River Jordan: African American Urban Life in the Ohio Valley

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Since the nineteenth century, the Ohio River has represented a great divide for African Americans. It marked the passage to freedom along the underground railroad, and during the Industrial age it was a boundary between the Jim Crow South and the urban North. Consequently, the Ohio became known as the "River Jordan," symbolizing the path to the promised land. Beginning with the arrival of the first blacks in the Ohio Valley, Trotter traces the development of African American urban centers through the civil rights movement. River Jordan broadens our understanding of the black experience in the United States and illuminates the impact of the Ohio River in the context of the larger American story.
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Editorial Reviews

Looks at black life in four Ohio Valley cities<-->Pittsburgh, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Evansville<-->from the American Revolution to the mid-20th century, in order to show how African Americans have changed, and been changed by, urban development. Examines the migration of southern blacks to industrial areas and looks at these workers' contributions to an urban economy and their struggles for social justice. Includes b&w photos. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
From the Publisher

"Presents a comprehensive overview of African-American urban life from colonial days to about 1960." -- American Historical Review

"The Ohio River Valley traditionally has held a major symbolic significance for African Americans as the cultural and geographic line of demarcation between slavery and freedom, oppression and opportunity, despair and hope. Trotter searches for regional themes of the black experience in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Evansville." -- Choice

"By illuminating the connections among racism, deindustrialization, and the continuing transformation of rural southern blacks into new urban workers, Trotter contributes significantly to our understanding of the contemporary urban crisis." -- Henry L. Taylor, SUNY Buffalo

"Summarizes most of the existing scholarship on four African American cities: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Evansville." -- Indiana Magazine of History

"Covers substantial intellectual territory.... Represents a novel and creative approach to black urban history. It provides an important model for future scholars." -- Journal of American History

"Covers substantial intellectual territory." -- Journal of American History

"In a tightly crafted synthesis of African American history in the Ohio Valley, Joe Trotter examines black life in four important urban communities: Cincinnati, Evansville, Louisville, and Pittsburgh." -- Journal of Appalachian Studies

"Synthesizes the scholarship of the past two decades that has examined blacks who lived in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Evansville." -- Journal of Illinois History

"A wide-ranging work of synthesis, covering such themes as the migration of rural southern blacks, the participation of blacks in the urban political economy and their role in the struggle for justice." -- Northwest Ohio Quarterly

"Illuminates the impact of the Ohio River in the context of the larger American story." -- Now & Then

"Successfully synthesizes the work on the urban life of African Americans.... An excellent book." -- Ohio History

"As a general study of black urban life and with particular important insights into the complexity of the Ohio Valley region, River Jordan is essential reading." -- Ohio Valley History

"Contributes greatly to our understanding of urban problems." -- Pennsylvania History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813120652
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998
  • Series: Ohio River Valley Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures, Maps, and Tables
Series Foreword
Pt. 1 African Americans and the Expansion of Commercial and Early Industrial Capitalism, 1790-1860
1 African Americans, Work, and the "Urban Frontier" 3
2 Disfranchisement, Racial Inequality, and the Rise of Black Urban Communities 24
Pt. 2 Emancipation, Race, and Industrialization, 1861-1914
3 Occupational Change and the Emergence of a Free Black Proletariat 55
4 The Persistence of Racial and Class Inequality: The Limits of Citizenship 73
Pt. 3 African Americans in the Industrial Age, 1915-1945
5 The Expansion of the Black Urban-Industrial Working Class 95
6 African Americans, Depression, and World War II 122
Epilogue 151
Notes 161
Bibliography 180
Index 194
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