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1900 1950 Chicago Essay

1906 words - 8 pages

The following is a quote by Frederick Douglass, an African American orator.
“You are not judged by the height you have risen but from the depth you have climbed”.
I believe this reflects the pure embodiment of 1900-1950 Chicago. Throughout 1900-1950, Chicago, Illinois has transitioned into one of America’s most racially progressive cities, due to economic and cultural advancement in African American culture.
In order to understand the importance of this era, you must understand the context of this progression. Firstly, attention should be directed to pre1900 and what this time period was like for African Americans. Before the 20th century African Americans were still fleeing slavery geared ...view middle of the document...

In fact, the population of African Americans in Chicago during Civil War times was as few as 1000.
This being said, 1900 is a milestone mark of when that light at the end of the tunnel was finally shining. From the 1910-1920 period of Great Migration, a factory wage in the urban North was typically three times more than what blacks could expect to make working the land in the rural South. Chicago was a gold mine of job opportunities, earning the nickname “The City that Works” and especially due to the apparent lack of opportunities in the south, this was a place where African Americans flocked to in search for a better standard of living. This “flocking” is known as The Great Migration. The African American population in Chicago was rapidly and exponentially increasing. Going from nearly 40,000 in 1910, and skyrocketing to 80,000 by 1920.
These African American migrants primarily settled on the Southside of Chicago, which would come to be known as “the Black Belt”. This was a chain of neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago where three-quarters of the city's African American population lived by the mid-20th century. This would develop into a concentrated black community in which its own culture would thrive, and be the home of extremely important contributions to society.
In 1905, the “Chicago Defender” was founded. This newspaper served as a voice for the African American culture primarily in Chicago, but also regarded this culture as whole. As the African American population was on the rise, so to was the clear demand for this voice, and this was the source for it all. In fact, this newspaper was a huge role in the Great Migration as it idolized Chicago as a destination for opportunity. They would “front page” migration stories. They would advocate northern migration to Chicago, and also served in politics even in their cartoons, usually pertaining to racial advancement. This was also an outlet for the black community to really showcase their culture. This newspaper would have the “who’s who” of the times, where to eat, sports, where to go for a good time- it was truly a pioneer in black culture information.
In 1929 when the stock market crashed, the Great Depression resulted. This was a time in which thousands lost their jobs, particularly African Americans. However, even through these poor times, this was also when new ideas in the community thrived. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s a new movement entitled the “Chicago Black Renaissance” took over. The spirit of the Black Belt was one of racial pride and a growth of social activism sparked. During this time, the arts were taking the African American community by storm. This movement was rivaling even the Harlem renaissance of New York City, even though it did not receive as much notoriety.
Chicago has evolved into one of the most prominent music capitals of America. The 1920s for Chicago proved to be a home if not the birthplace of Soul, Blues, the rising of Jazz, and gospel music....

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