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Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City

Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City
Author: St. Clair Drake - Horace R. Cayton
ISBN 13: 9780226162348
ISBN 10: 226162346
Edition: 1
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: 1993-08-01
Format: Paperback
Pages: 910
List Price: $31.00

Ground-breaking when first published in 1945, Black Metropolis remains a landmark study of race and urban life. Based on a mass of research conducted by Works Progress Administration field workers in the late 1930s, it is a historical and sociological account of the people of Chicago's South Side, the classic urban ghetto. Drake and Cayton's findings not only offer a generalized analysis of black migration, settlement, community structure, and black-white race relations in the early part of the twentieth century, but also tell us what has changed in the last hundred years and what has not. This edition includes the original Introduction by Richard Wright and a new Foreword by William Julius Wilson.

"Black Metropolis is a rare combination of research and synthesis, a book to be deeply pondered. . . . No one who reads it intelligently can ever believe again that our racial dilemma can be solved by pushing buttons, or by gradual processes which may reach four or five hundred years into the future."—Bucklin Moon, The Nation

"This volume makes a great contribution to the building of the future American and the free world."—Louis Wirth, New York Times

"By virtue of its range, its labor and its insight, the book seems certain to become a landmark not only in race studies but in the broader field of social anthropology."—Thomas Sancton, New Republic

Sacred Life

The cry "Up North!" and the city of Chicago became synonymous as America's second city absorbed the masses during the great black migration of 1910 to 1940. This great migration was a watershed event in American history, transforming the lives of millions of black people and the cities to which they flocked. It had the obvious outcome of turning a primarily southern, rural people into one identified, for better or worse, with the inner cities of the American North and West.

Originally published in 1945, the award-winning, two-volume Black Metropolis is the work of two eminent social scientists, anthropologist St. Clair Drake and sociologist Horace Cayton, trying to describe what this massive movement of people had wrought. It takes as its subject for study one of the largest black communities in the world, at the time, Chicago's inner city, nicknamed Bronzeville. Richard Wright wrote the preface to the 1945 edition. In it he said:

Chicago is the city from which the most incisive and radical Negro thought has come; there is an open and raw beauty about that city that seems to either kill or endow one with the spirit of life. I felt those extremes of possibility, death and hope, while I lived half hungry and afraid in a city to which I had fled ... it was not until I stumbled upon science that I discovered some of the meaning of the environment that battered and taunted me. . . . BIack MetropoIis, Drake's and Cayton's scientific statement about the urban Negro, pictures the environment out of which the Bigger Thomases of our nation come.

This study is critical in locating the site and tracing the circumstances under which southern dreams of freedom and prosperity up North were dashed. It is critical to understanding the modern history of the disenfranchisement of the African American.