The Negro in the town and city has to face a situation somewhat different. Here there are two main types of home. First, there is the tenement, either a single building of two or three rooms arranged in a line, - the gun-barrel tenement, - grouped with others, sometimes facing a front street, side street, or an alley; or a combination building of a number of crowded apartments - the ark type of tenement. Second, the substantial dwelling, usually comprising four to eight rooms, sometimes more, which has ample provision for health and privacy. If in a city that provides sanitary connections in Negro neighborhoods, such houses usually have running water, baths, and inside toilets. In Southern cities a yard, with space on front and sides, often containing shrubbery and a garden, gives a homelike appearance to the place. The public facilities of Negro neighborhoods, such as well-paved, lighted, and cleaned streets, properly collected garbage, sewage connections, and police and fire protection, are, as a rule, more striking by their absence than by their presence. The red light districts of whites, in cities that have them, are often allowed to locate within or near the Negro neighborhood, and the heads of the Negro homes cannot prevent their proximity.
The Negro family in the city has a no less intense struggle to make both ends meet than the family in the country. Migrating by the thousands during the past thirty years, from the small towns and rural districts, the large majority of Negroes are able to fill only unskilled and domestic service jobs, which are the lowest paid occupati6ns. They are making the great adjustments both from serf labor to wage freedom and from rural work to city labor. Their chances for training in semiskilled and skilled occupations are restricted. In occupations where they are admitted, except under conditions af labor shortage such as happened during the War, they often retain their places because they can be paid less than white workers for the same work and, when understood, are more easily managed. Negro men, therefore, find themselves heavily handicapped in getting support for their families. They die out more rapidly than white men in the struggle. Negro women, especially mothers, go out to work to help keep the wolf from the door, and Negro children, girls and boys, must usually cut short their growth and education to share the breadwinning of the family.
One of the startling facts of the struggle for home life is that the Negro's standard of living is rising faster than the returns from his occupational efficiency and opportunity. The standard of the houses required in the cities, the standard of food and clothing, wants in household furnishings and in other things are rising faster than the Negro's wage scale. War wages helped to even up the score and enabled many more Negro married women to stay at home and care for their own families. Now that the high wage period is past, however, the battle of the Negro home is renewed against low wages, absentee wage-earning mothers, the lure of wealth to its girls, and the helpless position in which its men often find themselves when they seek opportunities for better training, for better jobs, and chances to get and hold jobs with pay adequate to support their families.
In thinking of homes one naturally looks out into the community. Evidences of Negro progress in the neighborhoods where they live, in city, town, and country, may be noted by any one who will take the time and the pains to form accurate and unbiased judgment. Development of Negro community life, the participation in the many organizations and agencies for community and national advancement, and the development of a social consciousness and responsibility are no less marks of the progress of the Negro in the past sixty years than the material and statistical evidence which has just been reviewed.
In community life and citizenship, Negroes have made four steps in progress. They have learned to develop effective organizations of their own. They have grown rapidly in community consciousness and consciousness of social responsibility. They have come to a conviction of their unity with other parts of the community. They are asking, not that they be segregated in community organization, but that where their interests are affected, they be represented at the common council table by leaders of their own. They seek the opportunity to contribute their share to the common cause and to bear their part of the common responsibility. They have shown a readiness to cooperate and contribute which leaves no doubt about their attitude and desires in this matter, and white and Negro churchmen are setting the examples of new ways in their cooperative dealings.