The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers


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the Negro in Illinois
Illinois was a book project that came out of FDR’s Works Progress Administration in the night
the 1930 Chicago based African Americans Richard Wright
Frankie your beef and dancer and choreographer Katherine Dunham tour hire to research
research in right about Illinois black history for the beginnings of slavery to the rain


migration of the 20th century World War 2 cause the books publications
sidelined until now how to Meadows in today on focus
whats up with Brian Domino’s editor of the first ever edition Negro in Illinois
what about the history of the counts as a history major

focus continues after the news
welcome to focus mg Meadows today


program is about the rediscovery maybe I could see the reconstructing of a lost book
book on black history the book is the Negro in Illinois it was conceived is part of
part of President Franklin Roosevelt federal Writers Project book brought together soon
simple notable Chicago based African American writers and artists for an ambition
ambitious project recording down the long dick like to history of African Americans
Perkins in the state of Illinois what World War 2 brought the federal Writers Project
rocky to an end before the Negron Illinois could be published materials


Terrell has been used for other works but the Negro in Illinois self remains
unpublished until now the Negro in Illinois the WPA papers
was published last year by the University of Illinois press and books editor is my
where is my guest today on focus Dr Brian Dolan are the scholar of African American history
currently teaching history at the University of Illinois he’s also the author of the book
the black cultural front black writers and artist of the depression generation published by
University Press um University president zippy Brian Walker


the focus eyes im happy to be here thanks Mike about addiction tracking
I can down the papers and going through the related to this project in editing the book into its fine
whats final form what is the Negro are in Illinois never completed
was there never a completed manuscript factor in the development of the federal Writers Project
project or was it manuscript lost according to the letters I was able to find
find between the two chief supervisors that are the project on a Bontemps inject Conroe
Conray letters between them say that the book was finished when they were sending it out


how to edit theres a set of 2 is there a literary agent
who was giving it to publishers and I know it in BC de lis 11
one rejection letter I is there was despite the interest mm black
black novels like Richard Wright’s novels in the 40’s and other works
they couldn’t get this book published in the early 40’s so it’s an archive
Kaiser some 70 years and it was a great value to scholars butter
the it was never published and I’m just wondering was there a finish book


everything with an index in the back of the same way to go forward
were you were just what you want to find the papers that were used
assembling the original manuscripts original research notes any note about this truck
the structure of the book yeah we have a outline for the book that includes 29 chapter
chapters we have copies of the chapters of the titles and
everything that was a bibliography prepared there’s no introduction
note conclusion that we were able to find but there is a according to let


the letters that they said that the manuscripts finished um and we have some indications
location of a were sending out this is the summer of 1942 they were sending it out to publishers
is the papers and have a kind of afterlife
55 win the project was shut down the papers
set in the basement a of a library for a couple of decades in the authors
where’s the cells that was sending the chapters back and forth and rewriting some of the materials
real for another book that later came out a book called a secret city published in 1945


5 by Bon Ton pink on right and I in the process of writing that
1945 book they were sharing these chapters back and forth and in the price
the process one third of the papers were lost lost just lost
lost today well the most of the papers were left in Chicago
go with Vivian G hard she was a librarian at the club
what is in the Hall branch library a Michigan 48009
side and she had her own collection which became the harsh research


research collection has it snowed today and the papers were headed over to Vivian G harsh
hard she hold on to them but the inside is it today about 50 boxes
is a materials left behind and that’s what I found when I stumbled across the papers
but the when I came across the one third of the chapters are missing so I had to go on a kind of treasure hunt
want to try to track down these missing chapters in after visiting
Newbury up in Chicago where Jack on rice papers are after going to Springfield
real estate office for the Illinois Writers Project after going to DC the federal


Writers Project papers are held air to go to Syracuse wear on a bun times
Anton’s papers are in New York in fine I found the last three chapters that I’ve been looking for
foreign finally we had all the 29th chapters back together again for the first really a lot of love
lot of Lake work to get this book put back together again Madden
well if you have if you have questions about the Negro Illinois and also the
the history that is both workouts you can give us a call and talk to Brian R phone
phone number is 1 800 222 94551 802


