1960s. As images of young black men burning and looting urban America continued to flash across television screens, few could doubt the Kerner Commission's famous 1968 assertion that "the nation is rapidly moving toward two increasingly separate Americas," one white, one black. The Kerner Commission, Los Angeles's McCone Commission, and the Department of Labor's Office of Policy Planning and Research, which published the controversial "Moynihan report" on the black family in 1965, all offered explanations for racial unrest in America, including a severely compromised black family structure, poor educational and job opportunities, and an increased disaffectedness among black youth.12 By the 1970s, social scientists had identified an urban "underclass," a permanently poor and predominantly black stratum of American society; in the 1980s, they debated the relative importance of behavior, public policy, culture, family, and ecology in creating and shaping that underclass.13

Although these debates produced important insights, they too often buried the critical historical dimensions of their subject. Indeed, from the viewpoint of these studies of the underclass, the era of black optimism and advance was not only absent but also scarcely imaginable. Fundamental questions were left unanswered: Why did the end of de jure racial inequality not produce de facto racial equality in urban America? And, more specifically, why did the wartime predictions of imminent economic parity with whites not come true for the majority of African Americans?

In the past decade, scholars, and particularly historians, have made great strides toward answering these questions. For example, in their investigations of racial politics in Boston, in New York, and at the national level, Ronald Formisano, Jonathan Rieder, Jim Sleeper, Thomas Byrne Edsall, and Mary D. Edsall have emphasized the retreat of liberalism among working-class whites, a group disproportionately affected by court-mandated desegregation in schools and in the workplace.14 Others, such as Douglas Massey, Nancy Denton, Arnold Hirsch, and William Julius Wilson, have explored the willful re-creation of the ghetto in postwar Chicago, emphasizing the role of real estate agents, civic leaders, and white homeowners in perpetuating residential segregation.15 Perhaps the most comprehensive explanation is Thomas J. Sugrue's study of postwar Detroit, which attributes persistent racial inequality to deindustrialization, grassroots conservatism, and impoverished public policy.16

Although these narratives of the urban crisis present disparate viewpoints about the persistence of postwar racial inequality, they share one constant: they all unfold in the northern and northeastern United States. Their near-exclusive focus on northern cities has had the effect of obscuring the critical role that place has played in shaping postwar opportunities for urban blacks. Chicago and Detroit are not, as it turns out, synonymous with urban America.17 In fact, the modern history of Los Angeles has unfolded in ways that diverge, sharply at times, from the histories of America's "rust belt" cities. African Americans' pursuit of equality and opportunity in Los Angeles has been shaped by at least three distinctive features of the city's history: its diverse racial composition, its dynamic economic growth, and its dispersive spatial arrangement.

First, Los Angeles's magnetic appeal to successive waves of Latin American, Asian, and European immigrants ensured that the black freedom struggle would develop in a strikingly multiracial context. Thanks to a growing body of rich scholarship by Kevin Leonard, Douglas Monroy, George Sánchez, Mark Wild, and others, we have a much clearer understanding of the contours of Los Angeles's diverse population, including its largest minority group, Mexicans.18 Yet the extent to which the multiracial character of the city affected opportunity for African Americans is generally less understood.

The effect of this racial diversity on blacks in Los Angeles has not been static; rather, it has changed through both time and space. Before World War II, most African Americans in Los Angeles lived among and interacted with Mexicans, Japanese, Italians, Jews, and the city's small Chinese population. This arrangement, coupled with the vast size and low population density of the city, mitigated the harshest social and psychological effects of racial segregation by diffusing the racial animosity usually reserved exclusively for blacks in other cities. Economically, however, the multiracial character of the city worked against blacks by generating increased competition for the menial labor and manufacturing jobs that would have gone to them easily in a city like Chicago or Detroit. After World War II, the vast influx of blacks and the changing social status of other racial and ethnic groups in Los Angeles created a situation where black isolation, rather than the multiracial integration of the prewar era, became more common. As industrial employment opportunities for nonwhites expanded in the two decades after the war, African Americans increasingly understood Mexicans to be competitors for coveted jobs. Between the 1920s and the 1970s, the multiracial character of Los Angeles moved from being a qualified blessing to a qualified curse for blacks, particularly those in blue-collar occupations.

