What defines a city's public space? Who designates such areas, who determines their uses, and who gets to use them? Today's "Occupy" movement has brought widespread attention to these issues, but Robert Cassanello demonstrates that such questions have been part of urban life for more than a century.
Rough-and-tumble nineteenth-century Jacksonville serves as a springboard to his exploration of social transformation in Florida and the South. When free black men in the city first began to vote, conservative lawmakers pushed blacks from white public spaces in order to make blacks voiceless-invisible-in the public square and thus making the public sphere a white domain. The response was a black counter public that at times flourished clandestinely and at other times challenged racism in the public sphere.
Fortified by the theories of Henri Lefebvre, David Harvey, and Jurgen Habermas, this is the first book to focus on the tumultuous emergence of the African American working class in Jacksonville between Reconstruction and the 1920s. Cassanello brings to light many of the reasons Jacksonville, like Birmingham, Alabama, and other cities throughout the South, continues to struggle with its contentious racial past.
Robert Cassanello is assistant professor of history at the University of Central Florida, USA. He is coeditor of Florida's Working-Class Past: Current Perspectives on Labor, Race, and Gender from Spanish Florida to the New Immigration.