222 wyll you can also send an email to will die
dash talk at
thinking that brass is a good time to go back and take a look at what the federal Writers Project
project was because there’s nothing like that coming out of the federal government today
is Cecily um that is as pets part of the a spot
what is what part of the New Deal programs in FDR had the 1930s unemployed
Lloyd riders were hired to write books right yeah in this is the time of


time of the Roosevelts new deal in the 1930s the economic situation was Sodom
dire mass unemployment joblessness
does a people are standing in food lines what is it
is it a sign of how desperate things were back in the 30’s that they created
ambitious program the WPA put riders back to work but it was also
also people probably more familiar with the the roads built the buildings that were constructed
what did most notably here in town we have the Student Union a WPA project


built at the University of Illinois here by WPA workers Lakeshore Drive
in Chicago with most beautiful drive in the country built by WPA workers edition
also put in writers and artist back to work Associates in Euros impose
post office before those Road lot of them done by WPA artist
this is whether putting writers to work for the first time really trying to tell you
tell a comprehensive national story and a state by state they set up
these writers projects and they were they had as the purpose writing


State guy books with you can I find used book stores matter of fact I am I have a copy of the
Illinois WPA guidebook when it was all I get someone put a new edition of the 90’s
19 seventies ratings right yeah they have been kind of rediscover does a few years back
back end movie released there was one state by state no one here for Illinois
is is it is a case in point that when is first came out they were all white
all white riders on the project telling on largely white history so if you look at the
right at the stake guidebook for Illinois to 600 pages


long manuscript 606 pages dedicated to African Americans what
what what what does the WPA Illinois God say about African Americans what it says
what does it says very little it is highlights meatpacking workers
few small black towns that existed the original black towns
Brooklyn Illinois a few things are mentioned but the very little city
so that was a part of it nationwide effort to get African Americans written into the state guide
guy books in to get black office on the WPA and this is a project headed up by


buy professors at Howard University in Washington DC who portrayed pressure the Roosevelt administration
ministration like in early days of was known as the unofficial black cabinet airbrushing Road
Roosevelt administration for more blacks on the WPA and end in general they were recording
porting numbers that was showing that of the New Deal benefits
in whatever form of whatever kind of relief with being offered in the early
early thirties African Americans with despair failing to receive a kind of rain
really fat white workers were so there was an effort to try to get more black release


leave and out one of the ways was tried it get somebody appointed in as a
as a head of Negro affairs in the selected sterling brown who is a literature professor at
where at Howard had published top of a well known book of poetry called southern road
Road and sterling brown stuff wonderful poetry for his bday
and also a critic and he had it up to a national project
as head of Negro fares to establish 17 different black
projects focused on collecting black history of State bison web it wasn’t the cell


state by state that was the F 150 of a mirror mirror Ellie 17
teen and son f**** mother part of the collection of exclave narratives in the 1930s
the best art in the late 20’s what was picked up and formalized by WPA workers who help
who helped the really a bolster this massive project collecting
narratives of exclave swear by the 1930s passing on this is about a 50 years
the years after I want more Pass Lavery so it was the urgency 19
1930s to collect the sex late slave narratives in there poster book called drums and shout


shadows another some 2000 the Library of Congress
brothers a project that was one that was the only one who was published in the 19 forties
40’s was the Negro in Virginia that was released in this inspired
fired Fox in Chicago to read about their efforts and produce the Negro in Illinois
Raeford spaghett was it was never published Hampton Inn Denver
really get started got started in the in the late 1930s got started
1935 Richard Wright the the novelist author


author of native son black boy Richard Wright was hired on the project is probably the first black
black writers to be hired on the project in Illinois in late 1930s
1035 Richard Wright was working on the WPA the names of truck and then and then it came out
email to Richard Wright Frankie you’re being who wrote a lot of historical
vals analysis trucks at 10 Hum Negron Illinois was still percula
percolating of Richard Wright native son was published in really really great
Grady claim yourself was actually a very commercially successful novelist


thank you for being the first black ops to make a million bucks that says thats thats thats that something
that’s something a note I was up was struck to see Katherine Dunham because I’m a hearing
Katherine Dunham in the news the other for life during a fridge to say for school in East St Louis
Lewis and I have not known about her as a writer but she was that is well yeah she was the answer
anthropologist she came out of both Northwestern University of Chicago
in a 30 should student Melville herskovits well known anthropologists she went to Haiti
Haiti and field work in Haiti where she got into voodoo nad


adapter to a lot of these with the dance that she saw in in Haiti for her
later bye dancing style denim denim technique that she developed
lip and eye Katherine Dunham when to work on the WPA in about 19
1938 it wasnt project in this is where she actually cross paths with Frank Yerby
it was a project in 1938 to conduct a study of what
about with an call black Kohls in store front churches for black people coming up the new black
black migration coming to Chicago in founding their own small congregations in store fronts


