Coalitions are a complex concept in politics, as they involve leaders who have been at odds coming together to promote a shared principle or policy. This often leads to a sense of repulsion among their followers, as they don't like the idea of negotiation in politics. It goes against their idea of coherence and consistency in political action. New York City is a prime example of this, as it has been urbanized by ethnic Europeans, African-Americans from the South, and a large West Indian population.
This diversity is reflected in its electoral coalitions, and the city has seen an influx of Asian immigrants who have taken over historic Italian and Irish neighborhoods. In the mid-1960s, New York State passed a law that protected unionization of hospital workers and doubled the minimum wage. This led to the formation of Latinos for Dinkins and other political leaders joining forces with black communities to ensure Dinkins' election as New York City's first African-American mayor. Frederick Douglass Opie's book Upsetting the Apple Cart explores the solidarity between African-American and Puerto Rican communities, as well as the continuity among many of the dedicated actors who appear throughout their struggles for racial and social justice.
Under pressure from black legislators, New York State established the SEEK program in 1967, which increased black and Puerto Rican college enrollment in 1969. Opie suggests that in today's world, when union membership is at an all-time low and City Council is still controlled by unresponsive politicians, mobilizing working-class black and Latino voters is the best way to elect a candidate who will respond to progressive coalitions. Groups such as El Comité-MINP, the Puerto Rican Socialist Party and the Young Lords taught future Puerto Rican “progressives” political strategy and how to carry out popular campaigns. The first sustained black and Puerto Rican coalition discussed by Opie was SEIU Local 1199's successful campaign from 1959 to 1962 for union representation and collective bargaining rights in municipal and private hospitals. The three maps below show how white ethnic populations have declined in outlying districts over the past thirty years. This demonstrates how coalitions have evolved over time in New York City, with different groups coming together to ensure their voices are heard.
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