Staking Claim to the Promised Land
Staking Claim to the Promised Land traces the mutually constitutive role of the built environment and the media in the history of black place-making. From the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans have articulated their shared conceptions of geographic belonging by investing in collectively-owned real estate. Such properties served as repositories of black wealth, as public spaces for African American social and political life, and as beacons of resettlement for millions of black migrants. These sites fostered the emergence of African American newspapers, motion pictures, phonographs, and radio—forms of media that generated new conceptions of place through their very circulation and consumption. A close look at the entwined history of black media and real property helps make new sense of the strategies and demands of African Americans’ broad-based social movements, including the emergence of a modern form of protest that was as critical to the Civil Rights Movement as the tactic of non-violence.
Cara Caddoo is Associate Professor in the History Department and the Media School. She is the author of Envisioning Freedom: Cinema and the Building of Modern Black Life, a history of early African American cinema from the 1890s to the 1930s, which won the 2015 Vincent P. DeSantis Prize for the Best Book on the History of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Caddoo received a Faculty Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2014.