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The Black Chicago Renaissance$
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Darlene Clark Hine and John McCluskey Jr.

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037023

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037023.001.0001

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“Who Are You America but Me?”

“Who Are You America but Me?”

The American Negro Exposition, 1940

Chapter:
(p.126) Chapter 8 “Who Are You America but Me?”
Source:
The Black Chicago Renaissance
Author(s):

Jeffrey Helgeson

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252037023.003.0008

This chapter considers the 1940 American Negro Exposition in Chicago, the first black-organized world's fair that sought to showcase African American artists on a national stage. It delineates the diversity of voices and competing visions of racial progress that defined the character of the Black Chicago Renaissance. Historians have described the exposition as a failure; the event did not attract mass audiences, and it did not create a broader public debate about the meanings of black identity, legacies of slavery, or contemporary discrimination in the United States. Yet, by examining the exposition as presented, rather than what it failed to be, the chapter uncovers important and sometimes surprising influences on the fair's messages.

Keywords:   1940 American Negro Exposition, African American artists, racial progress, diversity, Black Chicago Renaissance, black identity, slavery, contemporary discrimination

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