Strangers in the Land of Paradise: Creation of an African American Community in Buffalo, New York, 1900-1940

Strangers in the Land of Paradise: Creation of an African American Community in Buffalo, New York, 1900-1940

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Strangers in the Land of Paradise discusses the creation of an African American community as a distinct cultural entity. It describes values and institutions that Black migrants from the South brought with them, as well as those that evolved as a result of their interaction with Blacks native to the city and the city itself. Through an examination of work, family, community organizations, and political actions, Lillian Williams explores the process by which the migrants adapted to their new environment.

The lives of African Americans in Buffalo from 1900 to 1940 reveal much about race, class, and gender in the development of urban communities. Black migrant workers transformed the landscape by their mere presence, but for the most part they could not rise beyond the lowest entry-level positions. For African American women, the occupational structure was even more restricted; eventually, however, both men and women increased their earning power, and that―over time―improved life for both them and their loved ones.