Mary Pattillo. The Future of Black Metropolis (note different time and location)

Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
112 Wurster Hall

This year, 2015, marks the 70th anniversary of the publication of the landmark text Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City by St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton. The book captured the dynamic life of Chicago’s Black community in the 1930s and 40s with inimitable detail and scope. Bringing their voluminous research up to date, I focus on the following questions: What and where is Black Metropolis in the early twenty-first century?  What does life look like in Black Metropolis today? And, what is its future? I argue that Chicago remains an iconic and particularly extreme form of black residential settlement, and even in Chicago the cinch of the Black Belt has slowly but steadily loosened so that a shrinking proportion of Blacks live in Black neighborhoods.  Outside of Chicago, we must look to the suburbs and to the South to find today’s thriving Black Metropolises. These processes have the simultaneous effect of decreasing the hold of Black Metropolis on the imaginations and possibilities of some black folks; increasing the commitment to it by making it a place of greater (although not total) voluntariness for others; and maintaining the Black Belt and Black Metropolis as important analytical categories that structure the experiences and outcomes of large numbers of African Americans. 
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Mary Pattillo is the Harold Washington Professor of Sociology and African American Studies and a Faculty Affiliate at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. She is the author of two award-winning books – Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril among the Black Middle Class (University of Chicago Press, 1999) and Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City (University of Chicago Press, 2007) – which focus on class stratification, public housing, crime, urban planning, community organizing, and youth culture in African American neighborhoods in Chicago.  She is co-editor of Imprisoning America: The Social Effects of Mass Incarceration (Russell Sage, 2004).  She has published articles in American Sociological Review, Social Forces, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Journal of Affordable Housing Research, and other journals.  She is currently working on research on how families make decisions about neighborhoods, housing, and schools. Pattillo holds an MA and PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago, and a BA in Urban Studies from Columbia University.