7: A Chance to Make Good: African Americans 1900-1929 (The Young Oxford History of African Americans)

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9780195087703: 7: A Chance to Make Good: African Americans 1900-1929 (The Young Oxford History of African Americans)
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Many people think of the first three decades of the 20th century as the formative years of Jim Crow, or legal segregation, a time when African Americans shared in the aspirations and expectations of their fellow citizens, but who did so as a people with a unique set of barriers to overcome. In the South, segregation had become a way of life. In the North, opportunities for work were hard to come by in the face of a less overt racism. Yet, even in the face of such discrimination, a new generation of African Americans left an indelible mark on the nation and its affairs. Luminaries such as Booker T. Washington, Mary Church Terrell, and Marcus Garvey inspired and led thousands of black men and women as they obliterated, removed, tiptoed around, climbed over, and even passed through these barriers. This is the story of sharecropper Minnie Savage, NAACP founder W. E. B. Du Bois, and countless others who lived in this time of hope and age of despair.
It was also a time of movement. By the second decade of the 20th century, cotton cultivation still employed more black Southerners than any other single activity. Encouraged by recruiting efforts and the desire to leave the stifling racial climate in Southern communities, approximately 1.5 million African Americans left the rural South during what came to be known as the Great Migration. Scores settled in New York's Harlem and Chicago's South Side. But thousands also moved to Detroit, Gary, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and St. Paul, as well as Philadelphia, Camden, Newark, and Boston.
James Grossman's A Chance to Make Good is peopled by the ordinary and the famous, the migrants and those who stayed behind. Documenting the efforts of individuals and communities to claim a place for themselves in America, it narrates the powerful story of black aspirations, frustration, and determination in the years from 1900 to 1929.

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About the Author:

James R. Grossman, Director, Dr. William M. Scholl Center for Family and Community History, Newberry Library.

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Gr. 9-12. The seventh volume in the detailed Young Oxford History of African Americans explores the lives of blacks in the early twentieth century. Drawing on oral histories of ordinary women and men, as well as on the writings of intellectuals and social reformers such as W. E. B. du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells, and Marcus Garvey, Grossman describes the lives of black sharecroppers in the Jim Crow South. Then he discusses the Great Migration--why people left the rural South, what it was like when they got to the northern cities in relation to work, housing, politics, education, religion, business--and he looks briefly at the Harlem Renaissance. There is a long, useful reading list (though no sources for quotes) and lots of documentary photos throughout. With an honest depiction of the striving and the disappointment, Grossman shows that these crucial years were "both a time of hope and an age of despair." Hazel Rochman

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