Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters: The Struggle Over Segregated Recreation in America


Product Details

University of Pennsylvania Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 8.9 X 0.8 inches | 0.95 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Victoria W. Wolcott is Professor of History at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, and the author of Remaking Respectability: African-American Women in Interwar Detroit.


"The expansion of civil rights in recreational spaces is essential to understanding the civil rights movement of America, but it is not only a narrative of violence against African Americans either to sustain segregation or to admit integration. Wolcott's work adds a much-needed chapter to both civil rights and leisure histories, while it carefully avoids incorporating the very black cultural institutions before World War II that were central to African American participation in modernist identities and part of postwar integrationist advocacy."--American Historical Review

"Victoria Wolcott's well-written and deeply researched new book adds another crucial layer to the civil rights narrative. She goes beyond the familiar marches and leaders to focus on movie theaters, skating rinks, dance halls, city parks, amusement parks, and swimming pools as places of struggle. In doing so, she brings in a new cast of characters--children, teenagers, mothers--and shows how the battles over access to urban leisure predate Brown and extend well past the March on Washington. No one has identified and chronicled the conflicts in these places with the care and precision that Wolcott has."--Bryant Simon, author of Boardwalk of Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America

"Drawing on an array of sources, Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters makes an important contribution to the history of the civil rights movement by significantly expanding our understanding of the hardships black Americans faced to desegregate public recreational spaces, including amusement parks, swimming pools, and skating rinks."--Journal of Southern History

"Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters is a significant contribution to the growing corpus that attempts to rethink the traditional contours of the civil rights movement. Uncovering the neglected struggle over public amusements, Wolcott deepens our understanding of the relationship between civil rights, urban history, and popular culture in twentieth-century America."--Journal of American Culture

"History professor Wolcott recounts a staggering litany of large and small-scale protests and riots at recreational facilities across the United States from the 1930s through the 1960s. Wolcott aims to make the case that the struggle to desegregate recreational facilities is an often overlooked but essential facet of the American Civil Rights narrative. . . . Together the stories reveal a national pattern of White violence against protestors and illuminate the shameful tactics employed by recreation facility owners to subvert the growing demand for desegregation."--Publishers Weekly

"In this powerful story, Victoria Wolcott demonstrates why recreation is central to understanding the history of the civil rights movement in America. Her book also asks us to push the existing frontiers of our historical memory--why violence against African Americans in order to sustain segregation has been forgotten, while violence that sometimes accompanied integration is remembered. With Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters, we reexamine more closely both the ideals and nightmares of America in the twentieth century."--Alison Isenberg, Princeton