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Building the Black MetropolisAfrican American Entrepreneurship in Chicago$
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Robert E. Weems and Jason P. Chambers

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780252041426

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252041426.001.0001

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Jim Crow Organized Crime

Jim Crow Organized Crime

Black Chicago’s Underground Economy in the Twentieth Century

(p.147) Chapter 7 Jim Crow Organized Crime
Building the Black Metropolis

Will Cooley

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the historical evolution of Chicago’s African American underground economy. During the first decades of the twentieth-century games of chance associated with cards and dice were the primary source of gambling revenue in black Chicago. By the early 1930s, this facet of the underground economy had been surpassed by policy, also referred to as “the numbers game.” An important linkage between these two periods was that gambling proprietors funneled some of their profits back into the larger community. Later in the twentieth century, gang-controlled drug trafficking became the primary manifestation of black Chicago’s underground economy. Unlike the earlier period’s relatively violence-free focus on games of chance, the selling of illicit drugs by street gangs turned black Chicago into a battleground.

Keywords:   Jim Crow, Underground Economy, Games of Chance, The Numbers Game, Gang-Controlled Drug Trafficking

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