once a pounding their own face suckind of amalgam of Christianity and Islam
Islam often times and still out of this. You get things like
things like nobody Rileys more science temple you get things like the Nation of Islam
Kentucky Kentucky what I believe to be the one the first ladies of the Nation of Islam Chicago
now is that in the Negro that all is can that is some material made in a chapter called what is Africa
Africa to me a chapter on black nationalism and the record
Records in her Memoirs a meeting Elijah Muhammad and recalls


when they first try to send out a WPA workers and these were some of them white work
lightworkers black and white workers were working side by side in the Chicago offices in white workers out
out the Southside to try to collect the story what was going on in these small black churches in
where to get to find magic so they start sending out in hiring
black workers like Frank Yerby to go collect the story so we have actually document
documentation of Frank Yerby and others like to be PA workers going in News
news various small obscure black Kongregate


navigations in the 1930s and collecting is first hand accounts which we don’t have anywhere else
House of what’s going on behind those that was the one thing that strikes me hear there’s theirs
where’s the writing of this book the research that went into this book and just
just thinking of the nature of off of a black history of the time and where was neglected by
did by bus to mainstream of historians that everything had to be pretty
pretty much done in the field and is SNS far is the part with
part where we going into the past in trying to find papers and documentation in a crate challenge


yeah but this was a part of a whole Efird in the
1920s and 1930s in particular in Chicago where does the ferry
learning ed in Acton bustling black middle class
that has a already been in Chicago for a couple generations b***
in the 19 twenties and thirties we see emmergence of something we call now the Chicago Renaissance
Renaissance I wanted to ask about that because certainly afraid of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s
the 1920s the black Chicago Renaissance something separate in a little late


little later I take it in the Harlem Renaissance rise of the Harlem Renaissance
took place during the 1920s the Roaring Twenties the Jazz Age the
the Chicago Renaissance came about during the Depression the following back in the 19 thirties and is
is important distinction between the two movements weather both literary artistic of cultural
movements of the 1920s was the idea of college
getting civil rights to copyright publishing books with allow people to a
advance and in a 30 is there was a different kind of attitude to believe that


in the 19 twenties people sad around in an inch
and sip tea and had discussions but where disconnected from what people
people out in the streets were experiencing in an 19 thirties the great social movements of the
the time Raiders were in the streets alongside those people marching out
for the rights and so is there was a kind of
a great deal of collaboration and cross fertilization of the social
social political movies the 19 thirties and the Raiders at end


in the artworks coming out of the movement and black people on the Southside
psoas on this was a movement without finger bowls
naughty party before we go further just want to remind foxy listen to focus and
and my guest today is Brian Dolan are is the editor of the Negro in Illinois about that waited
weighted 72 years to be published by the time now from the University of Illinois press
calling your questions for Brian at 1 800 22 29455
51 800 222 w Wanelo send email to will dash time


talk and Illinois dot ETW and sounds like a boy
activist nature to the to the to the Chicago
Chicago Renaissance one thing that I had read about the Harlem Renaissance was it was
what was score of a case were some writers head patrons and that’s how they were able to
keep going economically and once the Depression hit then the pain
the patrons 10 flash with money and then that was pretty much
pretty much the the decline in the end of the Harlem Renaissance what kept the Rye


the writers of the Chicago Renaissance going in the depression indeed it was the WPA
BPA Isola Black Riders were not being published in
in mainstream journals white newspapers the books for not being picked
picked up by white publishers so black residence time otherwise had to
go to the public in a black dress the small black hot if you like to smoke small black
black sandals but more so they were getting hired on by the WPA and so this is a great
is a great Boone to Black Riders struggling to survive in the 19 thirties otherwise they would


sweeping floors a note to clean up after white folks
and so this is a great Bunta writers and produced all this wonderful material Naot
again they were very much in touch with what was going on on the ground
so there was up other energies in the late 20’s in early thirties to bring more
bring more attention to black history and I highlight in the book a group called the
the National Memorial system called National Memorial national deuce
DuSable memorial society is what they found by woman in Antioch liver in


