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"Buy Where You Can Work": Boycotting for Jobs in African-American Baltimore, 1933-1934

Andor Skotnes
Journal of Social History
Vol. 27, No. 4 (Summer, 1994), pp. 735-761
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3789081
Page Count: 27
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"Buy Where You Can Work": Boycotting for Jobs in African-American Baltimore, 1933-1934
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Abstract

This article focuses on the Buy Where You Can Work Campaign, a mass boycott movement in African-American Baltimore that, between mid-1933 and mid-1934, demanded and won jobs for African Americans in white-owned businesses located in Black neighborhoods. This jobs boycott movement was a crucial moment in the resuscitation of the Baltimore Black freedom movement during the early years of the Great Depression and, in fact, helped to construct the foundations of the modern Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s in that city. The Baltimore movement was also a key event in a national wave of African-American jobs boycotts-a wave that was an important, but often ignored, facet of the freedom struggle across the United States in the 1930s. In addition to telling the inner story of the Baltimore boycott movement, this article examines how this movement emerged from and transformed the local political culture of Black Baltimore; investigates the role of national forces on this movement; raises some question about the functioning of race, ethnicity, gender, and class in the context on this movement; and suggests framework to interpret Depression-era African-American jobs boycotts in other cities.

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