Case Study 4:

The African American Ghetto in the United States

Seminar Presentations:

Tobias Brinkmann: “Shifting ‘Ghettos’: Established Jews, Immigrant Jews and African-Americans in Chicago 1880-1960”
Friday, March 20, 2015

Jeffrey D. Gonda: “The American Ghetto as an International Human Rights Crisis, 1945-1948”
Monday March 30, 2015

Brian Purnell: “Unmaking the Ghetto: Community Organizing, Economic Development, Neighborhood Revitalization and Persistent Social Inequality in Bedford-Stuyvesant since the 1960s”
Friday, April 10, 2015

Stephen Robertson: “What Was Life Like in 1920s Harlem?”
Tim Cole: “Reshaping the City: The Ghetto and Jewish and Non-Jewish Space”

Friday, April 24, 2015

Segregated African American housing in Chicago

With fascism on the rise in Europe, the ghettoization of African Americans in the United States gained its sharpest expression in Northern cities during the 1920s and 1930s. Contemporary U.S. ghettos—nearly all-black areas within the nation’s cities—reflected the impact of white racial hostility in the wake of the Great Migration; the African Americans' quest for freedom, work, and social justice; and, perhaps most importantly, the rise of new classes and social relations within the black community.

As late as 1910, nearly 90 percent of the nation's black population lived in the South, and less than 22 percent of Southern blacks lived in cities. Under the impact of World War I, however, up to one million blacks left the South followed by an additional 800,000 to one million during the 1920s. New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia absorbed the largest numbers. By 1920, two-thirds of Manhattan's black population lived in Harlem, and similar patterns of housing segregation prevailed in other cities. Racial violence reinforced residential segregation and highlighted the growing spatial expression of America’s "Race Problem." During the Great Depression and World War II, high rates of black unemployment and the emergence of New Deal housing programs like the Federal Housing Administration and the Works Projects Administration helped to deepen established patterns of spatial separation.