1928 this is a group at high to grip a bout 300 women largely women to bring attention
attention to the black founder of Chicago the first non native settlers Chicago
John Baptiste point DuSable and I’m wondering if there’s any connection with an organisation back then
Museum of today exactly very much so in and the reason we have things like to do some music
Museum for disable High School on the southside is because of these women
women trying to bring attention and recognition to this black founder of Chicago
I’m so Mark Burroughs who founded the disciple museum was very much a part of these these movement


movements in the 1930s and this book of the Negro in Illinois starts with a chance
chapter about the Sun Rise starts with it with a chapter come first the French
send the French word in these a northern parts ear that come through
through Canada through the lakes and come down to settle in Illinois
annoyin DuSable was a traitor between the French
French and the Native Americans few British in increasing number of Americans urine
he had a cabin that was there at the vet at where the lake


the lake river meets the lake at as a native set an as the Pottawatomie
what’s a lisp parts the first white man in these parts was color
does colored and this was the John Baptiste point DuSable he had a
cabin a fairly large property a state that way
that was a very well services on the wealthiest individuals around here and I am
Ann and left is Mark we do have some records of his his presence your end as the first
the first non native settler these parts and I know that he was active in other parts of Illinois


Illinois there’s a will there’s a statue of disciple in Peoria I know because
because of the understanding that he had done business there added onto land in Peoria
at one point so I know there’s on the southside of Peoria President Jackson
Jackson who said don’t work here in Champaign Urbana has a statue of him there
where is that right yeah yeah what AGA Desai was eventually moved west
west of the Mississippi buried over in St Charles on the westside of St Louis
does it suggest a because of the growing number of Americans in these party was for


Woodforest West because he had sided with the French he was on like by the Americans
Anthony’s parts of the disciple was the a crucial figure in
the Hope movement a dick up his name here in the late twenties and
is and 30’s that the founders of Chicago that the the city leaders
leaders didn’t want to recognize DuSable is being the original founder soap
women of part of this side the National Memorial society had
heard about the 1933 World’s Fair that was going to be in Chicago and so they wanted to get a cabin


dedicated to disable Soleil pressured city leaders and eventually were able to get a smog
small cabin construction we be print a photo in the book of Job about 50
50 women standing out in front of this cabinet head Bennett the 1933
33 World’s Fair in so when the WPA was started in and folks at certain Western Star
started hear about this this Legend of disciple this is informal
putting to print bodies WPA writers who are interviewing women
women with the National Memorial society to do two interviews with Andy Oliver


and you summer pamphlet since are able to to to put in writing for the
for the first time the record of this black founder of Chicago
imagine miss this must be important to have somebody who was a man in a man
amount of means to topple was definitely a um you know indin in charger
is life doing business on the land and knowing that um a good deal of
call of the history of the Negro in Illinois for the first time
free centuries is going to be the history of of slaves um


import to have someone like to settle in their right right and Andy’s I was never slaves
this never record ending slavery was a he was a friend of visual and establishes a kind
kind of a history of black entrepreneurialism in Chicago that leads up to figure
big is like Jon Jones 2 before and after the Civil War is ad
advocating for African Americans in abolition of the black laws that existed at the time prohibiting
hitting black set from voting from testifying in court and the other
other more contemporary entrepreneurs who are founding Banks


insurance companies in Chicago in the 1930s in the South became an important
print a predecessor for them so is things like the bingo bank that is a stye
is established in the 19 thirties this is a black owned bank at thats it thats Vera Ellen
alive and well in the 1930s and pink eye loses his
is bank to the depression in the late 30’s and a bingo
fingers swell shows up in the book what I want to take a short break right now but when we come back
back will continue talking with Brian dominar about the Negro in Illinois


the book on African American history in the States written by African Americans
aplus 01 white author we can get into Mr Conroy in a moment for the federal Writers Project
project finally published last year this is focus on wyll

welcome back to focus engine Meadows Brian dominar Circus today ESPN
the editor of the Negro in Illinois the WPA papers published by the
University of Illinois presage available in hardback and as an eBook


Brian Dolan I will be talking about the Negro in Illinois this Saturday afternoon at 2
true that Centier behna Free Library copies of the book will be available for sale
sail also be a display on local African American history presented by the champagne
Champaign County Archives that’s on this Saturday at 2 ser Banda free live
Free Library remember your questions are welcome our phone number is 1 800 2229
29455 1 800 222 wyll
are the mail address will dash talk that’s wyll dash


