Racial segregation within Los Angeles suburbs began rooted in the ideals of white privilege and grew parallel with the development of suburbia. Many historical factors played an integral role in the separation between city and suburbs which led to the further separation in the suburban neighborhoods themselves. The postwar advancement of transportation served as a building block for multi-centered suburban areas around Los Angeles incorporated with residential housing, retail businesses, and multiple opportunities for employment. As this transition developed, suburban areas became more sought after leaving behind the cluttered and busy city atmosphere for a newly constructed and quaint residence. This brought about patterns of migration to suburban areas that will continue through the mid twentieth century.

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The migration of the upper middle class white population to suburban areas was a characteristic feature of the postwar era. Similarly, African Americans began to move to the cities of California with over half of the state’s African American population relocated to Los Angeles. Other minority groups consisted of Japanese and Chinese residents, many of who were also living in the Los Angeles area. The African American population in Los Angeles almost tripled from the years 1940 to 1950, growing from 64,774 to 171,209 (3 sldfkjsldj). Confined to the south-central part of the city, African Americans were primarily in crowded rundown neighborhoods excluded from adjacent white areas. The suburban housing boom and “white flight”, an expression used to represent the white population’s migration, dramatically increased segregation of living arrangements and the direct refusal to sell or rent homes to minorities.

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These areas of Los Angeles were greatly affected by the migration such as the Watts section of LA. In this neighborhood was an equal amount of white, black, and Hispanic residences prior to the War’s closing and it soon transitioned to a 95 percent occupancy of African Americans during the postwar era as more individuals migrated to the suburbs. This limitation on the African American society furthered their struggles with equality among the other class and race members who were privileged. Los Angeles was growing very fast while simultaneously becoming more segregated. The “American Dream” of owning a home with a happy family and fulfilling career became something of fantasy for most minority members. Los Angeles County constructed a total of 125,000 new homes under FHA financing and mortgage guarantees. Of these homes, only 3,000 were available to minority buyers (11 sldkjf). Areas such as Lakewood and the San Fernando Valley had an extremely low minority population as their environment was controlled to emulate a preferred society.

-Colored-_drinking_fountain_from_mid-20th_century_with_african-american_drinkingLakewood sign

Problems with race and class escalated quickly as segregation across the city and suburbs moved into schools and businesses. From specializing water fountains to business services, racism erupted throughout the suburbs as well as the rest of the nation. The separation of neighborhoods as directed by the FHA was called redlining. This was the process of drawing lines on a map to separate the racial and class differences in the residents. Fights against this inequality rippled through the nation as Supreme Court rulings such as Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka outlawed segregation in public schooling. The platform of separating residency established a precedent among the American society, of which would carry on a legacy of civil rights struggles among minority groups, social class brackets, and even gender differences.


Map of the different districts drawn by FHA



— WH