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During the early 1930’s the black immigration into the North began to grow in large numbers, mainly in the industrial cities like Chicago, Detroit and New York. Trying to escape the racial suppression in the South, many former slaves came to the north in search of better living conditions, better jobs, better educational opportunities and also a more lenient environment for interracial relationships. The increase opportunity in the North not only caught the attention of black southerners but also West Indians in search of a better life as well.
In the 1930’s they both occupied more than a quarter of Harlem, creating a diverse and unique mix of artist, writers, musicians, and other professions. Even though they were all black moving in, they all differed in origin, their level of education and their social class. After being rejected out of many of the white institutions, West Indians decided to build their own Methodist and Episcopal Churches in which thrived in both Brooklyn and Harlem.
The also created non-religious organizations that assisted new coming immigrants. They created many organizations that helped assist each person that came from a different origin. As more educated and socially aware blacks settled in Harlem, the more they pushed for other blacks to become aware and conscious on the political challenges they face and black pride.
One of the most famous organization is UNIA which was found by Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican immigrant. He helped create an organization that focused on black nationalism and promoted the economic development of blacks.
He suggested the Back “ to “ African movement which was not long lived. Another well known organization was the NAACP which was created by W.E.B Dubois along with others. With the help of these organizations the political awareness within the black community had sky rocketed. It was not only restricted to the residence in Harlem, but blacks in other states also became socially conscious to the fight for blacks and realized the necessity in joining the fight for black rights in America. Because of the diverse African American population within the American city and the increase support of Black American political awareness, it foretold the raise of the movement of a strong and diverse Harlem Renaissance.
Even though Marcus Garvey idea of Back- to Africa was seen as an uneducated suggestion, the more educated had a more creative approach which was to overtly show pride in their heritage and traditions. They did this through the writing of poems or stories, music lyrics, and things like plays in which they did not only perform them as an act of creativity but also as a way of rebuilding the Black community esteem. Black Americans knew they had entered a new environment of racial confidence and knew they had to find other ways to fight the old prejudice ways that haunted them everyday they walked the streets. The educated black Americans believed that they could fight the stereotypes by showing their intelligence and the many things they had to offer. They worked hard to show the world that the African American population were not the things they were called but in fact that they can be civilized and they had a culture and tradition they enjoyed and was proud of.
Claude McKay was a famous poet during the Harlem Renaissance who was born and raised in Jamaica but then immigrated to the U.S. Because he was raised in another country he had a broader perspective of the United States treatment towards blacks. He spoke about a mixture of love and hate, as well as pain and pleasure in the poems he wrote about America. He gave voice to many black immigrants by being the first African American poet he became an influencer to other blacks that wanted to speak up. Not only did he influence Langston Hughes, he also influenced many other black poets to write and express themselves and how they view things.
Also, Arthur Schomburg is also a famous writer who encouraged blacks to write and express their life through their lenses. He made it his mission to become aware of Afro and Afro “ Latin Americans history and their accomplishments. Arthur Schomburg’s created an institution that supported black literacy and education with the help of the cofounder John Edward Bruce. He lived a life of expressing and showing the liveliness and beauty of the Afro American culture as well as inspiring other blacks to write their history and experiences and to be proud of their roots.
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