Poverty and Literature
The Promised Land: "Chicago" (59-107)
Come back and write these
sentences after completing the reading and the study guide:
● Lemann’s Thesis: (Look at your sentence from
chapter one. Should it be revised?)
● Lemann’s Overall Point in this Chapter:
● What is Lemann’s purpose/point in each of the
following parts of this chapter?
● How does his selection of anecdotes about the folk
from Clarksdale who moved to Chicago support his thesis?
● According to Lemann, how did the public housing
debacle in Chicago develop?
● What would Hilfiker
think? How about Crane?
Uless’ early years in Chicago: (pp.
Where does Uless find
work and where does he wind up living when he comes to Chicago in 1942?
Describe the kitchenette apartment in which Uless (and hundreds of thousands of other migrants)
lived on Chicago's South Side. (63)
What made the South Side the capital of Black
America in the 40's and 50's? How was the neighborhood 'vertically
What was the great disadvantage,
according to Lemann, for black migrants moving to Chicago? (65-66)
e. How did ‘getting over’ translate to
the big city?
Describe Uless' call to
the ministry. [Why has Lemann chosen Uless to
help tell the story of the Great Migration?] (66-67)
Ruby’s pre Luther story: (pp.
a. What are the recurrent themes of Ruby's first six years
b. Lemann's point?
c. What was Luther’s story up to 1951, the
time he met Ruby in Chicago?
d. What happened to Ruby’s cousin Ceatrice?
Chicago black demographics and
public housing: (pp. 70-74)
a. How did the pattern of migration to Chicago from the
South change from 1940 to 1960?
b. What impact did the change from ‘pull’
to ‘push’ have on the character of the latest African-American migrants
moving to Chicago?
Lemann asserts that the impact of the migration in
Chicago during the 1940's would set the pattern for race relations
throughout the North in the second half of the 20th century. Describe that
d. Describe the consequences of Robert
Taylor and Elizabeth Wood’s efforts to integrate Chicago neighborhoods
during the years after the Supreme Court outlawed housing discrimination.
e. Describe the nature of the race riots in
Chicago during this time period.
Congressman William Dawson’s Career
a. What was Rep William Dawson's position on the housing
Why was it in Dawson's interest to keep the
migrants streaming into Chicago within the black belt?
c. What rules had Robert Taylor broken?
d. How did Dawson rationalize his position? [How would the
machine enable blacks to move into the middle class? (comp. to Booker
How did Dawson run his political machine? Upon whom
did he have to depend?
Uless’ Ministry (pp. 77-79)
a. What were the consequences of Uless’
decision to commit himself to his ministry? What happened to his marriage?
What happened to his job? How did Urban Renewal play havoc with his
What is Lemann's point about the role of the
church in protecting the interests of African Americans who had moved to
Chicago after WWII?
Ruby and Lawndale (pp. 79-84)
When Aid to Dependent Children was initially passed
in 1935, its planners had intended to support people who could not get out
and make a living: widows, the aged, the disabled, and the temporarily
unemployed. How did welfare actually work against Ruby and Lester taking
control of their lives? (79-80)
How was Lawndale, the neighborhood to which Ruby
and Lester moved on the West Side, different from the South Side? Why
had this neighborhood fallen apart? (81-84)
Consider Lemann's thesis now: how is Ruby's
experience prophetic (or self-fulfilling)?
Lillian and Connie Henry (pp.
How is the story of Lillian Henry and Ferris Luckert also representative, according to Lemann, of
the West Side Story during the 1950's?
Why does Lemann choose to include this story
at this point in his narrative?
Richard Daley’s machine 1955-63 (89-95)
a. What made Daley the epitome of a machine boss?
b. How did Daley consolidate his position
as Mayor once he had been elected in 1955?
c. How did Daley believe that blacks would benefit from ;loyalty to the machine?
d. Why were black children educated in
‘Willis Wagons’ during this period?
e. Why was Daley so opposed to integration? (91)
f. How had the machine provide cradle to grave security for those lucky enough
to rise in it?
g. How did Daley justify to blacks the construction of huge
segregated housing projects between 1957 and 1963?
h. How did this vision go terribly wrong?
Hicks Moves North (pp. 95-97)
forced George Hicks to move to Chicago?
What sort of future
did he imagine for himself when he brought his family there?
The Woodlawn Organization 1961-62
Who was Saul Alinsky?
What strategy did he believe should be employed to begin the process of
Why was Woodlawn chosen instead of Englewood
to be the target neighborhood for their integration efforts?
c. How did Robert Moses, the great
organizer for SNCC in the Voting Rights movement in the South, describe the
frustration felt by northern black workers?
d. How did Mayor Daley believe the
problems in Woodlawn could be solved?
e. How had the political mood shifted
among blacks in Chicago by 1961?
How did the activists believe that they
could prevent the neighborhood from further deterioration?
g. What problems could ‘political empowerment’ not overcome?
Ruby and the Robert Taylor Homes
What sequence of events led to Ruby's move into the
brand new Robert Taylor Homes in 1962?
b. How did her placement in the new housing project bode ill
for the future of the Robert Taylor Homes?