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Life and Labor in the New New South$
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Robert Zieger

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780813037950

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813037950.001.0001

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“A Lot Closer to What It Ought to Be”: Black Women and Public-Sector Employment in Baltimore, 1950–1975

“A Lot Closer to What It Ought to Be”: Black Women and Public-Sector Employment in Baltimore, 1950–1975

Chapter:
(p.76) 3 “A Lot Closer to What It Ought to Be”: Black Women and Public-Sector Employment in Baltimore, 1950–1975
Source:
Life and Labor in the New New South
Author(s):

Jane Berger

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813037950.003.0004

During the 1960s, the public sector became a critical source of employment for African Americans. Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs, often critiqued for lacking a jobs-creation component to combat structural male unemployment, nonetheless dramatically expanded the public sector. In Baltimore, civil rights activists built on the momentum of earlier equal-employment campaigns to win government jobs for black workers. Because most of the new positions were in the human services, black women outpaced black men in entering the government workforce. To be sure, African Americans were concentrated at the bottom of employment hierarchies. By the end of the decade, however, unionization improved the conditions of employment for most government workers. In a city undergoing rapid deindustrialization, unionized public-sector jobs helped many black families weather the storm and, in some cases, move up the economic ladder.

Keywords:   public sector, African Americans, Women, Great Society, urban employment, civil rights, deindustrialization

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