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Racism in the Nation's ServiceGovernment Workers and the Color Line in Woodrow Wilson's America$
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Eric S. Yellin

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781469607207

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9781469607214_Yellin

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No South to Us

No South to Us

African American Federal Employees in Republican Washington

(p.11) Chapter One No South to Us
Racism in the Nation's Service

Eric S. Yellin

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes Washington, D.C. as the nation's most important city for African Americans at the turn of the twentieth century. Black Washingtonians' cultural and educational institutions, political connections, and prospects for stable employment stood out against the penury, terror, and segregation that plagued black lives elsewhere in the United States. Four decades of decent employment in federal offices had made Washington a city of opportunity and relative freedom for black men and women, a place where respectability and status could be earned by work in the nation's service. The salaries paid to black federal clerks fueled a growing black middle class, and its power and prestige limited racial discrimination in the city. Life in the District was hardly free of racism or struggle. But for ambitious African Americans, the social as well as economic value of federal positions was incalculable.

Keywords:   Washington, D.C., African Americans, Black Washingtonians, segregation, black lives, federal positions

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