Historian Neil Foley’s book, “Quest for Equality: The Failed Promise of Black-Brown Solidarity” (Harvard University Press, May 2010) was selected by the Texas Institute of Letters as the most significant scholarly book for 2010.
“Quest for Equality” examines the complicated relationship between African Americans and Mexican Americans in Texas and California during World War II and the post-war era.
Named by the Huffington Post as one of the 17 “best political and social awareness books of 2010, “Quest for Equality” provides a historical context for understanding many of the issues that divide Latinos and African Americans today.
In 2003, the census announced that Hispanics had become the nation’s largest minority group, while the percentage of African Americans had declined in many cities. This includes seven of the 10 largest cities in the United States — New York, Los Angeles, Houston, San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas and San Antonio.
As a result, the book addresses: Will Latinos displace African Americans from positions of power locally? And what are the prospects for black-brown coalition politics when more than half of all Hispanics identify themselves as “white” in the 2010 census?
Today African Americans and Latinos have found common ground over issues such as de facto school segregation, unequal school financing, immigration reform, racial profiling, redlining, and the prison-industrial complex — challenges, Foley argues that remain central concerns of contemporary American life.
Foley is an associate professor in the Department of History and American Studies. He was honored at the Texas Institute of Letters’ annual awards banquet in Dallas on April 30. The Texas Institute of Letters was established in 1936 during the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas to foster and promote Texas literature. The state’s oldest literary organization, it has held competitions for outstanding achievements in literature since 1939.