The Plight of Black Urban Neighborhoods

Assistant Professor Todd Michney explores this story in Surrogate Suburbs, his new book on the history of Cleveland's black middle class.

Cleveland was the country’s fifth-largest city in 1920, and Michney looks at how African American post office workers, truck drivers, tradesmen, and schoolteachers successfully bought land, got mortgage financing, and built homes in several pockets of settlement at the urban periphery.  In asserting their right to these outer-city spaces, African Americans appealed to city officials, allied with politically progressive whites, and relied upon both black and white developers and real estate agents to expand these "surrogate suburbs" and maintain their livability until the bona fide suburbs became more accessible after 1964.