Harlem Renaissance (Revised Spring 2013)


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Harlem Renaissance (Revised Spring 2013)

  1. 1. Prior to 19200 Post-Civil War: waves of South-to-North immigration 0 especially after Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) 0 The Great Migration0 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 Harlem0 Harlem in 1900: 0 Overzealous housing development (for white workers) 0 Subway hasn’t 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
  2. 2. Harlem in 19200 Demographics: 0 1920: 152,467 people of African 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 prior0 “a race capital”: “Black Mecca”0 A space for… 0 new opportunity and improvement 0 intellectual and aesthetic expansion 0 cultural solidification
  3. 3. Segregation in 1920s Harlem0 “Irrational distinctions” in terms of employment0 one-drop rule0 “Passing” is a general cultural A Negro worker may not be a street or subway phenomenon—so is the rejection conductor because of the possibility of public thereof objection to contact but he may be a ticket chopper. He may not be a money changer in a0 “color lines within the color line” subway station because honesty is required yet 0 As whites discriminate against blacks he may be entrusted, as a messenger, with by being unable to see them as real thousands of dollars daily. He may not sell (can only see stereotypes), the same thing happens between lighter- goods over a counter but he may deliver the skinned and darker-skinned African goods after they have been sold. He may be a Americans porter in charge of a sleeping car without a conductor, but never a conductor; he may be a0 Women are doubly discriminated policeman but not a fireman; a linotyper, but against: not a motion picture operator; a glass annealer, 0 no positive healthy images in popular but not a glass blower; a deck hand, but not a culture—not considered society’s sailor. 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)
  4. 4. The “city within a city”0 safe haven Harlem is a modern ghetto. True,0 “voluntary segregation” that is a contradiction in terms, but prejudice has ringed this group around with invisible lines and bars. Within the bars you will find a small city, self-sufficient, complete in itself a riot of color and personality, a medley of song and tears, a canvas of browns and golds and flaming reds. And yet bound. --Eunice Hunton
  5. 5. Talking About Race in the 1920s0 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 peoples0 Reestablishing an African-American past 0 Schomburg: “reclaimed background”0 Art, Music, Performance: a means of agitating for equality, progress (ex: Paul Robeson)
  6. 6. How can we fix the social andeconomic damages of slavery? 0 “Each one teach one” 0 Being a breakthrough person, a “first,” doesn’t guarantee a sustained future for others (will there be a “second”?) 0 Booker T. Washington—industrial education/skills development 0 W.E.B. DuBois—“Talented 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
  7. 7. Countee Cullen, “Heritage” 0 Published in landmark edition of “Survey Graphic” 0 Printed next to pieces of African art—why? 0 W. E. B. DuBois: “double consciousness” (divided identity): “this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others”
  8. 8. 1920s Harlem On The Web Digital Harlem Survey Graphic0 What does each site tell us?0 What seems like it might be missing from each project?0 What are the strengths and limitations of each project’s sources?
  9. 9. Jazz0 Divisive new sound 0 as culturally disruptive as Modernism was 0 musically fragmented, draws upon primitivism0 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 do—“edgy”0 1st unique American musical sound for export 0 Roots in African-American folk culture, Creole culture of New Orleans, city sounds 0 Risqué, explicitly sexual 0 Rogers: Musically jazz has a great future. It is rapidly being sublimated.
  10. 10. Theorizing Jazz Jazz is a good barometer ofThe jazz spirit, being primitive, freedom. In its beginnings, thedemands more frankness and United States spawned certainsincerity. Just as it already has ideals of freedom and independencedone in art and music, so through which, eventually, jazz waseventually in human relations evolved, and the music is so freeand social manners, it will no that many people say it is the onlydoubt have the effect of putting unhampered, unhinderedmore reality in life by taking expression of complete freedom yetsome of the needless artificiality produced in this country. —out. —Rogers Ellington Duke Ellington and His Cotton Club Orchestra, 1928: “The Mooche”