The Great Migration (02:11)
After years of segregation and poor economic conditions, African Americans flocked to urban cities in the north to achieve the freedom they were denied in the south. (Credits)
A New World (02:40)
Uless Carter describes how fantastic the south side of Chicago appeared. The Regal Theater was the epicenter of black entertainment. 47th street was the example of black prosperity— African Americans owned shops and land.
Epicenter of Black Entertainment (03:26)
Uless Carter describes his first experiences in Chicago watching dancing. Vernon Jarrett explains that the Met barber shop was where celebrities got haircuts prior to performances. Gerri Oliver recalls bartending at the Palm Tavern.
Chicago Defender (02:27)
Jarrett recalls the day he was hired to work for the newspaper. Florida Denton arrived in Chicago with only a dime in her shoe, but was quickly hired at a laundry. She hated the working conditions, but it was a paycheck.
Working in the Stockyards (02:20)
Wills and Carter discuss how they got their jobs. Carter worked at both stockyards in Chicago. Management wanted workers from Mississippi.
Joining the Union (02:23)
Wills describes how secure he felt. James Hinton explains that the black leadership at the International Harvester plant made his union the strongest.
Receiving the Spirit of God (03:19)
Carter recalls the day he realized he wanted to become a preacher and the first time he gave a sermon. He remembers the choir of his church and sings "I Am Bound for Canaan Land."
Great Migration Continues (02:14)
Oscar Brown Jr. watched as passengers departed the train— his father calculated that there was one new African American coming into town every minute. Hinton describes how many people would sit in bus station waiting for someone to pick them up. The south side became a slum.
Segregated Housing (03:08)
Homeowners refused to rent to families— residents remember landlords charged rent and refused to perform upkeep. The Chicago Housing Administration allocated two homes in a white community for black families. Jarrett covered the story for the "Chicago Defender."
Jarrett recalls when a white college student opened fire on a black war veteran's house— both families moved out of Airport Homes and back to the south side within a week. Hinton explains that Chicago was more segregated than Alabama.
Political Bosses (02:38)
In 1955, Richard Daley was elected Mayor of Chicago. Closely aligned with William Dawson, he believed that regardless of his actions, he would still retain the African American voting bloc. Jarrett remembers being bullied by politicians.
Plantation Politics (02:10)
Residents recall how they received favors for voting for specific candidates. Carter refused a bribe from Daley's constituents.
Influx of Musicians (02:03)
Florida Denton remembers seeing such legendary blues players as Muddy Waters, Elmore James, and Howling Wolf. Watch Honeyboy Edwards perform "Sweet Home Chicago."
By the 1950's the ghetto was too full, and black residents started moving into white neighborhoods— pickets, violence, and abuse followed. Roscoe Johnson, an African American man who re-located, was arrested by police for intimidating the mob with a shot gun while they shouted obscenities at him.
Ghetto Burns (02:04)
Watch newsreels of racial disturbances. In 1960, the Wills family apartment building caught fire and burned to the ground.
Rebuilding South Side (02:23)
The Chicago Housing Authority created a new housing project in the black belt— the Robert Taylor Homes. The Wills family moved into an apartment on the 16th floor— they recall how much they loved their new home.
Screening Tenants (03:54)
The Wills family recalls that the Robert Taylor homes were nice, but the CHA stopped screening applicants and negative influences crept in. Jarrett maintains the apartments were built to keep blacks out of white neighborhoods. Hinton recalls protests he participated at Rainbow Beach to complain about the segregation.
Chicago Not the Promised Land (02:40)
In 1963, Daley proclaimed that there were no ghettos in the city— protesters took offense. Residents describe how Chicago was just as prejudiced and segregated as the south.
Credits: We Stand at the Crossroads: The Promised Land (01:13)
Credits: We Stand at the Crossroads: The Promised Land
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