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Chapter 1 explores the way black Chicagoans addressed the problems of black girls deemed dependent, delinquent, and destitute. The chapter traces the founding of the first orphanage for black children in Illinois, which led to the establishment of the Amada Smith Industrial School for Colored Girls. The chapter demonstrates how black women leaders argued for black girls’ innocence and value by highlighting their needs, while also deploying the rhetoric of race motherhood. Black women also fought to maintain control of organizations that served black girls because black men’s leadership, as well as white philanthropists, challenged their authority. The community’s treatment of black girls was also used as a measure of black social responsibility and capability for self-governance. This chapter includes case studies of girls in need of homes and responses to them.

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