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AlabamaNorth African-American Migrants, Community, and Working-Class Activism in Cleveland, 1915-45 by Kimberley L. Phillips

AlabamaNorth African-American Migrants, Community, and Working-Class Activism in Cleveland, 1915-45

Part of the Working Class in American History Series


AlabamaNorth African-American Migrants, Community, and Working-Class Activism in Cleveland, 1915-45 by Kimberley L. Phillips

Langston Hughes called it a great dark tide from the South : the unprecedented influx of blacks into Cleveland that gave the city the nickname Alabama North. In this remarkable study, Kimberley Phillips reveals the breadth of working-class black experiences and activities in Cleveland and the extent to which these were shaped by traditions and values brought from the South. Phillips shows how migrants' moves north established complex networks of kin and friends and infused the city with a highly visible southern African-American culture. She examines the wide variety of black fraternal, benevolent, social, and church-based organizations working-class migrants created and demonstrates how they prepared the way for new forms of individual and collective activism in workplaces and the city. Giving special consideration to the employment patterns and experiences of working- class black women in Cleveland, AlabamaNorth reveals how migrants' expressions of tradition and community gave them a new consciousness of themselves as organized workers in the urban North and created the underpinning for new forms of black labor activism.


Adds much to our knowledge of the coping skills, resourcefulness, and militance of working-class blacks in an urban setting in the North. Especially interesting is how working-class blacks -- confronted by middle-class black antipathy, white working-class racism, and hostile white employers -- relied on southern culture and folkways to adapt, survive, and at times even prosper. -- Glenn Feldman, Labor History A valuable contribution to the historiography of the 'Great Migration
by providing insights into important though relatively neglected aspects of this popular movement

... An important contribution to our understanding of localised, 'grass-roots
political activism in black communities. Moreover, most histories of the modern civil rights movement neglect to acknowledge the pre

-Montgomery bus boycott origins of direct action, confrontational black politics; AlabamaNorth does much to amend this oversight. -- Craig Turnbull, Australasian Journal of American Studies A new synthesis that will offer a model for scholars of African-American migration for years to come. -- H-Urban (H-Net Reviews) ADVANCE PRAISE Kimberley Phillips's fine study ... will be of real value to scholars of African-American, labor, women's, and working-class history. -Joe William Trotter, author of Black Milwaukee: The Making of an Industrial Proletariat, 1915- 45.

Phillips weaves the multiple voices of her subjects into the broader tapestry of the African American experience... A model study of black urban and working- class history. - Eric Arnesen, author of Waterfront Workers of New Orleans

About the Author

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Book Info

Publication date

19th October 1999


Kimberley L. Phillips

More books by Kimberley L. Phillips
Author 'Like for Like'


University of Illinois Press


360 pages


Social & cultural history

Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography



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