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Race and Renaissance

Race and Renaissance: African Americans in Pittsburgh since World War II

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 304
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    Race and Renaissance
    Book Description:

    African Americans from Pittsburgh have a long and distinctive history of contributions to the cultural, political, and social evolution of the United States. From jazz legend Earl Fatha Hines to playwright August Wilson, from labor protests in the 1950s to the Black Power movement of the late 1960s, Pittsburgh has been a force for change in American race and class relations.Race and Renaissancepresents the first history of African American life in Pittsburgh after World War II. It examines the origins and significance of the second Great Migration, the persistence of Jim Crow into the postwar years, the second ghetto, the contemporary urban crisis, the civil rights and Black Power movements, and the Million Man and Million Woman marches, among other topics.In recreating this period, Trotter and Day draw not only from newspaper articles and other primary and secondary sources, but also from oral histories. These include interviews with African Americans who lived in Pittsburgh during the postwar era, uncovering firsthand accounts of what life was truly like during this transformative epoch in urban history.In these ways,Race and Renaissanceilluminates how African Americans arrived at their present moment in history. It also links movements for change to larger global issues: civil rights with the Vietnam War; affirmative action with the movement against South African apartheid. As such, the study draws on both sociology and urban studies to deepen our understanding of the lives of urban blacks.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7755-1
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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    (pp. xvii-xxiv)

    African American urban history since World War II is an emerging field of scholarship. This research is helping to transform our understanding of numerous topics and themes—the origins and significance of the second Great Migration, the second ghetto, the contemporary urban crisis, deindustrialization, and the modern Civil Rights and Black Power movements, to name only a few. Scholars have published detailed case studies of New York, Philadelphia, Oakland, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Detroit, Greensboro, and Atlanta, but the city of Pittsburgh is largely absent from the historiography of the postwar city and the heated debates that it has generated.¹


  2. 1 War, Politics, and the Creation of the Black Community
    (pp. 1-43)

    Pittsburgh’s African American community had its origins in the late colonial and revolutionary struggles to build a new republic in North America. African American men and women played an important role in the early national and antebellum growth of Pittsburgh as a commercial center in western Pennsylvania and the Ohio Valley. While some black men gained jobs as strikebreakers and made inroads into the steel industry during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the years between the world wars witnessed the Great Migration, the dramatic growth of the city’s black population, and an increase in manufacturing employment. African Americans...

  3. 2 New Migrations, Renaissance I, and the Challenge to Jim Crow
    (pp. 44-89)

    Pittsburgh entered a prolonged period of economic and population decline during the years after World War II. The city lost increasing numbers of jobs and people to the suburbs, the South, the Southwest, and to overseas expansion of manufacturing production. During this time, Pittsburgh’s black population increased and gained a larger share of the city’s total, but African Americans confronted the persistence of racially biased employment policies; structural limits on their economic mobility; and enduring barriers to where they could live and educate their children. The city’s black residents responded to these constraints by intensifying their demands for equal access...

  4. 3 Pittsburgh’s Modern Black Freedom Movement
    (pp. 90-140)

    Inspired both by their own history of social struggle and the rapid growth of the Civil Rights movement in the South, African Americans in Pittsburgh escalated their efforts for social change during the 1960s. The emergence of new organizations reinforced and expanded the ongoing activities of the Pittsburgh Urban League and NAACP. Until the late 1960s, “nonviolent direct action” defined Pittsburgh’s black freedom struggle. In the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and the Eight-Day Riot of 1968, however, Black Power emerged at the forefront of Pittsburgh’s African American liberation movement. The black freedom struggle dramatically exposed the class...

  5. 4 In the Shadows of Renaissance II
    (pp. 141-171)

    The modern Civil Rights and Black Power movements provided African Americans in Pittsburgh with a broader and more diverse range of neighborhoods, jobs, and schools. At the same time, the material foundation for these changes eroded as the city’s manufacturing economy and population continued to shrink. Seeking to stem the tide of job and population losses, the city energized its public-private partnership and launched Renaissance II, which revitalized the Central Business District (CBD) and created new technology-intensive firms. While African Americans remained largely in the shadows of the Pittsburgh renaissance, they gradually gained jobs in the emerging postindustrial economy, moved...

  6. 5 Toward the New Century: FORGING THEIR OWN RENAISSANCE
    (pp. 172-202)

    While many of Pittsburgh’s young people responded to hard times and declining economic opportunities by moving elsewhere at the end of the twentieth century, most African Americans stayed and fought for jobs and business opportunities in Pittsburgh’s evolving postindustrial economy. In the Hill District, some black workers took eight-to ten-week crash courses that were designed to improve their test scores on qualifying exams for apprenticeships in the building and construction trades. William Garner, who completed apprenticeship training with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, later underscored the heavy commitment of time and work that his program entailed: “You have to...