Sunday, February 11, 2007

N’Trospect: A History of Blacks in Chicago

N'Digo Online (you can visit them through the links in the sidebar) has a nice section in time for Black history month. Here's a brief description...

Thousands of African-Americans took life-altering journeys to Chicago during the second and third decades of the twentieth century. Fleeing southern cities and small towns, these “Black migrants” packed their belongings in cloth sacks and boarded trains to The Promised Land. In celebration of Black History Month, N’ and the Library of Congress will show you how we lived back then.
And all they offer is a serious of pictures of black life in Chicago in the early 1940s. What caught my eye the most are the first two descriptions of black life in Chicago. I was actually confused by this statement...

The poorest Blacks lived on the North side.
Then it explained that the black belt was divided into zones based on class. The black belt the neighborhood we know as Bronzeville goes from about Cermak to perhaps as far south as 51st or Garfield. In the oldest, northern part of this neighborhood is where the poorer blacks lived. In the southern part of this neighborhood were the much more elite of blacks.

They talked about how many left the south to come up and open up their own businesses. The picture you see in this post is of a restaurant The Perfect Eat Shop located on 47th and South Park (King Dr. for those of you who don't know) owned by a Mr. Ernest Morris. BTW I got image this from the N'Digo site.

Also the last two items involved labor and education. As far as labor blacks had to picket to get better wages. Here's one quick note about that...
Some foremen in various companies discriminated by placing restrictions upon the promotion and advancement of black workers, frequently preventing them from earning higher wages.
I know that it's not mentioned in this section but there are those who claim blacks still have trouble with the unions even today. Finally they take a look at education which is always an issue and it was an issue back then. Geographic isolation and discriminatory school policies gradually lowered the quality of the public education system. Thus one example to alleviate overcrowding of public schools in the black belt...
the Ida B. Wells housing project community center was used to alleviate overcrowding in the kindergarten classes of the Chicago school system.
N'Digo is a very nice little "magapaper" as they describe themselves to read when you want to know what's going on in the black community. And this was a good piece too.

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