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America's First Black Town Brooklyn, Illinois, 1830-1915 by Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua

America's First Black Town Brooklyn, Illinois, 1830-1915


America's First Black Town Brooklyn, Illinois, 1830-1915 by Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua

The courageous story of the first all-Black free town in the United States--from it's early struggles to its demise at the hands of what Cha-Jua sees as internal colonialism.


A valuable and often inspiring saga of determined African Americans striving and sometimes succeeding in their efforts to build a viable, independent community in the face of blatant, virulent racism and, later, more subtle forms of discrimination. -- Booklist Brooklyn, Illinois, has a vital and interesting history dating back to 1830 and its birth as a refuge for runaway slaves and free African Americans. That history, with its achievements and failures, is outlined in exhaustive detail enlivened with social analysis. -- Robert D. Sampson, History The cumulative effect of Cha-Jua's efforts to broaden and deepen Brooklyn's story is quite impressive. This book offers a thoughtful, engaging account that adds to our growing understanding of the diversity of African-American life beyond the mainstream. -- Stephen A. Vincent, American Historical Review Deftly researched and strongly argued, [this volume] engages a variety of important issues centering on the experience of African Americans during the turbulent decades between emancipation and World War I... [Cha-Jua's] demographic research and textured analysis of Brooklyn's changing social realities are excellent... A model study of community development and decline, with valuable insights into the interplay of race, class and region, and the powerful forces that conspired against African American aspirations. -- Dennis B. Downey, Journal of Illinois History Drawing liberally on census records, period newspapers, and other sources, [this volume] is well researched, cogently argued, and brings an important story to life. The experiences of black Brooklyn are placed within the broader history of Illinois, and the author compares his subject with other black towns... An insightful study that sheds light on a heretofore obscured history. -- Claude A. Clegg, Indiana Magazine of History Painstakingly researched, this book ... turns details into deep analysis, offering substantive payoffs in its grasp of the dynamics of community building, political transformations, and economic growth and decline. -- Leslie Brown, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society Cha-Jua is a careful and curious researcher who has made creative use of a wide range of sources. The book is carefully structured and explicitly argued. -- Douglas Knox, Bulletin of the Illinois Geographical Society ADVANCE PRAISE Effectively integrating social, economic, and political developments in a single community over an eighty-year time period, Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua's thoroughly researched study provides an important new model for understanding the history of all-Black towns during the industrial era. -- Kenneth L. Kusmer, editor of Black Communities and Urban Development in America, 1720-1990 Cha-Jua brilliantly situates the importance of Brooklyn's history within the wider world of mass migrations, labor markets, terror, and political economy. This theoretically acute and meticulously researched study will make a great impact not only in history and Black studies but also in political science and sociology as well. -- David R. Roediger, author of The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class

About the Author

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Book Info

Publication date

22nd February 2002


Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua

More books by Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua
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University of Illinois Press


296 pages





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