This introductory chapter illustrates the political and spatial rift between the blacks and whites in early-twentieth-century Detroit, and the ideologies that would eventually shape northern racial liberalism and the implications it holds for both sides of the racial divide. Detroit makes an ideal setting for study, as it occupies an important place in the political imagination of the United States as an extreme example of the fortunes and failures of northern industrial cities. This portrait has always had a racial cast. When the city was largely white, its working class was celebrated for its affluence; now that Detroit is majority-black, its population is maligned for its impoverishment.
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