Hartman questions

1. How did the sexual revolution contribute in the new left movement?

2. What were some of the institutions the New Left helped reestablish?

3. In what way did identity based movements help in breaking the social norm of the sixties?

 

Sugrue and Cowie Paper

The Foundation of American History

            Throughout American history race has always been an underlying issue that has ultimately shaped how the country is today. This was particularly true post World War II and after great migration of African Americans from the south to the north was in full swing. Although class also played a significant role in the quality of life for millions of Americans, race played an even greater role as it limited how far people could progress themselves. Examples of this were definitely on display during the urban crisis of 1940’s and 1950’s Detroit. The dynamic relationship between race versus class has been an ongoing issue that still currently affects Americans especially in the African American community. The struggle that many go through on a day to day basis now, can be traced back to practices back in 1945.

Author Thomas J. Sugrue argues in his book, The Origins of the Urban Crisis Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit, that race played a huge role in the decline of Detroit in the 1940’s and 1950’s through de-industrialization and white flight. At the core of his argument are the issues of housing between whites and blacks that ultimately segregated the two populations. The impact that the segregation had on African Americans would cripple any chance they had at upgrading their class in society. Discrimination in jobs, housing, and real-estate brokers would set back African Americans to a life of poverty and dismay.

Detroit’s booming factories became an attractive location to settle to as many different ethnic groups began to flock there. As a result the city soon began to form segregated districts that each group claimed for themselves. The African American population was stuck with the oldest part of the city known as the black bottom district around downtown Detroit. As racial tension shifted from other ethnic groups towards African Americans, European ethnic groups soon began to embrace being white and accepted into society. “Residents of Detroit’s white neighborhoods abandoned their ethnic affiliations and found a new identity in their whiteness” (22).

The corrupt policies of real estate agents promoting nonblack community ordinances and banks not giving loans to African Americans made it all most impossible for them to escape the black bottom district of Detroit. Knowing the African Americans had nowhere else to live, landlords in the black bottom district raised the rent so high that the majority of African American’s income was being spent on rent alone. Along with high rent, landlords did not bother to fix buildings and thus made it a complete slum for African Americans to live in. With many African Americans in debt, the only alternative was for entire families living together and sharing the rent in an effort to save money.

Over time the African American population began to increase, and as a result the issue of competition in jobs became a huge concern among the white blue collar workers of Detroit. White led Unions became more worried about not helping African American workers with anything than actually being a union for all workers. According to author Thomas J. Sugrue, “still especially in the 1940’s, the shop floor was a battleground contesting visions of unionism. White rank and file members protested the upgrading of black workers, unions split into left-led and centrist factions, and union leaders alternated between militance and accommodation with employers” (20).

Sugrue’s Origins of the Urban Crisis Questions

  1. How did Detroit’s white residents abandoning their ethnic affiliations and embracing their new whiteness impact the city?
  2. What were the roles of Unions in Detroit’s racial tension?
  3. What were some reasons as to why people compared Detroit to the south and gave it the nickname of the South’s biggest city?