Urban Studies
Spring 2014

The Promised Land: "Chicago" (59-107)

Come back and write these sentences after completing the reading and the study guide:

Lemannís Thesis: (Look at your sentence from chapter one. Should it be revised?)

Lemannís Overall Point in this Chapter:

Key Questions:

1. What is Lemannís purpose/point in each of the following parts of this chapter?
2. How does his selection of anecdotes about the folk from Clarksdale who moved to Chicago support his thesis?
3. According to Lemann, how did the public housing debacle in Chicago develop?
4. What would Hilfiker and Kozol think? How about Crane?

1. Ulessí early years in Chicago: (61-67)
Where does Uless find work and where does he wind up living when he comes to Chicago in 1942?

Describe the kitchenette apartment in which Uless (and hundreds of thousands of other migrants) lived on Chicago's South Side. (63)

What made the South Side the capital of Black America in the 40's and 50's?  How was the neighborhood 'vertically integrated'? (64-65)

What was the great disadvantage, according to Lemann, for black migrants moving to Chicago? (65-66)

Describe Uless's call to the ministry. [Why has Lemann chosen Uless to help tell the story of the Great Migration?] (66-67)

2. Rubyís pre Luther story: (67-70)

What are the recurrent themes of Ruby's first six years in Chicago? [three sons by three different men... despite job opportunities, she winds up on public aid... family tragedy continues to haunt her: Aunt Ceatrice dies of a stroke....]

Lemann's point?

3. Chicago black demographics and public housing: (70-74)

How did the pattern of migration to Chicago from the South change from 1940 to 1960? [pull to push]

Lemann asserts that the impact of the migration in Chicago during the 1940's would set the pattern for race relations throughout the North in the second half of the 20th century. Describe that pattern:

As the black population increased, so did violent confrontations between whites and blacks, particularly in places where public housing was built in previously all white neighborhoods:

  • 1946 Airport Homes riots (Mayor Kelly dumped by Chicago machine for violating the Ickes Rule (72))
  • 1947 Fernwood Homes riots
  • 1948 Shelley v Kramer Supreme Court decision renders racially restrictive covenants unenforecable)
  • 1949 Park Manor and Englewood riots
  • 1950 Federal Housing Act directs funding to projects within the black belt (urban renewal) thus preventing integration
  • 1951 "Neighborhood Improvement Associations" harass any black family attempting to move into all white neighborhoods like Cicero or Trumbull Park Homes


4. Congressman William Dawsonís Career (74-77)

What was Rep William Dawson's position on the housing issue? (74-75)

Why was it in Dawson's interest to keep the migrants streaming into Chicago within the black belt?

How did Dawson rationalize his position? [How would the machine enable blacks to move into the middle class? (comp. to Booker Washington's strategy) (75) Jobs: city, state, Post Office, city contracts for private companies, policy wheels (numbers rackets) finance ward committeemen who deliver the black vote en masse.) (76)

How powerful was Dawson? (Kenelly dumped by machine over his objection in 1955, and Richard Daly becomes mayor.) (77)

Lemann's point?

5. Ulessí Ministry (77-79)

Uless puts his ministry first rather than his career, and he can no longer afford to live in the better sections of the South Side. He is pushed out of the middle class mainstream and allotted to the fringes of the South Side.

Lemann's point?

6. Ruby and Lawndale (79-84)

When Aid to Dependent Children was initially passed in 1935, its planners had intended to support people who could not get out and make a living: widows, the aged, the disabled, and the temporarily unemployed. They could not have predicted the effect the law had on people in Ruby's situation. How did welfare actually work against Ruby and Lester taking control of their lives? (79-80)

How was Lawndale, the neighborhood to which Ruby and Lester moved on the West Side, different from the South Side?  Why did this neighborhood fall apart? (81-84)

Consider Lemann's thesis now: how is Ruby's experience prophetic?

7. Lillian and Connie Henry (84-89)

How is the story of Lillian Henry and Ferris Luckert also representative, according to Lemann, of the West Side Story during the 1950's? (movement from middle class to poor, from diverse neighborhood to all black, from stable to chaotic and finally violent family life)

Why does Lemann choose to include this story at this point in his narrative?

8. Richard Daleyís machine 1955-63 (89-95)

How did Daley consolidate his position as Mayor once he had been elected in 1955?

allocates power to appoint committeemen in wards to Central Democratic Committee (ie himself) which meant that he controlled the distribution of patronage

What made Daley the liberal's favorite boss?

Why was Daley so opposed to integration? (maintaining stability of ward bosses was key to his power, and changing demographics played havoc with ward constituencies) (91) Daley's philosophy? (consensus, order, containment)

How did Daley justify to blacks the construction of huge segregated housing projects between 1957 and 1963? (the machine provides low cost, modern housing, jobs and lucrative contracts to blacks as long as they accept segregation and continue to vote as the machine directs) (92-93)

How did this vision go wrong? (Misjudged the magnitude of the migration and how it would lead to block busting, white flight, a decline in schools and law enforcement, and the alienation of the black middle class) (93)

9. The Woodlawn Organization 1961-62 (97-103)

Who was Saul Alinsky? (A labor organizer turned neighborhood activist) What strategy did he believe should be employed to begin the process of integrating Chicago? (97) The ideal conditions for integrating a neighborhood would occur when whites did not feel like they were being surrounded and the blacks chosen to move in were from stable, middle class families.

Why was Woodlawn chosen instead of Englewood to be the target neighborhood for their integration efforts? (98) (The Catholic Church would only support an effort in this struggling neighborhood.)

How did the activists believe that they could turn the neighborhood around? [political power would galvanize the neighborhood's spirit and thus help black businesses grow.] (98-99)

Was the Woodlawn Organization successful? [Yes, they succeeded in organizing people to protest segregation and high rents, but no they could not halt the flight of middle class families from the neighborhood.]

How is a slum created? [messy racial transition, overcrowding, deterioration of schools and police law enforcement, middle class flight] (103)

10. Ruby and the Robert Taylor Homes (103-107)

What sequence of events led to Ruby's move into the brand new Robert taylor Homes in 1962?

Welfare officials cut off aid when they find out that Luther is living with Ruby; even so, she is able to find a nice place in Englewood, but Luther bought a brand new Pontiac instead of helping with the house payment, and they wound up in a kitchenette in Woodlawn. The fact that her family was accepted into the new Robert Taylor Homes indicates that the tenant screening which was supposed to ensure that only solidly middle class families would be included had already begun to slip.