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The Rise of Chicago's Black Metropolis, 1920-1929$
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Christopher Robert Reed

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036231

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036231.001.0001

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Both Fat and Lean Years

(p.118) Chapter 4 Labor
The Rise of Chicago's Black Metropolis, 1920-1929

Christopher Robert Reed

University of Illinois Press

This chapter provides insight into the status of labor from which the foundation of consumerism emanated. The halcyon days that were seen in the business sphere failed to materialize into a comparable experience for the bulk of the black laboring class during the 1920s. The end of war brought a series of negative experiences and ones all too familiar to the black worker in America. Demobilization of the armed forces and the servicemen's return into the labor force produced a glut of workers. With the Chicago Urban League reporting that unemployment had reached serious proportions, this decade beginning with such gloomy prospects of continuous postwar recession and with unemployment rampant, its conclusion inauspiciously produced a similar scenario in place. The recognized features of economic depression in the 1930s then easily came as no surprise to the African American worker in and outside of industry.

Keywords:   labor, consumerism, African Americans, Chicago, black laboring class, labor force, unemployment

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