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A Sense of Place: Birmingham's Black Middle-Class Community, 1890-1930
     

A Sense of Place: Birmingham's Black Middle-Class Community, 1890-1930

by Lynne Feldman
 
This portrait of a thriving middle-class African American community showcases the way its citizens overcame racial hostility and developed a sense of place and collective identity.

In the early 20th century, city boosters in Birmingham, Alabama, annexed the town of Smithfield as part of a larger effort to enlarge the city and broaden its tax base. Although the area

Overview

This portrait of a thriving middle-class African American community showcases the way its citizens overcame racial hostility and developed a sense of place and collective identity.

In the early 20th century, city boosters in Birmingham, Alabama, annexed the town of Smithfield as part of a larger effort to enlarge the city and broaden its tax base. Although the area attracted both whites and blacks seeking to escape the city's cramped living conditions, African Americans, especially, found Smithfield enticing. Here, separated from the city where Jim Crow laws restricted their day-to-day activities, middle-class blacks found they were able to assert considerable influence over their home environments.

Lynne Feldman draws from a wealth of primary sources, including personal interviews, to demonstrate how such a community developed and thrived. She finds that middle-class blacks, guided by a philosophy of self-improvement, racial solidarity, and economic independence, actively shaped the world around them.

Although their lives unfolded against the backdrop of prejudice and discrimination, middle-class African Americans worked to improve an environment over which they had significantly more control. Feldman concludes that a strategy of self-segregation worked for the community as gains were realized in a variety of arenas including business, education, and civic reform.

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Feldman portrays a thriving community and showcases how its members overcame racial hostility and developed a sense of place and collective identity. She describes how, early in the 20th century, the city annexed the town of Smithfield, and there middle-class African Americans found relief from daily restrictions of the Jim Crow laws. She draws from a range of primary sources, including personal interviews. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780817309695
Publisher:
University of Alabama Press
Publication date:
10/28/1999
Edition description:
1
Pages:
326
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

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