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Living the California Dream


Alison Rose Jefferson Book Signing and Talk

As Southern California was reimagining leisure and positioning it at the center of the American Dream, African-American Californians were working to make that leisure an open, inclusive reality. By occupying recreational sites and public spaces, African Americans challenged racial hierarchies and marked a space of black identity on the regional landscape and social space.

In her book Living the California Dream, independent historian Alison Rose Jefferson examines how African Americans pioneered America’s “frontier of leisure” by creating communities and business projects during the Jim Crow era.  By presenting stories of Southern California African American oceanfront and inland leisure destinations that flourished from 1910 to the 1960s, Jefferson illustrates how these places helped create leisure production, purposes and social encounters. Jefferson argues that Black communal practices and economic development around leisure helped define the practice and meaning of leisure for the region and the nation and confronted the emergent power politics of recreational space. Living the California Dream presents the overlooked local stories that are foundational to the national movement to open recreational accommodations to all Americans and to the long freedom rights struggle.