“Taking Compton National”: Schools, Race, and Modern Suburbia in 20th and 21st Century California

1974 - Defender cites 6 of the new black mayors of '73


“Our nation is moving toward two societies, One Black, One White – separate and unequal,” announced the 1968 Kerner Commission. In 1967, following riots that had erupted across urban America, President Lyndon B. Johnson enacted the commission, appointing former Illinois Governor Otto Kerner Jr as its chairman, to delineate the causes of American unrest; unsurprisingly, the report concluded that poverty, segregation, and lack of economic opportunities corroded urban minority neighborhoods while whites fled to middle and upper class suburban environs, taking income and businesses with them.

Undoubtedly, the Kerner Commission correctly identified many of the systematic problems afflicting American social life, particularly the urban-suburban divide, but as with any broad survey, it left some issues unaddressed while failing to foresee others. Working class black suburbs like Compton, CA, which by the late 1960s, was neither predominantly white, nor middle or upper class, did not quite fit into the Kerner Commission’s formulations; its subsequent demographic shift in the 1980s and 1990s to a predominantly Latino suburb would have been hard to predict.[1]

By the 1970s, having become one of the few cities in the nation defined by elected black leadership, Compton had emerged as a symbol of black pride: in 1967 African Americans gained control of its city council and two years later, Douglass Dollarhide ascended to the mayor’s office. Compton had become, as Fredonia University Professor Emily Straus points out in her new book, Death of a Suburban Dream: Race and Schools in Compton California, “the biggest town west of the Mississippi with black political power in action.”[2]

Over the past two decades, the nation’s metropolitan realities have changed to mirror Compton as the kind of ills once associated with the inner city have come to afflict suburban environs. Recent events in Ferguson, an inner ring suburb in St. Louis have demonstrated a version of this unfortunate reality, as a town struggling with poverty and lacking adequate political representation for the majority of its population reacted to heavy handed and fatal police tactics. For the past several observers have been trying to draw attention to perhaps not identical but similar developments. Take Atlantic writer Hanna Rosin who pointed out in 2008, that crime, gang activity, and social dysfunction defined “the many strange dynamics of the new urban suburbia. “[3] Moreover, as the nation moves toward majority minority status, Compton’s transition from working class white to black to Latino suburban enclave reflects larger national shifts. Are we witnessing what ToM Co-Editor Alex Cummings labeled “the ghettoization of suburbia and the suburbanization of the city?” Perhaps, but regardless of the narrative device adopted to explain such demographic and economic shifts, officials and citizens need a better understanding of how to manage these relationships so as to more completely address issues of conflict and cooperation that might arise. With this in mind, few institutions provide a better vantage point for a community’s troubles and triumphs or play as central a role in the lives of its residents than schools.

From the 1930s forward, Compton’s problems, as Straus demonstrates, stemmed largely from long term fiscal debt that metastasized as a result of three primary issues: the initial refusal and later inability to draw industry to the suburb, the low amount of property revenue produced by the city’s smaller, more modest homes, and crippling debt created in part by the Compton school system. Ironically, over its long history, schools would prove both the economic heartbeat of the community as its largest employer and the albatross around its neck, as fiscal debt related to education expenses undermined city finances while the violence and dysfunction that stalked its infrastructure served as a symbol of broader “urban decline” in the last decades of the twentieth century.

Incorporated politically in 1888 and despite its eventual dependence on the region’s manufacturing base, early on Compton residents “valued local control over drawing boundaries” and ultimately eschewed industry, a decision that would haunt the suburb for the entirety of its existence.[4]


Compton circa 1914


While much of its early public infrastructure might have been skeletal, its education system differed as the city established one of the oldest school systems in Los Angeles County. White settlers built facilities early on, beginning with a one-room elementary school house before adding a two-story school for grades one through eight in the early 1870s. By 1896, Compton added a high school and formed the Compton Union High School District.[5] In 1903, residents approved a $15,000 bond to build Compton High and over the next 20 years added new buildings to house its administration, provide athletic and music facilities, and to expand its educational abilities in shop, science and home economics.[6] Centennial and Dominguez High Schools followed decades later in 1953 and 1957 respectively.


