The achievements accomplished by the civil rights movement are well documented. Less familiar to historians, however, is the protracted struggle for racial equality black firefighters experienced in urban America and especially in Philadelphia. In 1818, when several citizens tried to organize their own African Fire Association or to integrate an all-white fire department, their efforts were met with fierce white resistance. In 1886 Philadelphia did hire its first black firefighter, but it was not until 1974, when Club Valiants, an organization for Philadelphia's black firefighters, sued the city in federal court for more proportional representation that black firefighters gained access to what historically had been a white-dominated organization. This essay examines the social dynamics of race relations within the firefighting community in a historical context


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pp. 105-125
Launched on MUSE
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