Remedy for Racism: Forced Formulations or Voluntary Play?


by Leslie Deinhammer

Like many industrial centers, Rockford, Illinois experienced its immigration boom in the late 1800s. Swedes established Swedetown, the third ward became “the Patch” for the Irish and the Italians settled in the southern part of town or along Madison Street.

Blacks came seeking those same opportunities. Allowed to work in the city but having to settle outside city limits, Blacks escaped the repression of ‘separate but equal’ only to experience racism Northern-style.

Chris Jaffe, in his thesis, The Race Line in Rockford from 1930 notes, “Using devices such as informal agreements between members of the city’s real estate community, Rockford’s whites limited black housing choices almost exclusively to the southwest section of town and at the city’s edges.”

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