Last of Illinois when I think of Illinois
Illinois Illinois Land of Lincoln certainly technically a free state to buy the time of the Sun
the Civil War but for how long was
slavery um a reality in Illinois it seems to have a
existed does the summit cent in Illinois even after States
what was granted ride a sleepy was practice in southern Illinois
empathetically in the coal fields we down and southern Illinoisan


writers often times trying to WPA riders were trying to mess up
shop this contraction that on the books at least this was to be a free state in yet
slavery still practiced in the south segregation was quite prominent in the schools
throughout the southern Illinoisan is downstate segregation was quite prominent
prominent in the end as a touch app to where segregation in schools in NC
in champagne is noted by WPA authors of segregation is early is 1870
in the schools in champagne and what is this the


black laws that are on the books is well prohibiting blacks in the world
when was slavery is is mentioned in the book is the office at this point is a c***
what kind of critical turn on the 19 thirties when Avenue Macon
American writers and historians are focusing less on the slave past and
constructing this history of freedom that Genesis written in the book
in the book that the sense that African Americans in the depression in the writing back
backwards into history that African Americans they say never


never the docile slave struck out bully for freedom so this is Sensa
scents that there’s a new day in the 1930s a new kind of energy a new activism
that writers in writing this book are trying to write themselves
item sells into the history books in a whole new light OK Magazine
I know that my husband not about slavery what about this constant
challenging off of slavery a constant challenging the black
black hoes like Jon Jones does constantly challenging the absence of African Americans


Americans in history ouran World’s Fairs 18931 Ida B wells
Lowes in Frederick Douglass and others all meat in Chicago for the World’s Fair
challenging where are the presence of African Americans at the World’s Fair in a produce a pamphlet
hot challenging the absence there and again the WPA project was black
Black Riders challenging their absence in the state guidebooks Haute is a is a history of
Avril struggle in defiance of the odds and so the book
books of the Negro Illinois instead of not just talking about the sex of the West


when was slavery what is a resistance to slavery and it cometh
management Venice is record a lot of that and I don’t know how far back can cause what
Underground Railroad was the most visible sign of all the invisible in a day
off off of resistance and Chicago
before the Civil War was known as a sinkhole of abolition that
Foxworth this is what the main routes in the Appalachian is swift terminal
other people my red single right nipple Jordan the yacht and a soda


rosemary vibrant people coming into southern Illinois via the
the rivers that converge there coming up the Mississippi there any towns like arrow
Illinois and coming up the Mississippi catching a train a two headed and knowing that a bad sign
southern Illinois wasn’t a safe haven for them indeed indeed it was hostile territory
territory just a few steps from the south yeah so there was a holiday hotel in Caro
odd that had a basement that they were these kind of rooms
that were a designated to hold runaway slaves


and the the holiday hotel exit for for a
100 years and I was taking in runaway slaves and events
transporting up north so there was a vivarium fibrin active the
Underground Railroad among white abolitionists well blackout ballistics like Jon Jones in
Johnson and others who are absolutely fighting slavery end
and I’m wondering in terms of documenting this where did a what is the writers researchers of the knee
the Negro Illinois go to uh to find out the find out this pizza


piece of History yeah they were on the head WPA office
offices set up all throughout the state they would send requests Inlet
send letters Downstate what is a McDonalds Clay County weather
where they are sending letters down an inch digging up these books that ass people
people to send books are articles from from these offices downstate cinema
Chicago and they were using these in writing the history of the word some cases
getting stains out of a liked it up the Illinois Historical Society


city maintains a journal in an old articles out of these journals they had a whole fleet
fleet of these unemployed writers workers at their putting to work
to work going out to collect is old newspaper articles Collective Soul journal articles
Nichols and they were amassing all this information so I should end up in the book is the smallest
small sliver of what’s in the sum 50 boxes at set up in Chicago at the heart
horse collection so the horse the papers and the heart collection for historians of
install for even more primary material then then then comes through the phone


yeah absolutely in and hopefully the buckle point people to to to go visit the heart
hearts collection which is really a stellar collection and its been going by leaps and bounds
bound so that they have no papers for the Chicago Defender for example boxes
foxes and boxes material what is so the hearts collection
since it was founded in the 1930s Again part of all these upsurge of an
energies the hearts collection was founded in 1838 the special
collectons to hold on to all these materials in the start collecting is formally


is as we know it was the right the sisters we gotta have the archives first there was a moi
what aspect um thinking process today was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday comes to mind
and I think you mention it earlier the program Lincoln’s barber Abraham
family barber in Springfield what’s a black man from Haiti right
this is the story of Billy the barber William to Floresville who was Lincolns barber
um and you know I saw the new Spielberg movie about Lincoln and
what is mentioned in the movie does opening scene where some black character


