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The Strike That Changed New York: Blacks, Whites, and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Crisis

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  41 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
On May 9, 1968, junior high school teacher Fred Nauman received a letter that would change the history of New York City. It informed him that he had been fired from his job. Eighteen other educators in the Ocean Hill–Brownsville area of Brooklyn received similar letters that day. The dismissed educators were white. The local school board that fired them was predominantly A ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published December 15th 2004 by Yale University Press (first published 2002)
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Kressel Housman
A friend recommended this book as a must-read for understanding race relations in New York City, and while it’s certainly an important book on the subject, its style is academic, and its prognosis is bleak. It was worth reading, but it was tough to get through, and not the slightest bit of fun. If you take it on, sandwich it between fun and/or positive reads.

The central event the book covered was the teachers’ strike of 1968. It began in the Ocean Hill/Brownsville section of Brooklyn when some A
...more
Micah
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
How is this book out of print? The story of the Ocean Hill-Brownsville community control experiment and the three strikes that followed it is, as Podair convincingly argues here, critical to understanding much of urban policy of the last four and a half decades. This book was an immensely challenging read for me as someone on the Left; if ever there were a book for me that inspired thoughts of that old cliche "there are no easy answers here," this is it. It's really essential reading for underst ...more
David Bates
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jerald Podair contends in The Strike that Changed New York: Blacks, Whites and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Crisis that the events 1967-8 decisively realigned the ethnic allegiances that had underpinned liberal New York and set a new conservative course. By 1967 the Ocean Hill-Brownsville neighborhood schools were failing badly. The demographics of the area had shifted rapidly since the late 1950s when black New Yorkers from the adjoining neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, under pressure from the ...more
ronn
Aug 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
A pretty decent read until the concluding chapters. Podair rightly goes after the sloppy, haphazard stewardship of Ocean Hill-Brownville's Black administrators and educators, but lets the white, heavily Jewish educational establishment off the hook. In any fight, it takes two sides to tangle. Ascribing the failure mostly to the Black antagonist is a disheartening disservice to readers -- of the book and recent history.

To make matters worse, Podair glides over the racist administrations of Koch a
...more
Joshua
Mar 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Podair provides an interesting perspective on the culture and history behind the Ocean Hill-Brownsville strikes, looking at the decades leading up to them and summing up the events that followed as a result of them. The book doesn't necessarily lean in favor of one side of the issue or the other, telling it like it is/was and glamorizing neither viewpoint. What bothers me about the book is that Podair tends to repeat particular points multiple times throughout the book. Various individuals and o ...more
James
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Podair argues that the 1968 teacher’s strike fundamentally altered race relations of New York City, shaking up the old alliance of Jews, white Protestants, and African-Americans against Irish and Italian Catholics for control of the city in favor of a purely racial alignment, though white elites mostly lined up with poor black residents against the American Federation of Teachers.. It shattered old vision of individualistic race-blind pluralism which much of the older left had clung to in favor ...more
Adam
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a book about a 1968 teacher's strike that looms large in my family's history, because it was the main catalyst that convinced my parents to move the family out of the city and to the suburbs. The strike was the result of a bitter power struggle between an African-American community-based school board in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, and the largely Jewish United Federation of Teachers. According to Podair it was a struggle with far-reaching consequences that changed the balance of ...more
Dinah
This book should be required reading for anyone jumping into the complicated politics of being a white (Jewish, middle class, your affiliations here) educator in New York City. Not only a great window into the history of the city's public schools, but the history of the city itself - the changing definitions of pluralism and opportunity, of community and prosperity. It's particularly interesting as a Jewish teacher trying to understand the ways other Jews have become allies to the black communit ...more
Lowell Berry
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Important for anyone who wants to understand the US school system
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