Reconstructing Childhood in a Volunteer State
This chapter focuses on the work of a racially and socioeconomically diverse group of parent activists in the Laurel district who volunteered their private time in hopes of expanding public investments that would extend middle-class structured and supervised time to all children in the neighborhood. It begins with a portrait of Liz and Robert Walker, a couple who both became deeply engaged in the local public schools and in trying to rebuild safe and nurturing spaces for young people in the neighborhood through their own volunteer labor and activism. It then provides a background on the collaboration between parents and neighbors in the Laurel district to expand public investments in after-school programs aimed at making schools and the neighborhood safe and secure for all kids. It also considers the efforts of Laurel activists to rebuild public landscapes of childhood as well as the dilemmas of activism in the context of “the volunteer state.” Finally, it examines the dilemmas of black middle-class parenting and their implications for Oakland politics.
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