Sidelines activist: Charles S. Johnson and the struggle for by Richard Robbins

By Richard Robbins

This is often the 1st full-length biography of Charles S. Johnson (1893-1956). even if he known as himself a "sidelines activist," his advocacy for racial equality used to be by no means watered-down or half-hearted. His method was once to paintings in some way, occasionally backstage, to steer public coverage and to mobilize teams with particular issues, in particular black sharecroppers.Together with W. E. B. Du Bois and E. Franklin Frazier he has been named as a "founding father" between modern black sociologists. In a coalition with an embattled band of southern white liberals he pressed the government to finish lynching, the ballot tax, "separate yet equivalent" education, and different racial inequalities of the Jim Crow era.Throughout his profession Johnson performed the important function of creating bridges among the races, in particular in gaining white philanthropic aid in a stimulating activism within the black neighborhood. For 1 / 4 of a century he performed study at the South's dual method of monetary and racial exploitation. of his books-Shadow of the Plantation and turning out to be up within the Black Belt (a examine of black adolescence and its difficulties within the 1930s)-are well-known this day as classics.In the final ten years of his lifestyles Johnson served because the first black president of Fisk collage, the most very important of the traditionally black faculties.

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And yet, in a setting different from Richmond's, Chicago was the scene of a system of exploitation by class and race only a little less severe than in the South. Negroes coming north in the Great Migration by the thousands had still to live, in W. E. B. Du Bois's metaphor, behind the glass wall, at once racial and economic. They could see into the better society; they could not share equally in its rewards. Charles Johnson, returning in 1919 to the two Chicagos of the magnet and the wall after a year of military service in combat in France, found Page 4 himself squarely in the middle of the country's worst race riot.

In Chicago there was the Rosenwald Fund, crucial to the bridging role. Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck, had a conservative but relatively enlightened view of how to reduce glaring racial injustice in America, and he backed it with his millions. Substantial sums for that time were granted for rural Negro schools in the South and for social science research in the region. The Rosenwald Fellowships, in the selection process for which Johnson played an important part, were of vital importance for an aspiring young Negro writer or artist.

He moved, therefore, to Chicago for graduate study in sociology, with a concentration in race relations. Chicago was a good place to startepicenter of urban-industrial America, "hog butcher to the world," vigorous and dynamic, a magnet of opportunity for European immigrant and southern black tenant farmer alike. And yet, in a setting different from Richmond's, Chicago was the scene of a system of exploitation by class and race only a little less severe than in the South. Negroes coming north in the Great Migration by the thousands had still to live, in W.

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