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Freedom's BallotAfrican American Political Struggles in Chicago from Abolition to the Great Migration$
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Margaret Garb

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226135908

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226136066.001.0001

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Representation and “Race Men”

Representation and “Race Men”

Chapter:
(p.187) Six Representation and “Race Men”
Source:
Freedom's Ballot
Author(s):

Margaret Garb

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226136066.003.0006

Chapter Six focuses on the dramatic battle to elect the city's first black alderman, Oscar DePriest, arguing that black activists formed a mutually-beneficial alliance with the Republican machine. DePriest came into office as an ally of Republican machine mayor, William Hale Thompson. Though some scholars see black politicians as mere pawns or puppets of the white machine, this chapter contends that black activists used the machine to promote personal ambitions and serve community interests, when they could. Black activists, seeking representation on the City Council, emphasized race over party and helped to transform Chicago politics. They made race a central feature of urban politics while contributing to efforts to legitimize the machine brand of politics.

Keywords:   Oscar DePriest, machine politics, City Council, race, alderman, Chicago, African American, William Hale Thompson

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