RACIAL BEACHHEAD

Diversity and Democracy in a

Military Town

In 1917, Fort Ord was established in the tiny subdivision of Seaside, California. Over the course of the 20th century, it held great national and military importance―a major launching point for World War II operations, the first base in the military to undergo complete integration, the West Coast's most important training base for draftees in the Vietnam War, a site of important civil rights movements―until its closure in the 1990s. Alongside it, the city of Seaside took form. Racial Beachhead offers the story of this city, shaped over the decades by military policies of racial integration in the context of the ideals of the American civil rights movement.

Middle class blacks, together with other military families―black, white, Hispanic, and Asian―created a local politics of inclusion that continues to serve as a reminder that integration can work to change ideas about race. Though Seaside's relationship with the military makes it unique, at the same time the story of Seaside is part and parcel of the story of 20th century American town life. Its story contributes to the growing history of cities of color―those minority-majority places that are increasingly the face of urban America.

SEASIDE

(IMAGES OF AMERICA)

Seaside's local history is unique and in many ways a microcosm of the ethnic mosaic that is California. Situated on the Monterey Bay, this working-class community of approximately 33,000 was incorporated in 1954; it was a typical military town, tied to Fort Ord, until the closure of the base in 1994. Seaside was home to a variety of ethnic groups, but after World War II, the city experienced a surge of immigration by African Americans associated with the military. Today the city is witness to another demographic shift symbolic of the state's changing face, as Mexican immigrants and their children now form the largest minority group in Seaside. Over the years, the city has continued to grow and attract new residents and visitors with its friendly community and striking coastal location.

BEYOND CANNERY ROW

Sicilian Women, Immigration, and Community in Monterey, California, 1915-99

Presenting a nuanced story of women, migration, community, industry, and civic life at the turn of the twentieth century, Carol Lynn McKibben's Beyond Cannery Row analyzes the processes of migration and settlement of Sicilian fishers from three villages in Western Sicily to Monterey, California--and sometimes back again. 

 
 
 
© 2020 Carol Lynn McKibben