In this book, Traci Parker examines the movement to racially
integrate white-collar work and consumption in American department
stores, and broadens our understanding of historical transformations
in African American class and labor formation. Built on the goals,
organization, and momentum of earlier struggles for justice, the
department store movement channeled the power of store workers and
consumers to promote black freedom in the mid-twentieth century.
Sponsoring lunch counter sit-ins and protests in the 1950s and 1960s,
and challenging discrimination in the courts in the 1970s, this
movement ended in the early 1980s with the conclusion of the Sears,
Roebuck, and Co. affirmative action cases and the transformation and
consolidation of American department stores. In documenting the
experiences of African American workers and consumers during this
era, Parker highlights the department store as a key site for the
inception of a modern black middle class, and demonstrates the ways
that both work and consumption were battlegrounds for civil rights.