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Sun, 04.12.1903

Horace Cayton Jr., Sociologist, and Author born

Horace Cayton Jr.

*Horace R. Cayton, Jr. was born on this date in 1903. He was a Black sociologist, newspaper columnist, and author.

From Seattle, Washington, he was the son of newspaper publisher Horace R. Cayton, Sr. and Susie Revels. His mother was the daughter of Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first black American elected to the United State Senate.

He graduated from Franklin High School and later the University of Washington. In 1929 he moved to Chicago to attend graduate school in sociology at the University of Chicago. In 1934, Cayton went to work as a researcher for the United States Department of the Interior, co-authoring Report on the Negro's Share in Industrial Rehabilitation with George Sinclair Mitchell in 1935. Following his work with the Interior Department, Cayton moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he taught economics at Fisk University and subsequently returned to government employment, heading a Chicago-based research project for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) for three years.

In 1939, he produced a book from research in this period, Black Workers and the New Unions. In 1940, Cayton became the director of the Parkway Community House in Chicago, working in that capacity until 1949. He was also the coauthor, with St. Clair Drake, of the 1945 Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City, a history of Chicago's South Side and its Black residents from the 1840s, when the area was a major transport hub for the Underground Railroad, to the 1930s.

The book was considered pioneering in exploring race relations' role in creating the economic situation of lower and middle-class blacks in urban America. During the 1950s, Cayton worked as a researcher for the American Jewish Committee and the National Council of Churches and worked for two years as a news correspondent at the United Nations for the Pittsburgh Courier, where he wrote a weekly column for the Courier for 27 years.

In 1961 Cayton moved to the Monterey Bay area of California; he continued to participate periodically in academic and political pursuits, including participation in a seminar on "The Black Experience" at Cowell College and serving as a speaker at the opening of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center in Atlanta. Horace Cayton Jr. died of influenza in Paris, France, on January 21, 1970, at the age of 66; he was on a National Endowment for the Humanities-sponsored research trip to gather material for a biography of his friend Richard Wright.

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