While undeniably valuable, education came with a cost. California’s compulsory school act had established state funding for students aged eight to fourteen in 1874, but excluded state appropriations for high school students. Even with increased state aid in the 1920s and 1930s, Compton footed much of its education bill and the need to expand its educational infrastructure only added to costs.

This did not just mean constructing more facilities, though Compton embarked on that journey as well. Rather, aligning with education reform of the period, reformers believed as David Tyack pointed out in 1974, that educational bureaucracy, more or less a dependence on trained, “scientific” experts, promised liberation from parochialism. While tracking the growth of administrators in education remains difficult due to a number of factors including shoddy recordkeeping, some figures do provide insight into administrative growth. For example in 1889, the U.S. Commissioner of Education released data on the increasing number of administrators working in public schools. A survey of 484 cities confirmed an average of roughly four supervisors per city. However, from 1890 to 1920 these numbers rapidly increased: Baltimore went from 9 to 144, Boston from 7 to 159, New York from 235 to 1,310 and the list goes on. Even smaller towns like Middletown as documented by Robert and Helen Lynd could point to similar developments. If in 1890, Middletown’s superintendent functioned as the only school officer who did not teach in the classroom by the 1920s “’a whole galaxy of principals, assistant principals, supervisors of special subjects, directors of vocational education and home economics, deans, attendance officers, and clerks, who do no teaching but are concerned in one way or another with keeping the system going.’”[7]

As Compton grew so did its school system and within that system its bureaucratic administration. In the 1950s and 60s, segregation added to systematic inequality, while creating greater internal inefficiencies and bureaucratic bloat. The excessive administrative growth of earlier decades combined with economic decline, mismanagement and corruption in the 1970s and 1980s would undermine quality of instruction and contributed to budget crisis.


Ariel view of Compton circa 1930s


The 1930s


Compton’s modest homes failed to produce the kind of property tax revenue necessary for a burgeoning suburb and its business district remained relatively anemic. When a devastating earthquake struck Los Angeles in 1933, its educational institutions physically collapsed and the city lacked the tax base to rebuild them.[8] The Great Depression had already upset finances and the earthquake only added to woes. “Due to the combination of preexisting bonds and those issued for reconstruction after the earthquake,” points out Straus, “the district was almost $1 million in the red, a deficit it had to pay from the proceeds of taxes on only $12 million of assessed valuation.” Compton’s downtown business offered little help as many residents chose to shop in Los Angeles, thereby starving the town and schools of a “sufficient tax base.”[9] Compton increased its property and school taxes such that they exceeded those of most other Los Angeles County towns.[10]

As noted by Becky Nicolaides, other working class businessmen in the area felt similarly. South Gate’s merchants also resented the tendency of residents to shop in downtown Los Angeles. Nicolaides explains this as a function of class. Wage earners attached less importance in a place specific community traveling outside South Gate for work, leisure, and consumption. The merchant classes oppositely thought of community strictly in place bound terms, emphasizing patronage as a civic duty. In South Gate however, local merchants figured prominently in the various associations emerging in the suburb prior to WWII. Local entrepreneurs helped to steer it toward a more middle class sensibility. For example, as many gained footholds in the local political community, South Gate merchants consistently pushed for infrastructure and development, inciting vigorous resistance from their wage earning counterparts who feared higher taxes and assessments.[11] Still, even in the 1940s, South Gate’s percentage of working class laborers – craftsman, foremen, operatives, service workers, and farm workers – reached nearly 60 percent. Belvedere and Compton consisted of similar percentages making them distinctly working class communities.[12] Eventually, postwar prosperity, mixed class civic associations, and the threat of integration sutured economic divisions as South Gate resisted housing and school desegregation.[13] Compton’s historical trajectory proceeded forward a bit differently.




