Arts Campus News

Book discusses housing, popular politics and formation of modern Los Angeles

Public Los Angeles is a collection of unpublished essays by scholar Don Parson focusing on little-known characters and histories located in the first half of 20th century Los Angeles. Los Angeles is an infamously private city to outsiders and has often been caricatured as the epitome of an American society bent on individualism, entrepreneurialism and market ingenuity, but Parsons presents a different version of Los Angeles, one that is illustrated by stories of sustained struggles for social economic justice led by activists, social workers, architects, housing officials and more. The book provides insight into the city’s collectivism, networks of solidarity and government policy.

Public Los Angeles is a follow-up to Parson’s Making a Better World: Public Housing, the Red Scare and the Direction of Modern Los Angeles. The volume helps shape understanding of public housing, gender and housework, judicial activism, and race and class in modern-day Southern California and asks if history is repeating.

Parson, who died in 2018, was an independent scholar and author. The books’ editors were Roger Keil and Judy Branfman. Keil is an author and professor of environmental studies at York University, and Branfman is a filmmaker, writer and research scholar at UCLA’s institute for Research on Labor and Employment.