Mary Pattillo: The Future of Black Metropolis


Monday, November 21, 2016, 12:00pm to 1:45pm


Harvard Kennedy School: Nye AB

Mary PattilloHarold Washington Professor of Sociology and African American Studies, Northwestern University.

The year 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the publication of the landmark text Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City by St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton. In her talk, Pattillo will bring their voluminous research up to date, focusing on the following questions: What and where is Black Metropolis in the early twenty-first century?  What does life look like in Black Metropolis today? And, what is its future?

Despite the fact that a shrinking proportion of Blacks live in Black neighborhoods, Pattillo argue that Black Metropolis is still an important analytical category that structures the experiences and outcomes of many African Americans.  

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About the speaker

Mary Pattillo is the Harold Washington Professor of Sociology and of African American Studies at Northwestern University and a faculty affiliate with the Institute for Policy Research.

Pattillo's areas of interest include race and ethnicity, the black middle class, policy, inequality, urban sociology, and qualitative methods.

Pattillo uses the city of Chicago as her laboratory and strives to be an expert in Chicago history, politics, and social life. In her first book, Black Picket Fences (University of Chicago Press, 1999), Pattillo investigated the economic, spatial, and cultural forces that affect child-rearing and youth socialization in a black middle class neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. Black Picket Fences won the Oliver Cromwell Cox Best Book Award from the American Sociological Association.

Her second book, Black on the Block (University of Chicago Press 2007) focused on gentrification and public housing transformation in North Kenwood - Oakland on Chicago's South Side. The book developed the concept of "middlemen" and "middlewomen," the roles that black professionals play in working alternatively to mediate or exacerbate racial and class inequality. It won the Robert Park Book Award and a proclamation of the City of Chicago.

Current research projects include a study of how parents negotiate school choice, the impact of housing on families and children, the effect of college match on racial and class stratification, and the prevalence and impact of monetary sanction in the Illinois criminal justice system. Pattillo also has a growing interest in race in Latin America.

Pattillo is a founding board member and active participant in Urban Prep Charter Academy, the first all-boys public charter high school in Chicago.


See also: Fall 2016