Talk: A People’s History of the New Boston With Jim Vrabel

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Although Boston today is a vibrant and thriving city, it was anything but that in the years following World War II. By 1950 it had lost a quarter of its tax base over the previous twenty-five years, and during the 1950s it would lose residents faster than any other major city in the country.

Credit for the city’s turnaround since that time is often given to a select group of people, all of them men, all of them white, and most of them well off. In fact, a large group of community activists, many of them women, people of color, and not very well off, were also responsible for creating the Boston so many enjoy today. This book provides a grassroots perspective on the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s, when residents of the city’s neighborhoods engaged in an era of activism and protest unprecedented in Boston since the American Revolution.

“Vrabel has resurrected the voices of so many everyday (and yet extraordinarily fierce!) neighborhood folks who have stood up to the powers that be and grabbed the reins of leadership on all issues that directly impacted their lives. In this book, history is not only prelude to present, it is inspiration to all of us that we can indeed change our future.”—MICHAEL PATRICK MACDONALD, author of All Souls: A Family Story From Southie

“Jim Vrabel has written a great Book, one that needed to be written and explains clearly and compellingly how the residents of Boston’s neighborhoods worked together to build a better city, resisting the ‘experts’ to make the New Boston their own.”—ROBERT ALLISON, author of The American Revolution: A Concise History

“This is a fascinating study of grassroots social movements in Boston neighborhoods during the 1960s and 70s. The book will appeal to both a popular audience for Boston history as well as being a valuable resource for students and scholars of late twentieth century urban history.”—MARILYNN JOHNSON, author of Street Justice: A History of Police Violence in New York

JIM VRABEL is a longtime Boston community activist and historian. He is author of When in Boston: A Time Line & Almanac and Homage to Henry: A Dramatization of John Berryman’s “The Dream Songs.”