Daily News header

Black Chicago Renaissance Book Review

By     get stories by email

"Beginning in the 1930s and lasting into the 1950s, black Chicago experienced a cultural renaissance that rivaled and, some argued, exceeded the cultural outpouring in Harlem... However, [it] has yet to receive its full due. This volume addresses that neglect...

Black cultural artists in music and dance and in visual and literary arts demonstrated cognizance of the centrality of race and sex in the distribution of power, the ways in which the social construction of both interacted to determine social privileges and exclusions. The challenge was to deconstruct racial categories and rid 'blackness' of its negative symbolism."

- Excerpted from the Introduction (pg. xv-xvi)

Since the Harlem Renaissance, New York has been considered the unofficial capital of black America. However, that designation might be undeserving when one reflects upon Chicago's considerable contributions not only culturally, but socially and politically.

For example, the Windy City sent its first African-American to Congress sixteen years before the Big Apple which only elected Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in 1944. Furthermore, half of the six black U.S. Senators in history represented Illinois, and I know I don't have to tell you that President Obama hails from Chicago.

In terms of the arts, the city boasted such icons as novelist Richard Wright, choreographer Katherine Dunham, and poets Arna Bontemps, Margaret Walker and Gwendolyn Brooks during its heyday. What's ironic is that at the very same time they were promoting positive images of African-Americans, Amos 'n' Andy, a minstrel radio show originating in Chicago, was doing just the opposite.

The white stars of that popular program did demeaning impersonations featuring "mispronounced words, garbled grammar and characterizations of black women as bossy and black men as clownish." Meanwhile, A. Philip Randolph was organizing the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters into a union to demand a living wage from the Chicago Pullman Car Company, "the single-largest employer of black people in the United States."

An impressive history lesson and compendium of fascinating factoids proving that the so-called Second City need not take a back seat to New York, at least when discussing the achievements of its African-American intelligentsia.

To order a copy of The Black Chicago Renaissance:
0252078586

The Black Chicago Renaissance
Edited by Darlene Clark Hine and John McCluskey, Jr.
University of Illinois Press
Paperback, $27.95
272 pages, Illustrated
ISBN: 978-0-252-07858-3

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Contact him through NewsBlaze. Read more reviews by Kam Williams.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Book Publishing News

Dr. Kevin Emery Releases Second Edition of Managing the Gift: Alternative Approaches for Attention Deficit Disorder
Kam Williams reviews the book, 'The Myth of Race' by Mahmoud El-Kati published by Papyrus Publishing.
The Book of Enoch was written by the Prophet Enoch and contains much of his life and of the events of early religious history even of Adams journeys..
Carmichael made a case for political revolution. 'We have begged the president. We've begged the federal government... Every courthouse in Mississippi ought to be burned down tomorrow!'
Sometimes, a sister has to kiss a lot of frogs before finding her soul mate. In Dr. Nazaree Hines-Starr's case, she had to date a lot of 'scumbags,' as she puts it.
Movie reviewer Kam Williams interviews Russell Simmons, a native New Yorker currently residing in Los Angeles with his two daughters. Here, he talks about his new book: Success through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site