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Posts in Postwar New York
The Red Line Archive: An Interview with Walis Johnson

The Red Line Archive: An Interview with Walis Johnson

Interviewed by Prithi Kanakamedala

Today on the blog, editor Prithi Kanakamedala sits down with artist Walis Johnson to discuss her current work, The Red Line Archive Project, which activates conversations about the personal and political effects of redlining using her own family’s story growing up in Brooklyn.

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Bad Faith: Teachers, Liberalism, and the Origins of McCarthyism

Bad Faith: Teachers, Liberalism, and the Origins of McCarthyism

Reviewed by Clarence Taylor

For decades, pundits, conservative writers, and political officials have obscured the political and ideological differences between liberals, democratic socialists and communists. It is quite common for both rightwing Republicans and those in the mainstream media to label liberals as the “far Left,” in order to imply their ideas pose a danger to the country. In the 1988 presidential election, for example, George H. W. Bush called his Democratic opponent, Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, a “card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union,” equating membership in the ACLU with membership in the Communist Party. Several Republicans and members of the Tea Party have accused former President Barack Obama of being a “socialist.” President Donald Trump has labeled Democrats as “radicals” who have adopted a “far-left agenda.”

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The 51st State: Norman Mailer, Jimmy Breslin, and the Politics of Imagination

The 51st State: Norman Mailer, Jimmy Breslin, and the Politics of Imagination​

By Gabe S. Tennen

It was early April in 1969, and Norman Mailer, holding court on the top floor of his Brooklyn Heights brownstone, was in his element. Surrounding the forty-six-year-old author, social commentator, and rabble-rouser were an array of the city’s writers, activists, and politicos, and, probably to the liking of the notoriously egotistical Mailer, the topic of the night concerned him.

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Stonewall at 50: A Roundtable

Stonewall at 50: A Roundtable

Today on the blog, we mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots with a series of short essays by activists, writers, and scholars whose lives and work have been shaped by the events of June 1969 and their aftermath. This year, the scale of celebration and commemoration in New York is larger than ever — more than 4 million people are expected to attend this weekend’s festivities, and an estimated 115,000 people will be marching at Pride.

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What Stonewall Means to Me

What Stonewall Means to Me

By Perry Brass

People often ask me if I was “at Stonewall,” and I’m one of the few people who will definitely say, “No.” I was actually around the corner at an old bar called Julius’, when some young men raced in to tell us that “the girls are rioting at the Stonewall!”

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From the CUNY Digital History Archive: The Five Demands and the University of Harlem

From the CUNY Digital History Archive: The Five Demands and the University of Harlem

By Chloe Smolarski

The CUNY Digital History Archive, founded in 2014, collects and makes available primary source documents that address the history of the City University of New York, the system of public colleges that serves New York City. Many of the collections date from the late 1960s and early 1970s, a time of radical ferment at CUNY. Following a historic wave of student protest, the university embarked upon a radical experiment that offered low-cost public higher education to all graduates of city high schools. In the piece that follows, CDHA Program and Collections Coordinator Chloe Smolarski highlights and contextualizes some key documents from the struggle of Black and Puerto Rican students at City College to build a university that responded to the needs of their communities. This year marks the fifty-year anniversary of those struggles. –Ed.

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A Documentary History of Stonewall: An Interview with Marc Stein

A Documentary History of Stonewall: An Interview with Marc Stein

Interviewed by Katie Uva

Today on the blog, we talk to Marc Stein about his new book, The Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History. In it, he compiles 200 documents that shed light on the years immediately preceding and after the events at Stonewall.

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The Rebel Cafe: Sex, Race and Politics in Cold War America's Nightclub Underground

The Rebel Cafe: Sex, Race and Politics in Cold War America's Nightclub Underground

Reviewed by Burton W. Peretti

Stephen R. Duncan’s new book admirably fills a void in the historiography of 20th century American culture. We long have recognized that between the storied nightclub era of Prohibition days and the age of rock ’n’ roll, there was a perceptible but elusive set of nightlife entertainment venues that kept radical left-wing political values percolating during the Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. Historians have explored chapters in New York City’s interregnum — David Stowe, for example, covers Cafe Society in the late 1930s, Patrick Burke describes the jazz clubs on 52nd Street, and James Gavin chronicles European-style cabaret — but a comprehensive history, with more of a national perspective, has been lacking. Duncan’s ambitious and wide-ranging work makes a terrific new contribution toward defining the paramount significance of radical and intimate performance venues of the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s.

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The State Versus Harlem

The State Versus Harlem

By Matt Kautz

Over the past few years, Americans have paid greater attention to the harm caused by opiates and rising heroin use, specifically in white, rural areas. The New York State Department of Health has dedicated a large portion of its website to sharing statistics of opioid overdoses in the state, warning signs about what addiction looks like, information on the state’s program for monitoring doctor’s prescriptions, and how those addicted can receive treatment.

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A Love Letter to Babette Edwards: Harlem’s “Othermother”

A Love Letter to Babette Edwards: Harlem’s “Othermother”

By Terri N. Watson

On February 5, 1971, Babette Edwards and Hannah Brockington submitted a joint letter of resignation from I.S. 201’s Community Education Center to David X. Spencer, chairman of the governing board for the Arthur A. Schomburg I.S. 201 Educational Complex. The three-page letter outlined their frustrations with the teachers and school leaders who worked in the complex and their belief that “schools exist to make teachers and principals happy; not a place where children learn.” In the opening paragraph Edwards explained the challenges faced by the parents of Harlem:

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