Compton circa 1950s/1960s

1940s, 1950s, and the 1960s

Despite high rates of taxation, Compton continued to draw newcomers. Unfortunately its affordability was also its undoing: the regional economic expansion that benefitted other communities passed over Compton as it remained largely without any real industrial base and bled payroll taxes to other communities in which its residents labored.  Later, when African Americans assumed control of the suburb’s political leadership, annexation efforts made to incorporate more industry failed in the face of white resistance. “[T]he all white County Local Area Formation Commission,” the governing body regarding annexations in L.A. County, notes Straus, “systematically discriminated against Compton in annexation decisions while white communities like Carson, Torrance, and Long Beach got the tax base.”[14]

Even as its population boomed during and after World War II, many of these economic benefits eluded the city.[15] Again, the comparison to South Gate remains useful. Unlike Compton, during the 1920s, 15 industries located themselves within or in the immediate vicinity of South Gate. This helped South Gate achieve a middle class status while still cultivating, due to its working class roots, the “blue collar conservatism” that conflated property rights and citizenship, vociferously opposed integration in the 1950s and 1960s and came to be promoted by New Right figures later in the twentieth century.[16]

Though its own city, Compton functioned as a bedroom community in Los Angeles’ orbit, resulting in continued population expansion. Between 1940 and 1950, Compton schools experienced the largest population increase in the state. Overcrowding, personnel shortages, and inadequate resources afflicted its schools. A 1949 report concluded that the system’s next few years would be “unpredictable.”[17] Residents wary of further debt obligations voted down school bonds proposals, but in 1954, by a slim margin of 31 votes, approved the maximum tax rate allowed by law, doubling their previous tax obligation from $.30 per $100 to $.60 per $100.[18]

Integration dominated the concerns of the suburb’s white leaders. Compton’s proximity to a growing black Watts community furthered the efforts of white residents to maintain the city’s segregation. While small numbers of Latinos had long resided in Compton, white residents fought hard to exclude black newcomers. By 1950, though confined largely to its northwest section, the city did record a small but growing black population comprising nearly 5 percent (4.5 percent or 2,180 residents) of its overall population. None had resided in Compton ten years earlier and many of these new African American residents had not moved there by challenging lines of segregation but rather lived in areas annexed by the city in the intervening years.[19]

During the 1950s, despite fairly entrenched white resistance ranging from “real estate restrictions, to school zoning plans, to violence,” Compton’s racial and ethnic make up grew more complex. Lorraine Cervantes’s family moved to Compton from predominantly Latino East L.A. in the early 1950s and witnessed this growing diversity. “White, black, Mexican, and Japanese,” she remembered. In terms of schools however by 1955 Cervantes’s neighborhood high school, the new Centennial High, had become “just blacks and Mexicans” as many white families had begun to abandon the suburb.[20]

As the largest employer in town, schools took on increased importance. Not until 1950 did the Compton schools hire a black employee and by the late 1950s and early 1960s, these hiring policies came under scrutiny. By this time, Compton’s transition to an African American suburb was well underway; from 1955 – 1960, the city’s white residents declined by 19 percent while its non-white population soared by 165 percent.[21] In 1964, roughly 40 percent of Compton’s residents were black.[22]

The high-tax, low-revenue structure of the city’s finances and its inefficient school structure meant to maintain segregation rather than efficiency had been established under white rule. By the early 1970s, 40 percent of the city’s school funding came from local taxpayers. Whites fled a situation of their own making for other suburbs like Lakewood whose own public services and low taxes depended on county taxpayer subsidies.

