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Cover for the book Blacks and the Quest for Economic Equality

Blacks and the Quest for Economic Equality

The Political Economy of Employment in Southern Communities in the United States James W. Button, Barbara A. Rienzo, and Sheila L. Croucher
  • Copyright: 2009
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 208 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-03555-0
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-03556-7

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“This is an exceptional work of scholarship that presents a comprehensive and compelling study of racial inequality in employment that also provides prescriptions for change. It’s both highly readable and meets rigorous academic standards. It’s not to be missed by anyone with a genuine interest in race and employment inequality.”
“This is a bittersweet book—it is among the best of Jim Button’s works on southern communities, and, alas, he is no longer with us. Button, Rienzo, and Croucher examine black economic opportunities in six Florida communities that represent the Old and New South. Using a variety of methodological approaches, the authors give us a detailed and nuanced view of the ability of black communities within these cities to gain an economic foothold. This is an excellent piece of scholarship and makes a major contribution to our understanding of the South and black progress.”

The civil rights movement of the 1960s improved the political and legal status of African Americans, but the quest for equality in employment and economic well-being has lagged behind. Blacks are more than twice as likely as whites to be employed in lower-paying service jobs or to be unemployed, are three times as likely to live in poverty, and have a median household income barely half of that for white households. What accounts for these disparities, and what possibilities are there for overcoming obstacles to black economic progress? This book seeks answers to these questions through a combined quantitative and qualitative study of six municipalities in Florida.

Factors impeding the quest for equality include employer discrimination, inadequate education, increasing competition for jobs from white females and Latinos, and a lack of transportation, job training, affordable childcare, and other sources of support, which makes it difficult for blacks to compete effectively. Among factors aiding in the quest is the impact of black political power in enhancing opportunities for African Americans in municipal employment.

The authors conclude by proposing a variety of ameliorative measures: strict enforcement of antidiscrimination laws; public policies to provide disadvantaged people with a good education, adequate shelter and food, and decent jobs; and self-help efforts by blacks to counter self-destructive attitudes and activities.

The late James W. Button was Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida.

Barbara A. Rienzo is Professor of Health Education and Behavior at the University of Florida.

Sheila L. Croucher is Paul Rejai Professor of Political Science at Miami University of Ohio.


List of Illustrations


1. Race Relations and Economic Progress

2. The Economic, Racial, and Political Contexts of the Cities

3. Blacks and Business Sector Employment

4. African Americans in the Municipal Workforces

5. Race, Gender, and Ethnicity: Competition for Employment Opportunities

6. Affirmative Action and Black Employment

7. Promoting Progress in Black Employment




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