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Racial Democracy and the Black MetropolisHousing Policy in Postwar Chicago$
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Preston H. Smith II

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816637027

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816637027.001.0001

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Fighting “Negro Clearance”

Fighting “Negro Clearance”

Black Elites and Urban Redevelopment Policy

Chapter:
(p.67) 4 Fighting “Negro Clearance”
Source:
Racial Democracy and the Black Metropolis
Author(s):

Preston H. Smith

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816637027.003.0004

This chapter explores the class conflict that occurred between national black elites and a coalition of local black civic, neighborhood, and business leaders over slum clearance and urban redevelopment in Chicago. Black institutional elites’ vision of racial democracy was racial equality, which means that racial democratization of housing markets would take place by first preserving black middle-class housing in desirable locations within the community. Black policy elites envisioned achieving racial democratization by pressuring the government to institute antidiscriminatory policies that would enable housing mobility for those blacks who had the income, culture, and motivation to locate and settle outside of the ghetto. The chapter then highlights the inability of the opposition’s racial view to adequately account for the class injuries suffered by working-class black tenants in land clearance. It also articulates the national black elites’ critique of the opposition and examines their case for supporting slum clearance. It pays particular attention to how the difficulty of most displaced working class was conceptualized within the racial democratic remedies that each faction proposed against the Negro clearance, which they saw as a racial threat.

Keywords:   national black elites, black civic coalition, urban redevelopment, Chicago, slum clearance, racial democracy

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