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Or Does It Explode? Black Harlem in the Great Depression

by Cheryl Lynn Greenberg

  • ISBN: 9780195115840
  • ISBN10: 0195115848

Or Does It Explode? Black Harlem in the Great Depression

by Cheryl Lynn Greenberg

  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 02/01/1997
  • ISBN: 9780195115840
  • ISBN10: 0195115848
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Description: The Great Depression was a time of hardship for many Americans, but for the citizens of Harlem it was made worse by past and present discrimination. Or Does It Explode? examines Black Harlem from the 1920s through the Depression and New Deal to the outbreak of World War II. It describes the changing economic and social lives of Harlemites, and the complex responses of a resilient community to racism and poverty. Greenberg demonstrates that far from remaining passive in the face of hard times, Harlemites mobilized to better their opportunities and living conditions through numerous organizations and grass-roots political activism. Their successes led to changed employment practices and new government programs. This progress was not always enough, however, and the resulting anger of the community twice exploded in riot, in 1935 and 1943. The book traces the history of these protests, both organized and spontaneous. It places them within their political and economic contexts by exploring the diversity of Harlems family and community life, its experiences with work and relief, and its interaction with the administrations of New York City and New Deal agencies.

"A detailed portrait of black life in the nation's largest metropolis....The study carefully documents the impact of racial discrimination and segregation on Harlem, the political responses of blacks, and white reactions to black political demands....This study complements the growing body of scholarship on blacks in Harlem and warrants our close attention". -- American Historical Review

"Fills and important void in African-American history....I highly recommend it as an important, useful, and superbly written book". --Pennsylvania History

"A comprehensive portrait of Harlem's suffering and struggles during these years....Marks a significant contribution to black urban history and to studies of American life during the Great Depression". -- Journal of American History

"Greenberg has gathered revealing facts, statistics, and data, but her study remains human, focusing on real people in a real, complex, and resilient community". -- Choice

"Or Does It Explode?' is a winner! It is the very model of what a community study ought to be. It is thoroughly, extensively researched; artfully composed; and intelligently argued -- even when those arguments are contrary to my own". -- Harvard Sitkoff, University of New Hampshire

"Greenberg's thoroughly researched and well-written study, which emphasizes the daily life of the single largest black community in the United States, is a valuable addition to the historical literature about blacks in the depression". -- The Historian

"The book's strengths lie...in its careful and deservedly respectful treatment of Harlem's strong social and political networks that responded to the poverty and the horrific subordination of black people imposed from outside....Greenberg's work fills an important missing chapter in the large historiography of Black Harlem". -- New York History

"Contributes to a greater understanding of tee impact of the depression of the 1930s on the African-American community....A valuable resource on the struggles of the black residents of Harlem during the worst economic crisis in American history". -- Journal of American Ethnic History

"Or Does It Explodes is an outstanding book that expands our knowledge of African-American, urban, labor,and political history. Cheryl Lynn Greenberg writes perceptively about the complexities of African-American urban life. Her work illuminates the forces that shape black urban activism. By focusing on Harlem in the Great Depression, Greenberg has given us insight into the ways in which a seemingly powerless community attempted to achieve a measure of power at home, in the workplace, and in the political arena". -- International Labor & Working Class History

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