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Living for the City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  76 ratings  ·  7 reviews
In this nuanced and groundbreaking history, Donna Murch argues that the Black Panther Party (BPP) started with a study group. Drawing on oral history and untapped archival sources, she explains how a relatively small city with a recent history of African American settlement produced such compelling and influential forms of Black Power politics.

During an era of expansion a
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Paperback, 312 pages
Published October 4th 2010 by University of North Carolina Press (first published April 1st 2010)
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Chuck
Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book. It is well researched and well written and full of provocative arguments about the emergence of the Panthers (and Black radicalism generally) in Oakland. Indeed, of the half-dozen or so books I've read about the Panthers over the years, this is the best.

Although Murch sympathizes with the Panthers, she is a scholar first of all and takes care to substantiate her claims and clearly wants to (and does) provide a balanced account. This is an issue in the context of schol
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Gabriella
***NOTE: these reviews are reading responses that are slightly amended from my course assignments for CPLN 624: Readings in Race, Poverty, and Place.

I really enjoyed how LFTC contextualized the Black Panther Party in its particular time and location in history. First, it was enlightening to see how Southerners who’d just arrived to Oakland contributed to the militancy of the Black Power movement. Donna Murch uses organizations like the Deacons for Defense and Lowndes County Freedom Organization
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Sarah
Jul 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Yeah super interesting deep dive into the BPP!

Not much to say other than it did a good job of bringing lots of nuance to a topic that is usually just regarded as a super violent group. I liked that Murch doesn't sugar coat anything but also explains the leaders as very three dimensional people to help you understand their actions better. Overall the organisation is way more interesting, complex and innovative then people give it credit for and the book frames the rise and fall of the party extr
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James
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Murch argued that the rise of the Black Panther Party, from 1966-1972 before falling into infighting and repression, was fueled by both the recent migration of black families from Oklahoma and Texas in the post-war defense industries, and the opening of community college and state colleges for young African-Americans. These youths, who came of age between the murders of Emmett Till in 1955 and Malcolm X in 1965, were radicalized by the disappointment of their parents to the continuing problems o ...more
Kevin
2.5/5.

A book that sought to delve deeper into a previously established narrative of the BPP's history. It provided me with great insights, in both the primary sources and analysis. However, I found an undercurrent of bias in the work, as if it needed to justify its existence by setting itself apart from established historiography. In particular, dismissing the ambush that led to the death of Bobby Hutton as 'accounts varied' and focusing on the outrage surrounding his death was a poo
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Ecaterina Burton
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A richly layered investigation into the actual origins of the Panthers that blends first-hand interviews with a plethora of academic and media sources. Murch dives deep and sets a brisk but thorough exploration of the political and social geography that made the Bay ripe for radicalism. As someone who has lived here for a decade, I found this book to be illuminating and Murch stays keenly aware of the factors that led to the Panthers’ eventual dissolution. This book I imagine would be an incredi ...more
Nicky
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Murch Does an excellent job of bringing together an urban history with a history of the black panther party. I really appreciated how well she uses her sources, particularly through interviews with participants of the BPP. I never really thought about how migration and education would come together in such a way to make Oakland in the 1960s a possibility, and I’m so glad that Murch weaved together this story.
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