THE CHICAGO RACE RIOTS: July 1919 by Carl Sandburg


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Despite its title, this reissue of Carl Sandburg's 1919 book (written when he worked for the Chicago Daily News) is not a history of the three-day race riot which began when a young Negro boy was stoned to death for swimming past an invisible segregation line on a lakefront beach. Rather it is a young reporter's inquiry into conditions of life among Chicago blacks of that day. In the ghetto, Sandburg found overcrowding, employment inequities, problems of migrants' adjustment; on the ghetto's edge, fear and blockbusting. But also, more hopefully, active self-help organizations--the Urban League promoting its ""credo of cleanliness""; the NAACP politely requesting economic, educational, and political equality. The tale is so familiar--even to the suggestion (plus ca change) of an ""investigating commission"". Familiar, too, is the author's refusal to examine white racism, and the tendency to lay racial problems at the doorstep of the lamentably unlettered blacks. Since the original account has undoubtedly been seen by most researchers who have written on the period, the republication will add little to our knowledge of the subject. Save perhaps to remind the complacent that, as the late Ralph McGill remarks in the new preface, we are and always have been ""a people addicted to...violent resistence to healthful social and political change."" The original introduction by Walter Lippmann is included.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 1969
ISBN: 1151370916
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World