Italian american and african american encounters in the city and in the suburb

Nancy C. Carnevale

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Scopus citations


    Italian American and African American relations have generally been characterized as hostile. The two groups are most often seen as encountering each other in urban centers of the Northeast. This article explores the sources of Italian American hostility against African Americans in the pre- and postwar era cities to better understand the underpinnings of racial conflict. At the same time, it highlights the complex relationship between the two groups that could include positive interaction as well as conflict and take place within the suburbs as well as within the cities. The article presents a preliminary case study of suburban Montclair, New Jersey, where from the early 1900s well into the postwar era, African Americans and Italian Americans shared neighborhoods, schools, and, to differing degrees, an outsider status that contributed to generally harmonious relations. The findings suggest that local studies that reveal specific sources of tension or peaceful coexistence can lead to a fuller understanding of relations between these two groups and interethnic/interracial relations in general.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)536-562
    Number of pages27
    JournalJournal of Urban History
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - May 2014


    • African Americans
    • cities
    • interethnic relations
    • interracial relations
    • Italian Americans
    • Italian immigrants
    • Montclair
    • NJ
    • suburbs


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