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A

historical

overview

Prior to 1920
0 Post-Civil War: waves of South-to-North immigration 0 especially after Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) 0 African Americans were already living in NYC: 0 Mid-1800s: SoHo area 0 Late 1800s: Greenwich Village 0 1890s: West 20s and 30s 0 1900s: West 50s, begin move into Harlem 0 Harlem in 1900: 0 Overzealous housing development (for white workers) 0 Subway hasnt fully arrived, especially on the east side 0 African-American migration begins on the east side, moves west 0 From 1900-1920, the number of blacks living in Harlem doubles

Harlem in 1920
Online Resources
0 The Harlem

Renaissance: An Overview 0 Digital Harlem

Harlem in 1920
0 Demographics
0 1920: 152,467 people of African

0 a race capital: Black Mecca 0 A space for

descent living in NYC. 39,233 born in NY State, 30,436 from outside US (primarily Caribbean), and 78,242 from other states (mostly Southern). 0 1920-1925: approx. 50,000 more arrive from the South 0 Quickly overcrowded: up to 3x as many people in the same space when compared to just a few decades prior

0 new opportunity and improvement 0 intellectual and aesthetic expansion 0 cultural solidicication

Segregation in 1920s Harlem


0 Irrational distinctions in terms of

employment: 0 one-drop rule 0 Passing is a general cultural phenomenon so is the rejection thereof 0 color lines within the color line

0 As whites discriminate against blacks by

0 Women are doubly discriminated against: 0 no positive healthy images in popular culturenot considered societys ideal of beauty 0 still seen as sexually indiscriminate (the legacy of slavery) 0 women of mixed heritage still seen as particularly sexually exotic (legacy of the tragic mulatto character of the 1800s)

being unable to see them as real (can only see stereotypes), the same thing happens between lighter-skinned and darker-skinned African Americans

A Negro worker may not be a street or subway conductor because of the possibility of public objection to contact but he may be a ticket chopper. He may not be a money changer in a subway station because honesty is required yet he may be entrusted, as a messenger, with thousands of dollars daily. He may not sell goods over a counter but he may deliver the goods after they have been sold. He may be a porter in charge of a sleeping car without a conductor, but never a conductor; he may be a policeman but not a Bireman; a linotyper, but not a motion picture operator; a glass annealer, but not a glass blower; a deck hand, but not a sailor.

The city within a city


0 safe haven

0 voluntary segregation 0 Harlem is a modern ghetto. True, that is a contradiction

in terms, but prejudice has ringed this group around with invisible lines and bars. Within the bars you will Bind a small city, self-sufBicient, complete in itself a riot of color and personality, a medley of song and tears, a canvas of browns and golds and Blaming reds. And yet bound. (Eunice Hunton)

African-American Policeman, Harlem


Ca. 1915

Open-Air Religious Meeting, Harlem


Ca. 1915

Harlem Streets
Ca. 1920

African Americans on Race in the 1920s


0 Race as a global idea 0 West Indians had historically played a big role in cultural development 0 Cultural divide between Southern migrants and Caribbean immigrants 0 The question of Africa: how to relate to that land and its peoples 0 Reestablishing an African-American past 0 Schomburg: reclaimed background 0 How to cix the social and economic damage of slavery? 0 Each one teach one idea (starts during slavery, re: reading) 0 Being a breakthrough person, a cirst, doesnt guarantee a sustained future for others (will there be a second?) 0 Booker T. Washingtonindustrial education/skills development 0 W.E.B. DuBoisTalented Tenth: (essay, 1903) 1 in 10 black men may become leaders. Should have a classical (not industrial) education in order to ensure that they do. 0 Marcus Garvey, Back to Africa movement. Reunite all people of African ancestry into one community with one absolute government 0 Art, Music, Performance: a means of agitating for equality, progress (ex: Paul Robeson) 0 Bye & Bye (with Lawrence Brown; 1925) 0 Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (1933) 0 On playing Othello (1943)

Jazz
0 Divisive new sound 0 as culturally disruptive as Modernism was 0 musically fragmented, draws upon primitivism 0 Prohibition + segregation results in some very strange

combinations:

0 Cotton Club: African-American performers, white patrons


0 Going to jazz clubs in Harlem was the hip thing to doedgy

0 1st unique American musical sound for export 0 Roots in African-American folk culture, Creole culture of New Orleans, city sounds 0 Risqu, explicitly sexual 0 Rogers: Musically jazz has a great future. It is rapidly being sublimated.

Theorizing Jazz
The jazz spirit, being primitive, demands more frankness and sincerity. Just as it already has done in art and music, so eventually in human relations and social manners, it will no doubt have the effect of putting more reality in life by taking some of the needless artiBiciality out. Rogers
Jazz is a good barometer of freedom. In its beginnings, the United States spawned certain ideals of freedom and independence through which, eventually, jazz was evolved, and the music is so free that many people say it is the only unhampered, unhindered expression of complete freedom yet produced in this country. Ellington
Duke Ellington and His Cotton Club Orchestra, 1928: The Mooche