Poverty and Literature 2015

The Promised Land: Clarksdale

Your job as you read The Promised Land (1991) is not only to learn about the people, places, and events of the Great Migration. You must also read to discover how the writer has interpreted this historical topic. So throughout your reading, you need to be alert to the ideological stance Lemann has taken in the debate about poverty in America.

- What is Lemannís thesis? (come back and try to write this sentence after you have finished the reading assignment)

General Questions:

- Is Lemann a hard determinist or a soft determinist?
- What influence has the environment of the segregated South had upon the people who moved from Clarksdale to Chicago?
- Does Lemann believe that Ďa culture of povertyí existed in the South?
- What role does the family structure have on the transmission of poverty from generation to generation?
- What impact did the move from the agricultural South to the urban North have on the migrants?
- Would Lemann recommend government intervention to address the problems of poverty which emerged in the cities? If so, how?

As you read, think about how Lemann is constructing his argument. What is Lemannís purpose/point in each of the following parts of this chapter? Consider the sequence of his argument.

(5-7) mechanical cotton pickerís arrival

(11-14) story of the origins of the sharecropping system

(17-19) description of the sharecropping system

The Ruby Lee Daniels/Hopkins story:





(26-28) Black Sexuality in white eyes

(28-30) Slave vs. Sharecropper family patterns

(41-44) the George Hicks story

(44-45) the Bennie Gooden story

(45-46) the Aaron Henry story

(53- ) the Uless Carter story