Lack of Black in Chicago 1893…and Chicago 2016?

5 May

I just finished reading The Reason Why the Colored American Is Not In the World’s Columbian Exposition edited by Robert W. Rydell but originally published by Ida B. Wells, Frederick Douglass, Irvine Garland Penn and Ferdinand L. Barnett.

Why Black People Weren't in the World's Fair

This book was exceptional.  The authors wanted representation of black people at the 1893 World’s Fair in the form of seats on the planning committees; jobs for African Americans; and an exhibit hall dedicated for one day to Black people to show their progress since emancipation.  None of the requests were granted.

1893_columbian_exposition

The seats on the planning committees were denied
because the white decision makers alleged that African
Americans were divided.  Apparently, two different
black organizations with similar names wrote the
organization requesting that their leaders have the
seat.  No malice whatsoever.  The powers-that-be said took this as a division and voted negative.

The authors pointed out that their request to employ black people fell on deaf ears.  The Exposition told them there were no funds.  It was pointed out that the decision makers “had actually and wantonly wasted nearly ninety thousand dollars in the construction of floats for use on opening day; which floats were discarded before they were finished and never used at all…The management readily found ninety thousand dollars to waste in this child’s play, but could not find a fraction of that sum to meet a demand which was just, urgent and plainly apparent.”  They paid $90,000 for floats in 1893 but had no money to provide jobs to black people.

As for the exhibit hall, the response to that request was an unanimous “Hell no!” You know if African Americans were not good enough to work at the Fair, even in the most menial positions, they definitely weren’t going to have an entire exhibit dedicated to them.  In fact, the one day they were requesting somehow became known as The Nigger Day.  Needless to say, it never came to pass.  But Nigger Day somehow made it to the pages of history.

While writing this piece, I started to feel like these would have been some issues  with the 2016 Olympics had it come to Chicago. Chicago 2016We had already witnessed the lack of minority representation with the planning committee.  Washington Park, located in a predominantly African American community, was going to be transformed to hold the event.  This included moving residents out and changing the “face” of the community to be whiter. Although it was going to bring jobs to the community, I am almost certain that many of the residents that would have had to move would not have held those positions, no matter how menial the task.  One last thing. There were meetings held by black businesses attempting to get in as vendors since they had not been invited to initial talks of such opportunities.  Sound a lot like the black people request for their one exhibition

My my my. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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9 Responses to “Lack of Black in Chicago 1893…and Chicago 2016?”

  1. dirkthedog June 3, 2010 at 1:41 am #

    “My my my. The more things change, the more they stay the same.”Ain't that the truth!!

  2. dirkthedog June 3, 2010 at 1:41 am #

    “My my my. The more things change, the more they stay the same.”Ain't that the truth!!

  3. dirkthedog June 3, 2010 at 1:41 am #

    “My my my. The more things change, the more they stay the same.”Ain't that the truth!!

  4. dirkthedog June 3, 2010 at 1:41 am #

    “My my my. The more things change, the more they stay the same.”Ain't that the truth!!

  5. AsNotSeenOnTV June 4, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

    It's really disappointing. The more I read, the more I discover that racism in American has not really changed except the methods used pull things off. Things are more overt than ever these days.

  6. søgemaskineoptimering February 28, 2011 at 5:53 am #

    In “World’s Greatest Sleuth!,” they are out of their element tracking down a killer in the White City of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair. They’ve been invited to take part in a contest celebrating the publication of the story revealing the death of Holmes …

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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