All the World is Here!: The Black Presence at White City (Blacks in the Diaspora)

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All the World is Here!: The Black Presence at White City (Blacks in the Diaspora) Details

The 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago showed Western Europeans and other peoples of the world that America had come of age. Simultaneously, African Americans dreamed that they could participate fully as citizens, celebrating true emancipation. African Americans flocked to the fair, arriving by the thousands. The author examines why they came and the ways in which they participated in the Exposition. Before the fair opened, militant African American journalist Ida B. Wells of Memphis suggested to several journalistic colleagues, including Frederick Douglass, that they write a multilingual pamphlet exposing the proscribed status of African Americans to liberals in America and Western Europe. They produced the reason why the colored American is not in the World's Columbian Exposition. This document, however, according to Reed was limited for there was a noticeable black presence as patron, worker, lecturer, and entertainer at the fair. Overall, the expectation of African Americans as regards the fair varied, reflecting the disparate interests and backgrounds found among seven and one half million Black citizens. The well-educated, highly assimilated African Americans sought not just representation, but membership, at the highest level of planning and decision-making. They envisioned themselves as planners of the event. Further, they carefully prepared themselves to participate in major intellectual and cultural events, such as the myriad parliaments and congresses which included dialogues on topics such as religion, women, dentistry, education, labour, and Africa. The venerable abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, who embodied the dream that inclusion within the American mainstream was possible would never forget America's World's Fair snubs. Douglass was but one prominent African American leader involved in the Columbia Exposition. Also participating in this historical event were, Ida B. Wells, James Weldon Johnson, Scott Joplin, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Robert S. Abbott, George Washington Carver, and Nancy Green, better known by her commercial persona of "Aunt Jemima." Their stories of pathos and joy, along with disappointment and hope are also part of the story of the "Black Presence at White City."
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