America's First Black Town: Brooklyn, Illinois, 1830-1915 (Paperback)
Brooklyn, Illinois, 1830-1915
University of Illinois Press, 9780252070808, 296pp.
Publication Date: February 22, 2002
In America's First Black Town, now in paperback for the first time, Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua traces Brooklyn's transformation from a freedom village into a residential commuter satellite. He examines why Brooklyn remained unindustrialized while factories and industrial complexes were built in nearly all the neighboring white-majority towns. As Brooklyn's population shifted toward single, male factory workers and as the city's cheaper retail businesses drew the town's consumer dollars, local businesses -- except those catering to nightlife and vice -- withered away.
Drawing on town records, regional and African American newspapers, census data, and other sources, Cha-Jua provides a detailed social and political history of America's first black town. He places Brooklyn in the context of black-town development and African American nationalism and documents the efforts of its citizens to build a thriving, autonomous, black-majority community. Challenging the scholarly assumptions that black political control necessarily leads to internal unity and economic growth, Cha-Jua confirms that, despite Brooklyn's heroic struggle for autonomy, black control was not enough to stem the corrosive tide of internal colonialism.