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My Los Angeles in Black and (Almost) White

Andrew Furman

Cloth $24.95    |    978-0-8156-0959-9    |    2010

"Part Memoir, part social history, Furman’s book is a meditation on integration."—Forward

"Furman combines an autobiographical memoir with an insightful analysis of the efforts to desegregate America’s public schools."—National Jewish Post & Opinion

"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

"Andy Furman provides an intriguing and lucid account of the meaning of integration for himself and his teammates. . . . 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

Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1970s and 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 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 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 on these years and on 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 Angeles, 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.

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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 & Writers, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Oxford American, the Miami Herald, and the Forward.

6 x 9, 248 pages, 6 black-and-white illustrations, notes, bibliography, index

My Los Angeles in Black and (Almost) White

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