Source Book for Sociology

Author: The Chicago Commission on Race Relations  | Date: 1922

164. Recommendations for the Improvement of Race Relations in Chicago16

Following the race riot in Chicago in 1919 (see Chapter XXI, Selection 152) a committee of white and Negro citizens was appointed by Governor Frank O. Lowden to make a study of the race relations in Chicago and to bring in suggestions for the improvement of these relations. The following paragraphs summarize the principal recommendations of "The Commission on Race Relations," as this citizens’ committee was called. These outline a policy and practical plan of peaceful accommodation between the two antagonistic races in a modern urban community.

I. The first ten recommendations were addressed to "the police, militia, state’s attorney, and the courts" and concerned the governmental control of conflict or of situations which are likely to give rise to conflict. The Commission asked for "better co-operation between the city and park police in and near parks, bathing-beaches, and other public recreation places, especially where there has been or is likely to be race friction." Police protection against white hoodlums and the control of their so-called "athletic clubs" which served as their rendezvous were requested.

II. The next five recommendations were directed to the city council and various administrative boards. They concerned better sanitation in Negro residential districts, equality of recreational facilities for whites and blacks, and the use of trained personnel in recreational programs, able to allay and prevent minor racial friction.

III. To the board of education of Chicago they directed five recommendations asking for better school facilities for the colored children and their parents, including night schools and community centers, and for better attendance officers dealing with Negro pupils. They pointed to the need of specially trained principals and teachers who understand racial problems. It was asked that "public-school principals and teachers encourage participation by children of both races in student activities as a means of promoting mutual understanding and good race relations in such schools and in the community."

IV. To various social, civic, religious, and labor organizations they directed six recommendations bearing on recreation, religion, and white and colored industrial relations. They say, "Being convinced by our inquiry that much of the antagonism evinced in the areas of marked hostility toward Negroes is founded upon tradition which is itself without foundation in fact or justice, we recommend to schools, 476 social centers and agencies, churches, labor unions, and other organizations in these areas, and to public-spirited citizens, white and Negro, that they endeavor to dispel the false notions of each race about the other and promote mutual tolerance and friendliness between them."

V. There were five recommendations addressed to the general public, both white and colored, dealing with the wider community responsibility for racial friction, for failure to control rioting when it first starts, for stimulating rumors and counterrumors, and for otherwise fostering the continuation of conflict attitudes.

VI. To the "white members of the public," five special recommendations were made indicating the need for better housing for Negroes, more just rents, for abatement of the prejudice concerning inherent Negro criminality, and for more intelligent attitudes toward the mentality and culture of the colored population.

VII. To the "Negro members of the public" there were six recommendations covering such matters as sound racial doctrines, discouragement of propaganda and agitation stimulating hatred of the white race, more adequate support of social agencies promoting the betterment of Negro conditions, and further provision for the orientation of the Negro from the South to his new urban environment.

VIII. The Commission made eight recommendations to employers and labor organizations for furthering better racial accommodations in industry and business. Matters of rates of pay, hours and conditions of work, and of admission to trade-unions were noted. They asked for equal treatment of white and Negro workers in these matters, unbiased by racial prejudice.

IX. More specifically Negro workers were given four recommendations regarding Negro labor unions, improvement in skilled workmanship, and the like.

X. Two specific recommendations were given to the streetcar companies to promote protection of Negro passengers and provision against overcrowding.

XI. One recommendation for equal rights for both races in public was addressed to restaurants, theaters, stores, and other public places.

XII. Finally there were two recommendations to the press. One asked the white newspapers for more accurate and honest news stories about Negroes and about Negro-white relations, avoidance of sensationalism, the construction of favorable attitudes toward the race problem including recognition of the Negro’s own advancement culturally. The other was to the colored press, asking for like accuracy, like avoidance of sensationalism, and an effort to foster peaceful relations of the races.17

16 Adapted from the Chicago Commission on Race Relations, The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and a Race Riot, 1922, pp. 640–51.

17 See Paul E. Baker, Negro-White Adjustment, 1934, especially Section III, for a discussion of methods of interracial accommodation.


Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options

Title: Source Book for Sociology

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: Source Book for Sociology

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: The Chicago Commission on Race Relations, "164. Recommendations for the Improvement of Race Relations in Chicago," Source Book for Sociology in Source Book for Sociology, ed. Kimball Young (Cincinnati: American Book Company, 1935), Original Sources, accessed September 23, 2023,

MLA: The Chicago Commission on Race Relations. "164. Recommendations for the Improvement of Race Relations in Chicago." Source Book for Sociology, in Source Book for Sociology, edited by Kimball Young, Cincinnati, American Book Company, 1935, Original Sources. 23 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: The Chicago Commission on Race Relations, '164. Recommendations for the Improvement of Race Relations in Chicago' in Source Book for Sociology. cited in 1935, Source Book for Sociology, ed. , American Book Company, Cincinnati. Original Sources, retrieved 23 September 2023, from