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Urban GreenNature, Recreation, and the Working Class in Industrial Chicago$
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Colin Fisher

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469619958

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469619958.001.0001

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The Negro Speaks of Rivers

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Nature and Leisure in the Black Metropolis

(p.89) Chapter Four The Negro Speaks of Rivers
Urban Green

Colin Fisher

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter explores the formation of a “Black Metropolis” within Chicago by African Americans, who against the backdrop of racism wanted a land of their own. They used this metropolis to remember African soil and imagine themselves as a community. The chapter describes the Black Belt, a narrow strip where black professionals lived. Like their white neighbors in Back of the Yards, poor African Americans had to contend with unpleasant and dangerous environmental situations. Leisure afforded some escape from work, and like other foreigners, most African Americans enjoyed their leisure indoors. At the same time, many blacks also found refuge in green spaces such as parks. However, due to race restrictions they were prohibited from visiting these places. The chapter examines how through the 1919 Chicago race riots, African Americans secured greater control of urban, rural, and wild green spaces where they could temporarily retreat from urban life.

Keywords:   Black Metropolis, Chicago, African Americans, racism, Black Belt, leisure, green spaces, 1919 Chicago race riots

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