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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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Chicago’s Native Son

Chicago’s Native Son

Charles White and the Laboring of the Black Renaissance

(p.147) Chapter 9 Chicago’s Native Son
The Black Chicago Renaissance

Erik S. Gellman

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores the early career of Chicago-born painter Charles White, and argues that the artistic production of young black artists became intricately intertwined with protest politics during the 1930s. As a young man, White educated himself in the history of African Americans by discovering books like The New Negro, the definitive collection of the Harlem Renaissance, and by joining the Arts Craft Guild, where White and his cohorts taught each other new painting techniques and held their own exhibitions. These painters developed as artists by identifying with the laboring people of Chicago and by pushing to expand the boundaries of American democracy. African American artists like White thus came to represent the vanguard of the cultural movement among workers in the 1930s, making Chicago's South Side the center of the black arts movement.

Keywords:   Charles White, young black artists, 1930s protest politics, Arts Craft Guild, Chicago, American democracy, South Side, black arts movement

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