Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America

That’s the subtitle, the title is Bound for Freedom and it is by Douglas Flamming.  This book is a good antidote to libertarians who assign too much blame to state governments, and not enough blame to voluntary norms, when it comes to Southern segregation and Jim Crow.  Early in the twentieth century, Los Angeles was devoid of the oppressive Jim Crow laws that were so common in the South.  In fact California had some (unenforced) laws prohibiting discrimination according to race.  Yet according to one survey only three of two hundred saloons would serve blacks.  Most hotels did not accept blacks either and that was in direct contradiction to state law.  Both Hollywood and the petroleum industry for the most part refused to hire blacks, even for jobs of unskilled labor.  On the positive side, many of the businesses along Central Avenue were fully integrated, serving Latino and Japanese customers as well.  Blacks did have, overall, a much better existence in LA than in the South but this volume shows that Jim Crow cannot simply be blamed on oppressive government regulations.

Here is my earlier post on Jim Crow in sports.


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