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NOT QUITE WHAT IT SEEMS? (CIVIL RIGHTS--RACISM.) Attention! Voters of Hyde Park . . . Vote for Henry Horner, a White Man for Governor. Printed leaflet, 8 x 4 1/2 inches; horizontal folds, moderate soiling and wear. [Chicago], [April 1936]
This election leaflet is notable for its blatant and extreme racism. It urges the voters of the affluent Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago to "vote for Henry Horner, a white man, for governor," promising that Horner would "keep niggers west of Cottage Grove Avenue" and "keep Hyde Park High School for white boys and girls." It concludes "A Vote for Henry Horner is a Vote for White Supremacy." When this leaflet was produced, Henry Horner was the incumbent governor of Illinois. The state's first Jewish governor, he came from Hyde Park in Chicago but was in conflict with Chicago's Democratic machine politicians. He drew most of his support from the southern part of the state. He had a challenger for the 14 April 1936 Democratic Party primary, city medical officer Herman Bundesen. Outside of the evidence presented in this leaflet, Governor Horner does not seem to have been noted for any unusual degree of racism for his time and place. The pamphlet is signed in type by two officers of the "Hyde Park Horner-for-Governor Club": "Aaron Blumfeld" as president and "Jacob Shapiro" as secretary. We can find no record in the census or elsewhere of any Aaron Blumfeld ever having lived in Chicago, and the name Jacob Shapiro was a common one, with 14 appearing in Chicago for the 1930 census alone. Both are stereotypical Jewish names. We suspect that both men were fictional, and that this pamphlet was produced by Horner's opponents, hoping to fuel anti-Semitism among Chicago's large African-American community and bring out their votes for Bundesen--who is here described as a "nigger lover." It seems unlikely that Horner's supporters, no matter how racist, would set these inflammatory sentiments to type given their proximity to such large numbers of African-American voters nearby. Nor do we expect to hear this particular strain of Klan-influenced racism coming from Jewish activists. The Klan during this period carried out its sinister agenda against Jews and Catholics as well as African-Americans. By 1936, Jews in Germany were already being stripped of their citizenship under the justification of similar language of Aryan supremacy. Or you might take this all at face value, as evidence of Henry Horner's overtly racist support in his home district. One thing we feel confident of: this is an authentic leaflet from the 1930s. The Hyde Park it describes (rightly or wrongly) is probably best known today as the home of the University of Chicago. Barack Obama taught law there for 12 years, and still owns a home in the neighborhood.
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