The 1920’s was a rough time for America, almost everybody was unsatisfied. African-Americans, Immigrants looking for justice, they had a hard time finding this no matter where they went. With the U.S. Senate’s decision to reject the treaty of Versailles it left a lot of Americans confused as to what’s next. Americans were worried about the thousands of immigrants, and the continued number of rural black southerners coming to the northern cities. White Americans saw this as a threat to their “Anglo Saxon ethnic purity”. So many of them joined the KKK or Ku Klux Klan to promote white supremacy, American patriotism and protestant values. The nation was xenophobia (fear of foreigners) and this cause a lot of trouble during this time period. In Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color he thought that people of color would never be equal to White Americans. He said “We know that our America is a White America”. This is a mindset that many Americans had and why people of color would struggle to live in times like this.
In attempt to respond to racism the NAACP led by James Weldon Johnson tried to secure constitutional rights and guarantees for African-Americans by advocacy in the political and judicial systems. Marcus Garvey was another leader for African- Americans and the Universal negro Improvement Association (UNIA). He motivated his listeners to take pride in themselves, have faith and to control their own destiny. Garvey’s association created jobs for at least one thousand black people in Grocery stores, restaurants, printing plant, steam laundry, and factory jobs.
The Harlem Renaissance was a way for black people to express themselves through different types of creative art to show what it was like to be black in America. They showed this through artwork, poetry, and music. Some of this work was hard to accept for white Americans, but with the good work this opened the eyes of some. Billie Holidays song “Strange Fruit” is a powerful song that talks about the lynching of black people as black people were hanging from tress like fruit, but fruit is good for the body and it’s strange that people would do such things. The Harlem Renaissance created jobs for some blacks in clubs as entertainers and waiters, many problems were still the same with whites owning the clubs and Housing areas in Harlem made it hard for blacks to get it in, and controlling their profits.
The Harlem Renaissance helped the black culture, it showed what it meant to black, the struggles and it gave African-Americans an identity. This helped a lot of African- Americans and gave them hope a light of hope, even though there wasn’t real progress, but through sports, music, dancing and writing it showed how this could be a key way for African-Americans to succeed in the United States in the years to come despite the injustice.
Youtube, 2011.Billie Holiday-Strange Fruit
The African-American Odyssey, Volume 2. Seventh Edition. Personal Inc