characters mentioned Lincoln’s hair being kinky or later in the movie when
when Lincoln Tulsa black characters that he really doesn’t know their people and
this is quite contrary to the fact that Lincoln of Franklin in the bar
the barbershop William to Floresville he picked up clients there a deep fried Leto Beyond
yarns Eagles of the stories that he would tell there and I keep up on the pond
upon the local politics in Springfield Missouri hanging out at the Florida barber shop
shop and in fact win the Florida old dies


the newspapers local newspaper say the in this is called in the book that only 2
men really new Lincoln best one was his law partner the other one was William
was William to Floresville his barber Florida also from Haiti
I must have told stories in an in and some of the history of Haiti
Haiti to Lincoln and give him a kind of different picture of Hades
this is Haiti of the Haitian Revolution of literature
who rebelled against the French Legislature rising and so Haiti was the struggle


troubled Island I here for about you know some of the over 50 years
is time and stove the US ever
open up any kind of diplomatic relationships with with Haiti until Lincoln Lincoln was the
when was the first to recognize Haiti and grant diplomacy mm is suggested
Justin that is because of his relationship to William the floor of a lender Pflugerville stories of Haiti Lincoln
when was able technology I’ve seen a lot of back and forth about exact
exactly how Abraham Lincoln regarded black people and odds


and and the right say hat in society are how that may have evolved over the course
the course of his life what do the people riding the Negro in Illinois
sing about me are there a hotel this is dedicated to
kid to nationalism in it and the whole back to Africa movement a few people know that
Lincoln as a Wright in the book at supported colonization in there was something
call the American Colonization Society at at the time and these were largely white folk
folks advocating to send black people back to Africa in Lincoln didn’t believe that black and white racist


racist kid co exist if he saw the best thing for both was the sand
Blackhawks back to Africa and he supported colonization button out
Lincoln evolved over time is the Raiders know he had to be all things to all men
the old man is so he did becomes more complex as the evolved
now that I think it’s the what is Africa to me chapter that you mentioned earlier the talk
the talks to the discusses some extent the back to Africa movement
moving what you just said im on white people may be for their convenience also exist among us


are some black people as well Shuron and Marcus Garvey is the most notable exponent of the
the back to Africa movement Garvey who had been in Chicago
several times but I came for the last time in 19
1920 the author’s note that the Garvey
RV Haden gardens wellnotyet during the Harlem Renaissance bent did Adnan
new number speeches and in Harlem but came to Chicago in 1924
funny for the last time and had to run in with the Robert s Abbott


Abbott the founder of the Chicago Defender the notable black newspaper founded in 1905
5 & a Garvey and his own
newspaper the Negro world was excoriating Robert Abbott and other black
black leaders is it called amphetamine miss leaders and then
denounce them Abbott operating his own newspapers encounter
countered and said the garbage was a fake and he was selling Offices of
love falls papers off for this is Billy Black Star Line to exist end


spend so uh Darby c*** for the first the
44 last time in 1920 ear pierced at the 8th Regiment Armory desire
does the army that’s still around on the Southside Johnny comes to give a speech
Pizza the army give Circle rousing speech and afterwards is quickly grab
grabbed by the police end with Dr jail for selling stock in this black
Black Star Line he makes Bailon leave the state diving
never returns again to Chicago we are talking about


about the Negro in Illinois WTA papers it center is Brian dollar
Dolan are teaches history of the University of Illinois and he’ll be talking about the book
this Saturday at 2 at the a better free library the time for your questions call us at 18
1 800 222 94551 800 222 WY
UIL email acid will dust off at
now I’m the people at the top of the chain I guess the editors app
at the time in the people who did a lot of the actual final writing off of


off the Negron Illinois can you tell me about them about um um um
Bontemps and jack on vine Bontemps and Jack on right now bail bonds
Bontemps was best friends with Langston Hughes and the whole book
book of letters between them fascinating collection letters and bunch of bad starter
the poet during the Harlem Renaissance began 170 does famous swords from opposite
opportunity in crisis newspapers and I he was making out
making a name for himself he had a still have a hard time finding a job though so


