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Houston and the Permanence of Segregation

Houston and the Permanence of Segregation

An Afropessimist Approach to Urban History

David Ponton
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A history of racism and segregation in twentieth-century Houston and beyond.

Through the 1950s and beyond, the Supreme Court issued decisions that appeared to provide immediate civil rights protections to racial minorities as it relegated Jim Crow to the past. For black Houstonians who had been hoping and actively fighting for what they called a "raceless democracy," these postwar decades were often seen as decades of promise. In Houston and the Permanence of Segregation, David Ponton argues that these were instead "decades of capture" times in which people were captured and constrained by gender and race, by faith in the law, by antiblack violence, and even by the narrative structures of conventional histories. Bringing the insights of Black studies and Afropessimism to the field of urban history, Ponton explores how gender roles constrained thought in black freedom movements, how the "rule of law" compelled black Houstonians to view injustice as a sign of progress, and how antiblack terror undermined Houston's narrative of itself as a "heavenly" place.

Today, Houston is one of the most racially diverse cities in the United States, and at the same time it remains one of the most starkly segregated. Ponton's study demonstrates how and why segregation has become a permanent feature in our cities and offers powerful tools for imagining the world otherwise.


David Ponton III is an assistant professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies at the University of South Florida.


  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publish Date: February 6, 2024
  • Pages: 368
  • Language: English
  • Type: Hardcover
  • EAN/UPC: 9781477328477
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