In the process of working on a long-term project such as this one, a lot of debts are accrued along the way. While researching and writing this book, I have been a member of the Politics department and African American and African Studies program at Mount Holyoke College. I have been supported intellectually and personally by my wonderful colleagues at the college. Grace Caligtan and Aimee Eubanks were two of the many students who contributed their enthusiasm and research skills to the project. I would especially like to thank Giorgia Scribellito who contributed the most, poring over endless microfilms of the Chicago Defender. I would also like to thank Mary Elizabeth Murphy, who assisted me once she graduated from Mount Holyoke and joined the doctoral program in history at the University of Maryland. Mary Elizabeth’s scholarly instincts and conscientious research skills were invaluable in tracking down many elusive sources. I want to acknowledge my editor Pieter Martin, who inherited the project, and believed in it enough to provide timely support for it at the University of Minnesota Press. The Ford Foundation provided financial support during the early stages of research for this project. This project would not have been possible without research support from the Dean of Faculty at the college, Donal O’Shea, who also provided encouragement throughout.
I have had many expert and patient guides in my search for material in the archives, special collections, and libraries in Chicago and Washington, D.C. My research was made much more productive by the staff at the Chicago Historical Society, especially the late Archibald Motley, who introduced me to the rich Claude A. Barnett papers and much more, and also the staff at the University of Illinois at Chicago Special Collections, the National Archives, and the Library of Congress. I would also like to acknowledge Michael Flug at the Vivian Harsh Collection at the Carter Woodson Branch at the Chicago Public Library, who introduced me to the Horace Cayton papers. Last, I would like to thank the library staff at Mount Holyoke, who endured many (p.304) interlibrary loan requests and multiple renewals for library holdings. My research efforts would have been less fruitful without the knowledgeable and dedicated people who staff these libraries.
Of course, those who are knowledgeable about sources are not found only in libraries. I also found many other well-informed sources outside the libraries. I benefitted a great deal early in my research from Timuel Black, who was a rich source of information and wisdom about black political history in Chicago. I also had the opportunity to learn from the late Vernon Jarrett, Addie Wyatt, Dempsey Travis, the late Congressman Charles Hayes, the late Oscar Brown Jr., and Truman Gibson Jr. An intellectual and personal companion on more than one research trip to Chicago was Roger House. We share a love for the rich culture and complex politics of the Black Metropolis.
I have benefitted from many people reading and commenting on the manuscript. Rogers Smith read an early draft of the manuscript when it was much too long and gave me salient comments about the content as well as guidance for editing it. He should be given the academic equivalent of a Purple Heart for his efforts. I also like to thank the anonymous reader for the University of Minnesota Press who gave me concrete and fruitful suggestions for streamlining the argument. Once I rounded the manuscript into shape, I benefitted from the comments of Dan Czitrom, Dennis Judd, Michael Ford, Adolph Reed Jr., Toure Reed, and especially Larry Bennett. I want to thank Jan Whitaker, whose incisive pen helped me turn a manuscript into a book. In addition, Susan Murray helped me to polish the manuscript draft before I delivered the final product to the press. Lastly, I would like to thank Adolph Reed Jr. for the many years of conversations about African American politics that helped me create the analytical framework by which I interpreted the thoughts, actions, and interests of black policy elites in Chicago. He has been a constant source of encouragement, constructive criticism, and comradeship throughout the years.
This project would not have happened if it wasn’t for the support that I have received from my friends and family. My many research trips would not have been possible without my family welcoming me into their homes in Chicago and Washington, D.C. My uncle Joseph McBurnett Smith and his wife Linda were my home base in Chicago. Over the years, I have benefitted from the many debates about black politics in the city in the home of my late aunt and uncle, Edna and Gaylord Thomas. My guide to black Chicago since high school has been my cousin Gaylord Thomas Jr. Research in Washington, D.C., would not have been possible without my cousin Dr. (p.305) Raymond Patterson and his wife Deborah welcoming and supporting me on many trips over the years. Many friends, including Dean Robinson, Barry Magnus, Harry Kokkinos, Jen Cannon, Paul Collins, Rochelle Calhoun, Joan Cocks, Lucas Wilson, Patricia Romney, Paul Fleischmann, Agustin Lao, and the Amherst Family have lived with me and “the book” for many years. Other family members I want to thank are Teena Johnson-Smith, the late Mary Elaine Johnson, the late Ernest R. Graham who asked me periodically when he would hear me on the NPR (maybe now Uncle Robert!), my sisters Kathryn and Kimberly and their families, and my brother Edward. I want to thank my children Eris and Kendall, who have lived with this project from adolescence to young adulthood, for their love, patience, and belief that Dad would finish his book. They inspire me with their spirit, passion, and dedication to educating young people of color about the world and themselves. Without the guidance, love, encouragement, and intellectual curiosity of my parents, the late Preston H. Smith Sr. and Mariam Graham Smith, I would not have been able to stay the course and complete the manuscript. Through them the South Side of Chicago lived with us in California, Michigan, and Massachusetts.
I have saved my greatest thanks to my wife and partner Lynda Pickbourn. Though she came into my life later in the process, she came at a critical time. She was there when I had to make sense of a massive amount of archival research and try to put it into some narrative and connected form. No one has been more important to my ability to complete the manuscript than Lynda. Not only has she read and commented on every chapter, she is my intellectual, social, and political companion, and my source of inspiration, encouragement, wisdom, and loving support, whether we are visiting family and friends in Accra and Tamale, writing together at the Book Mill, or taking a walk around the Lower Lake. (p.306)