Oso he withhold a teaching job for a few years of bounce around here and there
New Orleans St Louis to California and he I
Chicago 1935 you came to do graduate work at the University of Chicago
Chicago first as a English major and then later figured out the heat
how to make a living more likely is a librarian in he later went on
move to become head library at Fisk University in Nashville when you left Chicago
go to work on the WPA and he nut


ran into it was Langston Hughes who introduced into Jack Conroy Jack Conway was a
white proletarian writer as they were known in their day he was out working class
class right of the woodwork in the coal mines in Central Missouri by day in by night
nitrite short stories in poetry Iran a couple little radical little magazines
teens in the 20’s and 30’s and a condom self develop the whole
network of working class riders with black and white so he knew
Nelson Algren in Chicago of a famous writer he was


when the first published Richard Wright in his early poetry soap Conroy had worked on
work on the Raiders project in Missouri in St Louis got ran out of town for
for union activity and ended up with his help help of Nelson Algren in Chicago
Chicago and the Conrad first went to the work on the project
telling industrial tells he would go around factories and he was a coal miners
miners son and his kind working class identity and I
I desire is background who love to collect stories and folklore in the language that workers


workers use your love to collective San write this down and uses as inspiration for this is
is stories in his in a later later is knobles soap
the two men are introduced by Langston Hughes both are working on the WPA
pa scene 1 of the frequently they start to work on a children’s novel
that was based on these industrial tales I think of someone what is a dog who said
who said to be able to run faster than a train and this is children’s story that they
they turn into a a children’s book


black ones why are they are artard are they different people
people order our tour of the cell is a kind of metal
middle class family man dedicated to his wife
wifecrazy raising children working most of his life in Chinese
find a right here and there avoid politics for the most part
like his friend likes you use a jack Conroy very much left to figure
associate with c** is party member the Communist Party and the


nn Conwright was at a radical the United States what they got along
how long ago on very well at a lifelong relationship and 37th children
children’s books together they worked on the WPA Illinois RIRA
rerouting released a secret city was gone 1960’s have a life long relationship
ship this is these two authors one black one white let me take a break in a colony
p**** online for Belton in Urbana good morning you’re on focus good morning
fascinating program I want to call about


a very racist the time in Chicago during this
this. They were working against the against
ti I wonder if you would see a bit more about the
what kind of political persecution which of course with you intensify winch
J Edgar Hoover took a man at the active Africa
African American movement of the Communist Party in other people are on the left
left in Union Station yeah absolutely I need something to talk about


talk about more my first book of the black cultural frontal amateur black rice
Black Riders is associated with the left in the 19 thirties they were so often
how often excluded felt the brunt of oppression
economic deprivation in the 19 thirties that they were swept up in these social political movements
months us know this gently and above and beyond their own words
eponies movements in so they cut then continue to rise
the right continue to publish a 10 by the late 1940s and 50s McCarthy’s movement


movement catches up with them so I think it’s part of the reason why the Negro in Illinois
Illinois was never published it was shut off to the archives but you know
things change the 19 forties and fifties and maybe more difficult difficult for a book like this to be
published Jack Conway himself was blacklisted HEA
hero encyclopedia is for the rest of his life encyclopedia entries now for
you know a guy who is the best novels of the 30’s the disinherited
Appaloosa second book published the three journals nm to go on the right


encyclopedia entries this is a sign of the times Banton himself Went Down to Nashville
Nashville I worked as a librarian in largely racist family through those years
the McCarthy period but both speakers in later return the 1960’s
tease and working side by side with the new generation of writers artists Activison
miss a 1960’s a day to survive but it’s it important to know that
that there’s a reason why these papers were shut it away partly
political you know this along the collector of black literature black history


but this was a particular political period and loudest memory of the depression
depression is my grandpa called the dirty thirties husband has been shut it away in an igloo
the collected in the hopefully this publication starting to bring some like to this period
Belden thank you very much for the call wondering as the years went by
fine for a Bontemps and Conroy did they continue to hold out hope that the Negro in
Rowan Illinois would see the light of day why did they just sort of leave behind the myths time passed
best recycling some of the material in and use an in and always


thought there was something special about the project in the much in the papers
papers as much as the other individuals they met a mother went on to
to receive a claim Frank Yerby made a million dollars Nelson Algren who worked on the door
WPL to not on the Negro in Illinois went on to publish a little book called the
call the man with the Golden Arm which was turned into a movie tonight tonight tonight
and so Nelson Algren to cast an at that moment in the 19 fifties and
I see letters between Bontemps in Conroe en el seno his Nelson Algren


the big time the golden apples a day coming our way
how to believe that there was something unique about this project they met so many
how many special people and they thought they were all Italian
talented individuals in Aug Dustin to go on to some higher Fame some of the
some of them did Katherine Dunham became a famous dancer on b***
but a lot of them struggle for the rest of their life just trying to a guy living as a writer you mentioned
mention some of the name some does is among some of the participants people like Mike


