Abstract

Abstract:

This article uses the life of Pittsburgh Courier editor Robert L. Vann to examine broader patterns of middle-class black activism in the interwar period. It maintains that Vann's campaign for Franklin Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential election originated from an expansive vision of citizenship that the editor shared with a larger community of urban black reformers—including social workers, journalists, lawyers, scholars, clergymen, and clubwomen. For them, citizenship included access to economic opportunity, decent housing, and adequate healthcare along with civil rights and political empowerment. Yet reformers operated under extraordinarily difficult circumstances that moderated their short-term goals and encouraged them to develop workable strategies aimed at taking limited but achievable steps toward a racially egalitarian horizon. Vann's campaign efforts in 1932 illustrate the pragmatic methods by which reformers pursued citizenship.

pdf

Share