Lakewood Shopping Center, 1966

Lakewood Shopping Center, 1966

Lakewood might have been a “bean field” in 1945 but fifteen years later it counted 67,126 residents with only 75 identifying as non-white.[23] Soon after it would claim the brass ring of mid century suburbia with the construction of Lakewood Center, the first regional shopping mall built in Southern California.[24] Lakewood also adopted what became known as the “Lakewood Plan” an agreement with Los Angeles County in which the county contracted with the suburb for public services like police and fire enabling Lakewood to keep taxes low. Of course this arrangement resulted in taxpayers across the county subsidizing the burgeoning suburb. While newer suburbs adopted similar plans and kept their infrastructure costs low, Compton an older city with established police, fire, and school systems could not. By 1961 all cities and towns followed suit to varying degrees and often unevenly. Compton might have contracted out half a dozen services from the county but Lakewood multiplied that by nearly six fold, using 34 county services.[25] Older suburbs like Compton endured increased stresses and decay akin to those of inner cities.


Despite its drawbacks, for black Angelenos Compton remained a prized community. “For once, the Negro did not move into slums, for once he came into good housing,” noted one Compton resident.[26] Unfortunately, though civic leaders in the 1960s liked to talk about Compton as the “’Black Beverley Hills,” more affluent blacks had already begun decamping for other suburbs, notably Carson to the south. As the 1960s ended, Carson’s African American residents reported higher incomes and lower employment and poverty rates than for the suburb’s general population, but the town’s lack of low-income housing meant poorer blacks could find no foothold in the developing suburb. [27]


The 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s


The famous 1965 riots in nearby Watts further marginalized Compton.[28] Crime statistics provided little help; they only seemed to cement a growing negative image of the suburb. In 1969 the city recorded the highest crime rate in California. Drug and juvenile arrests increased in the mid-1960s. Shootings occurred at Compton and Dominguez High Schools in 1972, the same year the suburb ranked second in reported homicides in Los Angeles County beating out Long Beach, a city five times the size of Compton.[29]

In the 1970s, discord between teachers and administrators over low pay, school violence, and diminished resources resulted in costly teacher strikes and work stoppages. Bloat, disorganization and incompetence by the latter, further undermined the quality of education. Critics noted that Compton Unified employed twice the number of non-teaching positions when compared to other Southern California systems of similar size. For example, Compton employed 52 accounting positions whereas Pasadena had only 18, Hacienda-La Puente 16, and San Bernardino 14.[30]

At the same time that the system’s bureaucratic bloat came to public attention, violence or the threat of violence became a recurring aspect of life in Compton schools as gangs gained an increasing influence within classrooms and hallways. This dysfunction emerged more broadly as a statewide issue in 1975, which only increased the city’s public visibility.[31]

The passage of Prop 13 in 1978 made a troubled situation worse. Ultimately, the famous and influential referendum capped property taxes at one percent of the home’s market value. At the time based on 1975 assessments, this amount could not exceed two percent each year unless the home was sold or underwent extensive renovations. Nor could the home’s base value change unless the property changed hands via sale.

The passage of Prop 13 forced a reorganization of state education funding which broke districts down into smaller entities such that each district spent less per pupil and hired fewer teachers. It also made it difficult to address deficiencies in the school’s physical infrastructure since smaller capital outlays made getting money to fund repairs more difficult. Compton Unified lost over $14 million in revenue from taxes. While state coffers subsidized the difference to prevent widespread layoffs and disrupting various educational programs, within five years the economic costs crystallized: the state’s schools had 20 percent “fewer ‘real sources’ per pupil” and in real terms, overall budgets lagged behind their 1978 predecessors by 25 percent.[32] Older cities suffered more than newer suburban counterparts. For example, in Northern California’s Alameda County everyone, renters and homeowners alike, “experienced this financial pinch,” notes historian Robert Self, “but older economically depressed cities like Oakland – which higher social service burdens and greater demands on public services – more than suburban cities like San Leandro and Fremont.”[33] Though obviously distinct from Oakland, Compton residents witnessed similar struggles.


