The Philadelphia Negro Summary

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In chapters 1-4 of The Philadelphia Negro, W.E.B. Du Bois provides historical context about African Americans in Philadelphia from the early 1600s to the mid 1800s. Before he shifts to the sociological study, he covers the trajectory of blacks in Philadelphia from the arrival of the first slaves to the growing free community as a result of the mass exodus of African Americans from the South. He concentrates on the socioeconomic status of numerous pecuniary classes as well as changes in the division of labor that created an even larger divide between them. What he also reveals with this disjunction are the intra-racial antagonisms and class aversions that contribute to the destruction of unity within the African American community. More specifically, blacks who were the considered ‘elite’ as a result of their white-collar jobs, formal education and monetary portfolio compared to those that were working class with little to no education that lived in the lower wards with a higher concentration of poverty. The beginning chapters create a necessary foundation in understanding the unique narrative of African Americans in Philadelphia, which differs from other northern cities like Chicago and Harlem during this time. However, what was an ongoing …show more content…
He references the “better class of Negroes” on page 33 and 39 as well as the following quote, “…popular as a man of trade or gentleman of the pave, and well received by the gentry of lighter shade,” when speaking of James Forten. These subtle yet considerable statements should have been unpacked in order to provide a much-needed depth to understanding the relationships between the well to do blacks and the poor ones and how they earned their position with the African American socioeconomic

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