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Jim Crow Nostalgia

Jim Crow Nostalgia: Reconstructing Race in Bronzeville

Michelle R. Boyd
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Jim Crow Nostalgia
    Book Description:

    In the Jim Crow era Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood on the city’s South Side was a major center of African American cultural vitality. Michelle R. Boyd examines how black revitalization leaders reinvented the neighborhood’s history in ways that, amazingly, sanitized the brutal elements of life under Jim Crow and develops a new way to understand the political significance of race today.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5645-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: Race, Nostalgia, and Neighborhood Redevelopment
    (pp. xi-xxxii)

    As we pulled away from the corner of Forty-third Street and King Drive, Steven Anthony stood up and began narrating our tour of the Douglas/Grand Boulevard neighborhood. The bus was filled with approximately twenty-five men and women, members of a community leadership class designed to mobilize residents around the revitalization happening in the neighborhood. Our tour stopped at more than three dozen buildings, homes, and lots between Twenty-second and Fifty-first Streets on Chicago’s South Side. Mr. Anthony, gripping a seat back and swaying with every turn of the bus, provided a commentary juicy with gossip, personal anecdotes, and descriptions of...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The Way We Were: Political Accommodation and Neighborhood Change, 1870–1950
    (pp. 1-38)

    In the 1990s, the public discussion of Douglas and Grand Boulevard’s restoration was marked by fanfare and praise. While some pundits objected to the estimated cost of the revitalization plan, most were supportive of the project and the history on which it was premised. Residents, politicians, and observers repeated the assertion of the Mid-South Planning and Development Commission: Bronzeville had been a crucible of black economic and political success and would be again after its revitalization. Only very rarely did a dissenting view disrupt the public consensus: one such view was that of former resident William Simpson, who in a...

  6. CHAPTER 2 When We Were Colored: Black Civic Leadership and the Birth of Nostalgia, 1950–1990
    (pp. 39-66)

    In spring 1996, the Illinois Institute of Technology’s (IIT) quarterly alumni newsletter, theCatalyst,was happy to report that despite the difficulty of finding “the right role for the urban university in its community,” the institution had begun to foster a new relationship with the surrounding neighborhood of Douglas. Vice president of external affairs David Baker had recognized that remaining “an island in a deteriorating urban landscape” was a foolhardy strategy and he claimed to now understand the importance of “mutual interdependence” between neighborhood and university (Long 1996). To that end, the university had formally established a community relations department...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Back to the Future: Marketing the Race for Neighborhood Development
    (pp. 67-98)

    In May 1996, three years after members of his planning department helped create the “Restoring Bronzeville” land use plan, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley established another panel to make a second set of recommendations for the redevelopment of Douglas/Grand Boulevard (Bey 1996a). The so-called Blue Ribbon Committee was staffed by twenty business and community leaders and represented the Bronzeville Coalition’s success in gaining the city’s attention. Despite the apparent victory, the coalition was less than enthusiastic. One staff member at the Mid-South Planning and Development Commission described the move as the mayor’s effort “to take credit for what is already...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Ties and Chitlins: Political Legitimacy and Racial Authentication
    (pp. 99-130)

    In fewer than ten years, the Bronzeville heritage product has gained support both in and outside the neighborhood. Despite the city’s refusal to formally adopt the land use plan, city administrators, mainstream and independent news media, developers, and real estate agencies all know the area as Bronzeville. Perhaps most telling are recent versions of tourism and real estate maps that have merged Douglas and Grand Boulevard, expanded them, and renamed them in accordance with the Mid-South Plan. The dominance of the Bronzeville vision goes beyond name recognition: the meaning of the community has changed as well to coincide with that...

  9. CHAPTER 5 We’re All in This Mess Together: Identity and the Framing of Racial Agendas
    (pp. 131-154)

    The group of Second Ward residents gathered in Hartzell Memorial Church on March 20, 1997, was no doubt both a pleasure and a disappointment to Madeline Haithcock, the alderman who had convened the meeting: a pleasure because turnout was decent (around 120 people), which gave her an opportunity to take credit for the redevelopment efforts taking place in Bronzeville. The lineup of speakers included the expected array of planning department staff, as well as a bevy of developers, representatives from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and, of course, the Mid-South Planning and Development Commission. The disappointment might have come because...

  10. CONCLUSION: Nostalgia and Identity in the Twenty-first Century
    (pp. 155-164)

    Relying on experience, myth, history, and nostalgia, African Americans create particular notions of racial identity, specific notions of what it means to be black. These visions are linked to specific times and places, and as this book has shown, they are often cobbled together as blacks determine and articulate their political goals. This constructedness does not imply that race is insignificant: despite academic clamoring for its end, race remains important in the political life of African Americans, continuing to structure our access to and involvement in dominant political and economic institutions.

    Moreover, the construction of racial identity plays a central...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 165-170)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 171-190)
  13. Index
    (pp. 191-212)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 213-213)