Bronzeville’s Bootstraps describes the growth of African American businesses in the mid-twentieth century and how successful businesspersons overcame serious obstacles and simultaneously lit lanterns of hope for future generations. This unusual, provocative novel details how Chicago’s black private sector made Bronzeville the most prosperous community in the nation during the turbulent fifties, sixties, and seventies. The protagonist, Jerome Gerard, leaves his Beaumont, Texas, home with his family, seeking employment as a registered pharmacist. After failing in several cities, Jerome stops at the Pershing Hotel to relax for the weekend. The manager, Lester “Turkey” Stevens, introduces Gail and Jerome to Bronzeville’s nightlife. The next day, Lester takes Jerome to Felix and Bea’s restaurant to meet the “swells.” Because of their help-another-brother philosophy, the swells find Jerome a job and a home overnight. After being blatantly lied to by his boss, Jerome schemes to get the cash to buy his first drugstore. He learns what motivates Caucasians and uses their stimuli against them to build a chain. But it wasn’t easy. Jerome encountered racist, economic, and illegal obstacles at every turn.
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