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Original Essays | September 4, 2014

Edward E. Baptist: IMG The Two Bodies of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism



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Waiting for Gautreaux

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Winner of 2006 The American Lawyer Lifetime Achievement Award

On his thirty-ninth birthday in 1966, Alexander Polikoff, a volunteer ACLU attorney and partner in a Chicago law firm, met some friends to discuss a pro bono case. Over lunch, the four talked about the Chicago Housing Authority construction program. All the new public housing, it seemed, was going into black neighborhoods. If discrimination was prohibited in public schools, wasn't it also prohibited in public housing?

And so began Gautreaux v. CHA and HUD, a case that from its rocky beginnings would roll on year after year, decade after decade, carrying Polikoff and his colleagues to the nation's Supreme Court (to face then-solicitor general Robert Bork); establishing precedents for suits against the discriminatory policies of local housing authorities, often abetted by HUD; and setting the stage for a nationwide experiment aimed at ending the concentration--and racialization--of poverty through public housing. Sometimes Kafkaesque, sometimes simply inspiring, and never less than absorbing, the story of Gautreaux, told by its principal lawyer, moves with ease through local and national civil rights history, legal details, political matters, and the personal costs--and rewards--of a commitment to fairness, equality, and justice. Both the memoir of a dedicated lawyer, and the narrative of a tenacious pursuit of equality, this story--itself a critical, still-unfolding chapter in recent American history--urges us to take an essential step in ending the racial inequality that Alexis de Toqueville prophetically named America's "most formidable evil."

Review:

"The drama of 20th-century American race relations played itself out, Polikoff contends, in two theaters: in the South through the Civil Rights movement and in the North through the struggle over housing segregation. This text traces almost 40 years of the latter drama through Gautreaux v. CHA and HUD, the landmark Chicago public housing suit brought on behalf of underprivileged black families seeking housing outside of the predominantly black ghetto. Polikoff, who successfully argued the case locally and federally, bookends his memoir with reflections on the history of race relations from Reconstruction to Clinton. But the heart of the book rests with Gautreaux's endless legal maneuvering and policy implications. Polikoff occasionally gets bogged down in legal analysis — even the most dedicated lay reader will probably have a difficult time with the nuances of his climactic Supreme Court victory. Far more often, though, Polikoff provides just enough insight and detail to keep the text fresh and engaging. He moves seamlessly between broad topics — like the phone 'lottery' for Gautreaux program housing — and vivid anecdotes, including one woman's joyful, minutes-long laughter upon winning in that lottery. Polikoff animates his story with humanity and intelligence, often transcending memoir to provide an indispensable addition to the history of civil rights in the United States." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

About the Author

Alexander Polikoff served for twenty-nine years as executive director of BPI, Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, a Chicago public interest law and policy center. He is the author of many articles on urban affairs and of Housing the Poor: The Case for Heroism.  Polikoff  is the recipient of a 2006 The American Lawyer Lifetime Achievement Award.  He lives in the Chicago area with his wife, a writer of fiction for young people, and continues to work at BPI. 

Product Details

ISBN:
9780810123441
Foreword:
Page, Clarence
Publisher:
Northwestern University Press
Foreword by:
Page, Clarence
Foreword:
Page, Clarence
Author:
Polikoff, Alexander
Author:
Page, Clarence
Subject:
History
Subject:
Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice
Subject:
Discrimination & Racism
Subject:
Housing
Subject:
Discrimination & Race Relations
Subject:
Public Policy - City Planning & Urban Dev.
Subject:
African Americans - Housing - Illinois -
Subject:
Discrimination in housing
Subject:
Ethnic Studies-Racism and Ethnic Conflict
Copyright:
Edition Description:
1
Publication Date:
20060131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
422
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Racism and Ethnic Conflict
History and Social Science » Law » General
History and Social Science » Law » Legal Guides and Reference
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Politics
History and Social Science » Sociology » Urban Studies » City Specific

Waiting for Gautreaux Used Hardcover
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Product details 422 pages Northwestern University Press - English 9780810123441 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The drama of 20th-century American race relations played itself out, Polikoff contends, in two theaters: in the South through the Civil Rights movement and in the North through the struggle over housing segregation. This text traces almost 40 years of the latter drama through Gautreaux v. CHA and HUD, the landmark Chicago public housing suit brought on behalf of underprivileged black families seeking housing outside of the predominantly black ghetto. Polikoff, who successfully argued the case locally and federally, bookends his memoir with reflections on the history of race relations from Reconstruction to Clinton. But the heart of the book rests with Gautreaux's endless legal maneuvering and policy implications. Polikoff occasionally gets bogged down in legal analysis — even the most dedicated lay reader will probably have a difficult time with the nuances of his climactic Supreme Court victory. Far more often, though, Polikoff provides just enough insight and detail to keep the text fresh and engaging. He moves seamlessly between broad topics — like the phone 'lottery' for Gautreaux program housing — and vivid anecdotes, including one woman's joyful, minutes-long laughter upon winning in that lottery. Polikoff animates his story with humanity and intelligence, often transcending memoir to provide an indispensable addition to the history of civil rights in the United States." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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