A Haven and a Hell

The Ghetto in Black America

Lance Freeman

Columbia University Press

A Haven and a Hell

Pub Date: April 2019

ISBN: 9780231184601

328 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $32.00£25.00

Pub Date: April 2019

ISBN: 9780231545570

328 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $31.99£25.00

A Haven and a Hell

The Ghetto in Black America

Lance Freeman

Columbia University Press

The black ghetto is thought of as a place of urban decay and social disarray. Like the historical ghetto of Venice, it is perceived as a space of confinement, one imposed on black America by whites. It is the home of a marginalized underclass and a sign of the depth of American segregation. Yet while black urban neighborhoods have suffered from institutional racism and economic neglect, they have also been places of refuge and community.

In A Haven and a Hell, Lance Freeman examines how the ghetto shaped black America and black America shaped the ghetto. Freeman traces the evolving role of predominantly black neighborhoods in northern cities from the late nineteenth century through the present day. At times, the ghetto promised the freedom to build black social institutions and political power. At others, it suppressed and further stigmatized African Americans. Freeman reveals the forces that caused the ghetto’s role as haven or hell to wax and wane, spanning the Great Migration, mid-century opportunities, the eruptions of the sixties, the challenges of the seventies and eighties, and present-day issues of mass incarceration, the subprime crisis, and gentrification. Offering timely planning and policy recommendations based in this history, A Haven and a Hell provides a powerful new understanding of urban black communities at a time when the future of many inner-city neighborhoods appears uncertain.
[An] informative sociohistorical analysis . . . For readers of urban history and black history, this is an excellent look at the ghetto’s multifaceted place in American history. Publishers Weekly
A critical read at a time when gentrification is viewed as threatening the black identity of many urban neighborhoods, this book offers a rich and nuanced history of the ghetto’s role in black American life from the late nineteenth century to the present. Resisting a simple characterization, Freeman shows that while the ghetto has sometimes served as an instrument of subjugation and institutional neglect, it has also offered a refuge that has helped to nurture black culture, institutions, and ideas. Ingrid Gould Ellen, coeditor of The Dream Revisited: Contemporary Debates About Housing, Segregation, and Opportunity
Through rigorous sociohistorical analysis, Lance Freeman provides insight into how black ghettos developed and then changed over time, giving readers a good sense of the complicated trajectory of 'the ghetto' in America. A Haven and a Hell is a highly accessible and necessary book for a broader and richer understanding of urban black America. Marcus Anthony Hunter, coauthor of Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life
With diligent care, Lance Freeman weighs the hurts and capacities of ghetto life in the United States. In a field grown thick with pronouncement, his steadfast empirical commitment and reasoned analyses correct past misperceptions and open new vistas. Harvey Molotch, coauthor of Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place
In A Haven and a Hell, Lance Freeman seeks to amplify the relationship between 'the ghetto' as a place, policy, and idea and as a black experience, source of resistance, and community. Using multiple places and narratives, this book renders 'the ghetto' as not only multifaceted but also critical to understanding the contemporary conditions of urban black America. John Hipp, University of California, Irvine
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. The Embryonic Ghetto
2. The Age of the Black Enclave
3. The Federally Sanctioned Ghetto
4. World War II and the Aftermath: The Ghetto Diverges
5. The Ghetto Erupts: The 1960s
6. The Last Decades of the Twentieth Century
7. The Ghetto in the Twenty-First Century
Conclusion: How to Have a Haven but No Hell in the Twenty-First Century
Notes
References
Index

Read on excerpt from A HAVEN AND A A HELL: THE GHETTO IN BLACK AMERICA. In this work,Lance Freeman traces the evolving role of predominantly black neighborhoods in northern cities from the late nineteenth century through the present day. He reveals the forces that caused the ghetto’s role as haven or hell to wax and wane.

About the Author

Lance Freeman is a professor in the Urban Planning Program in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University. He is the author of There Goes the Hood: Views of Gentrification from the Ground Up (2005).