Second, while histories of the rust belt north emphasize the crucial role of deindustrialization and overall urban economic decline in perpetuating racial inequality, the story in Los Angeles is far more complicated. In striking contrast to the steady decline in manufacturing jobs that began in the 1950s in Chicago and Detroit, Los Angeles gained thousands of new manufacturing jobs through the 1970s, thanks in large part to the crucial aerospace industry. Like its northern counterparts, however, Los Angeles did lose many of its automobile, steel, and rubber tire plants during and shortly after the recession of the mid-1970s. Beginning during World War II, African Americans in Los Angeles had fought for complete integration into these jobs, and by the 1970s they had achieved a measure of success. More important, these jobs had created the economic foundations for a rising class of homeowning, blue-collar black workers. Thus, the swift disappearance of those jobs was traumatic for an important element of black Los Angeles.

But the decline in these older smokestack industries cannot alone sufficiently explain persistent racial inequality; in fact, even as Los Angeles was suffering this selective deindustrialization, it was also experiencing a dynamic wave of reindustrialization.19 Starting in the 1960s, a new wave of both very high-skill and very low-skill manufacturing industries, along with the expansion of retail and service industries, created thousands of new jobs in Los Angeles and Southern California in general, allowing both the city and the region to weather the recession better than most American cities. But, again, blacks found that they did not share equally in Southern California's continuing economic boom. That such inequality persisted despite the creation of new jobs suggests that just as African Americans were challenging and conquering relics of historic discrimination, new barriers emerged. Although race "declined in significance," to use William Julius Wilson's oft-quoted phrase, blackness continued to be a significant handicap long after legal segregation ended.20

Finally, the dispersive spatiality of Los Angeles greatly influenced the opportunities available to African Americans, sometimes concretely and other times perceptually. Before World War II, the vast geographic size and relatively low population density of Los Angeles distinguished it from other major American metropolises. This dispersion, combined with the proportionally small size of the black population, the rigid racial segregation of the workplace, and the city's heavy dependence on private rather than public transportation, created an atmosphere in which compulsory social interaction between blacks and whites was minimized, thereby allowing black residents in prewar Los Angeles to avert many of the racially degrading or violent encounters typical in other cities. For blacks in Los Angeles, and their friends and families who visited, this distinction was palpable and lent some credence to their glowing characterizations of opportunity in the city.

Paradoxically, however, it also allowed civic leaders and whites in general to completely ignore the rising cost of racial segregation. African Americans remained essentially out of sight and out of mind until World War II, when the sheer volume of black migration finally forced white Los Angeles to recognize the consequences of housing segregation in the overcrowded slums of Little Tokyo. But even as civic leaders grappled with the problems of segregation, many white residents and homeowners responded to the flood of black migrants by more aggressively defending racial segregation in both public and private spaces. Thus, whatever benefits blacks accrued from the city's special arrangement prior to World War II quickly disappeared in the postwar years.

In the process of writing this book, I have read countless other books, articles, dissertations, and theses. I have consulted the records of more than thirty federal agencies, civil rights groups, labor organizations, and individuals; and I have analyzed and interpreted eight decades of census data and labor statistics. I have read hundreds of issues of the two largest black newspapers of the era, the California Eagle and the Los Angeles Sentinel, as well as the Los Angeles Times and a handful of smaller newspapers. I have consulted numerous oral histories and conducted some of my own interviews with longtime residents of South Central Los Angeles, the heart of black Southern California. I have studied hundreds of photographs, maps, pamphlets, and letters from the era. And I have spent time in South Central, walking the streets, looking and listening for history's fading cues. All of this research has pointed to one central idea: the history of urban America is inseparable from the history of race in America.

Race is not simply a category of analyses that can be applied or removed from a map of the "real" urban landscape like a thematic overlay. Rather, it is a concept that has been integral to the way American cities have developed and the way urbanites of all backgrounds have made decisions. In Los Angeles, the Great Migration of African Americans during and after World War II profoundly influenced decisions about politics, law enforcement, housing, and education. Before the war, policy decisions on such issues had been made almost exclusively by whites, who certainly continued to dominate the urban decision-making process long after the war. But beginning during the war years, African Americans increasingly influenced that process in several ways.

