The Zoot Suit Riots

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The Zoot Suit Riots


In this study the US race immigration is explored in a holistic context. The key events that are discussed in this research paper include the Zoot Suit Riots in the mid 1900's and the following attacks that cross all the way over to New York City. The study also analyzes the culture and migration of African Americans and Latino Americans. Finally the research describes riots and migrations that took place in the 19th century.

Table of Contents




Modern Race Riots: Black Resistance and Political Protest11

Zoot Suiters13

Migration, 1929-194517

Mexican Americans, 1929-194521


End Notes26

The Zoot Suit Riots


During the late 1800s and early 1900s, when New York City's black community lived in the area of 53rd Street between Sixth and Eighth Avenues, right before the uptown migration to Harlem, dress for black and white males included great attention to detail. Harlem Renaissance historian Jervis Anderson reports that African-American men were seen socially in frock coats, vests, and wide-bottom trousers, shirts, fastened with studs, had detachable stiff collars and cuffs, made of linen, celluloid, cotton, or paper, watch, chains, straw hats were commonly worn in summer, and derbies (or "high dicers") in winter carried walking sticks wore high boots polished with Bixby's Best Blacking. Poor and rural African Americans wore bandannas and overalls, in accordance with the sweaty field work they performed during the week. On Sundays, however, they practically paraded to church in their "Sunday-go-to-meeting-suits," oftentimes wearing shoes for the first time that week. As work garb, both men and women wore the bibbed overalls, the forerunner of the 21st century's popular blue jeans. In both Jean Toomer's celebrated book Cane and in Zora Neale Hurston's equally celebrated Their Eyes Were Watching God, women wear overalls. In both books, the overalls symbolize the women's personal strength over femininity, illustrating that they are, as Toomer puts it in Cane, "strong as any man." Though sometimes included in Harlem Renaissance literature, usually in a "country" or rural scene of a novel, overalls did not constitute a uniform worn by the New Negro. For them, overalls represented a chattel system they preferred to forget..

From 1929 to 1945, migration within the United States produced significant redistribution of the population. Except for the early years of the Great Depression, the principal patterns of migration were highly consistent with previous trends. Americans moved especially from the rural Midwest, Southwest, and South toward metropolitan areas in the North and West. Within metropolitan areas, suburbs grew faster than central cities. Sunbelt areas of the West and South Coasts, California especially, grew even more rapidly than before. With the exception of armed forces personnel during the war, economic factors were as usual paramount in shaping patterns of population movement. And migration had important consequences not just for the migrants but also for the areas from and into which they moved and for the nation as a whole.

Mexican Americans faced many obstacles from 1929 to 1945. The Great Depression worsened their economic condition and intensified mistrust and resentment of them, particularly in the southwestern ...
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