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)
- 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