Troublemakers: Chicago Freedom Struggles through the Lens of Art Shay

University of Chicago Press
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What does democracy look like? And when should we cause trouble to pursue it?
Troublemakers fuses photography and history to demonstrate how racial and economic inequality gave rise to a decades-long struggle for justice in one American city.
In dialogue with 275 of Art Shay’s photographs, Erik S. Gellman takes a new look at major developments in postwar US history: the Second Great Migration, “white flight,” and neighborhood and street conflicts, as well as shifting party politics and the growth of the carceral state. The result is a visual and written history that complicates—and even upends—the morality tales and popular memory of postwar freedom struggles.
Shay himself was a “troublemaker,” seeking to unsettle society by illuminating truths that many middle-class, white, media, political, and businesspeople pretended did not exist. Shay served as a navigator in the US Army Air Forces during World War II, then took a position as a writer for Life Magazine. But soon after his 1948 move to Chicago, he decided to become a freelance photographer. Shay wandered the city photographing whatever caught his eye—and much did. His lens captured everything from private moments of rebellion to era-defining public movements, as he sought to understand the creative and destructive energies that propelled freedom struggles in the Windy City.
Shay illuminated the pain and ecstasy that sprung up from the streets of Chicago, while Gellman reveals their collective impact on the urban fabric and on our national narrative. This collaboration offers a fresh and timely look at how social conflict can shape a city—and may even inspire us to make trouble today.
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About the author

Erik S. Gellman is associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he focuses on working-class and urban life, visual culture, and comparative social movements in modern America. His other books include Death Blow to Jim Crow: The National Negro Congress and the Rise of Militant Civil Rights and, coauthored with Jarod Roll, The Gospel of the Working Class: Labor’s Southern Prophets in New Deal America.Art Shay (1922–2018) was a prolific photographer who captured many critical moments in Chicago’s postwar urban history.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Jan 20, 2020
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780226604084
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
History / United States / 20th Century
History / United States / State & Local / Midwest (IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD, WI)
Photography / Photoessays & Documentaries
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Content protection
This content is DRM protected.
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