Selling the Race
Culture, Community, and Black Chicago, 1940-1955
In Selling the Race, Adam Green tells the story of how black Chicagoans were at the center of a national movement in the 1940s and ’50s, a time when African Americans across the country first started to see themselves as part of a single culture. Along the way, he offers fascinating reinterpretations of such events as the 1940 American Negro Exposition, the rise of black music and the culture industry that emerged around it, the development of the Associated Negro Press and the founding of Johnson Publishing, and the outcry over the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till.
By presenting African Americans as agents, rather than casualties, of modernity, Green ultimately reenvisions urban existence in a way that will resonate with anyone interested in race, culture, or the life of cities.
Introduction: In Search of African-American Modernity
1 Imagining the Future
2 Making the Music
3 The Ends of Clientage
4 Selling the Race
5 A Moment of Simultaneity
Conclusion: An African-American Dilemma
“Brilliant. By looking at cultural work and the reconstitution of community in wartime and postwar black Chicago, Adam Green provides a window into the emergence of modern black urban life. Whether he’s exploring the fusion of sacred and secular blues or the writings of Chicago-school sociologists, Green beautifully demonstrates how the ‘cultural entrepreneurs’ of the period offered lessons for living, utopian dreams, a route to self-transformation, a means of survival, momentary challenges to white supremacy even as they sometimes reinforced black subordination, and the basis for a black economy.”<Robin Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination>
“Selling the Race is the most important study of 1940s black Chicago to appear in sixty years. It will change ways of thinking and writing about black urban history.”<James Gregory, author of The Southern Diaspora: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America>
“As an alternative to what he sees as the ‘hard empiricism’ in humanistic and social science research, Green emphasizes ‘the city as a site of creativity, rather than constraint.’ In doing so, he makes a series of significant contributions to knowledge that will influence broad interdisciplinary audiences in African American studies, urban and labor studies, public history, and museum studies. Rich and convincing, Selling the Race will also appeal to a wide range of scholars interested in cultural policy and decision making.”<Joe William Trotter, Jr., Mellon Professor of History at Carnegie Mellon University and author of The African American Experience>