"Combining memoir with scholarly history, Furman presents an insightful look at school integration in order to capture the socioeconomic, political, and judicial realities that influenced the adolescent lives of this culturally diverse basketball team. It has both a sporting and human touch that informed and moved me."—Michael E. Lomax, author of Black Baseball Entrepreneurs, 1860–1901: Operating by Any Means Necessary
"Furman’s style is highly inviting. A fresh approach to discussions on race in America."—Derek Royal, editor of Philip Roth: New Perspectives on an American Author
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1980s, roughly half of Furman’s high school basketball teammates lived in the largely Anglo, and increasingly Jewish, San Fernando Valley, while the other half were African Americans bused in from the inner city. Los Angeles was embroiled in efforts to desegregate its public school district, one of the largest and most segregated in the country. Tensions came to a head in the late 1970s as the state implemented its forced busing plan, a radical desegregation program that was hotly contested among Los Angeles residents—particularly among Valley residents—and at all levels of the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
In My Los Angeles in Black and (Almost) White, the high school’s diverse basketball team serves as the entry point for a trenchant exploration of the judicial, legislative, and neighborhood battles over school desegregation that gripped the city in the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education and that continue to plague our “post-racial” nation. Furman accesses a diverse array of opinions about these years and about the current crisis of race and public education by examining landmark judicial decisions, public policy studies, and newspaper articles, and by interviewing key community leaders, including former U.S. Representative Bobbi Fiedler, the Jewish activist who led the campaign to stop forced busing in Los Angelese, and retired Superior Court Judge Paul Egly, with whom Fiedler and her allies wrangled. Furman also documents his recent visit to Los Angeles during which he met with several of his former teammates, coaches, and neighbors. At once critical and fair-minded, My Los Angeles in Black and (Almost) White cuts through the incendiary rhetoric over school desegregation to offer a lucid, engaging, and informed account of our long legacy and current challenges regarding race and public education.
Andrew Furman is professor of English at Florida Atlantic University. He is the author of the novel Alligators May Be Present and two books of literary criticism, Israel Through the Jewish American Imagination and Contemporary Jewish American Writers and the Multicultural Dilemma, the latter published by Syracuse University Press. His essays and reviews have appeared in such publications as Poets and Writers, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Oxford American, the Miami Herald, and the Forward.
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