Blacks most often affected the evolution of the city simply by making everyday choices about where to work, where to live, where to send their children to school, and where to relax at the end of the day. Although pervasive racial discrimination continued to limit their options, by making those choices, black residents thrust themselves into the public spaces and civic consciousness of the city of Los Angeles in ways that forced civic leaders to react. Blacks also shaped the urban decision-making process by explicitly challenging discriminatory employers, racist police, insensitive city councils and mayors, and obstinate white co-workers and neighbors through pickets, boycotts, protests, and organized electoral political activity. Ultimately, African Americans were not peripheral to the history of Los Angeles or other large American cities but were, rather, important shapers of urban destiny in ways that have yet to be fully appreciated.

By locating my study of postwar African American history in Los Angeles, I hope to offer more than simply a corrective to our near-exclusive reliance on the northern rust belt story. Understanding the history of modern black Los Angeles may give us an opportunity—to borrow a phrase from Mike Davis—to "excavate the future." In addition to inspiring greater investigation into the rich history of Los Angeles, Davis's popular City of Quartz reinvigorated the longstanding notion that postwar Los Angeles has been a bellwether of urban America.21 Often exaggerated by the city's boosters, this idea nonetheless has history on its side, at least as it applies to the "sunbelt" cities. Indeed, over the past forty or so years, many of America's sunbelt cities have come to resemble Los Angeles in their rapid growth, their sprawling landscapes, their new immigration, and their diversified economies, often bolstered by heavy federal investment.22 Meanwhile, rust belt cities such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Detroit continue to experience steady population loss and economic decline.23 Joel Garreau's assertion that "every single American city that is growing, is growing in the fashion of Los Angeles" may be overstated, but if recent history is any guide to the future, it seems likely that much of urban America will soon resemble Los Angeles more than it will Detroit or Pittsburgh.24 Thus, there is a special urgency to understanding the city's recent racial past because it has a direct bearing on urban America's racial future, especially in an era in which de jure segregation no longer exists. Because de facto racial inequality still plagues our nation, we would be well served by a comprehensive understanding of how our most modern cities have incubated it.

Finally, I must acknowledge the limitations of this study. In my investigation of the Los Angeles African American community, I have focused chiefly on those aspects of life that have historically been at the center of black struggles for equality: jobs, housing, education, and political representation. Readers seeking greater insight into the many rich spiritual, artistic, and cultural traditions and contributions of Los Angeles's black community may find this book lacking. Happily, such readers will benefit from the recent publication of Central Avenue Sounds, California Soul, and Central Avenue: Its Rise and Fall, three comprehensive works on the history of black music in the city and state. Far less documented is the fascinating history of the city's many black churches and influential pastors, as well as the story of its visual artists and writers.25 Much work remains to be done on these and other aspects of black Los Angeles, and it is my hope that this book might serve as a foundation upon which future studies of these topics can build.


1. The interview with Mary Trimble appeared in the Daily People's World, 31 March 1950.

2. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1975), 1:95.

3. In some cities, in fact, a growing proportion of dissatisfied African Americans actually began migrating back to the South. For information on slowing black in-migration and increased black out-migration, see James H. Johnson Jr. and Curtis C. Roseman, "Increasing Black Outmigration from Los Angeles: The Role of Household Dynamics and Kinship Systems," Annals of the Association of American Geographers 80 (June 1990): 205—222; Curtis C. Roseman and Seong Woo Lee, "Linked and Independent African American Migration from Los Angeles," Professional Geographer 50 (May 1998): 204—214; Carol Stack, Call to Home: African Americans Reclaim the Rural South (New York: Basic Books, 1996).

4. A number of excellent studies have explored the impact of this migration. See Nicholas Lemann, The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America (New York: Knopf, 1991); Albert S. Broussard, Black San Francisco: The Struggle for Racial Equality in the West, 1900—1954 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993); Marilynn S. Johnson, The Second Gold Rush: Oakland and the East Bay in World War II (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993); Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle's Central District, From 1870 Through the Civil Rights Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994); Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo, Abiding Courage: African American Migrant Women and the East Bay Community (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996); Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528—1990 (New York: Norton, 1998); Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, To Place Our Deeds: The African American Community in Richmond, California, 1910—1963 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000).

