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African Americans in Chicago (Images of America) (Images of America (Arcadia Publishing)) Paperback – February 6, 2012

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African Americans in Chicago (Images of America) (Images of America (Arcadia Publishing)) + Chicago Defender (Images of America) + Chicago's South Side, 1946-1948
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Product Details

  • Series: Images of America (Arcadia Publishing)
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Arcadia Publishing (February 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738588539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738588537
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #828,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Born at 3625 Giles Avenue on Chicago's South Side, Lowell Thompson is an artist/writer and "creative catalyst." In 1968, three months after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he was one of the first African Americans hired in the creative department of any leading American advertising agency.

More About the Author

Lowell Thompson is a Chicago-born, bred and based artist/writer/creative catalyst. He calls himself a "recovering adman" because he spent the first 35 years of his adulthood creating ads and commercials for many of the nation's biggest ad agencies and their clients.

In fact, he was one of the first AfrAmericans hired in advertising when American companies finally opened themselves to "unwhites" after the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the urban riots that followed.

He began to tranform himself from adman to "RaceMan" in the early 90s and now spends most of his ad design and writing savvy on his attempts to save the world, starting in Chicago, USA. (He says if Chicago can be saved, anyplace else in America should be relatively easy).

"WHITEFOLKS: Seeing America Through Black Eyes" was his first book. Thompson designed, did the cover painting, wrote, set the type, and self-published it in 1995. It has become a classic in the arcane field of "Whiteness Studies", being one of the first books written on the subject...actually before it was a subject in academia. Thompson plans to republish it as an ebook as soon as the dust settles and he settles on a e-distributor.

In February, 2010 Thompson helped write a book that quickly became Amazon's #1 non-fiction African-American book, "Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority". Although another AfrAmerican adman's name, Tom Burrell, is on the cover, Thompson had a major hand in both writing the book and designing and writing the full-color Branding and Brainwashing Timeline that is the centerpiece of the book.

His latest book, "African Americans in Chicago" came out in February 2012. It was published by Arcadia, America's largest publisher of local/ethnic pictoral history books.

Thompson is also the creator of "Buy The Cover", which he says is the "first and only blog on the internet that rates only covers for title and design". His latest project is, "RACEMAN ANSWERS: America's Toughest Race Questions". It is due in Summer, 2013 and will herald a brand new format in publishing. Please stay tuned.

BTW: You can reach Thompson at or see his BUY THE COVER blog at

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
He's done a great job!
Richard A. Courage
I enjoyed seeing them through the photographic eyes of the people who lived there.
Larry Dieckmann
I received by book yesterday and immediate sat down to read it.
Janis V. Forte

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Zada Johnson on February 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
African-Americans in Chicago is a great read on the life, history and culture of Black Chicago. From the Great Migration to the African-American political base that gave rise to the nation's first African-American President, the book aptly examines the world that Black people made for themselves as Chicago residents. I was also very impressed with the number of local residents' family photos which the author used to tell a more personal story of Black Chicago that we don't always get an opportunity to hear in these types of projects. I plan to use this book with my undergraduate and graduate students at the Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies (Northeastern Illinois University)as we examine the history and culture of the historic Bronzeville community and the contributions of African-American residents to the city overall.

Zada Johnson, PhD
Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies
Northeastern Illinois University
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
Many novels, poems, and works of nonfiction have explored Chicago's African American community and the Great Migration from the South which vastly expanded it. This short new book, "African Americans in Chicago" (2012)is part of the "Images of America" series of photographic histories which capture the nature of local American communities. I have learned much from the series about places that I have visited and places that I don't know. Born on Chicago's South Side in the Bronzeville neighborhood, author Lowell Thompson (b. 1947), worked in advertising for most of his adult life and is a lifelong resident of Chicago.

In the short introduction to the book, Thompson accurately describes what he has done: "although much of the information here is historical, this is not a history book. I see it more like an African American family album. I have tried to include the visage of the entire family, from those of the 'usual celebrated subjects' to the ones most usually ignored." Thus, photographs of famous places and community leaders in Chicago's African American community, including Robert Abbott of the Chicago Defender, Ida Wells, Jesse Jackson, Ernie Banks, Pinetop Perkins, pioneering aviator Beatrice Brown, Barack Obama, and many others appear side by side with unfamiliar individuals from the pages of family albums collected by the author. Thompson also wants to offer a positive portrayal of his subjects to counter the sterotypes that plagued American portrayals of African Americans up to the mid-1960's. He writes: "Because African American images have been so historically stereotyped, debased, distorted, or ignored, the images here act as evidence of our existence as real, dignified, positive, and sentient human beings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JazzFeathers on November 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
I like this series, because I like old photos. They give me the impression to see through time into a reality that was different, and still people like me lived in those different realities.

This book spans the life of Bronzeville in the South Side of Chicago, from the early XX century to the near past. There are portraits and photos of places, some of which no longer exist, and you can trace the passing of time, especially in the portraits.
The author informs us the photos come from different sources: some institutions, but especially private citizens who shared a part of their personal life, together with quite a few from the Library of Congress.
I think this is actually the strength of the book. This diversity of imagines and subjects.

But there is a weakness to the book too and that's a kind of amateurish flavour to the text. Some of the photos refer to specific people living in Bronzeville, regular people sharing their life. While this gives to the text a feeling of home, it also fragments the narration.
There isn't a logical thread to follow, but subjects change at every page (nearly), so that it's very difficult to get a global image and even harder to reconstruct the story (history) of the neighbourhood. You just get short snippets of stories, but they don't make up a lager one.

That's a shame, but other than that, I loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Courage on March 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
I first heard about this book from Lowell Thompson himself. He was then contacting me and other scholars working in this area, so that he could nail down the facts about Black Chicago's illustrious history while he gathered the photos for this book. He's done a great job! The wide-ranging images bring this relatively underappreciated history to life. His captions and section introductions are informative and lively. As an African American born and raised on the South Side, he brings a highly personal slant to the subject, creating a visual and textual narrative that is both book-smart and street-savvy. As an insider, Lowell was able to supplement the usual library sources of archival photos with hidden treasures he discovered in the personal memorabilia of his many friends, colleagues, neighbors, and family members. I especially enjoyed seeing photos of some of the people whom I interviewed or wrote about in my own book, The Muse in Bronzeville: African American Creative Expression in Chicago, 1932-1950.
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