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The Champion

June 2017 , Page 59 

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Book Review: People Wasn’t Made To Burn - A True Story of Race, Murder, and Justice in Chicago

By Maureen L. Rowland

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People Wasn’t Made To Burn - A True Story of Race, Murder, and Justice in Chicago

By Joe Allen
Haymarket Books (July 2016)


At first glance one would think this book is the simple story about (1) the death of a tenant’s four small black children when the landlord set fire to the home in which they lived and (2) the avenging of the children’s death by their father when he kills the landlord and stands trial for murder. But that is just the scaffolding for the real story, which is even more interesting.

The year is 1947. Many black sharecroppers from the South are lured to the Industrial North, particularly Chicago, with the promise of prosperity. Not surprisingly, there is a housing crisis, made worse by the racism the sharecroppers did not expect to find in the “progressive” North. They are basically confined to the Southside of Chicago where the housing stock is in very poor repair and where too many people are crowded into the houses. Slumlords exploit peopl

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