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Title page for ETD etd-07152014-115601


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Nelson, Nichole Ashley
Author's Email Address nanelson1@optonline.net
URN etd-07152014-115601
Title "A Model for America: Racial Integration in South Orange, New Jersey"
Degree Master of Arts
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Gary Gerstle Committee Chair
Dennis Dickerson Committee Member
Richard Lloyd Committee Member
Sarah Igo Committee Member
Keywords
  • race
  • racial residential integration
  • segregation
  • housing
Date of Defense 2014-08-08
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
A Model for America investigates how black and white South Orange, New Jersey residents formed alliances in order to transform their community from a predominantly white community into a racially integrated community. Interviews with residents and community activists, local and national newspapers, and community organizations’ internal documents, reveal a history, spanning from 1963 to the late 1990s, of black and white residents using civic associations to voluntarily integrate the community in order to increase property values. This narrative is uncommon in the field of urban history, where traditional historiography emphasizes hostility and even violence against black homeowners that is rooted in white homeowners’ fear that the presence of African-Americans in their neighborhood would harm property values. Using sociologist Karyn Lacy’s assertion that “shared interests among black and white suburbanites are the basis for the construction of suburban identities,” to frame my research, I argue that black and white South Orange residents’ shared identities as suburbanites caused them to realize that integration causes property values to rise by opening the housing market to additional homeowners, and that panic selling and white flight cause property values to decline. Thus, A Model for America investigates how black and white South Orange residents’ shared identities as suburbanites compelled them to integrate their community.

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