Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities

NYU Press
Available May 5, 2010 in Paperback

Los Angeles is well-known as a temperate paradise with expansive beaches and mountain vistas, a booming luxury housing market, and the home of glamorous Hollywood. During the first half of the twentieth century, Los Angeles was also seen as a mecca for both African Americans and a steady stream of migrants from around the country and the world, transforming Los Angeles into one of the world’s most diverse cities. The city has become a multicultural maze in which many now fear that the political clout of the region’s large black population has been lost. Nonetheless, the dream of a better life lives on for black Angelenos today, despite the harsh social and economic conditions many confront.

Black Los Angeles is the culmination of a groundbreaking research project from the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA that presents an in-depth analysis of the historical and contemporary contours of black life in Los Angeles. Based on innovative research, the original essays are multi-disciplinary in approach and comprehensive in scope, connecting the dots between the city’s racial past, present, and future. Through historical and contemporary anecdotes, oral histories, maps, photographs, illustrations, and demographic data, we see that Black Los Angeles is and has always been a space of profound contradictions. Just as Los Angeles has come to symbolize the complexities of the early twenty-first-century city, so too has Black Los Angeles come to embody the complex realities of race in so-called “colorblind” times.

Contributors: Melina Abdullah, Alex Alonso, Dionne Bennett, Joshua Bloom, Edna Bonacich, Scot Brown, Reginald Chapple, Lola Smallwood Cuevas, Andrew Deener, Regina Freer, Jooyoung Lee, Mignon R. Moore, Lanita Morris, Neva Pemberton, Steven C. Pitts, Carrie Petrucci, Gwendelyn Rivera, Paul Robinson, M. Belinda Tucker, Paul Von Blum, Mary Weaver, Sonya Winton, and Nancy Wang Yuen.

One thought on “Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities”

  1. UCLA book ‘Black Los Angeles’ chronicles city’s African American history, issues
    By Letisia Marquez
    April 21, 2010

    “Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities” (NYU Press, April 2010), co-edited by Darnell Hunt, director of UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, and the center’s assistant director, Ana-Christina Ramón, delves into the long and rich history of African Americans in Los Angeles and presents a snapshot of contemporary issues affecting the community.

    “African Americans have played important and pivotal roles in Los Angeles’ history,” Hunt says. “As our book demonstrates, African Americans have had a powerful impact on the development of the city — from being part of the first settlers in 1781, through the period of the region’s tremendous growth, to the present day.”

    “Black Los Angeles is and has always been a space of profound contradictions,” Hunt writes in the book. “Just as Los Angeles has come to symbolize the complexities of the early twenty-first–century city, so too has Black Los Angeles come to embody the complex realities of race in so-called ‘colorblind’ times.”

    “Black Los Angeles” is the culmination of eight years of research the center conducted on African American communities in the region.

    Hunt and Ramón were motivated to edit the book because they noticed a dearth of research that connected the dots between the past, present and future of black life in the Los Angeles. They met with scholars and community members to discuss what topics the book should include and then enlisted 23 experts to contribute chapters for the book.

    See more at UCLA Newsroom.

Leave a Reply