Throughout these developments, the town’s Latino population, though small in earlier decades, grew until it supplanted African Americans as the largest ethnic group in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Latinos had always been living in Compton but as more African Americans moved into the city, Latino families began to integrate into neighborhoods outside the town’s traditional barrio. The relationship that developed between African Americans and Latinos could be cooperative and tolerant in moments, oppositional in others, with plenty in between.[34]

When changes to the immigration policy in the Hart-Celler Act (1965) eliminated quotas and offered peoples from Asia, Africa, and Latin America better chances at immigrating, Southern California’s Mexican population bulged. Compton’s increased as well, but though the suburb grew more diverse social integration in the schools did not necessarily follow. The 1977 Dominguez High Year Book gave out numerous honors to its black students such as “favorite classmates,” “Mr. & Mrs. Personality,” and “Most Likely to Succeed,” reserving one spot for the school’s Latino students, “Mr. & Mrs. Mexican American.” The local Compton Bulletin attempted to reach out to the local Latino population by proving a column titled “Chicano Corner” though in its reporting and editorial policy it regularly marginalized Latino voices.[35] Even attempts in the 1990s to address its growing Latino population sometimes foundered on misunderstanding. When it closed schools for Cinco De Mayo Day, a Mexican/Mexican American holiday, its growing Guatemalan and El Salvadorian populations expressed annoyance.[36]


Of course, one might argue larger issues, less about symbolic gestures and more about bread and butter issues like quality of school instruction and employment, vexed the growing Latino community. After all, cultural respect is one thing, but economic and educational inclusion another. Compton’s school administrators proved little better at incorporating Latino viewpoints into policy. Just as whites resisted African American advances in the 1950s and 60s, so too did blacks ignore the protests of their Latino neighbors. In the 1970s, activists, inspired in part by the Chicano movement, challenged officials to improve and expand school curriculum and hire more Latino teachers and administrators.

Federal court decisions also encouraged Compton Unified to change its practices. The 1974 court decision in Lau v. Nichols affirmed the right of access for limited English speaking students to special instruction, mandating Compton officials implement a viable, bilingual program. However, administrators endeavored very little to meet new regulations. In the late 1970s, residents formed the Concerned Parents of the Community (CPC) organization to protest various problems in the schools, “not the least of which was that district officials inappropriately placed some Spanish speaking students in classes for the mentally disabled because of language issues,” points out Straus.

Disillusioned over the city’s reluctance to implement a real bilingual program, the CPC contacted the Federal Health, Education, and Welfare Department Office of Civil Rights (HEW) who then instructed Compton Unified to come up with a new strategy to address the issue. While HEW approved the subsequent plan, the school district still refused to fully implement it. Though it claimed 163 bilingual classrooms in the 1979-1980 school year, it had hired only four fully qualified bilingual teachers. Only with continual “prodding” from the state did officials agree to provide adequate teacher training for bilingual education.[37]

The district’s obstinacy reflected a wider “aversion to sharing jobs, funds, and power across racial lines,” notes Straus, and considering the battles black Comptonites fought to secure political power perhaps momentarily understandable. Yet, Compton’s Latino population continued to grow. This demographic growth gained increasing visibility in the 1980s: Latinos made up 33 percent of Compton Unified’s student population in 1985, 42 percent in 1988, and 51 percent by 1990. Yet nearly two decades after the Chicano Law Students Association appealed for more Latino educators, they saw few of their peers as teachers or administrators. By the late 1980s, out of 38 principals only one was Latino; Latinos held only six percent of its teaching positions.[38]

Latinos responded in protest. During the opening of 1994-95 school year, nearly one quarter of the McKinley Elementary School boycotted class, demanding greater attention to “Latino educational needs.” Leaders alleged that African American administrators refused to take their Latino students seriously and perhaps more damningly asserted that officials neglected them all together. “In Mississippi, they didn’t want to educate blacks in the ‘50s, and in the 90s, Compton doesn’t want to educate Latinos,” argued one critic.[39] The passage of the anti-immigrant Prop 187 in 1994, with support from a healthy majority of Compton’s non-white population did little to ease political tensions. Former Mayor Omar Bradley framed the debate in terms of citizenship “the question is not black versus Latino, the question is American versus non-American,” which undoubtedly did not endear him to Latino leaders.[40]

