African American Cultural Expression in Chicago before the Renaissance

Christopher Robert Reed

in The Black Chicago Renaissance

Published by University of Illinois Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780252037023
Published online April 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780252094392 | DOI:
African American Cultural Expression in Chicago before the Renaissance

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This chapter examines the local historical context of the Black Chicago Renaissance. It discusses the existence of a layered class structure within the black community, and underscores the importance and the complicated tradition of support of the arts by elite black and later members of the black entrepreneurial and professional middle class. Black patronage, for both aesthetic and exploitative reasons, served an important function in providing space for creative expression and the means for its distribution and commoditization. Furthermore, the chapter is a response to the claims made by social scientists Charles S. Johnson and E. Franklin Frazier. In 1923, Johnson declared that Chicago's intellectual life had numerous excuses for not existing. In 1929, Fraser echoed Johnson's assertion, insisting that Chicago had no intelligentsia.

Keywords: Black Chicago Renaissance; black community; elite black; black professional; middle class; black patronage; Charles S. Johnson; E. Franklin Frazier

Chapter.  13788 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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