Canaan, Dim and Far

Black Reformers and the Pursuit of Citizenship in Pittsburgh, 1915-1945

Title Details

Pages: 272

Illustrations: 43 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 03/01/2021

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5888-8

List Price: $32.95


Pub Date: 03/01/2021

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5887-1

List Price: $114.95

Canaan, Dim and Far

Black Reformers and the Pursuit of Citizenship in Pittsburgh, 1915-1945

Pittsburgh’s long and unique struggle for civil rights

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Canaan, Dim and Far argues for the importance of Pittsburgh as a case study in analyzing African American civil rights and political advocacy in an urban setting. Focusing on the period from the Progressive Era to the end of World War II, this book spotlights neglected aspects of middle-class Black activism in the decades preceding the civil rights movement. It features a revolving cast of social workers, medical professionals, journalists, scholars, and lawyers whose social justice efforts included but extended past racial uplift ideology and respectability politics.

Adam Lee Cilli shows how these Black reformers experimented with a variety of strategies as they moved fluidly across ideologies and political alliances to find practical solutions to profound inequities. In the period under study, they developed crucial social safety supports in Black communities that buffered southern migrants against the physical, civil, and legal impositions of northern Jim Crow; they waged comprehensive campaigns against
anti-Black stereotypes; and they built inroads into the industrial labor movement that accelerated Black inclusion.

Committed to an expansive vision of economic and political citizenship, Pittsburgh’s activists challenged white America to face its contradictions and to live up to its democratic ideals.

Canaan, Dim and Far presents a timely and important addition to the historical knowledge about this largely forgotten period in a city still rising from the ashes of its industrial past.

—Pamela E. Walck, The Journal of African American History

This book is a must for anyone interested in the civil rights movement in the North. Cilli makes excellent use of primary sources and writes in an elegant yet accessible style. His work should serve as a model for future studies linking the activism of the Great Migration with the activism of the postwar civil rights struggle.

—Stanley Arnold, The Journal of American History