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No There There

No There There: Race, Class, and Political Community in Oakland

CHRIS RHOMBERG
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Pages: 328
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pn62c
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  • Book Info
    No There There
    Book Description:

    Challenged by Ku Klux Klan action in the '20s, labor protests culminating in a general strike in the '40s, and the rise of the civil rights and black power struggles of the '60s, Oakland, California, seems to encapsulate in one city the broad and varied sweep of urban social movements in twentieth-century America. Taking Oakland as a case study of urban politics and society in the United States, Chris Rhomberg examines the city's successive episodes of popular insurgency for what they can tell us about critical discontinuities in the American experience of urban political community.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94088-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. 1 No There There: Social Movements and Urban Political Community
    (pp. 1-23)

    On the night of May 5, 1922, a crowd of some fifteen hundred men wearing white robes and masks gathered silently in a valley in the hills above Oakland, California. Rows of parked cars lined the nearby road, and two searchlights beamed across the sky as a fiery cross burned behind an altar draped with the American flag. At a given signal, five hundred more unmasked men marched four abreast toward the altar to take their oaths and be initiated into the order of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Newspaper reporters were brought in to record the scene,...

  6. 2 Corporate Power and Ethnic Patronage: Machine Politics in Oakland
    (pp. 24-49)

    Overlooking the eastern side of San Francisco Bay, the Contra Costa hills of the California Coastal Range rise gently more than fifteen hundred feet above sea level and the city of Oakland. On their western slope, the landscape descends from the top of the ridge into gravelly, brush-covered hillsides, interspersed with wooded canyons and arroyos, before giving way to a narrow coastal plain of grassy foothills, flats, and wetland marshes near the shore. Several mountain creeks carve their way down through the hills; one of them, San Antonio Creek, turns into a broad estuary that flows into the bay, marking...

  7. 3 The Making of a White Middle Class: The Ku Klux Klan and Urban Reform
    (pp. 50-72)

    In the early twentieth century, corporate power, machine politics, and ethnic patronage were the dominant institutional forces affecting community life in Oakland. By the 1920s, however, all three had begun to break down. In the wake of structural and conjunctural changes stimulated by the 1906 earthquake and the First World War, new actors began to appear on the urban scene, including a militant union labor movement, a nascent downtown business elite, and a suburban middle class. The latter two came together in the 1910 commission charter reform, but their efforts failed to dislodge the power of machine politics. In the...

  8. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  9. 4 Economic Crisis and Class Hegemony: The Rule of Downtown
    (pp. 73-95)

    At the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Broadway in Oakland, a small statue and fountain mark the corner that bears the name Latham Square. As much as any other street corner in the mid 1930s, Latham Square embodied the heart of commercial downtown Oakland. Here two major streetcar lines converged, one coming from Berkeley along Telegraph and the other running down Broadway from the Oakland hills. Both stopped in front of Kahn’s department store, one of the leading retail merchandisers in Alameda County and a nerve center in Oakland for the middle-class urban consumer culture of the first half of...

  10. 5 Working-Class Collective Agency: The General Strike and Labor Insurgency
    (pp. 96-119)

    In cities across the United States, working-class protest had returned during the 1930s. In Oakland, however, such protest was mostly contained, unable to break through the hegemony of the Knowland regime. The conservative coalition in city government remained securely in power, as did the economic leadership of the downtown elite. By 1938, the Bay Bridge and the Broadway Tunnel had been completed and military base development was under way. Although the Depression was hardly over, Oakland businesses were already looking forward to a future of metropolitan expansion into the suburban and rural areas of Alameda County.¹

    Within a few years,...

  11. 6 Reconstituting the Urban Regime: Redevelopment and the Central City
    (pp. 120-144)

    In 1950, there was little indication that white Oaklanders in general were very concerned about the growing number of black residents living in the city. Although African Americans made up more than 12 percent of the total population, they were largely confined to West Oakland; black settlement remained almost nonexistent through most of central and east Oakland above East Fourteenth Street. Nor was there much in public affairs to remind whites of the presence of their fellow citizens. The defeat of the housing program temporarily halted planning for urban renewal, and local politics returned to its former quietude. As white...

  12. 7 Bureaucratic Insulation and Racial Conflict: The Challenge of Black Power
    (pp. 145-172)

    By the mid ’60s, black activists in Oakland had gained an institutional footing in the federal urban programs. Nevertheless, they still faced the more difficult task of altering the substantive relations among groups in the city. Despite the political opportunities offered by federal programs and money, movement leaders continued to face opposition from more powerful, competing local interests, whose resistance effectively stymied efforts for reform. The regime’s refusal to compromise illustrated its failure to absorb the movement challenge and signaled a growing crisis of the urban political community. At the same time, the movement’s inability to win more significant concessions...

  13. 8 From Social Movements to Social Change: Oakland and Twentieth-Century Urban America
    (pp. 173-200)

    Consider these sequences of events: Ku Klux Klan leaders victorious in local politics in the late ’20s, only to be driven from office in a celebrated scandal just a few years later. One hundred thousand AFL union members on strike in 1946, followed by two bitterly contested municipal elections in 1947 and 1950. Shootouts between Black Panther Party members and police in the ’60s, and Bobby Seale’s surprising mayoral campaign in 1973, amid a long march toward racial equality for the urban black community. In the short span of about fifty years, the city of Oakland experienced at least three...

  14. METHODOLOGICAL APPENDIX: Telling Stories about Actors and Events
    (pp. 201-208)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 209-264)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 265-292)
  17. Index
    (pp. 293-315)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 316-316)