5. The growth rate of the black population in Los Angeles from 1940 to 1970 was 1,096 percent. Black growth rates for other large northern and western cities are as follows: Newark, 661 percent; Detroit, 407 percent; Chicago, 342 percent; New York, 310 percent; Cleveland, 293 percent; Kansas City, 263 percent; St. Louis, 248 percent; Philadelphia, 198 percent; Baltimore, 195 percent; Washington, D.C., 187 percent; Pittsburgh, 174 percent; Cincinnati, 174 percent; Indianapolis, 169 percent. Data drawn from the following U.S. Bureau of the Census publications (all published in Washington, D.C., by the GPO): Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940, Population, vol. 2, Characteristics of the Population, pts. 1—7 (1943); Census of Population: 1950, vol. 2, Characteristics of the Population, pts. 5, 9, 14, 22, 25, 30, 32, 35, 38 (1952); Census of Population, 1960, vol. 1, Characteristics of the Population, pts. 6, 10, 15, 23, 24, 34, 37, 40 (1963); Census of Population, 1970, vol. 1, Characteristics of the Population, pts. 6, 10, 15, 24, 27, 32, 34, 37 (1971); 1980 Census of Population, vol. 1, Characteristics of the Population, chap. C, General Social and Economic Characteristics, pts. 6, 15, 16, 24, 32—34, 37, 40 (1983); Jesse McKinnon, The Black Population: 2000 (2001), 7.

6. See, for example, Richard M. Dalfiume, "The 'Forgotten Years' of the Negro Revolution," Journal of American History 55 (June 1968): 90—106; Dale L. Hiestand, Economic Growth and Employment Opportunities for Minorities (New York: Columbia University Press, 1964). For an opposing view, see Karen Tucker Anderson, "Last Hired, First Fired: Black Women Workers During World War II," Journal of American History 69 (June 1982): 82—97.

7. For an excellent description of this process, see Johnson, Second Gold Rush, 60—82.

8. Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1944), 997; St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Cayton, Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (1945; rev. ed., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 782.

9. "Los Angeles Biennial Report of the Executive Director," 1 March 1943, p. 12, box 19, National Urban League Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

10. See, for example, Robert Korstad and Nelson Lichtenstein, "Opportunities Found and Lost: Labor, Radicals, and the Early Civil Rights Movement," Journal of American History 75 (December 1988): 786—811. The implications of the case studies by Korstad and Lichtenstein are more fully developed in Michael Goldfield, The Color of Politics: Race and the Mainsprings of American Politics (New York: The New Press, 1997).

11. Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles Riots, Violence in the CityñAn End or a Beginning? A Report (Los Angeles, 1965), 3.

12. Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, 1968 (Kerner Commission) (New York: Bantam Books, 1968); Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles Riots, Violence in the City; U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Policy Planning and Research, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1965).

13. One of the earliest articulations of the concept of the "underclass" can be found in E. Franklin Frazier, The Negro Family in the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939); see also Lee Rainwater and William L. Yancey, The Moynihan Report and the Politics of Controversy (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1967); Ken Auletta, The Underclass (New York: Random House, 1982); Christopher Jencks and Paul E. Peterson, eds., The Urban Underclass (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1991). For an excellent overview of this debate, see Michael B. Katz, "The Urban 'Underclass' as a Metaphor of Social Transformation," in The "Underclass" Debate: Views from History, ed. Michael B. Katz (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 3—23. The most influential and historically minded work on the underclass has been William Julius Wilson, The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978).

14. See, for example, Ronald Formisano, Boston Against Busing: Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991); Jonathan Rieder, Canarsie: The Jews and Italians of Brooklyn Against Liberalism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985); Jim Sleeper, The Closest of Strangers: Liberalism and the Politics of Race in New York (New York: Norton, 1990); Thomas Byrne Edsall and Mary D. Edsall, Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights, and Taxes on American Politics (New York: Norton, 1991).

15. Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton, American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993); Arnold R. Hirsch, Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940—1960 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998); Gregory D. Squires et al., Chicago: Race, Class, and the Response to Urban Decline (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1987); William J. Wilson, "The Urban Underclass in Advanced Industrial Society," in The New Urban Reality, ed. Paul E. Peterson (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1985), 129—160; William J. Wilson, The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987). For analyses of specific aspects of racial inequality in postwar urban America, see Gary Orfield, "Ghettoization and Its Alternatives," in Peterson, New Urban Reality, 161—193; John F. Bauman, Public Housing, Race, and Renewal: Urban Planning in Philadelphia, 1920—1974 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1987); John D. Kasarda, "Urban Change and Minority Opportunities," in Peterson, New Urban Reality, 33—67; John D. Kasarda, "The Jobs-Skills Mismatch," New Perspectives Quarterly 7 (Fall 1990): 34—37. For a superb overview of approaches to postwar black urban history, see Kenneth L. Kusmer, "African Americans in the City Since World War II: From the Industrial to the Post-Industrial Era," Journal of Urban History 21 (May 1995): 458—504.

