Asset Value Analysis: Race and Wealth before 1945

Sunday, January 8, 2017: 9:00 AM
Plaza Ballroom D (Sheraton Denver Downtown)
Walter Greason, Monmouth University
At the start of the twentieth century, resort communities like Long Branch, Asbury Park, and Red Bank, New Jersey, epitomized the national realities of Jim Crow segregation.  While the visitors to these communities found rest and relaxation, many of the residents understood the sacrifices required to facilitate their customers’ play.  African American resort workers left records of their struggle to escape the boundaries of their employment to build new lives filled with greater liberty.  T. Thomas Fortune, the most prominent journalist of the late nineteenth century African American community, made his home in Red Bank and launched initiatives like the National Negro Business League to facilitate the economic development process for African Americans, despite local segregation and discrimination.  By 1947, the efforts to craft an integrated society at the Jersey shore yielded fundamental changes to the state constitution and inspired the formation of dozens of chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that pressed for greater inclusion, even in the most resistant rural communities.  Yet, the growth of commuter suburbs and the resulting service economy shattered this long struggle for equality as the children of New Jersey’s most prominent civil rights activists failed to overcome the national War on Drugs and the emerging prison-industrial complex.
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