Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City

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9780226162348: Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City

Ground-breaking when first published in 1945, Black Metropolis remains a landmark study of race and urban life. Based on a mass of research conducted by Works Progress Administration field workers in the late 1930s, it is a historical and sociological account of the people of Chicago's South Side, the classic urban ghetto. Drake and Cayton's findings not only offer a generalized analysis of black migration, settlement, community structure, and black-white race relations in the early part of the twentieth century, but also tell us what has changed in the last hundred years and what has not. This edition includes the original Introduction by Richard Wright and a new Foreword by William Julius Wilson.

"Black Metropolis is a rare combination of research and synthesis, a book to be deeply pondered. . . . No one who reads it intelligently can ever believe again that our racial dilemma can be solved by pushing buttons, or by gradual processes which may reach four or five hundred years into the future."—Bucklin Moon, The Nation

"This volume makes a great contribution to the building of the future American and the free world."—Louis Wirth, New York Times

"By virtue of its range, its labor and its insight, the book seems certain to become a landmark not only in race studies but in the broader field of social anthropology."—Thomas Sancton, New Republic

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Review:

"The facts of urban life presented here are in their starkest form," Richard Wright wrote in the original foreword to this penetrating study of Chicago's South Side, first published in 1945. "To have them presented otherwise would have been to negate the humanity of the American Negro." Nearly 50 years later, sociologist William Julius Wilson wrote that Black Metropolis "allows us to consider the significance of a segregated community heavily populated with working poor adults in contrast with a segregated community largely populated with nonworking adults." Simply put, sociologist St. Clair Drake and researcher Horace Cayton produced one of the most comprehensive studies of an African American urban enclave ever written. As in W.E.B. Du Bois's groundbreaking treatise The Philadelphia Negro, the contradictions and complexities of the Afro-American experience are expertly articulated without Eurocentric bias. Using traditional scientific methods of analysis, Cayton and Drake show the existence of a racial color line that keeps blacks segregated in economics, education, and politics, creating a vital cultural city within a city. More importantly, though, Black Metropolis makes the South Side come to life, with Drake and Cayton's hilarious, idiomatic references to the areas' many social groups--from the clothes-conscious, number-running "Upper Shadies" and the respectable "Race Men" of "Bronzeville" to the hypocritical "jackleg" preachers--and their richly detailed explanations of such phenomena as "passing" and the black Chicago community's interactions with white-led organized crime. --Eugene Holley Jr.

About the Author:

John Gibbs St. Clair Drake (1911–90) was a sociologist and anthropologist who founded African American Studies programs at Roosevelt University and Stanford University. His books included Social Work in West Africa, Race Relations in a Time of Rapid Social Change, and Black Religion and the Redemption of Africa.

Horace R. Cayton (1903–70) was an American sociologist known for his studies of working class black Americans, particularly in mid-twentieth-century Chicago. His books included Black Workers and the New Unions and Long Old Road—An Autobiography.

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