Historical Roots of the Urban Crisis: African Americans in the Industrial City, 1900-1950 grew out of the quest to understand the relationship between the black experience in the industrial city and the contemporary urban crisis. We believed that the key to understanding the predicament of cities, formulating effective policies, and creating initiatives to solve current problems is knowing the historical roots of the urban crisis. Conceptually, the book focused on the city building process and how the changing urban environment and economic shift combined with decisions, definition of problems and policy formation to affect the ability of blacks to find housing, build communities, get jobs and advance occupationally.
The book unearthed the importance of agency in the struggle of African Americans. Three elements were extremely important in the community building efforts among blacks on the eve the Civil Rights Movement. (1) There emerged a strong leadership composed of working- and middle-class leadership (2) blacks maintained solidarity despite class, gender and ideological differences and (3) Blacks built a strong institutional base to guide the activities of the group.