Sunday, February 1, 2009

Black History Month: Links to Last Year's Posts

February is Black History Month. Last year Daytonology used this time to post a series of on the historical geography of African-American Dayton, but ended the story in 1920. The tale will be taken up again this month, moving the geographical development and expansion of the black community into modern times.

Here is a summary as a set of links, which together form a sort of "Historical Atlas of Black Dayton"

Paul Lawrence Dunbar.

Twp posts, one on trying to locate Dunbar's birthplace (near the Oregon, it turns out) and what his house might have looked like. You'd think they'd have a historical marker at this site.

Looking for the Dunbar House

Dunbar's Double

Then a post on the various locations of where Dunbar lived in Dayton. It turns out nearly all his life here was spent east of the Great Miami.

Mother Dunbar's Moves.

Dayton's Black Urban Geography: 1830 to 1919

Moving beyond Dunbar the development of the black community is charted via the expansion of their churches and institutions, ending up with the apparent formation of an incipient ghetto on the west side.

A Geographical Take on Black Dayton Part I

Historical Geography of Black Dayton II: 19th Century West Side

Historical Geography of the Black West Side Part III

A look at what sounds like Dayton's "Chavez Ravine". Chavez Ravine is famous to urban historians as an example of a stable minority community (in this case latinos in Los Angeles) moved out of the way by the local powers-that-be to build a sports stadium. The same thing happened in Benn's Plat, where a black community fought with the city for better conditions yet their neighborhood was also eventually aquired for sports stadiums: The UD Arena and Welcome Stadium. But the Benns' Plat folks apparently won in court and got fair value for their property.

Benn's Plat is also a good example of an outlying minority commmunity. Blacks were not strictly confined to the West Side but settled a few areas on the edges of town; early suburbs.

Benns Plat

East Dayton Black Communities

It's probably long forgotten that blacks had a presence on the east side. The above 19th century posts and the Dunbar posts touch on the historic "Hells Half Acre"/Bruen Street neighborhood, but there were others. In the following posts the Valley Street community was called, I think, Happy Valley. Out Springfield Street discusses a possibly intriguing connection between that community and the adjacent stockyards, which used to be in West Dayton.

East Dayton Black Communities I: Valley Street & Finley/East LinkFirst Street

Out Springfield Street

Black History Month 2009 @ Daytonology

Since the story told so far pretty much ends with the 1919 Lakeside racial disturbance, the next logical setp would be to dicuss the development of the 5th Street commecrial strip as a product of local Jim Crow policy as well as a service center for a concentrated and ghettoized black population, as a theme for the 1920s & 1930s.

Starting in the 1930s statistics and mapping becomes more availble, allowing one to chart the expansion of the black community in the 1930s and 1940s. Then a series of Masters theses is availble to document expansion into Westwood and Dayton View. WSU Archives has files on the Dayton View Stabilization Project, which apparently tried to manage integration and stem white flight from that neighborhood.

There are also the Urban League files documenting how racial steering by the local real estate industry and mortgage lenders helped guide the growth of the black community toward certain neighborhoods and suburbs (and away from others). The Battelle evaluation of the Model Cities program and Dayton Metro Library clippings files have information on various racial incidents that kept blacks out of the suburbs. Together these provide the history of geographical racial segregation in the postwar era, leading to the situation we are in today.

And this is just scratching the surface. A social and political history could be worth a blog all its own.

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