RETREAT TO THE GHETTO: The End of a Dream? by Thomas L. Blair
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RETREAT TO THE GHETTO: The End of a Dream?

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A broad, balanced recapitulation of recent black history which looks to black cities as a hope for the future. After a capsule recall of early movements for integration or separatism--dominant political trends--Blair summarizes the events and characterizes the personalities of the Sixties, showing great admiration for Malcolm, less for King, and presenting reasonably sharp portraits of the outspoken Panther leaders, untroubled by ideological consistency, who challenged both protest style and basic assumptions. Their militance and the already altered direction of more moderate groups stymied integrationist efforts but, even more dramatically, the Vietnam War fragmented groups within the movement and channeled energies and funds elsewhere. Aware of the cultural changes of the period, Blair notes the development of black consciousness and pride, the rise in fringe religious groups, the increase in popular authors, artists, film stars (dubious progress from Sambo to Superspade, incidentally), and the polarizing disputes about black studies on college campuses--between blacks and whites and, among blacks, between young and established. Overall he finds economic improvement for middle-class blacks, virtually none for the poor; continued discrimination in many unions despite more than token accommodation in others; and, following the 1965 Voting Rights Act, substantial electoral gains--a group of elected officials intent on the ""slow task of [political] parity."" The names keep surfacing, reminding us how many are gone or silent (Seale, Newton, Brown, Jackson, Carmichael, Cleaver), how many have arrived and found a place (Hatcher, Gibson, Bond, Chisholm, Evers, Dellums). Blair, an American sociologist at London's Polytechnic, has ignored specific parts of this history--the welfare rights movement, community control and busing issues in education--but his overview, both judicious and easily accessible, is valuable as a general reference.

Pub Date: June 28th, 1977
Publisher: Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux