Crucibles Of Black Empowerment: Chicago's Neighborhood Politics From The New Deal To Harold…

Hardcover | April 24, 2014

byJeffrey Helgeson

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The term “community organizer” was deployed repeatedly against Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign as a way to paint him as an inexperienced politician unfit for the presidency. The implication was that the job of a community organizer wasn’t a serious one, and that it certainly wasn’t on the list of credentials needed for a presidential résumé. In reality, community organizers have played key roles in the political lives of American cities for decades, perhaps never more so than during the 1970s in Chicago, where African Americans laid the groundwork for further empowerment as they organized against segregation, discrimination, and lack of equal access to schools, housing, and jobs.

In Crucibles of Black Empowerment, Jeffrey Helgeson recounts the rise of African American political power and activism from the 1930s onward, revealing how it was achieved through community building. His book tells stories of the housewives who organized their neighbors, building tradesmen who used connections with federal officials to create opportunities in a deeply discriminatory employment sector, and the social workers, personnel managers, and journalists who carved out positions in the white-collar workforce.  Looking closely at black liberal politics at the neighborhood level in Chicago, Helgeson explains how black Chicagoans built the networks that eventually would overthrow the city’s seemingly invincible political machine.

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From the Publisher

The term “community organizer” was deployed repeatedly against Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign as a way to paint him as an inexperienced politician unfit for the presidency. The implication was that the job of a community organizer wasn’t a serious one, and that it certainly wasn’t on the list of credentials needed f...

Jeffrey Helgeson is assistant professor at Texas State University. He is also a director at Labor Trail, a collaborative project of the Chicago Center for Working Class Studies. 
Format:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:April 24, 2014Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022613069X

ISBN - 13:9780226130699

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Maps

Introduction

1. The Politics of Home in Hard Times

2. Community Development in an Age of Protest, 1935–40

3. “Will ‘Our People’ Be Any Better Off after This War?”

4. A Decent Place to Live: The Postwar Housing Shortage

5. Capitalism without Capital: Postwar Employment Activism

6. Sources of Black Nationalism from the 1950s to the 1970s

7. Harold Washington: Black Power and the Resilience of Liberalism

Postscript: The Obamas and Black Chicago’s Long Liberal Tradition

Acknowledgments

Notes

Index

Editorial Reviews

“Helgeson focuses not on the local chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League but on lesser-known local individuals and networks that tried to improve African Americans’ lives . . . This thoroughly researched, well-written volume marries the specific to the theoretical.”