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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for One (1) Year

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Jennifer Fronc

Second Advisor

Christian Appy

Third Advisor

Samuel Redman

Fourth Advisor

Toussaint Losier

Subject Categories

History | Political History | Social History | United States History


This dissertation examines the history of policing in mid-century Newark to examine the ways in which Black Newarkers responded to the problem of police brutality. Through a case study of Newark, it reveals the central role that police played in enshrining a two-tiered system of citizenship in the urban north in the postwar era, and in resisting the ascendancy of Black political power in American cities in the early 1970s. In particular, this dissertation focuses on the ways in which a wide-variety of Black-led organizations responded to, or failed to respond to, systemic police abuse of Black citizens in postwar Newark. While recent scholarship has examined Black-led campaigns against police brutality, it has not fully accounted for the specific role that confronting systemic racism in policing played in Black politics the postwar urban north. Furthermore, none have adequately addressed the intra-racial debates about policing that took place within African American communities. “The City is Ours” highlights these intra-racial debates, examining the ways in which class, ideological orientation, and other modes of identity shaped African American responses to the problem of police brutality. By examining a multitude of Black-led organizations, I explore variants of Black political thought and how it changed over time as it confronted the issue of police brutality. By examining efforts to reform policing—and the intra-racial debates about the problem of policing—this dissertation deepens our understanding of the multitude of issues, ideas, and tactics that characterized Black politics from the immediate post-World War II era through the 1970s. In examining the policing of Black Newark from the 1930s to the 1970s, this dissertation makes a two-fold argument: that the police served as a bulwark against Black citizenship in the urban north, and that the tools of democracy failed to stem the tide of police brutality against Black citizens.


Available for download on Friday, March 01, 2024