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Racism at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair

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Katherine Eisenstein

on 17 June 2010

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Transcript of Racism at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair

Racism at the Chicago World's Fair
Restrictions Another Way In The White View Separation Between Midway and Fair Ida Wells
The End Result “He looked upon the White City as a manifestation of what was good in American life and as an ennobling vision Americans should strive to effectuate” (Rydell, 40). “It requires a great deal of labor and research
as well as inquiry by correspondence to find
out who the colored inventors are.”
(Smith, Colored Race Progress).
“The authorities there [at the World’s Fair] are publicly stating that they have no funds with which to put in vogue  any plan or system of work which might aid the colored people to make a creditable exhibit in 1893” (Davis, Colored People at the Fair).
“The issue in many respects became moot when the directors ruled against racially separate exhibits. Instead, they encouraged blacks to participate in existing state displayed but tempered by their encouragement by the requirement that black exhibits be submitted to and approved by all-white committees in the various states. Few black exhibits made their way through the screening apparatus” (Rydell, 52-53).
“He wanted to show that in a quarter of a century, he had accumulated property to the value of two hundred million dollars, that his ambition had led him into every field of industry, and that capable men of his race had served his Nation well in the legislatures of a dozen states in both Houses of the Nation’s Congress and as National Representatives abroad” (Barnett, The Reason Why).
“I believe there is only one way by which the colored people can exhibit creditably in this greatest of all world fairs, and that is by Governmental supervision”

(Davis, Colored People at the Fair).
“The Midway Plaisance was a strip of land a mile long and nearly six hundred feet wide…on either side of the street the visitor could find restaurants, entertainment facilities, ethnic villages and above all enormous crowds. (Rydell, 60).
“The utopian vision projected by exposition directors had a dual foundation: the monumental White City and the Midway Plaisance. The Midway, the honky-tonk sector of the fair, was officially classified under the auspices of the exposition’s Department of Ethnology. Hailed as a “great object lesson” in anthropology by leading anthropologists, the Midway provided visitors with ethnological, scientific sanction for the American view of the nonwhite world as barbaric and childlike and gave a scientific basis to the racial blueprint for building a utopia” (Rydell, 40).
“With the Anglo-Saxons at one end, “the negro types at the fair,” according to one publication, “represented very fairly the barbarous or half civilized state of a people are numerous and rapidly increasing class of American citizens.” (Rydell, 66). “The exhibit of the progress made by a race
in 25 years of freedom as against 250 years
of slavery, would have been the greatest tribute
to the greatness and progressiveness of
American institutions which could have been
shown the world” (Wells, The Reason Why). “Why are not the colored people, who constitute so large an element of the American population, and who have contributed so large a share to American greatness, more visibly present and better represented in this World’s Exposition? Why are they not taking part in this glorious celebration of the four-hundredth anniversary of the discovery of their country? Are they so dull and stupid as to feel no interest in this great event?” (Wells, The Reason Why).
Otis T. Mason said, “Indeed, it would not be too much to say that the World’s Columbian Exposition was one vast anthropological revelation. Not all mankind were there, but either in persons or pictures their representatives were”. He claimed that they were depicted through anthropological exhibits consisting of ““representatives of living spaces in native garb and activities,” photographs and drawings, books, and “objects connected with every phase of human life”—seemed to be everywhere” (Rydell, 55)
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