Government intervention proved inadequate. When the state took control of Compton Unified in the 1990s, it failed to address the systematic problems that eroded its infrastructure and the quality of its education. Moreover, political tensions between Latinos and blacks remained. Though their numbers had grown to approximately 65 percent of the town’s population and Latinos made up 75 percent of Compton Unified’s student body, representation politically on the city council, school board, or even in terms of employment remained disproportionate. In 2010, Parent Revolution, attempted to deploy California’s “trigger law” to reform McKinley Elementary, an education reform passed in 2008 that allowed parents greater local control over their schools if 51 percent of parents voted in favor of instituting one of the legislation’s four possible outcomes. Though the move failed, one year later, Compton welcomed its first charter school after having fought them for years.

Economic development in Compton did not aid education reform efforts. In the 1970s, school corruption ensnared elected municipal officials including former Mayor Doris Davis who prosecutors identified as an unindicted conspirator in one case.[41] In the late 1970s and 1980s, idiot redevelopment ideas like a new hotel and convention center which hoped to demonstrate Compton’s “rapidly changing fortunes” failed. Earlier efforts like the Alameda Auto Plaza aka “the auto mall” brought to mind Michael Moore’s documentary Roger and Me and Flint, Michigan’s attempt at renewal, the quickly defunct “AutoWorld.” In 1988, hoping to salvage their earlier convention center/hotel project, elected officials planned on building their version of Bourbon Street adjacent to the hotel as to provide “an entertainment and shopping complex with ‘flavor and vitality’ of the New Orleans French Quarter.” Thankfully, the project never came to fruition.[42] One state assemblyman, Willard Murray even floated the idea of incorporating Compton into California’s prison industrial complex suggesting the suburb house a new penitentiary as an answer to local economic decline.[43] Political corruption and poor management of municipal affairs also continued. Former council member Patricia Moore and Congressman Walter Tucker found themselves on the wrong side of FBI tax evasion and corruption investigations.[44]



Last year political change unfolded when in July twenty six year old Isaac Galvan was elected to the city council making him Compton’s first elected Latino American political figure. Along with the election of millennial Aja Brown, a former urban planner and USC alum, a new inclusiveness seems possible. “I was the first Latino to win but not the first to run,” Galvan told journalists last year. “Mexicans in the city have been treated differently, and I noticed with other Latino candidates, they wanted to treat African-Americans the same way they were treated. I was campaigning to include African-Americans.”[45] Brown too has courted Latino American leaders and residents and seems to have gained some traction. “She is fair. She has come through for us,” noted longtime resident and civic leader Mohammad Martinez.

Though exacerbated by segregation battles in the 1950s and 60s and economic downturn, mismanagement and corruption in the 1970s, Compton’s founders seeded the city’s educational troubles over 100 years earlier when their rejection of industry permanently shackled town revenue. Nonetheless, residents today must now find ways to sort them out. Here’s to hoping Brown, Galvan and their fellow elected officials can bridge differences to do just that. Perhaps more broadly, in Death of a Suburban Dream, Straus asks the reader to consider what suburbanization means in today in America. Does Compton represent an extreme and unique example or does the famous suburb capture the reality of metropolitan America in the first decades of the 21st century? Certainly, the south suburbs of Chicago, one example of many, have struggled mightily in recent years. Suburbanization might not be completely doomed to declining education standards, crime, and political ineptitude, but as Straus points for some suburbanites it has become a reality, but one that’s tied to a long and complex history. Perhaps Compton’s difficult past can be a road map to not only its own, but also the wider suburban future.