16. Thomas J. Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996). For an important case study of these issues in the steel industry, see Judith Stein, Running Steel, Running America: Race, Economic Policy, and the Decline of Liberalism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998). For Stein's comments on Sugrue's work, see Judith Stein, "Opening and Closing Doors," Labor History 39 (February 1998): 52—57.

17. For a provocative alternative to the black "rust belt" narrative, see Raymond Mohl, "Miami: The Ethnic Cauldron," in Sunbelt Cities: Politics and Growth Since World War II, ed. Richard M. Bernard and Bradley R. Rice (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983), 58—91. Postwar Miami resembled Los Angeles in its diversified economy (with thriving trade, finance, service, tourism, and manufacturing sectors), its large and rapidly growing suburbs, its climate, and its extensive new Latin American immigration. These "sunbelt" characteristics exercised a profound influence over blacks in Miami, as they did in Los Angeles. For example, Mohl finds evidence that competition from Cuban immigrants undercut economic opportunities for both low-skilled black workers and black entrepreneurs ("Miami," 62—64, 87). For an investigation of black progress in multiracial Seattle, see Taylor, Forging of a Black Community.

18. Here and throughout, I use the term "Mexican" to refer both to Mexican immigrants and to Mexican Americans. When speaking about either group specifically, I use the term "Mexican immigrants" or "Mexican Americans." For scholarship on the multiracial character of the city, particularly before World War II, see Lawrence B. de Graaf, "Negro Migration to Los Angeles, 1930—1950" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1962); Lawrence B. de Graaf, "The City of Black Angels: Emergence of the Los Angeles Ghetto, 1890—1930," Pacific Historical Review 39 (August 1970): 323—352; Brian Masaru Hayashi, "For the Sake of Our Japanese Brethren": Assimilation, Nationalism, and Protestantism Among the Japanese of Los Angeles, 1895—1942 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995); Kevin Allen Leonard, "Years of Hope, Days of Fear: The Impact of World War II on Race Relations in Los Angeles" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Davis, 1992); John Modell, The Economics and Politics of Racial Accommodation: The Japanese of Los Angeles, 1900—1942 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1977); Douglas Monroy, Rebirth: Mexican Los Angeles from the Great Migration to the Great Depression (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999); George J. Sánchez, Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900—1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993); Max Vorspan and Lloyd P. Gartner, History of the Jews in Los Angeles (San Marino, Calif.: Huntington Library, 1970); Mark H. Wild, "A Rumored Congregation: Cross-Cultural Interaction in the Immigrant Neighborhoods of Early Twentieth Century Los Angeles" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, San Diego, 2001).

19. The best overview of this economic restructuring is found in Edward W. Soja, Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory (London: Verso, 1989), 190—221. See also Edward Soja, Rebecca Morales, and Goetz Wolff, "Urban Restructuring: An Analysis of Social and Spatial Change in Los Angeles," Economic Geography 59 (1983): 195—230.

20. Wilson, Declining Significance of Race.

21. Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (New York: Vintage Books, 1992). For a brief history of this idea, see Carl Abbott, The Metropolitan Frontier: Cities in the Modern American West (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1993), 123—128, 222—223.

22. See, for example, Abbott, Metropolitan Frontier; Gerald D. Nash, The American West in the Twentieth Century: A Short History of an Urban Oasis (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1973); Rob Kling, Spencer Olin, and Mark Poster, eds., Postsuburban California: The Transformation of Orange County Since World War II (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991); Bernard and Rice, Sunbelt Cities; New York Times, 19 November 1997.

23. New York Times, 7 May 2001.

24. Joel Garreau, Edge City: Life on the New Urban Frontier (New York: Anchor Books, 1992), 3.

25. Clora Bryant et al., eds., Central Avenue Sounds: Jazz in Los Angeles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998); Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje and Eddie Meadows, eds., California Soul: Music of African Americans in the West (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998); Bette Yarbrough Cox, Central Avenue: Its Rise and Fall, 1890c. 1955, Including the Musical Renaissance of Black Los Angeles (Los Angeles: BEEM Publications, 1996). For an interesting foray into black religion in Los Angeles, see Thomas Kilgore and Jini Kilgore Ross, A Servant's Journey: The Life and Work of Thomas Kilgore (Valley Forge, Penn.: Judson Press, 1998).