The Elite of Our People - Museum of the American Revolution
Sketches of the Higher Classes of Colored Society in Philadelphia, first published in 1841, was written by Joseph Willson, a southern black man who had moved to Philadelphia. He wrote this book to convince whites that the African-American community in his adopted city did indeed have a class structure, and he offers advice to his black readers about how they should use their privileged status. The significance of Willson’s account lies in its sophisticated analysis of the issues of class and race in Philadelphia. It is all the more important in that it predates W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Philadelphia Negro by more than half a century.
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