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Community Development in an Age of Protest, 1935–40

Community Development in an Age of Protest, 1935–40

(p.48) Chapter Two Community Development in an Age of Protest, 1935–40
Crucibles of Black Empowerment
Jeffrey Helgeson
University of Chicago Press

At the same time that black women engaged in the “politics of home” during the Depression (Ch. 1), this chapter shows that among the largely male-led political networks, a diversity of competing leaders created the possibility for powerful collaborations during the late 1930s. The chapter details the formation of political networks that have been overshadowed until now in histories of radical labor-civil rights organizing. In particular, the battle for the construction of the Ida B. Wells Homes, the first public housing project for African Americans in the city, not only energized the new protest politics of the late 1930s, but also helped develop a heterogenous group of organizations – including groups of black building trades workers, reformers in social work organizations, and politicians building the first black Democratic machine – that endured well beyond the Black Popular Front era of the late 1930s and late 1940s.

Keywords:   Labor-civil rights organizing, Public housing, Popular Front, Building trades, Black Democratic machine, 1930s, Ida B. Wells Homes

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