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24. First Impressions of Chicago

There were other sources information. The more people went the more letters would come back. Chicago was like it is now, a convention center. So the Elks would meet in Chicago, the Masons would meet in Chicago; so many black southerners came to Chicago to visit. But again, if you are coming here for a convention you don't see the worst parts of the town, you see the "glitz."

So you come here for a convention and you're a black southerner, they're going to show you the best parts of the south side. You're going to see the clubs; you're going to have fun for a weekend; and you're going to go back south and talk about what you saw. And the same thing with people going back.

Anyway, I think I'm going to stop here. And, in terms of these questions, what were the responses, we don't know what the responses were to these. These were published, that's how I know-that's how I found them.

This is fascinating because this is one of the most important things about answering this question about what happens when people get here and how does that relate to the very sense of them as active participants in the process. Because what happens is the actual range is very small. But one of the interesting things is that when you think about these letters, and you look at, there are two aspects to the range of possibilities. One is people are saying, "I can do anything." Are they going to be disappointed when they get here because they say they're a carpenter but they're not going to get a job as a carpenter because the carpenters' union is not going to let them work. But also what they're saying is, "I will do anything," so they are saying, "I can do this, this, this and this and whatever you let me do in Chicago, that's fine with me."

So what you first see when they get here is people taking whatever job they can get and actually being quite satisfied with it, at first. And it's only the gradual process of people realizing that they're not going to go too much higher that they begin to get upset.

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