The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

GC Events

this week! 10/21 – Marcia Chatelain on “Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America”

Marcia Chatelain will speak on Wednesday, Oct 21, 4:30-6:00pm about her recent book, Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America (Liveright, 2020).  Details for registering and obtaining the zoom link are here:

(This is the postponed second half of Prof. Chatelain’s visit to GC History, which began on March 11—one of the last events in the building before the shutdown.)

The Colin Powell School is pleased to welcome Dr. Marcia Chatelain to The City College of New York as she presents her new book, Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America.

From civil rights to Ferguson, Franchise reveals the untold history of how fast food became one of the greatest generators of black wealth in America.

About the Book:

Often blamed for the rising rates of obesity and diabetes among black Americans, fast food restaurants like McDonald’s have long symbolized capitalism’s villainous effects on our nation’s most vulnerable communities. But how did fast food restaurants so thoroughly saturate black neighborhoods in the first place?

In Franchise, acclaimed historian Marcia Chatelain uncovers a surprising history of cooperation among fast food companies, black capitalists, and civil rights leaders, who―in the troubled years after King’s assassination―believed they found an economic answer to the problem of racial inequality. With the discourse of social welfare all but evaporated, federal programs under presidents Johnson and Nixon promoted a new vision for racial justice: that the franchising of fast food restaurants, by black citizens in their own neighborhoods, could finally improve the quality of black life.

Synthesizing years of research, Franchise tells a troubling success story of an industry that blossomed the very moment a freedom movement began to wither.

About the Author:

Marcia Chatelain is a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at Georgetown University. She is a leading public voice on the history of race, education, and food culture. The author of South Side Girls: Growing up in the Great Migration, Chatelain lives in Washington, DC.

The conversation will be moderated by Tara Yglesias, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Harry. S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.


Many thanks to History Department at the CUNY Graduate Center for cosponsoring this event and to the Judith Stein Fund at the CUNY Graduate Center for providing support for it.