Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-568f69f84b-h2zp4 Total loading time: 0.304 Render date: 2021-09-21T11:20:14.219Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

“GOOD, BETTER, BEST”

Upward Mobility and Loss of Community in a Black Steelworker Neighborhood

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 January 2021

Andrew J. Cherlin*
Affiliation:
Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University
*Corresponding
Corresponding author: Andrew J. Cherlin, Department of Sociology, Mergenthaler Hall, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218. E-mail: cherlin@jhu.edu

Abstract

Turner Station, Maryland, is a century-old African American neighborhood just east of Baltimore that housed the families of workers who were employed at a nearby steel plant from the founding of the community in the early 1900s until the plant closed in 2012. Its story provides a window into the lives of the understudied Black working-class during the peak decades of industrial employment and the ensuing decades of decline. Long-time residents recall a vibrant, self-sufficient community with a heterogeneous class structure, produced in part by residential restrictions and employment discrimination that constrained professionals such as physicians and teachers to reside and to practice or work in the neighborhood. They report a high level of collective efficacy and joint responsibility for childrearing. Current and former residents describe a strong emphasis on education as a means of upward mobility. As levels of education rose and residential opportunities opened, the children of the mid-century steelworkers left Turner Station for other communities in the metropolitan area and beyond. As out migration continued, the community suffered a decline: virtually all of the businesses are gone, vacant homes are common, and a more transient population has moved in. The members of the Turner Station diaspora still cherish the memory of the neighborhood, even as many have moved on and up. Their achievements show what happened when a generation of African Americans were given access to decent-paying jobs that did not require a college education—a degree of access that no longer exists because of the decline of industrial employment in the Baltimore region and elsewhere.

Type
State of the Discipline
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Hutchins Center for African and African American Research

