Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Century of Progress?

On the topic of Chicago's 1893 Columbian Exposition, I found an article ( on the 1933 World's Fair. Strikingly similar to the Columbian Exposition, the World's Fair exhibited similar characteristics to the Columbian Exposition - they both showed the world the wonders of technology and progress that Chicago offered. However, the World's Fair did offer improvements in racial integration and inclusiveness rather over the Columbian Exposition. Lacking the offensive displays of natives that the Exposition's Midway offered, the World's Fair, subtitled "A Century of Progress", offered two fair exhibits on the African-American community in Chicago. One was a reproduction of the cabin Jean Du Sable, the first black settler in Chicago. The other was a building featuring the scientific, military, and artistic accomplishments of African-Americans in both Chicago and the greater United States.

Like the Columbian Exposition, however, the World's Fair also discriminated against African Americans. The exhibit celebrating African American culture was separated miles from the actual fair, in the South Side district of Chicago. African Americans were barred from eating in many of the Fair restaurants and were encouraged to attend "Negro Days" in an attempt to segregate the fair.

The Fair represented "A Century of Progress," both in terms of technology and in terms of social values, showing the greater maturity American and Chicagoan society showed towards it's larger African-American population, but also showed how far racial equality was for African American Chicagoans.

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