Victorian Ideals and Black Upper Class Family Life in Early Twentieth Century Atlanta
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In my paper I will argue that the black upper class over the span of thirty years from the late nineteenth century until World War I hoped that by teaching the working classes values they learned within the home and social programs sponsored by schools, churches, and social groups that the working class would uplift themselves. Mainstream society in turn would acknowledge and respect the efforts made by the black upper class. This in turn would allow the black upper access to rights associated among the mainstream society's upper classes that they felt they deserved due to their status such as shopping in stores, visiting parks, and attending cultural events. The reality that the black upper class encountered by World War I consisted of a constant battle for recognition in an increasingly racially stratified society developed under the Jim Crow segregation laws. While the black upper class continued to try to gain the rights they felt they deserved due to their status, these rights became harder and harder to achieve until the civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s. To make this study possible and understand what the upper class strived to achieve, I have examined articles from The Voice of the Negro, a local Atlanta newspaper, which provided advice and thoughts on issues that troubled the upper class such as Jim Crow streetcar segregation laws or the horrors of the Atlanta Race riot of 1906. These articles also gave advice and thoughts on improving one's family life but also on organizations supported by schools, churches, and social clubs. The Voice of the Negro eventually moves North to Chicago by World War I focusing on issues such as unions and work strikes that afflicted the Northern working class.