The Black Belt of Chicago was the chain of neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago where three-quarters of the city's African-American population lived by the midth century. The poorest residents lived in the northernmost, oldest section of the black belt, while the elite resided in the southernmost section. After years of underfunding of public education for blacks in the South, they tended to be poorly educated, with relatively low skills to apply to urban jobs.
At the turn of the century, southern states succeeded in passing new constitutions and laws that disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites. ByJohn W. Thomas of Chicago became the first African American elected to the Illinois General Assemblybeginning the longest uninterrupted run of African-American representation in any state legislature in U. After the Great Chicago FireChicago mayor Joseph Medill appointed the city's first black fire company of nine men and the first black police officer.
Living conditions in the Black Belt resembled conditions in the West Side ghetto or in the stockyards district.
Residing in segregated communities, almost regardless of income, the Black residents of Chicago aimed to create communities where they could survive, sustain themselves, and have the ability to determine for themselves their own course in the History of Chicago. In addition, the boll weevil infestation ruined much of the cotton industry in the early 20th century.
Later arrivals, ethnic whites and African-American families occupied the older housing behind them.
As of May violence within some Chicago neighborhoods prompted black middle-class people to move to the suburbs. Though other techniques to maintain housing segregation had been used, such as redlining and exclusive zoning to single-family housing, by the political leaders of Chicago began to adopt racially restrictive covenants.
The white residents did not take to this very well, so city politicians forced the CHA to keep the status quo and develop high rise projects in the Black Belt and on the West Side.
Inthe Chicago Housing Authority CHA tried to ease the pressure in the overcrowded ghettos and proposed to put public housing sites in less congested areas in the city. African Americans continued to move into the area, which had become the black capital of the country. Between andthe African-American population rose rapidly in Chicago. The contracts limited the housing available to black tenants, leading to the accumulation of black residents within The Black Belt, one Chicago the few persons open to black tenants. The Great Migrations from to brought hundreds of thousands of blacks from the South to Chicagowhere they became an urban population.
Voting with their feet, blacks started migrating out of the South to the North, where they could live more freely, get their children educated, and get new jobs. Between andalmost 50, Black Southerners moved to Chicago,  which profoundly shaped the city's development. However, inthe state repealed its " Black Laws " Illinois became the first to ratify the 13th Amendmentinterracial due to the efforts of John and Mary Jonesa prominent and wealthy activist couple.
At the same time that blacks moved from the South in the Great Migration, Chicago was still receiving thousands of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. It sent bundles of papers south on the Illinois Central trains, and African-American Pullman Porters would drop them off in Black towns.
A new musical culture arose, fed by all the traditions along the Mississippi River.
The masses of new migrants arriving in the cities captured public attention. Associated with Chicago of poverty and southern culture, rates of violence and homicide were high. Many took advantage of better person in Chicago and their children learned quickly.
This unhealthiness increased the threat of disease. In the s, homeowner's discriminatory covenant practices were killed in state courts. Segregated education for black children and other services were consistently underfunded in a poor, agricultural economy. Deprived of the right to vote, they could not sit on juries or run for office. The population continued to increase with new migrants, with the most Illinois after White hostility and population growth combined to create the ghetto on the South Side.
Following the end of Reconstruction inAfrican Americans flowed from the Deep South into Chicago, raising the population from approximately 4, in to 15, in InJohn A. Logan helped pass a law to prohibit all African Americans, including freedmen, from settling in the state.
It was hard for many blacks to find jobs and Interracial decent places to live because of the competition for housing among different groups of people at a time when the city was expanding in population so dramatically. Du Sable, the city's founder, was Haitian of African and French descent.
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At the same time, recent and older interracial persons competed for jobs and housing with the new arrivals, especially on the South Side, where the steel and meatpacking industries had the most numerous working-class jobs.
Growth increased even more rapidly after In particular, the new citizens caused the growth of local churches, businesses and community organizations. They were subject to discriminatory laws passed by white legislators, including racial segregation of public facilities. More and more people tried to fit into converted " kitchenette " and basement apartments. The South Side's "black belt" also contained zones related to economic status. Although du Sable's settlement was established in the s, African Americans would only become established as a community in Illinois s, with the population reaching 1, by Much of this population consisted Chicago escaped slaves from the Upper South.
They were the most ambitious, better educated with more urban skills to apply in their new homes. Some women resorted to prostitution to survive. Chicago's African-American newspaper, the Chicago Defendermade the city well known to southerners. From tomost African Americans who migrated north were from rural areas. They went from being a mostly rural population to one that was mostly urban. At one point in the s, 3, African Americans were arriving every week in Chicago—stepping off the trains from the South and making their ways to neighborhoods they had learned about from friends and the Chicago Defender.
Both low life and middle-class strivers were concentrated in a small area.
Some of these became notorious failures. The railroad and meatpacking industries recruited black workers. Especially after the Civil WarIllinois had some of the most progressive anti-discrimination legislation in the nation. Ethnic Irish were heavily implicated in the gang violence and the rioting that erupted in They had been the most established ethnic group and defended their power and territory in the South Side against newcomers: both other ethnic whites and southern blacks.
A census estimated that black households contained 6. Urban white northerners started to get worried, as their neighborhoods rapidly changed. They created churches, community organizations, businesses, music, and literature.
As white-dominated legislatures passed Jim Crow laws to re-establish white supremacy and create more restrictions in public life, violence against blacks increased, with lynchings used as extrajudicial enforcement. Industry buildup for World War I pulled thousands of workers to the North, as did the rapid expansion of railroand the meatpacking and steel industries. Afterwhen the second larger wave of migration started, black migrants tended to be already urbanized, from southern cities and towns.
Between andhundreds of thousands of black southerners migrated to Chicago to escape violence and segregation, and to seek economic freedom. After fighting over the area, often whites left the area to be dominated by blacks.
The Black Belt slowly expanded as African Americans, despite facing violence and restrictive covenants, pushed forward into new neighborhoods. Immigration to Chicago was another pressure of overcrowding, as primarily lower-class newcomers from rural Europe also sought cheap housing and working class jobs.
This is one of the reasons the black belt region started. The groups competed with each other for working-class wages.
They had been chiefly sharecroppers and laborers, although some were landowners pushed out by the boll weevil disaster. The South Side became predominantly black, and the Black Belt was formed.
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By the late 19th century, the first black person had been elected to office. In a succession common to most cities, many middle and upper-class whites were the first to move out of the city to new housing, aided Chicago new commuter rail lines and the construction of new highway systems. The white residents who had been in the city longest were the ones most likely to move to the newer, most expensive housing, as they could afford it. Crime in African-American neighborhoods was a Illinois priority to the police.
After WWII, the interracial white residents many Irish immigrants and their descendants on the South Side began to move away under pressure of new migrants and with newly expanding housing opportunities. Like the European rural immigrants, they had to rapidly adapt to a different urban culture.
Kraemer ruled in that racially restrictive covenants were unconstitutional, but this did not quickly solve blacks' problems with finding adequate housing. Nearby were areas dominated by ethnic Irish, who were especially territorial in defending against incursions into their areas by any other groups. As industrial restructuring in the s and later led to massive job persons, residents changed from working-class families to poor families on welfare. When blacks moved into mixed neighborhoods, ethnic white hostility grew.