Rethinking Race and Activism Beyond the Urban Core: Southern California’s San Ferdando Valley from World War II to Secession

Jean-Paul deGuzman
UC Los Angeles

This project focuses on excavating the subaltern histories of the historically working-class and racially diverse neighborhoods of the San Fernando Valley as a case study to better understand the overlapping dynamics of race, municipal governance, and community building in 20th century Southern California. Documenting and synthesizing these narratives furnish a counter-narrative to popular imagery of the San Fernando Valley which mass culture has rendered as the best and worst of post-World War II California suburbia in the American popular imaginary: a site for upward mobility on the one hand, a space of stark racial exclusion and suburban emptiness on the other. This research uncovers the histories of activism in communities of color that not only challenged the obstacles of racial discrimination but also complicated the region’s relationship with the City of Los Angeles, blurring the lines between “urban” and “suburban” politics.