Invisible Houston
The Black Experience in Boom and Bust
African American Studies - Texas History
6 x 9, 176 pp.
23 b&w photos., 4 maps
Pub Date: 06/01/2000
Texas A&M Southwestern Studies
  paper
Price:        $17.95 s

978-0-89096-357-9

Published by Texas A&M University Press
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Invisible Houston

The Black Experience in Boom and Bust

By Robert D. Bullard

Houston was Boomtown USA in the 1970s, growing through tremendous immigration of people and through frequent annexation of outlying areas. But in the shadow of the high-rise "petropolis" was another city ignored by and invisible to Houston municipal boosters and the national media. Black Houston, the largest black community in the South, remained largely untouched by the benefits of the boom but bore many of the burdens.

Robert D. Bullard systematically explores major demographic, social, economic, and political factors that helped make Houston the "golden buckle" of the Sunbelt. He then chronicles the rise of Houston's black neighborhoods and analyzes the problems that have accrued to the black community over the years, concentrating on the boom era of the 1970s and the dwindling of the economy and of government commitment to affirmative action in the late 1980s. Case studies conducted in Houston's Third Ward--a microcosm of the larger black community--provide data on housing patterns, discrimination, pollution, law enforcement, and leadership, issues that the author discusses and relates to the larger ones of institutional racism, poverty, and politics.

During Houston's rapid growth, freeways were built over black neighborhoods and municipal services were stretched away from the inner city and poverty pockets to the new, far-flung, and mostly white city limits. Businesses thrived, but many jobs called for advanced education and skills, while black youth still suffered from inadequate schools, inexperienced teachers, and, later, unemployment rates nearly double those of whites. When the oil-based economy collapsed in the early eighties, many blacks again bore a heavier share of the burdens.

Invisible Houston describes the rich cultural history of the South's largest black community and analyzes the contemporary issues that offer the chance for black Houston to become visible to itself, to the larger community, and to the nation.

Robert D. Bullard is associate professor of sociology at Texas Southern University in Houston.

What Readers Are Saying:

"Invisible Houston can be viewed as both a teaching and learning tool, and it deserves to be read.”--Robert C. Newberry

"Invisible Houston can be viewed as both a teaching and learning tool, and it deserves to be read.” --Robert C. Newberry

" Local blacks, their problems, and prospects get attention from Texas Southern University sociologist Robert D. Bullard.” --Peter C. Wyckoff

"Houston has the largest Black population of any city in the South. Since 1970 the area boomed until oil prices declined. Unfortunately, Houston's Black population has seldom shared in the prosperity, but has always felt the economic downturns. Bullard's book is a cultural history of this significant population, largely ignored by politicians and local Government." --Books of the Southwest,

"Blacks in Houston, as in other Texas cities, still face many everyday barriers that white Texans do not. Bullard's well-documented analysis demonstrates the ways in which these discriminatory barriers interfere with black life chances and require the devotion of excessive energy to the problems of making a living and raising a family.” --Joe R. Feagin

"Few novels, and almost no documentary histories of urban development and politics tell as an emotionally moving a story as the one found in this short, readable book. . . . a detailed and emotionally rich excursion through the evolving life of the New South. . . . The book is must reading for anyone from, moving to, or interested in the New South, or for anyone with an interest in how urban history can be made enjoyable." --Black Conscience Syndication

"This is a tantalizing work. . . . Bullard's monograph is a fine exploration of the social history of black Houstonians in the 1970s and 1980s. . . . It has challenging implications for future research." --The Journal of American History

" A beneficial introduction to black urban problems and a necessary first step toward illuminating the situation of an invisible minority.” --Southwestern Historical Quarterly

" Well suited for the study of race relations as well as urban sociology. . . . well-written, interesting, and full of facts.” --Contemporary Sociology

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