Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Jack, Brian

Second Advisor

Bean, Jonathan


This body of work explores the World’s Columbian Exposition 1893 and looks at how African American challenge the built environment of the Fair. The African American community contested the white constructed spaces by reimaging and claiming them for the self. At the Fair, black subordination was achieved and was maintained by the unabashed use of white power structures. After Reconstruction Black people began to turn to racial solidarity as a means of survival. Prior to Emancipation Blacks had been segregated and denied equal participation in the larger society regardless of their individual achievements. The result has been that race pride had, to a large degree, been conspicuously absent. The Fair pushed African Americans towards greater solidarity through inadvertently promoting pride in their racial heritage. Through examining the Fair, this work illuminates that the World’s Columbian Exposition 1893 served as a nexus for pivotal African American movements. I argue that the fair served as a turning point for African Americans and sparked radical movements that focused on Black independence at home and abroad. The Fair became a pivotal site of protest that paved the way for the Black Nationalist Movement, Pan-African Movement, the creation of the National Association of Colored Women, and the New Negro Movement.

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