The latter half of the twentieth century was marked by considerable hope and frustration. African Americans enjoyed some of the benefi ts of the postwar economy, but were still limited by a racial job ceiling and segregated from an emerging suburban economy that moved jobs further away from black urban neighborhoods. Hundreds of thousands of black men, women, and children participated in the civil rights movements of the period and succeeded in transforming the racial geography of the nation, opening up new venues-libraries, parks, schools, and universities-as well as raising the job ceiling in several sectors of the economy. The focus on civil and consumer rights versus economic rights, however, meant that, in general, these movements did not fundamentally challenge the inequities inscribed in a capitalist economy built on unequal access to wealth and capital, a stratifi ed wage system, and perpetual unemployment and underemployment of the underclass.1 Massive deindustrialization alongside the economic crises of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s also hit blacks hardest.2 Many blacks found themselves treading water and at times pulled under during the economic rebounds of the late twentieth century. The disjuncture between the tangible benefi ts of the rights movements and African Americans’ persistent economic inequality raised both expectations and frustrations as their aspirations continued to outpace racial, economic, social, and political change.