Bridges of Reform: Interracial Civil Rights Activism in by Shana Bernstein

By Shana Bernstein

In her first publication, Shana Bernstein reinterprets U.S. civil rights activism by way of its roots within the interracial efforts of Mexican, African, Jewish, and eastern americans in mid-century l. a.. increasing the body of historic research past black/white and North/South, Bernstein unearths that significant household activism for racial equality persevered from the Thirties throughout the Fifties. She stresses how this coalition-building used to be facilitated by way of the chilly conflict weather, as activists sought safety and legitimacy during this conservative period. Emphasizing the numerous connections among ethno-racial groups and among the us and international opinion, Bridges of Reform demonstrates the long term position western towns like la performed in shaping American race family.

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It provided housing relief for Mexican Americans. 22 FDR’s programs aided European-descent minority groups to a greater degree. They transformed Jewish activism nationwide as Jews, like many white Americans, began to make demands on what they saw as a more receptive government. Jewish activists increasingly built bridges between their neighborhood concerns and the local and federal governments, and came to expect government intervention and assistance. 23 In Los Angeles, New Deal funds supported education programs at the Menorah Center, an important Jewish social center.

50 Both officials and citizens directed their nativism at various immigrant groups in Los Angeles. They feared that the 1910 Mexican Revolution’s radicalism would seep into the United States, spreading a rebellion among southwestern Mexican Americans. Angelenos also worried about possible collaboration between Mexican Americans and Germany during the Great War. Their memory of the 1917 Zimmerman incident, when the United States intercepted a German telegram to Mexico promising financial aid and the return of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona in exchange for Mexico’s World War I alliance against the United States, heightened their fears.

The city’s demand for unskilled industrial workers was smaller than many northern cities’ until World War II, and the constant influx of white workers usually filled the limited jobs that did exist. Opportunities for African Americans in clerical or professional jobs were few and far between. Black teachers were not hired in Los Angeles junior and senior high schools until 1936 because of objections from white parents and white teachers’ refusal to share eating and bathroom facilities. 17 Such especially severe economic troubles made minorities hopeful that the New Deal would help remedy their situation.

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