At the launch of Future of Cites on June 2nd, 2015, Bill Deverell, Chair of the History Department at USC and profound expert on the history of our City, gave a truly memorable talk. We are proud to share it with you here:
When I teach the history of Los Angeles, several key themes scaffold the course, whether I’m speaking to undergraduates, doctoral students, or the high schoolers involved with the Los Angeles Service Academy, a program fostering leadership among 16 year olds from all over the basin.
We hang LA history on imperial expansion, of Spain and the United States. We find LA within expressions of Manifest Destiny and its violence. We encounter remarkable diversity at the outset. We railroad LA. We watch a harbor dug out of almost nothing, we see bold metropolitan ambition come to fruition. We watch the Mexican Revolution send Latino labor northward at precisely the moment that industrial Los Angeles so desires a laboring underclass. We undergird the American economy, and the world’s imagination, with LA films, the LA film industry, and LA oil. We track escapees from the Jim Crow South trying, with greater and lesser degrees of success, to outrun racism by racing west.Read more