From village to suburb: Race, politics, and economics in Monmouth County, New Jersey, 1890–1990
“From Village to Suburb: Race, Politics, and Economics in Monmouth County, New Jersey, 1890–1990” is a study of the transformation of a rural farming and resort community into a residential suburb. The lives of working-class African Americans illustrate dynamics of this change that previous scholars have overlooked. Previous historiography has defined suburbs as concentrated around cities and Northern communities of color as being predominantly urban. Using oral interviews, newspaper accounts, census records, and photographs, I argue that the black communities in Monmouth County overcame segregation and overt racism in the first half of the twentieth century. However, the growth of residential suburbs in the central New Jersey politically and economically marginalized the black working-class after 1950. Individuals, churches, and secular organizations all developed methods to combat racism and segregation in the rural north. However, these efforts did not adapt swiftly enough to counteract the changes brought by suburban development and the service economy in the second half of the twentieth century. As Monmouth County changed from village to suburb, black communities struggled against the overt racism of Jim Crow and the covert racism within the legal mandate for integration. At the end of the twentieth century, African Americans in Monmouth County could recognize both remarkable progress in their legal status and daunting challenges for their future economic opportunities.
0337: American history
0700: Social structure