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Acs, Gregory (2011). Downward Mobility from the Middle Class: Waking Up from the American Dream. Pew Charitable Trust. https://www.pewtrusts.org/-/media/legacy/uploadedfiles/pcs_assets/2011/middleclassreportpdf.pdf (accessed October 28, 2020).+(accessed+October+28,+2020).>Google Scholar
Antonsen, Peter J. (1997). A History of the Puerto Rican Community in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: 1944–1993. Bethlehem, PA: Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations of the Lehigh Valley, Inc.Google Scholar
Arena, John (2011). Bringing in the Black Working Class: The Black Urban Regime Strategy. Science and Society, 75(2): 153170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barry, Bill (2019). All We Do is Talk Steel: Oral Histories of Sparrows Point. Baltimore, MD: Author.Google Scholar
Bellah, Robert, Madsen, Richard, Sullivan, William M., Swidler, Ann, and Tipton, Steven M. (1985). Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Binelli, Mark (2012). Detroit Is the Place to Be: The Aftrerlife of an American Metropolis. New York: Metropolitan Books.Google Scholar
Boyd, Michelle R. (2008). Jim Crow Nostalgia: Reconstructing Race in Bronzeville. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
Danziger, Sheldon (2013). Evaluating the Effects of the Great Recession. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 650(1): 624.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dickerson, Dennis C. (1986). Out of the Crucible: Black Steelworkers in Western Pennsylvania, 18751980. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
Diggs, Louis S. (2003). From the Meadows to the Point: The Histories of the African American Community of Turner Station and What Was the African American Community in Sparrows Point. Baltimore, MD: Uptown Press.Google Scholar
Drake, St. Clair, and Cayton, Horace R. (1945). Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.Google Scholar
Gottlieb, Peter (1987). Making Their Own Way: Southern Blacks’ Migration to Pittsburgh, 19161930. Urban and Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
Horton, Hayward Derrick, Allen, Beverlyn Lundy, Herring, Cedric, and Thomas, Melvin E (2000). Lost in the Storm: The Sociology of the Black Working Class, 1850 to 1990. American Sociological Review, 65(1): 128137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hurd, Noelle M., Stoddard, Sarah A., and Zimmerman, Marc A. (2013). Neighborhoods, Social Support, and African American Adolescents’ Mental Health Outcomes: A Multilevel Path Analysis. Child Development, 84(3): 858874.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kornblum, William (1974). Blue Collar Community. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Landry, Bart (2000). Black Working Wives: Pioneers of the New Family Revolution. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Lieberson, Stanley (1980). A Piece of the Pie: Blacks and White Immigrants since 1880. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Linkon, Sherrty Lee, and Russo, John (2002). Steeltown U.S.A.: Work and Memory in Youngstown. Lawrence, KA: University Press of Kansas.Google Scholar
Marbella, Jean (2013). Former Student Protesters Remember Civil Rights Battle over the Northwood Theatre. Baltimore Sun, September 16. https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/bs-md-northwood-civil-rights-20130216-story.html (accessed November 25, 2019).+(accessed+November+25,+2019).>Google Scholar
Martin, Lori Latrice, Horton, Hayward Derrick, and Booker, Teresa A. (2016). Race, Class and Nativity: A Multilevel Analysis of the Forgotten Working Class, 1980–2009. In Wright, Earl II and Wallace, Edward V., (Eds.) The Ashgate Companion to Black Sociology, pp. 141158. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Mendenhall, Ruby (2010). The Political Economy of Black Housing: From the Housing Crisis of the Great Migrations to the Subprime Mortgage Crisis. The Black Scholar, 40(1): 2037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Modell, Judith, and Hinshaw, John (2017). Male Work and Mill Work: Memory and Gender in Homestead, Pennsylvania. In Leydesdorff, Selma, Passerini, Luisa, and Thompson, Paul, (Eds.) Gender and Memory, pp. 133148. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nawrozki, Joe (2005). A Factory that Shaped Their Lives in Dundalk. Baltimore Sun, May 13. https://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bal-te.md.block13may13-story.html (accessed May 17, 2020).+(accessed+May+17,+2020).>Google Scholar
Niedt, Christopher W. (2007). The Politics of Prosperity and Crisis in an Industrial Suburb: Dundalk, Maryland, 19202005. PhD dissertation, Department of Geography, University of California at Berkeley.Google Scholar
Olson, Karen (2005). Wives of Steel: Voice of Women from the Sparrows Point Steelmaking Communities. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
Pattillo, Mary (2005). Black Middle-Class Neighborhoods. Annual Review of Sociology, 31: 305329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pattillo, Mary (2013). Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril among the Black Middle Class. Second Edition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Payne, Charles M., and Strickland, Carol Sills (Eds.) (2008). Teach Freedom: Education for Liberation in the African-American Tradition. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
Perry, Theresa (2003). Up from Parched Earth: Toward a Theory of African-American Achievement. In Perry, Theresa, Steele, Claude, and Hilliard, Asa G. III (Eds.), Young, Gifted, and Black: Promoting High Achievement among African-American Studies, pp. 110. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
Pfeffer, Fabian T., Danziger, Sheldon, and Schoeni, Robert F. (2013). Wealth Disparities Before and After the Great Recession. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 650(1): 98123.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Pietila, Antero (2010). Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City. Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee.Google Scholar
Reutter, Mark (2004). Making Steel: Sparrows Point and the Rise and Ruin of American Industrial Might. Urbana and Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
Rogers, Michael (1976). The Double-Edged Helix. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/the-double-edged-helix-231322/ (accessed November 27, 2020).+(accessed+November+27,+2020).>Google Scholar
Rudacille, Deborah (2010). Roots of Steel: Boom and Bust in an American Mill Town. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
Rugh, Jacob S., and Massey, Douglas S. (2010). Racial Segregation and the American Foreclosure Crisis. American Sociological Review, 75(5): 629651.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sampson, Robert J., Raudenbush, Stephen W., and Earls, Felton (1997). Neighborhoods and Violent Crime: A Multilevel Study of Collective Efficacy. Science, 277(5328): 918924.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Skloot, Rebecca (2010). The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: Crown Publishing.Google Scholar
Smith, Sandra Susan (2010). Race and Trust. Annual Review of Sociology, 36: 453475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sugrue, Thomas J. (1996). The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Thomas, Richard W. (1992). Life For Us Is What We Make It: Building Black Community in Detroit, 19151945. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
Trotter, Joe William Jr. (2019). Workers on Arrival: Black Labor in the Making of America. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
U.S. Bureau of the Census (1995). Poverty Areas. https://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/statbriefs/povarea.html (accessed May 19, 2020).+(accessed+May+19,+2020).>Google Scholar
Watson, Jerome (2008). Turner Station. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing.Google Scholar
Wilkerson, Isabel (2011). The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
Wilson, Franklin D. (2017). Generational Changes in Racial Inequality in Occupational Attainment, 1950–2010: A Synthetic Cohort Analysis. Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race, 14(2): 387425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wilson, George, and Roscigno, Vincent J. (2018). The Downward Slide of Working-Class African American Men. Race, Identity and Work, 32: 113135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

“GOOD, BETTER, BEST”
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

“GOOD, BETTER, BEST”
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

“GOOD, BETTER, BEST”
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *