Northern Illinois University Press

Moving Up, Moving Out

The Rise of the Black Middle Class in Chicago

Will Cooley

“This is a well-researched and intriguing book that makes and substantiates original claims, and contributes new perspectives to the existing literature—quite an accomplishment considering the preponderance of outstanding research on a location that long held the distinction of being America’s ‘second city.’ Cooley brings to light fascinating material.” —Todd M. Michney, author of Surrogate Suburbs: Black Upward Mobility and Neighborhood Change in Cleveland, 1900–1980

In Moving Up, Moving Out, Will Cooley discusses the damage racism and discrimination have exacted on black Chicagoans in the twentieth century, while accentuating the resilience of upwardly-mobile African Americans. Cooley examines how class differences created fissures in the black community and produced quandaries for black Chicagoans interested in racial welfare.

While black Chicagoans engaged in collective struggles, they also used individualistic means to secure the American Dream. Black Chicagoans demonstrated their talent and ambitions, but they entered through the narrow gate, and whites denied them equal opportunities in the educational institutions, workplaces, and neighborhoods that produced the middle class. African Americans resisted these restrictions at nearly every turn by moving up into better careers and moving out into higher-quality neighborhoods, but their continued marginalization helped create a deeply dysfunctional city.

African Americans settled in Chicago for decades, inspired by the gains their forerunners were making in the city. Though faith in Chicago as a land of promise wavered, the progress of the black middle class kept the city from completely falling apart. In this important study, Cooley shows how Chicago, in all of its glory and faults, was held together by black dreams of advancement. Moving Up, Moving Out will appeal to urban historians and sociologists, scholars of African American studies, and general readers interested in Chicago and urban history.

ISBN 978-0-87580-787-4
eISBN 978-1-60909-243-6
October 201,8 $29.00 x
Paper, 6x9, 200 pages

Will Cooley is professor of history at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio.

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-787-4
paper $29.00