The Depression Comes to the South Side: Protest and Politics in the Black Metropolis, 1930-1933

The Depression Comes to the South Side: Protest and Politics in the Black Metropolis, 1930-1933

The Depression Comes to the South Side: Protest and Politics in the Black Metropolis, 1930-1933

The Depression Comes to the South Side: Protest and Politics in the Black Metropolis, 1930-1933

Synopsis

In the 1920s, the South Side was looked on as the new Black Metropolis, but by the turn of the decade that vision was already in decline--a victim of the Depression. In this timely book, Christopher Robert Reed explores early Depression-era politics on Chicago's South Side. The economic crisis caused diverse responses from groups in the black community, distinguished by their political ideologies and stated goals. Some favored government intervention, others reform of social services. Some found expression in mass street demonstrations, militant advocacy of expanded civil rights, or revolutionary calls for a complete overhaul of the capitalist economic system. Reed examines the complex interactions among these various groups as they played out within the community as it sought to find common ground to address the economic stresses that threatened to tear the Black Metropolis apart.

Excerpt

The last several decades have witnessed a resurgence of popular interest into the dynamics of life in Chicago’s famed black South Side community during the first half of the twentieth century. This curiosity has, in turn, accelerated academic inquisitiveness about the historic Black Metropolis. For its part, recent scholarship has combined with outstanding past academic as well as literary production from the likes of Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, and many others to revive the saga of the Black Metropolis, now euphemistically referred to as Bronzeville. The trials and triumphs described and analyzed in St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton’s tome, Black Metropolis (1945), have informed both lay and academic readership as to what historian Leon F. Litwack has labeled interior history. More accurately, Black Metropolis now represents the model still in use for understanding the African American experience in the North during the early twentieth century.

The historical impact of one of the last century’s most traumatic experiences, the Great Depression, along with its accompanying feature, global war, had yet to be examined as to its effects from the point of view of the Black Metropolis. This volume tackles the task of exploring historical occurrences during the initial period of the Depression’s devastation and up to immediately before the advent of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ameliorative New Deal programs in 1933. With documentation and interpretations from the ideological Left and middle grounds now more accessible, these have been carefully combined with the reports of traditional mainstream sources. The Depression Comes to the South Side: Protest and Politics in the Black Metropolis, 1930–1933 aims to answer heretofore unanswered or misunderstood questions as to the extent of black involvement in the struggle for economic survival four generations ago.

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