[1] Emily Straus, Death of a Suburban Dream: Race and Schools in Compton, California, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), 89.

[2] Ibid, 119.

[3] Hannah Rosin, “American Murder Mystery,” The Atlantic, July 1, 2008, accessed July 5, 2014 http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/american-murder-mystery/306872/?single_page=true. In many cases, Rosin found that public housing reform served as a catalyst for the struggles of these communities as the nation converted its public low income housing stock into mixed affordable and market based projects. As a result, more and more former public housing residents moved to inner ring suburbs, towns unequipped for the needs of these new residents and unprepared for the problems that soon followed.

[4] Straus, Death of a Suburban Dream, 20.

[5] Ibid, 21-22, 127. Later, it would become Compton Unified, the third largest unified district in Los Angeles County with 44,000 students attending 29 elementary schools, 17 Head Start and 10 child care programs, eight junior high schools, three regular high schools, and a continuation high school that included an adolescent mother’s program. There was also a combined elementary and secondary school for special needs students and an adult school center. The district employed 3,000 people.

[6] Ibid, 23.

[7] David B. Tyack, The One Best System: A History of Urban Education in America, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1974), 185.

[8] Straus, Death of a Suburban Dream, 16.

[9] Ibid, 35-36.

[10] Ibid, 38.

[11] Becky Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 121.

[12] Straus, Death of a Suburban Dream, 47.

[13] Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven, 121.

[14] Straus, Death of a Suburban Dream, 121.

[15] Ibid, 47.

[16] Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven, 24-26, 373.

[17] Ibid, 59.

[18] Ibid, 66

[19] Ibid, 65

[20] Ibid, 76.

[21] Ibid, 93-94.

[22] Ibid, 94.

[23] Ibid, 95.

[24] Richard Longstreth, City Center to Regional Mall: Architecture, the Automobile, and Retailing in Los Angeles, 1920 – 1950, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998), 335.

[25] Straus, Death of a Suburban Dream, 96.

[26] Ibid, 75.

[27] Ibid, 111.

[28] Ibid, 107.

[29] Ibid, 131.

[30] Ibid, 137-138.

[31] Ibid, 135.

[32] Ibid, 149-150.

[33] Robert Self, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003), 318.

[34] Straus, Death of a Suburban Dream, 122.

[35] Ibid, 123.

[36] Ibid, 166.

[37] Ibid, 163.

[38] Ibid, 165.

[39] Ibid, 200.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid, 143.

[42] Ibid, 154-157.

[43] Ibid, 201-202.

[44] Ibid, 205-206.

[45] Haya El Nasser, “Demographic Shift, Compton’s New Latino Majority”, Aljazeera America, October 24, 2013 accessed July 12, 2014 http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/10/24/as-demographics-shiftanewgenerationofleaderstakechargeincompton.html


  1. Hello. “… poverty, segregation, and lack of economic opportunities corroded urban minority neighborhoods while whites fled to middle and upper class suburban environs, taking income and businesses with them.” —This still happens today in the 21st century. It was called & still is…’white flight’.

  2. Ryan Reft says:

    Hey what’s up Zobop,
    Agree. Did you want to expand on that point?

    • Yeah; it’s like you stated in the article, when whites leave a community jobs & money go with them. When the money & jobs do come back, it’s in the form of gentrification which may economically push the poor citizens that were left behind in the first place. I hope that clears things up.

      • Ryan Reft says:

        Hey Zobop,
        Sure does, though in the context of Compton that’s not really the case. I can think of many other neighborhoods where that has been true however. Thanks for checking the piece out.


  3. Reblogged this on DailyHistory.org and commented:
    Ryan Reft at the Tropics of Meta has an article on the history of Compton and its schools. Reft explores the roots of the historic problems that have beset the city’s schools for years. The article demonstrates that poor decisions made over 100 years ago still have an impact on Compton’s school.

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