like Mike Walker Fenton Johnson Richard Durham struck my mind because I know that he were
what he worked in radio right to die and are quickly but I’ve heard a matter of fact
can find on youtube now sub of the shows and I believe the particular show
show he did the weather nation freedom Atlanta 11948 to 1950
Richard and got his start on the WPA and the addition of the righteous
project there was a wing radio project the radio division and a producer
27 radio shows on the WPA in the 1930s weather in God is first


first start in Hemet 7 wonder of people on the WPA they went on to work together
how to produce destination freedom this was sponsored by the Chicago Defender Renton WA make
can make you there WMAQ that’s station Ramos in Indy star that’s right
that’s right that’s exactly right that’s exactly right and so they would have a lower of some
comedic show dedicated to buy African Americans but the
happy hour dedicated to gospel music is there of Thomas Dorsey in hell yah Jackson
Jackson what are the kid to tell his story


stories from black history is quite unique for the time and a sign of
of these growing interests and b*** Richard Arrington other case in point
Hugo’s on his show is taking over they so to whitewash
watch the show turning the show about white history and white hero
heroes he goes on and apps suing the radio company
and I get blacklisted he is the works for the meat
meat packers Union in Chicago that goes on to work for Muhammad speaks the newspaper


paper for the Nation of Islam and he meets Muhammad Ali any publishes won the first
the first Pokemon what you’re doing does this and is to come out of a friend
at Howard Sonny Williams Suisun to publish a book on Richard Armitage
is really going to be a break through the Negro Illinois is out now
and um what is your hope for the long term impact of this book
being out there what is one of the primary documents from the period known as the black Chicago
Chicago Renaissance and there’s more more scholarly words coming out from the sphere


this. I was the entire collection by Darlene Clark high Northwestern Professor that
that died recently came out in is bringing more attention to this period and we would hope that it would
it would produce the same Scali interest and familiarity
in the general public what does. What’s the really rich fascinating Pier
. When black and white workers were working side by side collecting producing
who sings about knowledge of Black History black arts black culture
and I for popular audience keep in mind is this is a book not for a scholar


this is written for a public audience is written by Eminem produce with public money
monies there’s no footnotes in Odessa is very little of this Kylie
what kind of things around this book so it is something that was written for public audience
is still very reasonable and Angel for general public now you know
pretty subject this is a book with enabled Black Riders 2012
to have a voice in black history you’re white you’re the other person of Brothers
this book of Brothers book essentially back publication what started your


your own personal interest in African American history why always had a history
history in the spirit of the depression is my grandfather’s era
he was the son of a coal miner in southeast Kansas I’m so I was fascinated this period
but then I was the child of the civil rights movement while my parents didn’t Martin
Martin many marshes by any means no I was raised in that. When I grow up in
integrated schools with my kids around and so it was all I was always
always interested in a mm black people in black culture and


this was this project was a way for me to settle on my interests black history
white people is fascinating stories well I’m glad to see the Negro Illinois in
print and there’s a lot more we could talk with talk about concerning the spoke wheel
we are out of time but you may want to get out to be a better free library this Saturday at 2 o’clock
when Brian and I will be speaking about to the Negro in Illinois the WPA
UPA papers rind on RT to dawn artistas history at the University of Illinois
Illinois his own website is Brian Dolan we will have a link to that put up


on on to arm a website that will Dundee Illinois Dadi do you
you Brian thank you very much for being on focus today thanks to my sim and thanks
thanks everyone to call the male questions are apologies to anyone who didn’t make it to the air focus was
what was produced by Lindsey moon Jason profits are technical director Ryan Weber is Arin
are internal be talking about lawn and garden care yes even in this weather will be talking
talking about it tomorrow because we know asap ventrally eventually the spring bolt
will come this is focused on WILL

The question: What was life like for black Americans in Illinois during the 1930s?

Before World War II, President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration funded a special division of the Illinois Writer’s Project that employed black writers living in Illinois. The special program, which was led by Harlem Renaissance poet Arna Bontemps and white writer Jack Conroy, encouraged major black voices who lived in Chicago in the 1930s to write about everything from aspects of domestic life to politics, literature and religion. Novelists Richard Wright and Frank Yerby, and dancer and choreographer Katherine Dunham were among those who wrote or did research for a projected volume on African-American history in Illinois.

When funding for the project was diverted to the war, the papers written by those voices were put into a box and set aside – until Brian Dolinar uncovered them and complied them into a new book “The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers.” This hour on Focus, Jim Meadows talks with Brian Dolinar about discovering those lost writings after all these years.